To understand the power of certain technologies it’s important for users to understand some basic functionalities first. In this case, what exactly is this “Facebook” technology and how does it work in, and for, our society and business? CEO/Founder Mark Zuckerberg, created Facebook as a social networking outlet that allows users to create profiles, upload photos and video, send messages, and keep in touch with friends, family, and colleagues. As users become more competent on the site, they are able to discover new features such as joining groups, implementing organizational widgets, and even creating and managing their own applications to be shared within different communities. In its third quarter 2015 announcement, Facebook revealed it had passed 1.55 billion monthly active users, with 1.39 billion being mobile users. A quick assessment of daily traffic generated through Facebook is unparalleled compared to other social platforms. Low and behold about a year after launching to the general public, in 2005 the website capitalized on a new feature – Facebook for Business. When companies began to hear of the social network Facebook creates by connecting people online, they started to alter their marketing strategies in ways that utilize the technology to engage new audiences. It wasn’t until the past decade that social media became a way for businesses to capitalize on the giant reach obtainable by advertising specifically through Facebook. The following is an analysis of key elements in the evolution of Facebook for Business as traditional business practices shift towards modernity.
The days of trendy billboards and commercials are making a shift toward a much cheaper and more effective alternative – digital online content. Big and small companies alike are competing harder in the digital realm than ever before. As they discover a newly constructed phenomenon called “virality” they realize that their online content has the ability to reach millions of people over night for a very low-cost. In 2010, Erik Qualman, Author of Socialnomics, reveals that Pepsi bypassed a Super Bowl commercial for the first time in 23 years in order to shift those millions of dollars into a social media budget that would reach more people. A big incentive for budget reallocation to Facebook for Business is that it allows companies to set their own dollar limits on campaigns and uses systems that determine how much per click they will pay to reach their targeted audience. Many companies are learning that training PR Specialists and hiring Digital Marketing Consultants to take on the task of developing high quality content provides them with better opportunities for virality. With over 40 million small businesses on Facebook that gives our economy new opportunities for jobs that didn’t even exist in traditional businesses before.
After reading Captains of Consciousness by Stuart Ewen, it unveiled a deeper scope in the changing trends of consumerism from the early to mid 1900’s – revealing a perpetual increase in mass consumption. In the 1890’s we began to consume things merely to ‘set ourselves apart’ but not necessarily consume a lot of things. By the 1920’s we began to mass consume in larger quantities and adopt a social construct that if we have more things we are of a higher class. By the 1950’s the phenomena of “Keeping up with the Jones’” becomes apparent as we began to compete for consumption against our peers, ex. If our neighbor buys a new car, we now have to buy a new car or we look less privileged. Using this information for the roots of modern day consumption, we can incorporate the newly found power of social media in manipulating buyer trends. A research study on sciencedirect.com investigates the effectiveness of Facebook advertising on enhancing purchase intention of consumers, “Since most of the members of Facebook are young adults, they tend to be interested in finding unique styles by pursuing the information on a brand’s pages and through the recommendations and practices of friends and close acquaintances.” As consumers, we are more inclined to buy into brands that our friends are buying from and publically ranting about. Transcending into this kind of consumer behavior demanded a massive change in the way companies create branding strategies.
Most business owners will agree that word of mouth is the most effective form of advertising. By creating a Facebook for Business page, they give their customers the ability to share their opinion and interact with mass audiences on Facebook, greatly increasing their visibility to the world. By identifying with specific brand pages, users are labeling themselves by association with particular brands on social media. “Facebook allows for a unified awareness among people in a network. Because it is just as easy to “unfriend” a brand as it is to “friend” a brand, users have the power to manage their self-expressions by selecting brands with high self-brand congruity [the match between a brands image and our own self-concept]. As such, brands can be used to communicate aspects of the self to the larger network instantaneously.” (Hollenbeck, 2012). Facebook has essentially become a portal into a world of branding, extending the reach from business to business, business to consumer, and most notably, consumer to consumer. A majority of businesses, large businesses especially, don’t have to work as hard as they used to to brand themselves because they have a reliable followership on social platforms like Facebook, where users do the branding for them.
