Marketing on Facebook – How much is too much?

Facebook has truly changed the way we communicate with our friends and colleagues. It has become as much a part of our daily lives as attending classes, pursuing a vocation, and playing sports. If we go by its definition, we all know, FB is a social networking site. But in reality there is a lot more to it than just social networking. It’s a great information portal, juxtaposed with entertaining and fun-filled applications, games and lots of other trivial stuff. People interact and develop friendships with like-minded people, as well as share and discuss their ideas and resources. And yes, it’s a great tool for instant and free communication.

One of the core reasons why FB has become such an important part in everyone’s life is because it offers us an opportunity to get more out of our lives. And marketers have discovered and started using this opportunity too. Nowadays, when every product or service is getting marketed online and via social media, marketers are spending considerable time, money and efforts on promoting their brands using FB. And why wouldn’t they?  In today’s day and age, when interactive marketing is the key to a successful business, FB aids organisations like nothing else. These days every organisation which decides to start its blog or website, never fails to build up its FB page. From pet showrooms to apparel brands, food guides to travel agencies, every possible product, service, idea, event, etc. can be conveniently, easily, and cheaply marketed via FB. As people spend more and more hours each day on this website, they have also started searching for new products and services on the site itself, something they earlier did on Google or Yahoo. And the fact that they expect that a brand must have its presence on FB has made it even more important for companies to consider marketing via the site.

One important observation related to marketing on FB is that it is not only profit-seeking, commercial firms which have discovered the benefits of the site for getting their target audiences into their stores. NGOs, NPOs, Think-tanks, educational institutions, etc. have also realised the importance of marketing via FB. In one single update, organisations communicate an idea, view or a piece of information to a large number of fans. Promotion of individuals, celebrities, bands, writers is also being carried out with élan. People are showcasing their talent and creativity online like never before. Why, because they are able to directly communicate with their target audiences, who are young, adaptable, interactive, outgoing and spend hours daily online.

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, consumers seem to have grown tired of it. So the need for the hour is to answer this rather important question:  Is FB the sine qua non of an effective marketing campaign?  FB has over 200 million users and this number is growing at a very fast rate. Almost everybody in the world knows what it is. People create their accounts for free and it has become a norm to check the site daily. It gives very good SEO rankings, something every company marketing via Web 2.0 craves for. But it is also important to acknowledge that relationships matter on FB.  Unless you are directly related with your contacts or you are related with interests, you won’t get the desired traffic on your profile or website.

Companies need to take note that people are essentially on FB in order to stay connected with their friends, and not for following businesses. It is more or less an informal medium of staying connected with the people they know. And even if companies do get their audience, it is difficult to convert them into real customers. A firm wouldn’t earn unless it is able to increase its sales. And marketing on FB does not guarantee increased sales for any firm. It helps in creating the buzz about a product or service or idea or brand but there are several other factors which firms have to keep in mind in order to record an increase in sales such as purchasing power and decision making ability of the target audience, location and accessibility to nearby showrooms, product quality, pricing,  and so on.

It is also very important to acknowledge that one-size-fits-all does not work in the field of marketing. Companies which are targeting the younger lot may benefit from this endeavour, but for other brands, this exercise might not bring desired results. Therefore, companies must exercise restraint while investing time, money and efforts for marketing via FB, and consider it to be an important, but not the only component of their web/social media marketing campaigns.

Pranav Sukhija

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