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Facebook as a Marketing Tool—It Starts With a Goal

Sometime in the mid 2000s, people stopped saying “dot-com” when referring to the websites they frequented. They stopped referring to videos they saw ON YouTube.com, and simply said, “I saw this on YouTube,” as a self-explanatory entity. Similarly, people stopped saying they “updated Facebook.com” or “Twitter.com,” and went instead for the simple, online savvy declaration of “I put it on Facebook,” or “I tweeted it.” Why does this matter? Because it’s a clear sign that people no longer think in terms of websites (.com), they think of these “sites” as tools—and you should too.

YouTube, Twitter and Facebook are part of the digital landscape, or “digital presence,” and it exceeds the idea of a website.

Facebook stands out as one of the best tools marketers can use to reach (and more importantly, understand) their target audience—but not without a goal. If you aren’t sure what you’re looking for, you’ll wind up with a Facebook profile that feels like an online junk drawer of random information, confused fans, and meaningless status updates.

Below I’ve described the three most powerful functionalities of Facebook. From the benefits of creating and maintaining a Facebook page, to adding Facebook functionality to brand websites, to exploring its social graph of interconnecting people based on geography, Facebook is the go-to tool for adding interaction to a brand’s communications.

Facebook Pages

The Facebook page might seem like little more than a glamorized online profile, but for brands and businesses it’s an easy way to create an instantly interactive landing page, microsite, or a wing of a website that allows people to converge in one place to talk about the things that are important to a brand. Because Facebook is now in the results of Google, a search for a brand could bring up this conversation. Some brands focus more on maintaining a pleasing Facebook page than an actual website because “Facebook Fans” (the former designation for those people who choose to opt in to your Facebook page by “liking” it) have come to rely on social media as a viable outlet for the most updated news and information on the things and people they care about.

Some brands use their Facebook page as a recruitment tool because a “fan” of a brand might be self-selecting as the perfect person to work there. (Microsoft and Google have Facebook pages solely dedicated to finding job applicants.)

Others use the page to show off insider information, or have chats with the CEO (or famous spokespeople). A Facebook page is a great place to interact with the people who have opted in, and reward them with free “Facebook only” specials, online and in real life. When planning promotions, familiarize yourself with this.

Your Facebook page is also a great place to do a focus group, try out new ideas, and generally involve people who like the page.

Facebook Connect

Facebook Connect means adding Facebook functionality to your brand’s website. When adding Facebook Connect to a brand website, in essence, it’s like adding a “send to friend” key for the things a brand wants to promote. In other words, actions people take on a website can be linked to the news stream on Facebook: “Jim just filled out a form;” “Sandra likes this whitepaper.” All these activities (or ones that fit the brand) can be part of a bigger experience of pulling the Facebook world into a website.

The options are getting exciting, and as Facebook churns out new initiatives, this is one way to make all websites social.

Research

With 500 million people interacting with millions of brand pages, there’s a lot that can be learned on Facebook. At EMA, we look through category pages and simply listen.

Listening to conversations in the right places can generate insights that can help a brand move forward. What are the people who “like” the pages of competing brands writing on the wall? What else do they “like”? What are they commenting about? How do they talk about their experience with the brands within your category? The kind of information that comes from Facebook communications can lead to the same types of insights gleaned from costly (and time-consuming) qualitative research studies.

One can even use Facebook’s ad platform to research markets to determine demographic and/or psychographic information. For one client, we looked into how many people in a specific geographical area aged 40-60 liked musical theater. For another client whose resort catered to couples looking for romantic getaways, we looked into how many people in certain regions were married, and monitored other “romantic” information that was posted to their profiles and walls. This data can yield insights that can inform marketing plans and actual communications.

Setting the Goal

You’ve seen three powerful ways that Facebook enables us to get closer to our target audiences and better understand how they communicate with brands, so now what? When a brand links its website to something like Facebook, you need to think about success beyond just “the number of people who like a page” and/or interact with it. Ask yourself what you want out of the interaction.

  • Are you looking for a certain amount of feedback when you post updates that encourage interaction (i.e. a status update that asks a question aimed to unearth some insights into your audience/fans)?
  • Are you hoping to get a certain number of people within your demographic to “like” your page (i.e. we don’t want 50 people to like the page, we want 50 females, aged 18-34 who appear to be living a healthy lifestyle to like the page)?
  • Is your goal to generate awareness about a particular aspect or event associated with your brand (i.e. a Sweepstakes, upcoming sampling event, registration for a webinar your company is promoting on your products or services, etc.)?

All three of the Facebook functionalities described above can work together to achieve a measurable goal—but without a goal, there isn’t anything to measure.

At Eric Mower and Associates, we’ve helped clients in all industries use Facebook to take advantage of how people interact online. It starts with knowledge and then a plan with clearly defined goals. If you’re looking for either, look us up on Facebook.