I finally saw “The Social Network” a few days ago. From what I understand many of the dramatic elements were added by writer Aaron Sorkin, but the movie nonetheless got me thinking.
Is Facebook really an effective marketing tool?
There is probably no ‘right’ answer to this question because there are so many different business scenarios potentially involved in the response, but there are obvious and overwhelming positives to using Facebook as a marketing tool. These pluses should not be overlooked.
Creating an effective Facebook page for your business is, like it or not, necessary in today’s world. Your business will seem antiquated if you don’t have a Facebook page as a crossroads for client/customer/service provider interaction.
This leads perfectly into the biggest positive of having a Facebook presence for your business: If used correctly, Facebook can provide direct (and free!) interaction with your customers and fans. You can offer coupons to followers, daily deals and/or promotions, and ask questions that will streamline your overall business. You can respond individually to consumer issues — direct engagement!
Great Power, Great Responsibility
This direct interaction presents a caveat; it should be handled carefully and professionally. You should not abuse your Facebook business page by using it as a platform to advertise personal matters. Branding strategist Jonathan Salem Baskin urges business owners to avoid ‘pulling a GoDaddy‘ and share too much information. “Talk to your customers about what matters to them,” reasons Baskin. “The technology shouldn’t change what you talk about and why you talk… your customers don’t care about your vacation. You make no money from humiliating yourself publicly.”
Facebook marketing strategies should absolutely exclude bombarding your clientele with pointless and frequent questionnaires. This will undoubtedly turn people off to your product. Who actually enjoys being sold? There is a fine art to ‘the sale.’ The best long term partnerships are forged through a perfect synthesis of personality, product quality, and long term goals, NOT sleazy used car salesmen tactics. I’d bulk flooding Facebook news feeds in the same category as sleazy used car salesman. It’s an easy way to lose customers.
This brings me to my main point, stated most eloquently by MediaLeaf Founder and CEO Jim Lastinger: “If you’ve been using Facebook since the beginning then you’re more likely see it becoming increasingly meaningless, which is a sad, but predictable, evolution.”
I completely agree with Jim’s assessment. I personally see Facebook as too cluttered with virtual farms, apps, advertisements, ridiculous surveys and a multitude of event invitations. The only reason I haven’t deleted my Facebook account is yes, it is an easy way to stay in touch with old friends that are now scattered all over the globe.
Spending time marketing on Facebook can have huge payoffs. Mashable contributor and JESS3 CEO Jesse Thomas predicts that brands will be tripling their Facebook advertising efforts in 2011. In just two months last year, Oreo’s Facebook fanbase jumped from 5 million to 8.4 million followers. How did they do it? By focusing their entire advertising campaign (TV, Print, etc) on driving traffic to their Facebook page. Having Donald Trump, Shaq, and the Mannings in their commercials certainly didn’t hurt either.
For someone like myself, Facebook is just too much these days. Online marketing is moving towards much more segmented and geo-friendly techniques. Don’t agree? Check out what Foursquare, QR Codes, Path, and Twitter geo-centralized ads can do. From a business standpoint, Beth Reily of Kraft Foods openly admits it’s nice to “fish where the fish are.” And from a consumer’s standpoint, it’s great to not sift through all the meaningless drivel on Facebook in order to find a relevant promotion.
Facebook is a double-edged advertising sword. Businesses should be wary of posting obnoxious, personal, and too-frequent content, but at the same time should not hesitate — at least for now — to utilize the positive aspects of Facebook to their advantage.