Virtually every company wants to include Facebook marketing somewhere in their media mix. Often “because everyone is doing it”, “because our audience uses Facebook” or even “because it’s free”. But there’s more to Facebook than acquiring Likes.

Facebook: the ultimate marketing tool?

Everything about Facebook is fenomenal. Over 900 million members - and counting. An average time-on-site of 26 minutes is something that most websites can only dream of. Facebook’s pageviews alone generate 20% of the entire web traffic in the United States! So it is very likely that your target audience uses Facebook, one way or another.

The real question is: how can Facebook work for you? There is a lot more to Facebook marketing that creating a profile and gathering Likes. Making Facebook profitable takes a lot of time, effort and dedication. GM already pulled out of Facebook, after spending 40 million dollars on advertising, content creation and consultancy. Facebooks stocks have dropped, a tell-tale sign of advertisers losing trust in Facebook’s advertising results.

Finding vs. Fun

Some marketers claim that Facebook is the next Google. I seriously doubt that: people use Facebook and Google in very different ways. Google still is the most popular way for people to find a specific product, service, or piece of information. This is why Google is by far the most profitable medium to generate sales. Facebook, on the other hand, offers friends, family and fun. This provides online marketers with many hooks to get people interested, and many ways to get consumers engaged with your brand.

Just gathering Likes is not going to bring home the beef, although Facebook Likes do have a (growing) impact on SEO. People will only Like your pages if your website provides them with something funny, interesting, creative or WTF to share.

Facebook’s biggest strength is that many users are familiar with Facebook’s built-in sharing tools. Use these in a campaign to quickly create enticing marketing campaigns with a strong viral effect. In a minimum of time, and a fraction of the cost of creating a campaign microsite from scratch. Exactly when your audience is expecting to find fun things online. That makes Facebook apps ideal for brand marketing.

Google is used for searching, Facebook for fun.
Fun = branding.

Facebook marketing using apps

The British newspaper The Guardian uses a Facebook app to successfully reach new readers. This app allows Guardian readers to share the articles they read on Facebook with their friends. They reeled in 8 million new readers: for a while, Facebook became more important to The Guardian then Google.

Facebook apps can make a huge difference in the marketing mix. There’s plenty of new services that were able to generate thousands of new users through the integration with Facebook. Pinterest (sharing images) and Spotify (streaming music) are great examples. When you see that your friends are using this great new service, wouldn’t you want to try it out?

Cat- or Dogbook?

A great example of Facebook marketing is an app from pet insurance provider Proteq. Proteq’s app provided pet owners with the opportunity to create a separate Facebook profile for their dog or cat. This grew to an “animal Facebook within Facebook” and generated a lot of exposure and goodwill towards Proteq. The app hardly generated any sales, but it allowed Proteq to brand themselves as a pet’s best friend.

Another example is the “Clash of the Cans”, from the whisky label Glen Grant. A Facebook app enabled friends to participate in a virtual pub quiz and possibly win a trip to Scotland. This app combined a fun social environment with Facebook’s excellent sharing opportunities and an enticing reward. Testing showed that after the quiz the brand preference of the competitors had increased from 6% to 20%.

Tiles flying high

Dutch media agency Mediamonks is one of the few lucky agencies that are endorsed by Facebook itself. Mediamonks recently won a prestigious prize for Facebook marketing with an app for the Royal Dutch Airlines (KLM). The app modified Facebook profile pictures to look like traditional Dutch blue-and-white tiles. But Mediamonks and KLM added something extraordinary to make this Facebook campaign wildly effective.

Agency marketers know that the best campaigns need to offer something special. Something unique that people want to brag about, that nobody else can buy or experience. KLM and Mediamonks included this element of uniqueness in their campaign by painting the user-generated tiles on one of KLM’s planes. Imagine the consumers reaction: their face would be on a plane, travelling all over the world. How crazy is that? How many people wouldn’t find that funny? And share it with their friends?
Within 3 weeks, 123.000 people participated and shared the app within Facebook.

Facebook-marketing 2.0: Timeline apps

Facebook Timeline apps is the new Facebook marketing tool. Timeline apps allow companies to get their message, products or services mentioned in Facebook timelines. E.g., the timeline will show when and which clothes a customer bought at The Bay. Imagine the possibilities for fashion, the music industry, cinemas, restaurants and any other business that often serve repeat customers!

The bottom line of Facebook marketing

Facebook can be an exposure powerhouse. So shouldn’t every company be present on Facebook? I’d say that a Facebook company page never hurts. And that asking for genuine Likes always is a good idea. And apps can be great to increase your brand value. With the right testing and targeting, paid Facebook marketing will generate excellent and quick results.

Keep in mind that Facebook is not a conversion channel. As easy it is to get people to interact, as easily they are distracted by the next morsel of information from their friends. Take baby steps, nurture your Facebook fanbase with new campaigns and continuous information, and create a new medium for your brand. Once you start, it requires continuous effort, dedication and hard work.

In order to make the most of Facebook marketing, remember to put a smile on someone’s face. Keep users interested in your branded app, content or widget. This will help your brand.

Brighten someone’s day, that will ultimately mean the most for your brand, your reach and your bottom line.

Do you want to market local companies, startup businesses, generate sales or generate a high ROI? Exhaust your possibilities on search based marketing (such as Google AdWords) first.

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