Through the use of Facebook as a business tool, how do we judge its success?

Success is often seen as purely numbers, and in many cases this is true. For radio, the success of a station’s overall performance is measured by ratings, how many listeners a station has at particular times of the day. But is this how we judge success in terms of social media? The number of fans your Facebook page has certainly comes in to it but is not necessarily the sole and only way you should judge success on or by.

According to Ross Hill, an Innovative Analyst at Delloite Australia, before we can judge our success on Facebook we need to ask ourselves what statistical information is available and what matters to us. (Hill, R, 2010, video). We also may need to be creative in how we derive this information, comparing statistical data from Facebook with other website data to ascertain what we need to know.

Another key element of judging your success on Facebook, according to Keith De La Rue, founder of Acknowledge Consulting, is to look at the level of engagement you are experiencing through your Facebook fan page. Interaction with customers, clients, listeners, viewers and consumers is a very effective aspect of the new form of social media and social business design.

774 ABC Melbourne – as of Friday 11 June 2010, has 6,172 fans on their Facebook page. In a 24 hour period, 6am June 10 to 6am June 11 2010, they posted four topics, averaging 36-43 comments per topic. 774 ABC Melbourne has a high level of talkback on-air therefore places high values on interaction, with listeners. The interaction on their Facebook page appears to be strong and consistent. In this example it is important to look closely at the interactivity, including the level but also the quality to judge the success of their Facebook presence.

As a contrast, 702 ABC Sydney, which is the sister station to 774 ABC Melbourne, use their Facebook page more as a promotional tool. Their page, as of June 11, 2010, has 1,444 fans. But posts are around station events, promotions and events rather than phone topics like 774’s page. So in a typical 24 hour period, they may post 3-4 events, and people ‘like’ their posts, the number of ‘likes’ is proportionally lower to 774’s page, but they have a lower number of fans. But it would be unfair to say that it is not a successful tool for them, as the underlying reason for having the presence seemingly is more for promotional purposes rather than interactivity. Success for them is measured more by number of fans of the page (how many people will read their promotional messages), and number of ‘likes’, as well as studying audience levels and participation in events which would happen externally to Facebook.

How Do We Judge Facebook As A Promotional Tool?

In order to be successful as a promotional tool there are particular aspects that need to be fulfilled. These elements of marketing are fundamental for any sort of platform, whether it be traditional or modern forms of media. However, social media is not like traditional media where people can see a billboard or an ad and think about it for a few seconds. Therefore, in view of the fact that we are focusing on social media we must look seven essential questions to ask in order to gage Facebook’s success as a social media promotional tool.

Exposure

The most imperative aspect for any business is exposure so the question business should ask is “Does the use of a Facebook Page help my business gain exposure?” Any business wants to disseminate information about their company efficiently and effectively. Facebook offer many niche ways of gaining exposure on the social network, whether it be an update of a picture, video, link or a simple status update the business must ensure that this particular action causes a ripple effect within the network. (See Case Study: Supre Clothing)

Increase in traffic/subscribers

Businesses want to be able to see results online through their exposure so in order to measure this they must ask, “Does the Facebook Page increase my business’ website traffic, subscribers or opt-in list?” Depending on how often the Page updates with an external link to their webpage then there will be increased traffic. There is also a Facebook Page tool that enables businesses to add a sidebar for email subscriptions. If by using this tool increases subscribers and the opt-in list then the Page is deemed successful.

New business partnerships

B2B is essential for any business in order to climb the corporate ladder therefore companies using a Facebook Page must ask, “Does Facebook enable my business to gain new business partnerships?” Facebook enables Pages to “Favourite” other Pages. If businesses use this method correctly it not only creates a virtual relationship between businesses but it also strengthens its corporate image on the social network.

Search engine rankings

The higher you are on the search engine ranking the better. Any business that knows this should ask, “Does the Facebook Page increase my business’ search engine ranking?” Facebook Pages have the tendency to rank higher on any search engine due the fact that rankings are based on the amount of links that particular webpage has. Therefore, the more connections the business has on its Page the higher it will be on the any search conducted.

Qualified leads

Potential customers who show interest in a particular product or service are important for any business. Companies should ask, “Does the use of a Facebook Page generate qualified leads?” In other words, does the amount of Fans have indication that my Page is successful? The answer is yes.  Fans are your potential customers; they are those who are exposed to your services and products. Therefore, as a result of the Fans responding to the picture and video updates it gives a good indication of what they consider buying from the business.

Increase in sales

Profit through sales is what drives any business to success so businesses should ask, “Does the use of a Facebook Page help the business sell products and/or services?” This is hard to predict as linking sales to Facebook Pages are yet to be absolutely determined. However, if the Page is used correctly then products and services can be catered to the business’ target audience therefore increasing sales amongst the desired demographic. (See Case Study: Supre Clothing.)

Reduce in marketing expenses

Investing into good marketing is an expense business’ pay in order to stay in ahead of game therefore they must ask, “Does the Facebook Page reduce my business’ expense on marketing?” The answer is yes. High results in Return On Investment (ROI) is essential to any success, such little effort goes into updating and engaging on a Facebook Page and so much can be achieved. (See interview with Keith De La Rue)

So, now that the Facebook Page has been created, what now? How do we make the Page a success? In light of all these different key aspects let us look at what Facebook says about Facebook Pages:

The Pages with the freshest, most engaging content stand to gain the most from this new product—since each track played, video viewed, review written and event attended can generate News Feed stories that propagate through the social graph. Facebook will accelerate the rate at which unknown entities become popular, and it will also fortify the position of those who are already recognized highly among users. Whether large or small, all artists, businesses, and brands have the potential for exponential distribution through the graph if they can engage users.

–          Facebook Help Centre

Therefore, a Facebook Page has great potential to be a useful promotional tool for various businesses. Although, businesses must not rely on Facebook or any sort of social media alone just to gain success; it is only one tool amongst the many that can promote any sort of business. They should utilise it together with whatever existing means they have marketing their business. Consequently, the result of a Facebook Page’s success comes down to the level of maintenance, engagement and content that the creator or administration intends to implement.