A friend of mine was recently in a car accident. His wife posted a Facebook status update reading “Hubby in a car crash – thankfully nothing serious”. By the end of the day, she’d received twelve phone calls from insurance companies offering her no win no fee claim, services.
Where did the insurance companies get their information from? How does a Facebook status update become a targeted sales opportunity?
Let’s start with the obvious. Advertising on Facebook is advantageous because everybody uses it. There were 600 million active Facebook users as of January 2011.
Facebook offers advertisers the ability to geo target their advertising, by country; by state/province/county; and by city. It also lets them target advertising according to specific keywords, phrases and interest areas. When a user signs up for a Facebook page, he or she fills out information on his or her profile page that describes his or her interests. Facebook advertising lets the advertiser target his or her ad according to those interests.
There’s a less tangible advantage to advertising on Facebook, which is involved with the site’s own history. Facebook has always sold itself on the idea of exclusivity. You can’t see someone’s profile page unless he or she lets you. And you can’t be friends with someone unless they accept your request. The whole atmosphere of Facebook is about permission – permission to interact, permission to join groups and share interests. When targeted advertising pops up on your Facebook page, it feels like you have asked for it to be there – or at least that you have allowed it to be there. And that makes you more susceptible to its message.
Social media is constantly evolving, with Facebook as its apogee. Other Internet megaliths are getting in on the act – Google, for example, has just started trialling its “+1”, which shows you sites relevant to your search that people in your social network have tagged. The idea is one of backwards advertising. Consumers are still being directed towards products they might like to buy – but their own preferences, their likes and their plus ones, are taking them there.
The difference between advertising on Facebook and arriving at a product as a result of a +1 (which is similar to a Facebook “like”), is that the Facebook advertiser is not part of your social network. He or she is recommending his or her product rather than one of your friends. And that’s the ultimate advantage, right now, of advertising on Facebook. An advertiser, who knows exactly how to word and structure to encourage you to buy, can use Facebook to give himself or herself the status of “friend”.
Nilanjan is a Website Designer at TemplateKingdom, He is a regular blogger of the Templatekingdom.com where he writes about web design inspiration, photography and Internet Marketing.