With well over 400 million active Facebook accounts used to communicate with friends or to extend the network there are many reasons for companies to use Facebook as an advertising and promotional platform. Based on the definition on what it means to be a successful business too and the judgment of Facebook as a social media promotional tool we were able collate information from various interviews, research from the Internet, academic books, journals and case studies to provide a respectable answer.
There is a research study called ‘2010 Social Media Marketing Industry Report’ done by Michael A. Stelzner who is Founder, SocialMediaExaminer.com. This study is about how social media is a tool for marketing. In terms of the results of this report, most of the people think that social media can generate exposure for their businesses and reduce the marketing expenses. On the other hand, they think social media can help in building new partnerships and rise in research rankings. Almost all interviewees agreed that Facebook can generate exposure for their business within such a short period. Half of the interviewees were able to look for new business partnership within few months using Facebook as marketing tool. Moreover, they thought social media can achieve selling to other businesses more than to their customers. Furthermore, they all thought social media can reduce marketing cost both on selling to businesses or customers.
1. Easy networking and communication tool
First of all, Facebook is an easy networking and communication tool for everyone. Compared with other social media platforms, Facebook is more user-friendly communication tool. According to some statistics from Gigya a company can share widgets on more than 5,000 content sites; people can click a share button on these sites and send an article link, photo, or video via a menu of different services including Facebook, Twitter, MySpace. There are also some statistics about items that people share. Facebook dominate with about three quarters of all shared items between different social media website such as Twitter, MySpace and Yahoo. That means Facebook is a service that allows sharing information to be easy.
People can update his or her recent life easily by just uploading photos, videos, status, and links. In additional, they can communicate with each other by using wall, inbox message and pop-up chat box. There is a function called ‘News Feed’ which provides updated information that includes profile changes, upcoming events, and birthdays, among other updates. Also, there is a function for Facebook Page which is Facebook Insight. According to Facebook Help Centre, it will measure reach (e.g., impressions, clicks), viral impact (e.g., fan adds), responder insights (e.g., gender and age), and engagement (e.g., video plays and wall posts) of visitors to the Page. The benefit of using Facebook Insights is free, regular, detailed updates on the growth of the page. Therefore, business companies can know detailed analytic about the demographics of their fans and amount of the fans interacting with the Page.
2. User popularity
Due to Facebook being user-friendly, there are many people utilizing it as their communication tool with their friends. According to a Google release on Web Traffic data on 28 May 2010 “Facebook is the King” when it comes to online visitors despite its criticism about privacy within the social media sphere. Currently there are around 540 million accounts (active and non-active), which is slightly more than 25 percent of the Internet population. Within these 540 million accounts, there are 350 million active users. In a research report from Nielsen Scan done in October 2009, the number if Australians accessing social media sites has continued to grow in the past year, with unique audience for Australia’s most popular social media site, Facebook, surpassing eight million for the first time August 2009. According to Melanie Ingrey who is Director of Market Research of Nielsen, social media was always going to be success story, but the range of that success has made many people by surprise. Ingrey states, “To see a category double its time online numbers in a year, off what was already a considerable base, is truly phenomenal and the mind boggles at where we can go from here.” And as customer demand for social media continues to increase advertising and PR agencies are looking for ways to help their clients stay in touch with online customers. Based on ‘Top 50 Australian Websites June/July 2009’, Facebook was ranked fourth as the one of Top 50 Australian websites. Due to many users of Facebook, there is a huge opportunity for businesses to market their products and services to their customers and also attract new customers.
3. Instant customer engagement
Facebook can provide instant customer engagement for companies. Businesses can interact with customers by setting up a Page. Facebook provides a platform to present multi-media information to their customers such as photos, video, latest updates and events. Therefore, customers are able to know the details of the products and services straight from the source. Moreover, companies can set Fan permission to let people post some relevant pictures or video of their products. In addition, companies can engage community members by tapping into social capital within friend groups. Therefore, companies can comment back to people commenting, it helps build trusting relationships with customers and gives a competitive advantage. It is because they can adjust marketing and business services to reach customers’ needs and improve their products and services. When people ‘Like’ business companies’ Pages, they will get updates from Pages immediately. Therefore, people will know the companies’ information updated and can link to the Page of the business by clicking the posts.
Not only is there instant customer engagement for business companies, but they can also engage with in business partnerships, clients and potential clients. It is because all of the potential partnerships, clients can know the feedbacks and companies’ detail from Page.
4. Information immediacy and fast feedback
Traditionally, when a business wanted to get feedback on their products or opinion for services from customers, they need to run a voting poll or conduct call surveys. Now with social media, Facebook provides an active line with their customers. Therefore, companies just need to post a question on their wall or status and it is here where hundreds of people can respond within minutes. It can be good research for companies and their products and brand image. Time is money; if businesses can get different kinds of feedback as soon as possible they can improve their products and services in an instant.
5. Achieve higher search engine ranking
For all the Pages, they will have their own unique URL. For example, here is some of the Pages’ links:
Lady Gaga: http://www.facebook.com/ladygaga
Therefore, when people search on Google by using key words, for example ABC and Facebook, they can get the Facebook Page link easily. Therefore, companies can increase their exposure to the public by setting up their own Facebook Page. In addition, Facebook Pages can increase in product or brand visibility because a Page’s updates show in the News Feeds of Facebook users who is friends or fans steadily.
