There's no denying the impact of Facebook. It's got over 850 million active users the world over making it comfortably the worlds number 1 social media website.
You now see the Facebook logo all through out today's print media, it's on our tv screens, plastered all over the web and now it's even heavily promoted in our retail stores (see the above pic I snapped from a local car yard!). It sure seems that everyone feels this technology is something they have to be heavily involved with.
So what is it about Facebook that makes the commercial sector so excited?
Well, Facebook is free! Go to any social networking seminar and they tell you this. What you may not hear though is that to make your Facebook presence stand apart from your competitions, you need to be actively involved. This means:
- Writing posts
- Publishing apps
- Liking other pages
- Running competitions
- Writing on walls
- Responding to comments
- Promoting the fact the you too have a page on Facebook
As it turns out, once many businesses realise exactly what is involved with finding "success" on Facebook, they recognise they don't really have the time (or inclination) to do this. This has led to a trend of larger businesses appointing a new employee to manage their social networking needs. Other organisations have pulled their marketing staff off of traditional marketing techniques (print, direct mail, radio, television, web, email, etc) to address their new social media requirements.
So in essence, this "free" technology is now costing companies thousands of dollars a year in order to get anything meaningful from being on Facebook. Ironically, these businesses then fall back on traditional marketing techniques to promote there existence on Facebook...! It sure is a funny exercise.
Given all this trouble, Facebook must be worth it...right?
Well as it goes, a well run Facebook site does have it's benefits:
- Once someone likes your page (i.e. becomes a fan), they will continue to see every promotion you publish on Facebook, essentially subscribing them to your business.
- Facebook also provides you with the opportunity to directly engage with your customers (both new and prospective). This isn't anything new to the web but it is something which can be done with great ease on Facebook.
The problem is, measuring the value of this sort of thing is actually really hard to do. Hal Thomas, a content manager from BFG Communications recently compared the exercise of measuring the ROI from Facebook alike to measuring the ROI of a business card. It's indisputable that the existence of both leads to new business but both of these things are, what he refers to as "vehicles" to another point rather than being the final "destination".
What this does do however is raise the question:
How much time, money and effort you should invest into this "vehicle" which is Facebook?
Fortunately, Hitwise released in 2011 a report which indicates that "1 like" (or Facebook fan) is the equivalent of 20 visits to your website. This is obviously still pretty subjective but it does provide you with a guide of what you get for your money.
When you bring these two ideas together, you arrive at the conclusion that your Facebook presence should really be seen and treated with equal importance to something like your email marketing. Both are vehicles which serve as a way to get people back to your website. It is however the website which is the final destination and where you have the most tools at your disposal to then convert this traffic into a sale.
We see businesses everyday struggle with the idea of how much time and money they should be investing into Facebook without any real idea of what sort of outcomes they should be expecting. Consequently, most either do too much or too little and neither is good for their business. Hopefully however, this article will be the start of your own research into determining what outcomes you should be expecting from your Facebook page and how much time, money and effort this equates to.
To help kick start your further reading, I've included below the references we used for this article.
Simply Zesty: If you're looking for the ROI of a Facebook Fan, you may be doing it wrong
Mashable: Measuring Social Media ROI
Social Media Market Share
Yahoo!: Number of active users at Facebook over the years