Some might argue the question, “Well, what are my limitations of control if I advertise through Facebook and, why would I want to give those up?” The fact of the matter is Facebook gives its users full control of their advertising. Because the minimum age to make a user page is 13 years old, there may be some restrictions as far as content and media but otherwise, Facebook is making their money from the ratio of cost per clicks, so they encourage you to take full reign in creative strategies to boost those numbers. However, ineffective use of Facebook for Business can be extremely detrimental, especially for a small business. Just one post whether it’s offensive, untruthful, or both, has the ability to damage the entire reputation of a company’s online presence. Examples of what could be a damaging post include: strong political views, superfluous cursing or ridiculing, maliciously putting down another brand, etc. There are some factors to determine ineffectiveness and credibility such as: whether users are being truthful or not, fake accounts, when the post was made, and how many people interacted with the post. It’s up to the user to determine if the company can be deemed a credible source of information or not, which is exactly what former Chief Technology Officer at CRI Technologies responded when asked, “Do you think social media is a credible source of information?” –
“50/50. Consumers need to make intelligent assessments on their own. Meaning, consumers need to understand who the source is, the background, and the facts that lie within the information provided.” – Arnold Jee, former CTO, CRI
This applies whether consumers are responding positively or negatively. When the response is negative, other users that read these posts can lose trust in their perception of that brand. Businesses tend to delete and disregard this input in an attempt to only focus on positive responses. But a social media marketing blog post from fundivo.com suggests that, “Failure to respond to negative feedback damages your reputation… The fact business owners don’t realize is that they can use negative feedback to their advantage.” To better manage this kind of public feedback, companies are now reallocatingresources specifically to creating fluid Facebook strategies that capitalize on customer responses. Without a solid strategy in place, companies are at a much higher risk to damaging their online reputation sources.
It pays to have friends… at least in the Facebook realm. The more people that like your profile, the greater thebenefits of instantaneously reaching a mass audience. Having a brand profile is one of the most prominent changes from traditional to modern businesses and fosters successful advertising by allowing the company to:
Personify its image online rather than corporatize: According to a popular Marxist theory, commodity fetishism is the idea that people consume goods without any idea of the context of production and the social conditions in which it was produced. Having personable content and showcasing employees gives consumers better insight into the culture of the brand so they can educate themselves more thoroughly before buying into it, and if done right, can attract a lot more customers.
Provide new opportunities to consumers: Businesses are fond of providing discounts to new and loyal customers. Facebook is one of the easiest ways for consumers to find these promotions, and businesses drive more revenue by making them accessible through Facebook and other social platforms. Users are likely to share their findings with other users and connect via promotional content of the brand.
Access trending news and topics to capitalize on: Accessing new business and consumer information has become instantaneous via Facebook. Brands see what users are responding to and augment their audiences by molding digital content to current trending topics. This generates engagement, brand awareness, and credibility of the brand to consumers at a very low advertising cost.
Learn about their customers: Marketing through Facebook means instantaneous access to demographics through its user-friendly metrics dashboard. It contains data that represents specific responses from the customer base including Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) that measure: time of activities, frequency of visits, impressions, and cost breakdowns based on customer responses to the ad. Businesses are now utilizing their results from ad to ad to mold fresh content and keep users engaged and updated on their brand.
Stand-alone websites for businesses are no longer effective on their own so corporations are adapting to changing trends in the consumer buying process. The evolution of Facebook for Business brings costumers into a frenzy of information as it becomes readily accessible through their friends and favorite brands. This new social media technology provides users with an abundance of information on new trends and in turn, gives marketers the edge they need to augment their audiences. Integrating Facebook into the marketing plan has become the standard in advertising and with a shift from traditional to modern practices, companies are finding new successes that weren’t able to be capitalized on before.
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