Here are a few important trends and key takeaways to keep in mind as you build out your Facebook marketing program:
1. Be where the customers are—Especially if you are struggling with SEO and SEM efforts to drive traffic to your website, try going where your customers already are (that is, Facebook). Facebook Pages are the new website.
2. Get local—Facebook autocreating Place Pages aside, local business profiles are inevitable replacements for the Yellow Pages. People have a natural affinity for the local shops and restaurants where they spend time and will continue to “check in” to these local establishments. Brick-and-mortars can capitalize on the advantage of their physical locations to deepen customer connection and word-of-mouth impressions on friends’ News Feeds.
3. Personalize experiences across the Web—Facebook for Websites and hypertargeting capabilities are enabling
highly social and personalized experiences across the Web. When people visit your website, they will increasingly
expect the option to login with their Facebook credentials and to be able to bring their Facebook profile identity and
friends with them as they search, shop, or interact otherwise with your site.
4. Grow your company’s network—Social networks are growing. Studies suggest that although the average number of close connections is not deviating much from Dunbar’s number of 150, most people’s social networks are growing as a result of staying in touch with weak ties via Facebook. In fact, by inventing “fan relationships,” Facebook is extending the notion of weak ties to include not only people but also brands and businesses. For businesses, having a
bigger social network of fans is akin to having a bigger funnel of people to market to.
5. Recognize that customer loyalty has never been more valuable—In the Facebook Era, suddenly every customer has a voice, and what they say matters to their friends. Increasingly, friends are becoming more prominent filters and recommenders for news, information, and products, heavily influencing how decisions are made. When you win over (or lose) a customer, you could be winning over (or losing) an entire friend group.
Along the same vein, beware too of these common pitfalls:
1. Getting swindled by social media “experts”—It feels like everyone is a social media expert these days. Beware of fake opportunistic “experts” who have no track record of execution.
2. Outsourcing too much—Ben Smith, a marketing manager at Dunkin’ Brands, always warns companies against
outsourcing social media to their digital agency (probably for the same reason that most of us wouldn’t outsource the
company website). Facebook is a critical channel for keeping a pulse on the customer voice, and managing social
media well needs to become part of your corporate DNA. No one knows your business and your customers better than
you, and keeping Facebook efforts close allows you to adapt and respond quickly to real-time feedback. Exactly how much you outsource versus keep in-house will vary by organization, but many business leaders are choosing to own the overall social strategy themselves and delegate certain pieces, such as media buys and creative.
3. Hiring people to do what can be automated—Nor should you over-hire. Social media archiving and brand compliance work in particular can be extremely timeconsuming to do manually. Don’t make the mistake of turning social media into manual labor when there are plenty of ways to automate these tasks through off-the-shelf or custom-developed technology solutions.
4. Focusing only on technology—Technology is often part of the solution, but never the full solution. The hardest part about making Facebook work for business is the organizational change required. Successful programs require winning executive buy-in, properly training employees, and fostering a culture that is receptive to transparency and change.
5. Resting on your laurels—Facebook is rapidly evolving and shows no signs of slowing down. New features are
released every week, with major product changes almost every quarter. This is why companies can’t afford to drag
out RFP’s or wait for long decision cycles. By the time a decision is made, Facebook’s technology has changed. Partner with a vendor you know can keep up. Focusing too much on today’s features and requirements is dangerous because they may soon become obsolete.
How Facebook Is Changing the Online Marketing Discipline
Thanks to Facebook, the Internet is evolving from a contentcentric Information Web to a relationship-centric Social Web. A decade ago, information was at a premium. Today, it is relationships that are king.
Last decade, search marketing taught us to focus on maximizing each transaction, measured by click-through rates and conversions. Today, Facebook fan relationships encourage us to take a longer-term view. Rather than maximize for a single transaction, companies need to optimize for the lifetime of a customer relationship. It’s not about how much a customer buys today, but rather what she buys over a lifetime, together with how she influences others to (or not to) buy.
As marketers, we need to move up the marketing funnel and engage audiences sooner in the buying cycle because this
gives us an opportunity to build trust and help influence the purchase decision. In contrast, search marketing doesn’t
provide much opportunity to influence. By the time someone is searching on Google for “digital camera,” chances are high he is already pretty far along in the purchase decision. There is not much opportunity to influence beyond price, and that is not a game most of us want to be in.
Online marketing still needs to be performance-based, but instead of measuring click-through rates for a single
campaign, we can invest and analyze with a longer-term view.
In many ways, the Facebook Era is a throwback to the days before the Internet. This is especially true for brick-andmortar businesses, which have long mastered the art of instore customer connection. 1-800-FLOWERS.COM founder and CEO Jim McCann sums it up nicely in his foreword to my book, The Facebook Era:
“Past technologies helped drive down costs, improve reach, and grow the business, but in the process we lost something very important: customer connection. I have missed the direct customer dialog I had in our retail flower shops. The digital age has felt largely transactional in comparison. This is why I feel even more excited about the Facebook Era than I did about toll-free numbers or the Internet. The Social Web is about connecting with customers again, hearing their stories, sharing in their joys and sorrows and the most important moments of their lives. It’s about reopening the dialog so that businesses can put customers back in the driver’s seat and keep getting better.”
The challenge to all of us is how to replicate this customer connection through the online medium. Fortunately for us,
there is no better tool for this task than Facebook.
What exactly the future holds is anyone’s guess, but what we do know is that, thanks to Facebook, your business will never again be the same—whatever your industry, wherever you work, and whether you are in marketing, IT, or another corporate function.