Ask anyone about marketing and the first thing out of their mouths is “social media.” It’s become the go-to buzz word for this new age of marketing that we’ve entered.
But how does one go about using or even optimizing social media for use in the business world? Over the course of my time here at Florida Tech, I’ve had to maintain websites and Facebook pages for many student organizations including the Sailing Club, Student Organization for Sustainability Action (SOSA), Alpha Tau Omega and my radio show with the Florida Tech College Radio.
Running these student organization pages was great practice for use in the business world when I began running pages for my family’s business and those of family friends. Facebook tends to dominate the social media mindset, but in reality, it’s only one (very prominent) facet.
There’s also Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, Foursquare, Pinterest and online forums, just to name a few. But the big kahuna, Facebook, is our matter of discussion today.
Ever since Mark Zuckerberg’s digital Harvard yearbook went viral, Facebook has dominated the social media scene. With membership in the hundreds of millions, Facebook has connected long-lost relatives, childhood friends and ushered in a new kind of marketing called social media marketing.
Setting up a page for your business is relatively easy and can be done in a very short amount of time. In order to get a decent page off the ground, you’ll need all the physical information for your business (name, location, phone number, website, etc.), as well as some of the softer information like your mission statement, logo and a few photos that you feel portray a good cover image for your site.
Having managed a number of Facebook pages for organizations here on campus, I’ve become well-acquainted with the ins and outs of operating them. Guides and tutorials do exist, so I won’t waste your time with the technical aspect of these things, but I will delve a little deeper into what makes Facebook such a useful tool to interact with customers.
Facebook allows you to directly connect with those that have any sort of connection to your brand. It allows you to post reviews and discussions and share among customers.
For instance, say you run a coffee shop and you’re having a half-off bagel special today, but you didn’t advertise it; one of your regulars can hop onto your Facebook page and let everyone that’s ever liked your coffee shop know, increasing awareness and foot traffic into your storefront.
We as a society are increasingly looking to stay connected, and social media has afforded us that opportunity. This makes traditional advertising almost less effective than something that can be viewed as social media simply because of the location of viewership.
Facebook can provide the business owner with consumer data that you can then utilize to be more effective. The developers at Facebook have created an entire dashboard dedicated to just that, called “Facebook Insights.”
Any user of Facebook knows that quite a bit of personal information is required to fill out your user profile. Information such as age, current residence, hometown, education level, gender and relationship status are all collected and compiled by Facebook to generate your unique profile.
Each time you like a page or post, that information is gathered by Facebook and either sold or given freely to the managers of those third party pages. Facebook Insights allows me as an administrator to see the stratification of my social media reach down to a thousandth of a percent. I can analyze my customer base on gender, age bracket, local and international locations and languages spoken.
This is incredibly valuable from a marketing standpoint because you can develop advertisements and campaigns to target specific groups of individuals if you want to maximize traffic of one group and raise involvement of another.
For instance, at my internship last summer at Rosedale Vineyards, I was able to identify women between the ages of 25 and 44 as one of the major segments of our advertising and social media efforts reached. I saw that this age bracket corresponds with the ages most women have children in their household. Comprising over 48 percent of our social media base, this was one segment we wanted to reach out to specifically. Based on this information I was able to develop a series of family-friendly events that were well received by this segment and shared amongst their friends. This further grew our presence as well as proved that these types of events were massively successful in our market.
I’m a numbers guy; I love analyzing graphs and numbers to draw meaning and develop applications for them. Facebook Insights also allows you the ability to track how effective your posts are so you can determine what content works best to reach your customers and at what times and days of the week are the high points of customer reach. They show these through some very useful line graphs that track reach over a 24-hour period. Data is also tracked for those visiting your page, following your page and interacting with your page. Social media marketers are able to manipulate the graphs of all these sections to isolate specific timeframes to analyze and draw your own conclusions.
Facebook will continue to be a favorite for businesses to reach their customers, and with improving tools to track their effectiveness and customer base, proves to be an essential tool to reach today’s consumers.