In a move that is likely to have companies rejoicing and social media users worrying once more about their privacy, the social networking giant Facebook has announced that it will be allowing companies to upload their customer contact lists and cross reference these lists with Facebook’s massive encrypted the user databases.
This has the enormous potential to offer great value to companies, particularly in advertising to its customers using social networking. But while some of the other ways in which this technology could be used in order to gain insight into the behaviour of customers in your market place?
Insights for advertising
The user experience for Facebook Business already offers a significant amount of insight into the customers who “like” a company’s Facebook page. Once a page’s likes number more than 30, per page owner is able to get insights into the demographics of the page’s a user’s such as age, sex, geographical region and a whole host of other nuggets of information that would be useful to marketers when planning a marketing campaign.
With the offer of this new technology, Facebook hopes it will attract further businesses to set up pages on their site and, more importantly, use Facebook as a medium for advertising to their customers.
With current estimates of the number of active Facebook users standing at 800 million, it’s easy to see why companies might be attracted to using the site to access its customer base. There are also the added benefits of getting your message to people when they are in a relaxed and sociable frame of mind. Facebook hopes that with this new technology, more companies will find the site appealing as an option for advertising to customers, thereby bringing in more revenue for Facebook.
One of the ways in which this development can be used by organisations is to segment the market and to target those segments individually. With improved knowledge about individual customers or small subsets of the customer base, e-mail marketing or Facebook ads can be much more precisely targeted and tailored to the individual in a way that is likely to be meaningful to the consumer.
The service offered by Facebook will be carried out by their team. In order to protect Facebook users’ privacy, it will be necessary for Facebook’s staff to carry out the analysis on their encrypted databases. This means the work is outsourced from your organisation leaving you free to concentrate on other activities.
Concerns about value for money
Although Facebook has been offering advertising to its business customers for some years, there is doubt amongst the marketing community about the value of advertising on the site. Market is using Facebook to target their customers or find a poor return on their income invested, and Emarketer downgraded the value of advertising on the site by $1 billion dollars in 2012.
Part of the concern that marketers have with advertising on Facebook is the inability to measure results from advertising on the site. Facebook promises that this functionality will be improved quickly, but marketing magazine Ad Age believe that the kind of services market is needs in order to make advertising on Facebook worth their while is a number of years off yet.
There are definitely some benefits to be gained from advertising on Facebook. Through use of analytics and insights provided through Facebook’s user interface, companies can target their advertising at the segments of their market they believe are most likely to be responsive. However, even with these developments in the provision of use the data to organisations in order to better target the marketing activities, organisations would do well to be cautious when considering advertising on Facebook as opposed to marketing using other media.
Zoe Goodacre is a keen marketing writer who authors articles for the International Market Research Agency, 2 Europe.