Social Media Marketing and Facebook: Why You Need a Profile
In recent years, social networking sites enabled by Web 2.0 technologies have dramatically changed the way we use the Internet. What was once a one-way connection has been transformed into a dynamic connection medium, allowing users to share a wide range of content, including blogs, photos, videos, and much more.
However, how have social media sites like Facebook changed the way online marketers advertise online? On the one hand, they have made our work much easier. Facebook is the ideal medium for advertising in a viral environment by nature. These online social directories use an interactive format that allows users to create a personal profile, connect with other users, and share content.
In a sense, these users have already been effectively segmented, coming together through similar interest groups and connecting through content. These behaviors, which are inherent in social media and enabled by Web 2.0, create valuable networks of specific and specific demographic groups. Now more than ever, the “Net Generation” is engaging in social media and presents online marketers with the opportunity to market to predefined segments of online users, positioning brand messages on sites where these users spend time online.
Additionally, these social networking sites are growing at an exponential rate, adding more and more users from more diverse backgrounds. Initially, Facebook was created just for college students, but last year it was opened to anyone with an email address. According to Microsoft, Facebook is the sixth most trafficked site in the US and now has more than 73 million registered users across 40,000 different college, high school, work-related and geographic networks. This represents a growth rate of 530% in a single year.
The tactic through which advertisers communicate with these targeted online audiences is known as Social Media Marketing (SMM). SMM has become a popular tool for search engine optimization (SEO) thanks to its unique ability to improve website visibility, name recognition and brand awareness among specific online audiences through the acquisition of a network of relevant links.
So what opportunities does Facebook present for specific online marketing efforts? Among Internet users ages 18-24, Facebook ranked first on the list of favorite sites in the most recent Youth Trends survey. More than 70% of women between the ages of 17 and 25 indicated that Facebook was their favorite site in terms of time spent online. For men, this figure was still a powerful 56%. These demographics are clearly technology-driven, growing up in a culture that views time online as an integral aspect of daily life. More than half of those surveyed visited Facebook at least once a day, logging an average of 35 minutes on the site.
Additionally, these users are familiar with online environments and are adept at searching and finding specific content that interests them. Therefore, social media sites, especially Facebook, offer online marketers the opportunity to engage users with advertising messages at critical moments of relevance.
So how can we use social media marketing to effectively engage these elusive young adult audiences? Below are several ideas on how to use social media marketing on Facebook.
Connect through groups:
Facebook has an infinite number of shared interest groups that users join for a myriad of reasons. These groups cover an unlimited number of topics and interests, from marine biology to snowboarding, politics, rap music, and Italian food. No matter what your interest or target market is, there is a group for you. Take it from me. I am a registered user of Facebook, or “Facebooker” since 2003, and I have seen a group for everything, literally. Many even have a local focus, such as the Denver Broncos fan groups or the Denver Chinese Students Group. Each of these groups has its own page with a forum, discussion board, photo gallery, etc. This is the best place to position messages aimed at specific niche audiences, as you are almost guaranteed that everyone who sees you fits your target profile. In the past, when trying to drive traffic to a video site I worked for, I would put descriptive and engaging links to relevant videos on the group’s “wall” or discussion board. I saw great results as many of the members of this particular group, who were dedicated to skiing, followed these links to watch videos about their favorite sport, skiing.
Connect through apps:
Recently, Facebook has opened its platform to third-party developers who have created countless applications, ranging from fantasy action pick simulators to beer pong video games and world maps marking desired travel destinations. Users can add as many of these applications as they like to their profiles, creating opportunities for marketers and developers to subtly integrate marketing messages into these applications and their functionality. Many developers have already done this and there is no doubt that they are reaping significant benefits, not only through increased brand awareness, but also through traffic driven from Facebook, which many have connected to their own sites.
Connect through content:
Because Facebook allows users to post videos, images, links, photos, and more, advertisers can seamlessly use social media marketing strategies to connect with these groups through content. By positioning your content where your target audience is, you can be sure that your brand will be right in front of their eyes as they interact with your message. Facebook is a repository of an infinite amount of consumer data, what many experts have called “a community in a box.” So why not take advantage of this data to participate? Connect through content.
Connect through events:
As Facebook has grown, it has added an “Events” section where users can post information about upcoming events and then invite their Facebook friends to attend. The entire events section is searchable and users can quickly locate events that interest them, find the host’s name, location, time, and even a description of the event. Additionally, Facebook gives each event its own page, where users can RSVP, decline to attend, or even post information on the event page’s public discussion wall, such as what to wear, what to wear, etc. This presents social media marketers with a valuable opportunity to post events and then invite people who are likely to be interested in attending. In my own experience with this medium, I have created events for clients and then post information and invitations within groups that line up. For example, when promoting an upcoming reggae concert or college football game, find as many groups related to reggae music, college football, music, and sports as you can, and post the event information on your group discussion forums. to make sure everyone who is interested now knows and waits.
Connect via mobile devices:
This week, Facebook announced that it has partnered with RIM, or Research In Motion, and its BlackBerry device. In addition to BlackBerrys, Facebook is accessible to a wide range of other mobile devices. This presents valuable opportunities for advertisers to reach potential customers in a local level, positioning their presence in the company at the moment of relevance.
Still, Facebook’s explosive growth has not been without its challenges. In response to criticism from a large number of groups, Facebook recently added additional security measures in an effort to better protect private information. As well as alleviating privacy fears, this is sure to encourage more users to join the site and share more information about themselves. However, this will also force social media marketers to be more innovative and creative in identifying and locating target audiences.
As you can see, Facebook users have been in charge of the segmentation process, connecting through shared content and interests. These behaviors, which are inherent in social media and enabled by Web 2.0, create valuable networks of specific and specific demographic groups. Now more than ever, the “Net Generation” is engaging in social media and presents online marketers with the opportunity to market to predefined segments of online users, positioning brand messages on sites where these users spend time online.
The company I work for, Fusionbox, a Denver internet marketing company, uses social media marketing to combine internet marketing goals with the capabilities of social media sites and Web 2.0 technologies. Click here for more information on social media marketing [http://running-with-the-bulls-seo.blogspot.com/2007/09/social-media-marketing-bridging-gap.html].
Basically, our SMM services create powerful forms of viral marketing that take advantage of the large audiences and user communities of social media sites. Whether on MySpace, YouTube, Digg, Facebook, Del.icio.us, Flickr or any other, SMM revolves around creating and connecting users with businesses through unique content.
For this reason, SMM can be used to build a link network, spread brand messages, increase visibility and awareness, and even manage your company’s reputation online. After all, these social networking sites have millions of registered users, grouped into communities of similar interests. Now all you have to do is discern where your target audience is congregating online. What more could a marketer ask for? No other channel allows companies to declare their identity, service offerings, value proposition and location within such a specific environment.
Our team of innovative and experienced social media marketers will effectively position your website content in a specific digital space where it will be seen by those who want to see it.
Fusionbox is a leader in the application of Web 2.0 technologies to the Internet marketing domain. Our services have been aptly regarded as Web Marketing 2.0 due to our ability to connect customers with customers through market share and the initiation of conversations through social media.