Facebook has over 600 million users worldwide, and shows no signs of slowing in terms of popularity among consumers, as well as marketers. But the issue for marketers is how to effectively use Facebook (and really any social site), and not make the mistake of using their own customers as guinea pigs in their quest for social media prominence. Altimeter Group conducted research this year leading to a report called The study included input from 34 vendors, agencies, and experts to determine how to successfully make use of Facebook as a marketer, and how to develop a roadmap for best practice. I highly recommend you download the report.
First, let’s look at how consumers are adopting Facebook – according to third party research referenced by Altimeter Group – 50% of active Facebook users log into the service every day, and connect to an average of 130 friends. Amazingly, the average internet user is spending more time on Facebook each day than on Google, Yahoo, YouTube, Microsoft, Wikipedia and Amazon – combined! Consumers increasingly trust their friends and family more than other information sources about products and services; and 60% of Facebook users are more likely to recommend a brand after becoming a Facebook fan.
My caveat to all this is that Facebook may or may not be the leader in three years, but I think the concepts discussed in the Altimeter Group report are equally true for any social media marketing activity. The report suggests that, “As consumers make decisions directly with each other on Facebook, brands are left out of the mix.”
So how do brands get in on the action? According to an eConsultancy study (referenced in Altimeter report), 70% of brands indicated they were planning to increase spending on social media in 2010. But the issue is that many brands are confused about how to approach social media strategy, and need a roadmap. The days of simply using a one-way website approach are over and marketers need to apply new strategies to social media, including Facebook.
Following their industry research, Altimeter Group saw some key issues continually coming up. From these, they developed a core list of 8 Success Criteria for Facebook Page Marketing:
1) Set community expectations
2) Provide cohesive branding
3) Be up to date
4) Live authenticity
5) Participate in dialog
6) Enable peer-to-peer interactions
7) Foster advocacy
8) Solicit a call to action
Facebook’s latest move is to make it easy for consumers to set Facebook as the default homepage on their browser. Have you noticed the bar at the top of your Facebook page with pictures of your friends, asking you to drag it to your “home” bar so you can see what’s happening with your friends every time you open your browser? This is a significant move because if Facebook can manage to convert even a fraction of their users, they will be giving Google and other homepage search engines a run for their money, not to mention significantly increasing Facebook’s page impressions and time spent on site. Imagine potentially hundreds of millions of people mining their social graph for information before (or instead of) going to a search engine?
For more information on Facebook, see Digital Chameleon’s Social Media Platforms course.