Saturday, July 31, 2010

Marketing to 500 Million Plus Facebook Users, Should You Care?

500 Million People, Who Cares?
Facebook announced that they had 500,000,000 members "actively using facebook" on the 21st of July. Should you care?

The short answer is "Not really".  Odds are that you are not Coca-Cola, and all 500 million people are not potential customers. You are interested in a segment of those people.

You want to reach the most qualified and likely to make a purchase with your ad.
This post will offer some suggestions on how to reach those people.

What's In a Number

I want to talk briefly about that 500 million figure. What do they mean by "actively", was it a figure of speech or was there some metric to separate active users from others? If it was a figure of speech and FB meant accounts then we all know the number is not 100% accurate.
  • Duplicate accounts - While against the terms and conditions of FB, I know of several people who maintain two accounts. One for business and the other for personal friends.
  • Dormant accounts - People, like my wife get burned out checking their posts and either stop using their account of leave FB all together
  • Abandoned accounts - I have been to Facebook seminars where people created accounts just for that class, knowing they were going to stop using them and create "real" accounts once they got the hang of FB.
Whether the these types of accounts are 1%, 5% or 10% of the total FB population we will never know and it might not matter. Being able to market to 495 or 450 million people is still impressive.

Neilson says in 2009 there were 115 million TV watching households in the US. Using the Facebook advertising tool, they claim to reach 116 million people over 18 in the US.

That equates to about 1/3 of the population of the US. FB claims a similar percentage for Canada and Australia. Percentages are lower for non-english speaking countries such as France (25%) and Germany (15%).

Filtering Facebook Users

If you are going to use Facebook ads, the chances of you marketing to all 500 million users or 115 million accounts in the US are slim. To get the most from your advertising campaign you are going to use a filter for:
  • Location: Country / State / City.
  • Age range.
  • Interests.
You might even filter your campaign further by:
  • Marital status
  • Education
  • What Groups or FB applications users belong or don't belong.
After all that is done, you will get a number of potential people on FB, who might see your ad. If it is 10 million or 10,000 it doesn't matter, since FB charges based on clicks not impression.

Location: If you sell direct to consumers in a bricks and mortar store this is one of the most powerful filters available. It will let you limit who sees your ad to those from a certain geographic area. Most small businesses will want to drill down to the city level.  Select a range of either 10 or 25 miles, unless you offer a unique product or experience and know people will travel farther to reach your location.

I prefer selecting several locations with a 10 mile range for the same ad to make sure  coverage is as complete as possible, instead of one location with a 25 or 50 mile range.

Age Range: Of those filters I would leave this one  alone. Some quick testing on my part shows that changing the range from 18+ to 25+ can result in a 15 - 35%+ swing.

I tested using Ohio. When looking at people 18+ or 25+ with an interest in:
  • Photography the numbers changed from 90K, to 56K (a 38% drop)
  • Nascar the numbers changed from 25K, to 22K (12%)
  • Cats / Kittens the numbers changed from 12k to 7,500 (38%)
  • Dogs / Puppies the numbers changed from 24k to 15k (38%)
  • Cooking  the numbers changed from129k to 99k (24%)
  • Guitar / Electric Guitar the numbers changed from 16k to 6,100 (72%)
Most of those percentage changes (except the last) are near the demographic mix of users Facebook reported in June of 2010. They claimed about 30% of its users where between 18 - 25.

Unless you are marketing something that is definitely for a specific age demographic, leave the age range at 18+

Likes & Interests: This is by far the most important of the basic filtering fields available on FB. Start out by picking the obvious categories related to your product or service.

But there is more you can do. Don't assume you know what your potential clients are thinking.
Next week I will talk about some non-obvious strategies to picking good entries for this filter.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Tips to Promote a Growing Business with Facebook

Congratulations you launched your business's Facebook page. Now What?

Here are some tips on what you can do with Facebook (FB) to promote your business, and I don't mean just online coupons.
This blog assumes that you are familiar with managing FB page settings - Hubspot has a good how-to video on setting up a basic page.

If you remember last week I said that "Facebook Excels at Advertising and Customer Relations". This post will concentrate on customer relations and communications

Don't Just Broadcast Receive

Remember communication works best when it goes in both directions. Use FB to listen to your customers, not to just talk to them.
  1. Let people comment on your pages.
    Under Setting for your page set it so that "People who like this Page can write or post content on the wall". If appropriate let them post photos, videos or links. But I would recommend that you hold off on that until you become more familiar with your fans.
  2. Ask your fans questions.
    • Do they have an idea that can help you? 
    • Ask if they were running the company what would they change.
    Don't expect every answer to be useful. But you might get a good idea or inspiration for one from someone who is not in your company.
  3. Use the Poll application on Facebook. 

