The amount of time people spent on Facebook in 2009 was 700 percent higher than 2008. That Nielsen statistic was a huge wake-up call for all marketers.
How people use the web has fundamentally shifted. While e-mail and "web surfing" were agreeably the primary purposes for Internet usage, Facebook demonstrated how utilitarian and passive these activities really were.
Now instead of solely focusing on an already wide range of online marketing and search engine strategies, marketers must also consider what Facebook enables people (and companies) to do, say, and share.
So What Works in Facebook?
Ah, the topic of many a webinar and social media echo chamber! Although I'm not a proponent of magic formulas, I'll share some approaches and results that tie to what I loosely refer to as social business intelligence for Facebook marketing.
Business intelligence for social media, in general, encompasses an array of tools and methodologies. For Facebook, the key is identifying and applying the information and data that can shape strategies and tactics specific to fan engagement, application development/deployment, and advertising.
Intelligence for Engagement
Like other social media strategies, you want to continually listen and learn before engaging -- with the intention of collecting information that can become actionable through your own Facebook status updates. It's much easier to join a conversation than to start one. Learn what people are talking about or responding to by:
- Observing content that generates high interactions. Aside from what your own page analytics indicate, consider high comment counts on other relevant industry Facebook pages.
- Employing third-party text analytics to automate the process of identifying emerging topics or sentiment associated with high volume interactions on your wall.
- Creating an editorial calendar that matches content having the highest propensity to share with the days and times when interactions are the highest.
- Considering content outside of Facebook that can be repurposed. This may include relevant blog posts, and blog headlines that display a high level of retweets.
- Recognizing effective trends in Facebook content strategies. Consider the approach to content and subject matter with the Chase Community Giving initiative, which has garnered 2.5 million fans. Chase is one of a growing number of companies actively leveraging charitable efforts in conjunction with growing their fan base.
Intelligence for Applications
The following Facebook pages are a couple examples of how companies used social business intelligence as guidance for the customization of applications (within tabs) to better engage their audience:
DexOne acknowledges online conversations regarding phone books, and responds via a new Facebook presence with custom functionality giving customers information on recycling, in addition to functionality for ordering or opting out of receiving one.
Sanrio/Hello Kitty awareness of fans sharing all things "Hello Kitty" inspires the development of a custom gifting application, garnering 73,000 new fans within week-one of launch without any paid advertising.
Intelligence for Advertising
The ability to target by demographics, friends-of-connections and social actions renders a trail of intelligence that demonstrates:
- Testing ads (title, image, text, and Facebook landing page) remains the silver bullet in any optimization efforts with pay-per-click (PPC) marketing, especially in conjunction with conversion tactics including attributes such as "reveal tabs."
- Responder Demographics reports can be used to identify highest click-through rates within an optimized PPC campaign, then sometimes repurposed to get better results under Facebook's CPM model.
- Advertising that includes your friend's interactions are far more successful (68 percent more memorable, according to Nielsen) than standard ads.
As people who work on custom Facebook application are more painfully aware than anyone, the platform is in a constant state of change -- but like the wake-up call statistic I mentioned from 2009, perhaps this year's big one relates to the 150 million mobile users on Facebook, compared to last year's 65 million. And just imagine all the intelligence still to come from that.