Facebook for Business? Here’s One Example

Facebook for Business? A Writer Gives It a Go

The steady advance of Facebook as a business tool moved forward yesterday as President Obama held a town-hall style forum with none other than Facebook chief exec Mark Zuckerberg, who presented him with his company hoodie.

In a recent Washington Post business article, Steve Luxenberg wrote about his foray with Facebook: “I went to a dance recently. I had jitters of the first-date variety, so I fussed over what to wear. I chose colors that flattered me. I had a snappy opening line ready. I had only one conversation—one!—during the entire evening. I made eye contact with some in the throng of 1,700, but the majority just ignored me. Good thing I had paid only a small cover charge to get in.”

Luxenberg was actually writing about advertising on Facebook, which he did to promote the paperback edition of his book, “Annie’s Ghosts: A Journey into a Family Secret.” The 1,700 was the average number of times his ad appeared before a person clicked on it. He paid per click up to his preset budget of $260 (no matter how often the ad appeared). His click-through rate was .058%. The average industry CTR is .1% for banner ads (one click per 1,000 impressions) and .051 on Facebook.

Using Facebook for business purposes presents some obvious benefits—as Luxenberg writes, people offer “a generous trail of demographic crumbs, often in greater volume than market researchers could hope to elicit through those annoying phone calls in the middle of dinner.” You also get age, gender, location, relationship status and even better—for marketing types—“likes” such as specific books, places and activities.

The obstacles for using Facebook in this manner would seem to be separating out your social self. How many of us have something on there that we may not want to advertise too loudly. Actually, I just checked and mine’s not bad but still even a silly “poke” here and a funny “friend” there can cause some doubts in the business world—or maybe not. It’s hard to say what constitutes a red flag in our brave new world.

In a blog called Curriculotta (“a Forum for Infrastructure and Operations Professionals”), the author writes that Facebook can make “new product development easier and less costly…With Facebook you have the possibility to organize survey campaigns and likewise focus group activities at no additional cost. You have just to be a user to do that. Furthermore, you can publicize certain characteristics of the product you are developing and collect feedback/suggestions. This will allow the company to make any adjustments before launching. And the cost of all this is? Free. You even get ‘fans’ during this process.”

The author went on to talk about a company having its own Facebook page. I’ve also seen many social events with their own pages. The reach of these pages can be astronomical with numerous people sending the link to their “friends”—which can number in the hundreds. So-and-so has just signed up to attend, posted new photos, added a video of the featured entertainer, etc. You also don’t see too much negativity posted for such events.

Luxenberg then wrote about building his target audience. A no-limits search for Americans over age 18 produced an audience of 134,052,520. “For fun, I went global, hunting for readers in other English-speaking countries. I added Canada (bumping the total to 150,063,260), Britain (174,435,260), Australia (182,541,920) and New Zealand (184,041,040)…After this flight of wishful thinking, I followed Facebook’s advice and went micro. I typed in ‘books.’ The counter responded: 936,860.” Nonfiction books knocked it down to just 2,700, however.

Facebook’s advice in finding people who might not be so specific in their likes is this: “Think outside the box. Find similar or related interests of users who may not explicitly mention your product but are interested in similar products/services, or the lifestyle or activities you are marketing.” Luxenberg tried such topics as The New Yorker, family history, people employed in the mental health profession and a specific book and novel of the same ilk.

And then—surprise!—Facebook tells you to test. Luxenberg rewrote the ad copy to lead off with a “snippet of a positive review.” He micro-niched. “In choosing when and where to display ads, Facebook assigns priority to those with a higher per-click ‘bid,’ ” he wrote. “I had chosen an upper limit of $1.35 a click, thinking that I could adjust the figure once I had some results to analyze. In the end, my clicks were a relative bargain—about 60 cents each.”

He concludes that it was a good experience to see what small businesses go through to market their products. However, “you can create target audiences on social-media sites, but for now, you can’t make them click.” Like Zuckerberg’s apparel yesterday—a sport coat and tie along with jeans and jogging shoes, Facebook for business remains a mixed gym bag.

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