Let Them Know You Are Listening

Follow what people say on your page. Set aside some time to read what people are saying on your page. It should be possible, unless you have lots of comments each day, to read every one of them. Your customers (and fans) want to know that you are paying attention to what they say. They want to make a difference.

Don't get defensive when some of the comments are negative. If someone has a legitimate complaint, address it head on and try to rectify the situation.

Custom Profile Image

Create a custom profile photo that promotes your brand or a specific product. Your profile image is not limited to the size of the swooshy haired default image. Your profile can be up to 600 pixels tall, and 200 pixels wide. Check out this 2009 post on about 5 ways to alter your profile. Just keep in mind that FB only lets you clip an area 200 x 200 pixels for the thumbnail image of your profile.

Custom Applications

For the more adventuresome, try custom applications.
Visit the application page on FB, especially the Business related listing. There are several applications that can help a business:  mailing list sign ups, storefront, job posting and more.

If you are at all familiar with HTML then check out FBML (Facebook  Markup Language). It lets you add custom static code to your Facebook page. You can even make this custom code your default landing tab for visitors to your page. If you Google "FMBL Tutorial" you will see several examples of what can be done using FBML.

Final Word of Advice

When you respond to people on FB, take time and think out your answers. This is especially true if you are responding to criticism or a complaint. Open up Notepad or some other text editor and write out your response. Save it and then reread it an hour or two later before posting.

Good Luck.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Tips for Using Business Facebook Pages

Here are a few useful tips for business owners looking to effectively use Facebook (FB).

Every business seems to want a Facebook page. Creating a page is easy, using one effectively to promote your business takes a bit of effort.

Know your Destination

Before you start using your FB page, understand what your goal is:
  • Do you want to increase sales?
  • Should it promote your business?
  • Will it be a vehicle to reinforce your existing customer relationships?

Those three goals cold be rewritten as
  • Marketing - Do you want to increase sales?
  • Advertising - Should it promote your business?
  • Customer Relations - Will it be a vehicle to reinforce your existing customer relationships?
You might be asking what is the difference between Marketing and Advertising - if so check out this web page:  Marketing vs. Advertising, it has an explanation which I like.

Marketing: Getting People To Spend Money

If your goal is to use your Facebook page to increase sales, and that is the singular measure that you are going to use, I must warn you that you will be disappointed. Having a Facebook page in and of itself will not increase sales.

Facebook Excels at Advertising and Customer Relations

You can use Facebook to promote your business or increase your clients' engagement with your business. But to do this, you need relevant content for existing potential clients.

How Do You Find Content?
If your company doesn't create content on  regular basis, I would suggest that you start with Google Alerts. You can create alerts related to your customer's interests. When you run across an interesting article post a description and link to that page.

Does your group or organization put up content (video, blogs, music...) regularly? Use FB to tell people where to find this content.

Offer short book reviews on related topics - and links to the books or complete reviews on your blog.

Even if you are note creating content, eventually you are going to find the desire to create content - blogs, articles or new content for your website. When you do, make sure to use your FB page to help promote this new content.  

An Example That Works
Mentor ATA has a facebook page that does a good job interacting with their current clients. (My son just started their Taekwondo kids program in May, 2010.)

They put content that interests their base.
  • Updates (including video) about their participation to the World Championships.
  • Information about upcoming tournaments.
  • Dates for Belt Testing
  • Summer Camp Registration.
Mentor ATA also posts articles that might be of interest to a wider audience, but still fits in with their business.
  • Information about bullying.
  • Links to "Stranger Danger" videos.
  • Video links for Noah Ringer "Last Airbender", who is an ATA student.

    Promote Your Facebook Page

    Many people feel that since FB is social media they don't need to promote it. Their fan base (should it now be called likes) will grow on its own as word spreads. While this is true, to a limited extent, you can boost your page's fan base by promoting it on your website, twitter account or other places were you come in contact with the public.

    Not Just Coupons

    Don't rely on coupons, they are not social media. Unless you are offering a fantastic deal, you are not likely to get anymore traffic or increase in fans.

    The exception to this rule is if your business is driven by huge discount sales. If people shop at your business because they expect huge discounts, then Facebook can be a great place to offer extra discounts to your loyal customers.

    Facebook Is a Tool
    Remember FB is a tool, not a strategy. Keep in mind what you want to accomplish with  your page and as always remember your audience.

    Next week I'll talk about other ways to use FB to promote your business or interact with customers.