Jan 13, 2012

Facebook’s 2012 Advertising Changes are Good for Business

Facebook’s 2012 Advertising Changes are Good for Business
BY Peggy Nordeen

Advertising | SFBJ | Social

Reprinted from South Florida Business Journal

While many business marketers have put their toes in the water with LinkedIn, there is much more to do in the online social world – especially with Facebook’s upcoming advertising changes.

A fact proven over and over again in business-to-business (B2B) marketing is that case histories of good customer experiences outsell companies touting their own products.

Sharing experiences both personal and company-related is what social media is all about. A recent study of 1.2 billion unique Web users by Clearspring indicated that Facebook held a 52.1 percent volume share of consumers passing along information – including everything from interesting events to videos, ad campaigns and products. So, whether or not you know how to use it for your business today, you need to put Facebook on your agenda for 2012.

Another recent study by the national Business Marketing Association, headquartered in Naperville, Ill., reported that 89 percent of its members included social media in their marketing mix and 50 percent of its members are using Facebook for business marketing.

It is the power of “liking” that makes Facebook so impactful for driving traffic. So, your business needs a page for your happy customers to “like” today. Whether you are a boiler control manufacturer or a medical device company with only 10 customers who then distribute your product to the end-user, your company needs to be a part of the global conversation provided by Facebook and other social communities.

Major benefits of adding Facebook to your media plan are customer interaction and intelligence. Facebook not only allows you a forum to converse with customers, but it also provides opportunities to survey, test and research customer reactions to new and existing products. You can also use Facebook to test advertising messages that you plan on placing in traditional media.

A new benefit to Facebook advertisers is slated to start at the beginning this year. Facebook says its sponsored ads can now be inserted into member news feeds. With sponsored ads, companies can republish user posts related to brands or products in the form of small display ads. This helped to nearly double Facebook advertising revenue in 2011. These ads currently appear in the right column on Facebook. In 2012, they are planned (for an increased price) to be able to be inserted into member news feeds, which include products “liked” by their Facebook friends.

In the world of B2B, thought leadership in industry segments is a position sought after by many competing companies. Sponsored ads on Facebook are another way to stake out that thought leadership claim.

Most business marketers don’t consider social media as a way to reduce advertising spend; rather, it’s a way to make what they are spending more effective. Only 14 percent of Business Marketing Association members said social media lowered the cost of advertising or media spend.

There is no doubt that we are all wading in new waters as we approach our use of social media in the marketing mix. Today’s marketers, as a group, are only half as likely as Facebook members themselves to say a “like” represents a loyal customer.

If marketers are willing to work at delivering social media content that is pleasing, or at least agreeable, to their customers and prospects, then keeping up the interaction will lead to loyalty over time. With the noise of the media today and the rising costs of acquiring new customers, if the only benefit of social media were customer loyalty, it would no doubt add considerably to company profitability each year.

It’s time for all businesses that wish to market their products or services effectively to embrace social media, especially Facebook, as a part of their advertising media mix for 2012.