6. Free/ low price
One of most important reasons why Facebook is helpful is because it is free or low price for people setting up their business Page on Facebook. Pages and Groups are free for everyone to promote their business. On the other hand, advertising is another good choice for the business. Facebook will help the business set target audiences by their demographics, psychographics, and techno-graphics of their profile. And the minimum budget is US$1 per day. Therefore, Facebook can reduce the marketing expense and businesses can use that money on other elements of development for their business.
7. New technologies
Advance development of new technologies is also an important reason for using Facebook as a business tool. Nowadays, “smartphone” is immensely popular as it enables people to use the Internet whenever and wherever due to well developed mobile Internet networks. For example, there are many mobile caps including unlimited social media surfing usage. These particular deals offered by many mobile companies, such as Optus, 3 and Telstra, attract mobile phone users to incorporate social media in their daily lives; creating an interaction between businesses and customers much stronger. This advancement in mobile technology enables companies to promote their products and services while they are on the go and not be stuck at a desk; in addition as customer feedback can be expressed while they are up and about therefore giving another dimension of immediacy.
8. Customer psychology
Besides the different advantages for businesses, there is also the other spectrum; customers and clients. Pages have many functions and applications engage with and close the gap between business and client; therefore it is more interesting and intimate than a company’s official homepage. In addition to this, customers want to be heard, they want to express what they want and share their opinions on particular products within their social networks. Moreover, with evidence proving that customers want to show their friends what their favourite products or companies are with a simple ‘Like’ it is imperative that there is an advantage for business because Fans will share their Pages to their friends.
9. Strong connection with other website
Businesses can show their company’s detail in the Info of the Page. They can post their official homepage of the companies, Twitter, blog, YouTube channel, etc. Therefore, when people ‘Like’ their Page and look at their Info, people will know other information of the company. In addition to this, there is a function called Badge for businesses to post on their homepage or blog, this enables their customers to observe and link back to the company’s Facebook Page. Also, some of the social media can sync the updated status to Facebook such as Twitter and Xanga (Blog service).
Compare and Contrast Facebook with other popular Social media
According to ‘2010 Social Media Marketing Industry Report’, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are the top three social media tools used by businesses. Although Facebook and Twitter are almost same percent of the interviewees using it as a business tool most of the companies use Facebook for starting their social media marketing. Actually Facebook and Twitter are both popular for businesses marketing, but Facebook is more multi-functional than Twitter. Here is a table comparison between Facebook and Twitter:
|Target for potential clients in the B2C
||Stand-alone website that allows for the inclusion of photos, detailed information, videos, and other business applications.
||Limited in this area. Need to related Twitter accounts link to a website or Blog to gain this kind of flexibility
|Target for potential clients in the B2B
||Only allow people get the information who have Facebook account
||Viral Marketing flexibility and create a greater domino effect even do not have many followers and it can distribute to everyone even who have no Twitter account
|monitor what people are saying
||Same feature as Twitter but not user friendly
||Provide search feature that allows you to enter a subject and good for tracking increasing or declining trends
|Internal Viral Marketing benefits
||Greater internal reach because Wall feature is much more interactive
||Less internal reach of internal communication devices
|External Viral Marketing benefits
||Less external reach
||Greater external reach, because Re-tweets are externally measurable and their broad based Internet search impact is stronger
|Ability to build a large network
||Able to build a large network of qualified followers in the shortest amount of time to help brand and market a product or service.
|Best platform for direct Internet communication
||Instant message feature that allows you to communicate globally
||Direct message component that allows you to alert or update a select follower but it much slower than email
After comparing these two social media platforms, it is evident that they have their own advantages to better a business. Although Facebook seems like a successful business tool, the platform needs to be engaged with other social media platforms in order to be used to its full extent. Therefore, there is a Facebook application called Twitter; an application that Sync Facebook together with Twitter. That means people do not need to write the same status separately, every status on Twitter will be also posted on Facebook and vice versa.
In addition to Twitter, LinkedIn is used as another popular social media platform for marketing. The services of LinkedIn provides more professional for businesses such as job seeking, InMail service (contact friends of friend services, not free). Unlike LinkedIn, having a Facebook account is a free for membership and can be a business oriented form of social media while also being, well, social. Therefore, the use of LinkedIn is not very cost effective, does not offer broad socialising and does not provide a large range of the customers for businesses. Also, LinkedIn’s advertising service is not as user-friendly as Facebook. Linkedin is not bad for the marketing, but it does not cover both B2B and B2C marketing.
In conclusion, according to different research reports, articles and case studies, it is no doubt that Facebook is a successful business for companies. Facebook can generate exposure for their business within a short period. People think it is able to look for new business partnership within few months using Facebook as marketing tool. And they thought social media can be achieved selling to other businesses and their customers. And one important reason is that they all though social media can be reduced marketing cost both on selling to businesses or customers. However, facebook is not totally perfect and it still has some of the disadvantages as a business tool. Therefore business companies should use other different social media website to support and connect with Facebook. It is sure that making Facebook be more powerful business tool.
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