by Michael B. Perini, ABC
perini & associates

Despite all the hype about the recent offering of Facebook stock to the public there still is great reasons for a business or nonprofit to be on Facebook.

Recent statistics from Facebook show the following:

  • There are more than 800 million potential customers on Facebook.
  • Facebook estimates that 50% of  Facebook users log in each and every day.
  • There are more than 3 million active Facebook Fan Pages.
  • More than 1.5 million local businesses have active Facebook Fan Pages.
  • More than 20 million users become fans of Fan Pages EVERY DAY.

Other recent statistics, from industry sources, indicate that Facebook is not just for teenagers. Recent statistics continue to show substantial growth among users of Facebook who are between 35 and 55. Other statistics indicate that over 80% of people who shop online are also using Facebook. There are other benefits to having a business presence on Facebook  too. Facebook Fan Pages are indexed by the search engines and Google announced recently that updates from Fan Pages will now appear in real time search.

What does this mean to you as a business owner or nonprofit?

It means that having an active business or nonprofit fan page presence on Facebook can have the potential to help you get found in the search engines. Say, for example, you have a bed and breakfast business in Colorado. If you properly set up and optimize your Facebook Fan Page and someone does a search for B&B’s in Colorado, then you have increased your chances that someone will see your Fan Page relatively high in the search.  Setting up a Fan Page on Facebook therefore, should be an integral part of the Search Engine Optimization strategy.

Also, you can set the page to choose your audience by location, age and interests.  You can also test simple image and text-based ads and use what works.

Remember, millions of Facebookers are all freely venting their views on a totally public domain and they are doing so without the restrictions of a marketing analyst (like myself) watching over their shoulder as they type. Especially now with the Facebook Timeline, a business or nonprofit can monitor any references, positive or negative and, most valuably, this information is immediate, allowing companies to respond equally immediately.

Finally, the vast majority of social media platforms sell marketing space that access millions of customers. YouTube sell ads that appear before a video begins, thousands of videos have thousands of hits … meaning thousands of customers will interact with an ad, and even if they click to skip it within five seconds, that click is considered an interaction with the brand.  Facebook also has this feature (ads show up on the page) with daily limits on ad costs and excellent statistics to show results.

Should you just use social media as your only marketing tool?  Clearly, not.  Although social media can bring excellent results in its own right, even better results are achieved by communicating with other marketing channels, with the aim of better cross channel integration.  How, for example can you integrate a person’s presence in your business, who comes in because of traditional marketing, with Facebook?

Well, here is how McDonald’s is doing it, according to Mike Gracia, for Cosine.  “McDonald’s was recently able to integrate social media directly with its physical promotions to incredible success. Its Monopoly themed sweepstake game originally involved customers buying food to gain tokens and win prizes. These sweepstake style promotions draw customers in with the prospect of prizes relying on purchasing products and McDonald’s Monopoly remained fairly popular for years. The masterstroke though came with the introduction of the online aspect.

Initially a microsite—that recently added Facebook apps—the online campaign let customers play the game by inputting codes from physical tokens to win prizes. This integration means that customers are not just redeeming their prizes in the store, but going home and playing the game: They are keeping the brand in their mind and then winning food prizes that will, in turn, encourage them back to the store to go through the whole process again. Therefore drawing customers into McDonald’s whole online strategy both in-store and at home, introducing them to a cycle of brand appreciation as well as purchasing more in order to play.

The Facebook app has a benefit of not only appealing to the individual playing, but Facebook apps require signing up to and will record on a user’s wall when they use it. This means that every time one user registered to play the McDonald’s Monopoly app, each one of their few hundred friends are notified via newsfeeds—spreading brand penetration even more with minimal extra effort.”

All of this points not to the question of “Why be on Facebook?” but “Why aren’t you already?