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The Facebook Marketing Book by Alison Zarrella, Dan Zarrella

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Chapter 1. Introduction to Social Networking

The number of active users on Facebook has grown tremendously over the past six years.
Figure 1-1. The number of active users on Facebook has grown tremendously over the past six years.

At the time of this writing, Facebook reports over 500 million active users (Figure 1-1). If it were a country, Facebook would be the third largest nation in the world, lagging behind only China and India. Half of those “citizens” log in every day—that’s 250 million people using the site on a daily basis.

Who Uses Facebook?

Originally a network for select college students, Facebook first expanded into high schools, then larger networks, collecting students and colleagues across the country and, eventually, the world. Now you can not only identify your romantic partner and growing circle of friends, but also your parents and siblings. Your mom is on Facebook. Your sister is, and your daughter as well. Your college roommate, your first crush, and the former best friend you haven’t spoken to in years. Your grandparents may even be tagging you in family photos you forgot existed. Seventy percent of Facebook users live outside the United States. The fastest growing segment of users? Women 55 to 65 years old. Depending on how you measure it, Facebook either has already surpassed Google in traffic levels or is about to. The Facebook Application platform alone has been used by over one million developers to build more than 500,000 active applications.

Try to pinpoint the “average” user, and you’ll find most users are anything but average. Typically, a Facebook user has 130 friends, is connected to 80 Pages, Groups, and Events, and has created 90 pieces of content. Where else could you find someone who talks to over 100 people a day? And that’s not even accounting for “super users” or influencers who often have thousands of friends.

The number of daily newspapers published in the US is down, as are their circulation numbers.
Figure 1-2. The number of daily newspapers published in the US is down, as are their circulation numbers.

Impact on Today’s Media

Newspaper circulation rates are in decline (Figure 1-2), and most television ads aren’t profitable. Facebook has a far larger audience than old media. That alone has been enough to convince some that it’s the perfect place to try a new marketing plan. If you need more incentive, consider the huge amount of personal information that users give the site and, therefore, advertisers. Facebook provides brands with new ways to target ads more effectively than ever before. The best part? All of this information has been volunteered by users. In many cases, they have actively opted in to more targeted advertising by “liking” ads or allowing Facebook to share their data with select external sites and partners.

Big Brands on Facebook

The world’s largest and most well-known brands are leveraging Facebook to build engaged and profitable communities. Coca-Cola has over 11 million fans of its Page, while Starbucks is closing in on 13 million. Vitamin Water launched an extremely successful contest on Facebook to choose the flavor, design the package, and name its newest drink. The company now has 1.7 million fans.

Sprinkles Cupcakes is a good example of a small business leveraging Facebook to improve its marketing.
Figure 1-3. Sprinkles Cupcakes is a good example of a small business leveraging Facebook to improve its marketing.

Furniture giant IKEA announced the opening of a new location by posting showroom photos to Facebook. But it didn’t stop there. Each item in the photo was up for grabs and given away to the first user to tag a piece with his or her own name. Within hours, thousands of people were scrambling to tag the pictures. Software maker Adobe targeted college students with its Photoshopped or Not game, asking users to decide whether an image had been manipulated. Six percent of students who saw the game clicked on a Buy Now button. To promote the launch of a vampire movie, Sony rebranded its popular Vampires application and launched a sweepstakes. In three weeks, it drew more than 59,000 entries.

How You Can (and Should) Use Facebook

Even small brands can get in on the action. Sprinkles Cupcakes (Figure 1-3) has more than 150,000 fans because of a Facebook-only promotion that ran in its stores. Luxury hotel chain Joie De Vivre offered a similar Facebook-only discount and booked more than 1,000 rooms because of the deals. Your existing and potential customers and all of their friends and family are not only on Facebook, but also logging in regularly and engaging with content on the site. Your competitors are probably already there, too. If you’re not on Facebook, you need to play catch-up to avoid appearing out of touch. If your competitors are not yet using Facebook, you’ll gain major points with your audience by being there first.

Even Facebook itself has a Facebook Page.
Figure 1-4. Even Facebook itself has a Facebook Page.

Creating Valuable Content

If used properly, Facebook can be an extension of your brand, helping you present the same personality, tone, and visual face as you would in any other material. Take the time to think about why you and your brand want to engage Facebook and what you hope to achieve from doing so. But don’t stop there. Think about your audience, specifically the segment of your audience on Facebook.

Facebook is a highly competitive and fast-moving channel. Each piece of content you post needs to be quickly digestible and easily recognizable in a busy newsfeed. Above all else, it needs to fit the unofficial model of a Facebook post. Do not copy and paste from your website or email campaign. Each post should be specific to your Facebook Page. Keep it short and to the point. Add media to spice things up, and make it clear what action you want users to take.

Facebook marketing can be amazingly cost effective, especially when compared to traditional media alternatives, but expect to make a significant time investment. Facebook users expect you to listen to their demands (and actually act on them, not just say “we hear you”). They want interesting and regularly updated content, and they want exclusive offers for being your “friend.”

Facebook offers a variety of tools and platforms to reach users. Marketers can leverage Facebook Ads, applications, Pages, or Events. Each of these tools also contains an analytics system called Insights that easily reports on activity levels and demographics (Figure 1-4). This book will walk you through all of these and more to help you create effective and profitable campaigns.

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