There are five ways companies are engaging audiences with Facebook (generally in this order): Pages, Places/Deals, Ads, Apps, and Facebook for Websites (also known as Facebook Connect):
1. Facebook Pages—Facebook Pages are essentially Facebook profiles representing a company, brand, or other business entity—they are like business websites on Facebook. Instead of friends, Facebook Pages have fans. When someone “likes” (becomes a fan of) your Page, she is both opting in to receive your Page updates in her News Feed as well as publicly declaring an affinity for your brand. When fans “like,” post, or comment on your Page, it is published to their friends’ News Feeds, generating free, word-of-mouth impressions for your business. In addition, Facebook provides Page administrators with aggregate demographic data, page views, click-throughs, and other valuable analytics. Facebook Pages provide an opportunity to learn about and truly engage your audience while building customer relationships and loyalty.
Creating a Facebook Page establishes your company’s home base on Facebook. Instead of asking customers to
visit your website, you are going to them on Facebook where you know they already spend time. A growing number of businesses, in particular small businesses, are even foregoing websites in favor of a Facebook Page because it is far cheaper and less time-consuming to create, drive traffic to, and maintain. For bigger brands with an existing website strategy, Facebook Pages can play an important complementary role to test new campaigns or for reaching new audiences. (Without going into too much detail, Facebook Groups are generally not recommended for business because they are associated with the personal profile of whoever is posting and do not provide the same level of analytics.) Create a Facebook Page.
Of course, setting up a Facebook Page is the easy part. The challenge is how to keep the Page interesting by periodically posting timely and relevant content and how to attract and retain fans. For more on this, check out Chapter 11 in The Facebook Era (click here for an excerpt on my blog).
2. Facebook Places and Deals. Facebook Places is Facebook’s response to popular location-based services such as Foursquare, Yelp, and Gowalla. Facebook users “check in” to share their physical location (such as a restaurant, airport, gym, and so on), see where their friends are, and receive location-based deals. As with Facebook Pages, your business benefits from free word-of-mouth impressions every time someone checks in at your establishment and this gets published to his or her friends’ News Feed. In addition, Facebook Deals allows local merchants to offer special location-based promotions to any user who checks in to their Place Page.
When Facebook Places launched in August 2010, approximately 14 million local business Place Pages were automatically created from business directory information. Facebook users who search for but do not find a business on Places are also given an option to create a new Place Page. To claim a Place Page, click on the link that says, “Is this
your business?” You will be asked to enter an address and phone number and provide one of the following proofs of
ownership: articles of incorporation, business license, or BBB accreditation.
Note that Facebook Place Pages may be created for certain businesses that already have a traditional Facebook Page.
Facebook now offers the option for business owners to merge their Pages and Place Pages (though be warned there are some bugs!) and are working toward being able to provide a single Page object that fully integrates the two. Visit Facebook Places.
3. Facebook Ads. Facebook Ads are similar to Google AdWords, except instead of targeting search terms, Facebook Ad campaigns target specific audience profiles (known as “hypertargeting”). Facebook’s sophisticated platform allows advertisers to choose which users on Facebook get shown an ad. Advertisers can target profiles based on filters like location, gender, age, education, workplace, relationship status, relationship interests, and interest keywords.
Case Study: Elle Jae
Award-winning photojournalists Elle Jae wanted to focus on shooting weddings that have a cultural or artistic element
(their specialty). They created a Facebook ad campaign hypertargeting Facebook users whose relationship status is
set to “Engaged” and who listed “art” as a profile interest (see Figure 5). Recognizing the highly referral-driven nature of their business, they also used Connection Targeting to specifically reach people who are friends with their existing
The result? Fewer but much more highly qualified leads at a lower cost than from Google AdWords ($0.33 instead of
$1.48 per click, with higher conversion). Instead of bidding up the same keywords as every other wedding vendor, Elle
Jae is able to focus on the exact profile of brides- and grooms-to-be with whom they enjoy working most.
Facebook Ads are powerful because they allow advertisers for the first time to reach very precise audience segments.
Hypertargeting techniques can improve ad conversions and reduce costs because they allow companies to buy and show ads only to those most likely to buy. It is valuable even for brand advertisers who might wish to reach much larger audiences because it enables them to tailor messages to specific audiences as well as bid different amounts for more or less valuable audience segments.
Like AdWords, Facebook Ads can be purchased in either a CPC (cost per click) or CPM (cost per thousand impressions) model. Ads generally have four components: destination URL (which could be an external landing page or Facebook Page, Application, Group, or Event), title (25 characters), text (135 characters), and image (110 x 80 pixels). Create a Facebook Ad.
4. Facebook for Websites (originally Facebook Connect). One of the most interesting things Facebook has done is open up their technology so that any external website can integrate Facebook’s functionality. Facebook for Websites
lets Facebook users authenticate to your website using their Facebook login. Instead of asking site visitors to register for a new username and password on your site (high barrier to adoption), you can implement Facebook for Websites’s
single sign-on feature. Generally this results in more logins and therefore more data about who is coming to your site.
Once you have implemented Facebook single sign-on, you can tailor the content and experience for each site visitor
based on his or her friends and what their activity has been on your site. You can also embed Facebook’s “Like” button
and other social plugins with one line of HTML added to your web page. When site visitors interact with any of these
plugins, the activity is shown to their friends via the News Feed, which again provides free word-of-mouth impressions
back to your business.
5. Facebook Apps. Warning: This is for advanced users only and will require deep involvement from your IT group or
external developers. Facebook Apps provide businesses with an opportunity to integrate in the core Facebook user
experience. The most popular Facebook Apps are games such as Mafia Wars, Farmville, and Bejeweled. However, the most common Facebook Apps created for business usually appear as a custom tab on your Facebook Page.
Why build an app? Less well-known brands with fewer Page views and fans typically find it is not worth their while
to invest in building a Facebook App because of the higher barriers to adoption. However, for those with the resources
and a big audience, Facebook Apps allow for greater customization and deeper user engagement than Pages and Ads alone.
There is currently a big push toward social commerce on Facebook. Retailers are finding that people do not like to
leave Facebook, so shopping experiences that originate on a Facebook Page but take people off Facebook face much
higher rates of cart abandonment. For this reason, a small but growing number of companies are building apps to
provide end-to-end shopping experiences on Facebook. For example, Facebook users can order pizza for delivery from
Pizza Hut without ever leaving Facebook. Similarly, JC Penney shoppers can access the entire catalog and place their orders through the app on JC Penney’s Facebook Page.
It would be very aggressive (and likely redundant) to try to tackle all five options Facebook has provided for businesses. Usually, companies start with one or two of these and expand naturally as they grow more sophisticated and learn about what their audiences respond to best.