In terms of number of website visitors on a daily basis, it’s clear that Facebook far out distances other social networks. Consumers have made the site part of their everyday lives as they use it to keep tabs on friends, families and associates. In recent years, the company has become more aware of the need to bring in ad revenue. As a result of this, Facebook has been giving companies an increasing amount of access to users in terms of marketing opportunities.
Small businesses have options when it comes to promoting their business on the social network. Those choices seem to fall into two basic categories.
There is earned media where companies seek to build relationships with those that are socializing on the network. 2.) And then there is paid media where companies strategically place their content in areas where individuals will see it.
Earned media has distinct advantages. First, it is no to low-cost. Second, it depends on human interaction. That means that companies can get first-hand information on what customers want and may be willing to buy.
They can also use the social network to build brand loyalty, as consumers have the opportunity to interact socially on fan pages. This continual interaction works in the same way as repetitive messages delivered through media commercials. At least that’s the hope of companies relying primarily on earned media.
If there is any disadvantage to earned media, it is that its results aren’t immediately measurable. In addition to this, a considerable level of time and resources are necessary to build and maintain traction. Companies engaging in earned media on the social network, typically need to employ someone whose job is solely that kind of activity.
Because of the indirect nature of Facebook communication, sales efforts can be untargeted. Therefore, promotional campaigns focus their attention on getting Facebook likes, comments and shares. However, it’s unclear as to whether or not this kind of activity leads to more purchases of individual products and services.
Paid media allows companies to find the audience they want to communicate with and structure the promotion based on its peculiarities. In some cases, that advertisement can look like a social posting that any individual would compose to post in their news feed. In other cases, companies structure their advertisements so that they appear on the right side panel along with other promotions.
Paid media provides companies an advantage because of the targeting feature. Companies are able to decide on who their message will reach and subsequently lower the effective cost of their promotions. In addition to this, promotional campaigns on Facebook are both testable and tractable. This allows companies to work on their advertisements until they resonates with the right audiences.
If there is a downside to using paid media on Facebook, it is 1) the learning curve necessary to find the right audience and 2) the tailoring process of the advertisement to the buyers. However, this can be overcome, if the money spent on less than high-performing ads is considered to be market research. A certain level of research is always necessary before knowing if an advertisement will actually work with a particular audience. This is especially true of Facebook paid media.
Companies should use a mixture of both paid and earned media. Depending on the goal of a company’s particular promotion, they should work to determine the combination based on the velocity of results needed. In other words, when sales are desired quickly, then companies should lean more towards using paid media. When sales are secondary to relationship building then the company should lean more toward using earned media as a way of building a platform to sell.