Facebook(FB) was launched in 2004 as a social networking site where individual users could interact with other users, share status updates and post pictures of themselves and friends. Today it offers services which are beyond the scope of mere social networking. Users can chat with each other for free, join groups of their choice, apply for jobs and opportunities, get information about upcoming events, and gain access to a whole lot of information through the medium of FB. It’s a great networking portal, juxtaposed with entertaining and fun-filled applications, games and lots of other useful as well as trivial stuff.
When FB first came out, it mainly targeted students. It was designed to allow students in different campuses to “meet” each other online before they could bump into each other in real life. But over the years, FB realized that it cannot remain sustainable if it only targets this group. And hence, it started working towards transforming FB from a student’s portal to a social network which could be used and accessed by all kinds of people, communities and organisations. It started promoting it as an innovative and useful medium for businesses to promote their products, services and brands online. Today, FB allows organisations to create pages where they can showcase their products, take online orders, run contests and competitions, and connect with their target groups in an engaging and interactive way. FB also allows companies to post advertisements on its website. In fact, a major chunk of its revenue comes through ads posted by various companies.
With more than 1 billion users and about 90% of them who sign in every day, FB is a great tool for brand promotion as businesses are in a position to connect with a large population of people and actively target their preferred audience in a convenient manner. In one single post or update, organisations can communicate an idea, view or a piece of information to a large number of followers. From apparel brands to pet showrooms, restaurants to travel agencies, e-commerce websites to start-up ventures, every possible organisation, brand, product, service, idea or event is being marketed via FB. Non-profits, NGOs, Think-tanks, educational institutions, etc. also use the medium of FB to communicate their ideas, inform about their work and invite people to join their causes. Promotion of individuals, celebrities, bands, writers is also being carried out with élan. Creative people like poets, artists and photographers are showcasing their talent and creativity online like never before.
When the trend for firms to market via FB started, it was welcomed by one and all. But now when so many firms are following suit, marketers are finding it incredibly difficult to “connect” with their target groups and differentiate themselves on FB. So the need of the hour is to answer these rather important questions: Is FB the sine qua non of an effective marketing campaign? Can firms manage without being active on FB? To answer these pertinent questions, let us look at some common myths associated with e-marketing via FB and see if they stand true or not.
Myth 1: Marketing via FB is cheap
Reality: It is quite expensive, really. Advertising on FB comes along with a heavy price-tag. Even firms which do not advertise but manage a page to promote their products and brands need to hire employees to manage their online activities. To keep users engaged, firms have to come up with interesting content like videos and images, contests and opportunities, which is a costly affair.
Myth 2: Managing an FB page isn’t hard.
Reality: It is hard, especially for large companies. Users can access FB 24 hours a day. They can comment anything on the posts of the companies. A lot of times, offensive and derogatory comments are also posted which, unless deleted, put the companies in a very bad light. Users also ask questions and expect a prompt response from the companies. Hence, it is imperative for a large company to hire people specifically for monitoring the content and activities on their FB pages and make sure that all user queries get answered on time. Organisations can’t afford to get their pages managed by interns as the reputation of their brands is based on how the companies build relations with the followers on their FB pages.
Myth 3: Higher the number of likes on your page, the more successful your brand is.
Reality: Higher number of likes does not guarantee higher sales. A lot of users first like and then unfollow company pages or simply don’t take notice of the posts splashed all around on their news feeds. Unless a company comes up with truly innovative and engaging content and post it on a regular basis, users don’t get convinced.
Myth 4: Every company needs to be on FB.
Reality: Marketing is all about reaching out to your target customers. If a company is unable to find its target groups on FB, or if it has identified other mediums to reach out to their target groups, they need to seriously contemplate whether managing an active profile on FB adds any value to their brands.
FB is fun, trendy, interactive and convenient. It offers a host of services to companies for marketing their products and brands. But marketing on FB requires time, money and effort. If a company is ready to invest sufficient resources for marketing via FB, then it should pursue it. Otherwise, companies should stick to more traditional mediums for promoting their brands.
The article is authored by Pranav Sukhija from NMIMS Bangalore.