Status Update: Todd is writing about social network marketing

Right in front of the right faces

Face it, you either have a lot of friends that use Facebook or you have a lot of friends on Facebook because you’re a part of the revolution. Either way, there’s no denying that Facebook has successfully swept through every part of the nation, collecting users of every social, ideological, economic, religious and political stripe.

That’s right, they’re all there. Conservative Christian canoeing CPA’s from Conshohocken to Liberal, Later-Day-Saint, lute-playing linemen from Limerick and everyone in between is using the popular Social Networking site to creatively communicate with friends and family. This is good news if you’re selling canoes or lutes or anything else Facebook users are identifying in their, often quite comprehensive and usually very honest, profiles.

The process of proactively marketing to the “social network” group on Facebook couldn’t be easier, more affordable or more effective. In fact, during this economic climate, your Company should be searching out affordable branding and sales opportunities exactly like this.

With 175 million registered users, Facebook is the largest social networking group on the Internet because of features that make communication fun and easy. However, there are dozens of other sites with millions of members waiting to be targeted by your ads including MySpace, Friendster and LinkedIn. Not only is advertising on these sites affordable, it is so highly targeted that your messages are guaranteed to be put in front of the right people.

ACTIVE ADS

Social networks are comprised of active Internet users logging on frequently to contribute to the site. Initially they contribute user profiles on the social networking site and– in the case of Facebook, these profiles– although optional– feature a wealth of information about specific users. Facebook’s ad engine utilizes profile information to show users specific ad content that aligns with their profile.

The target nature of advertising on Facebook is very attractive to advertisers who are continually searching for the best advertising ROI. There is almost no waste because everyone who sees your ad has a potential interest in your product or service.

There are a thousand great examples of how Facebook is actively targeting users. Just log on and be amazed at how the messages in the ad column seem to speak directly to you. As a for instance, because my profile indicates that I like the AMC television series, Mad Men, an ad for custom tailored suits just like Don Draper’s continually tempts me.

COGENT CONVERSATION
You don’t even have to have a completed profile to witness Facebook targeting you with offers that interest you. With a component of their advertising engine called Lexicon, Facebook aggregates terms in conversations and presents content that is relevant. For example, your profile could be completely blank but if you and a friend continually discuss mountain biking it won’t be long before you see an ad selling mountain bikes.

AS USUAL, CONTENT IS KEY
Creating ads for Facebook is a very simple process but don’t let that affect the amount of strategy you put into crafting the perfect message. If you’ve advertised with Google Adwords you will understand the process and, indeed, the system of targeting is similar. The difference is you’re showing your ads over and over again to a captive audience with almost no waste.

Ad space is limited so you’ll want to develop a headline, body and image that speak to your potential customer with urgency. Put yourself in the Facebook user’s shoes and imagine what kind of a message would motivate you to click. Their profile could be dead as a potential consumer to your product or service but if the message isn’t right you won’t get the click or the conversion and, in the end, that’s what it’s all about.

BETTER AIMING SAVES BULLETS
The fact that you are only showing your ad messages to individuals who are very likely interested in your product or service means that you will not be wasting a lot of ad dollars. With Facebook you select the profile attributes (Men, 24-55, 100,000+ income, married, etc.) and keywords (Collegeville, mountain biker, business owner, etc.) and decide how much you want to pay for each keyword by impression or click.

With a Facebook ad program you’re guaranteed to make impressions and with the potential for very narrow targeting your almost guaranteed clicks. The clicks and conversions within such a highly targeted model will always ultimately depend on your message and offer. Now where do you send individuals that click on your Facebook ad?

GROUPS & PAGES
The obvious choice is to send Facebook users who click on your ad to your company website or some specialized offer within your site but there are two other alternatives also administered by Facebook that support your brand experience without removing users from the Facebook experience.

Depending upon your organizations category and offering, a Facebook “Group” may or may not be an appropriate vehicle. Groups are collections of Facebook users interested in a similar concept, cause, company, product or service. In many cases these groups are loose collections of individuals with very different profiles. If your offering isn’t right for a group you can still utilize relevant groups to promote and push to your Facebook page.

A Facebook page is a simple single web page within Facebook dedicated to organizations, companies, products and services. Companies that utilize Facebook pages can promote calendar events, facilitate conversations about their brand and, most importantly, collect fans to whom you can easily communicate.

Those advantages plus the fact that users do not need to leave Facebook to view your information make creating a Facebook group or Facebook page for your company compelling but, you can just as effectively push them through to your site’s homepage or to a special page on your site just for Facebook users.

RESULTS & TRACKING
You don’t have to push users to your site to track your Facebook ad program’s success. A very robust reporting interface allows you to see who is viewing and clicking on your ads. Similarly, the Facebook Ads Manager allows you to modify keywords and costs to adjust your campaign’s performance very easily.

Furthermore, if you have a completely free Facebook page you can measure visitation while encouraging discussion and promoting your brand with a calendar, links, notes, photos and videos.

You can gain real insight into who is seeing and clicking on your ads or page with Facebook’s administrative functions. Track progress with real-time reporting while making modifications to continually optimize your ads and maximize your results… all for free.

BUDGET
As mentioned, a Facebook or MySpace or LinkedIn or Merchant Circle page is completely free so there is no reason that you shouldn’t be participating in this revolution.

Facebook ad campaigns are as affordable as you want them to be. You create the ad for free, select your key word and decide how much each instance of that keyword is worth. Then you decide how much you want to spend as a daily budget. In this way you can start slow and continually enhance the quality of your message while increasing the frequency with which it is shown.

EXPLOIT & CAPITALIZE
Face it, the Facebook phenomenon is new and exciting. For now it is still in the universe of viral marketing where companies like yours are playing on a level field with national competitors and advertising behemoths.

Some advertising opportunities, like the Route 422 Business Advisor, are still providing incredible value for advertisers in this region but a tight economy has made reaching targets efficiently and effectively more and more difficult.

By contrast a Facebook advertising campaign is affordable and easy to initiate and maintain. Although VFC does facilitate social network marketing for some clients, this is one approach where the effort can come from the source rather than an agency.

Give social networking a try for your brand and, with some creative experimentation and a small budget, you can start hitting clients right in the face.
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