Thursday, October 11, 2012

Facebook Announces 1 Billion Users – It’s Time for All Marketers to Give it a Go


A few days ago Facebook announced that their active users surpassed 1 Billion. This is a huge number and like it or not, as a Marketer, you cannot ignore a community of this size. At this point, it is irresponsible to write Facebook off as a fad. Its user base covers all demographics and geographies – chances are, as a business, whoever you are selling to is on Facebook. While I certainly do not advocate for suddenly changing your advertising mix to a 25% Facebook Ad spend or hiring a brand new agency to build a Facebook Page that rivals Coke or Jet Blue, I do believe there are plenty of good ways to start dipping your toes into the giant ocean that is Facebook.

I readily admit that the standard thinking is Facebook is a B2C tool - Facebook is great to reach consumers, however I believe there is something for everyone. B2B marketers need to think creatively, manage expectations and take learning’s from similar communities (think LinkedIn). And if you’re worried that you might be behind the curve or not sure the amount of time and energy to spend on social, through IDC's 2012 Tech Marketing Benchmark Study (full results to be published this quarter), we learned that only 0.9% of tech marketing program budgets are spent on social media. So, while there is a lot of hype around social, we are still in the early days of truly leveraging social as a powerful marketing tool.

Below I've listed three ways you can start utilizing Facebook to make sure you aren't missing an opportunity:

  • Skunk Works Project

While it’s great to have an agency who can own Social and Digital, having staff internally that are just as skilled is important. Facebook advertising is relatively easy to get started with, so it lends a perfect opportunity to give a key staff member a skunk works type side project and see if they can get value out of Facebook. Let them be creative, see what you can get out of Facebook, a worst case scenario is results are unsuccessful but you have a staff member who learns new skills – this can’t be overlooked in a world that continues to rapidly move towards digital. 

  • Don't Forget Mobile

It’s easy to think of Facebook as a website where people go to when they want to take a quick break from work or inconspicuously “catch up” with old friends, but the future of Facebook is Mobile. In fact Mark Zuckerberg recently stated that 600 Million are Mobile users. With that many users on Mobile already, you can be sure that any major updates to the platform will have mobile users top of mind. Combine that with Facebook’s need to continue to monetize, it’s probably safe to predict there will continue to be new and creative ways to reach your target audience through Facebook’s Mobile platform. Be sure to keep your ear to ground when it comes to Facebook and Mobile, test out new products, you never know when one might be just what you need to reach key targets!

Quick heads up! 
For more research on Social Marketing please view our report: Despite the Hype, B2B Social Marketing Is Still in Its Infancy: 2012 Guidance for New Investment Dollars and Staff

  • Ask For Help


No one is expecting you to be a Facebook expert - it is still a very new platform and it is ever changing. Thankfully, there a ton of innovative companies that work with the platform or leverage Facebook to help large brands reach their goals. Start with your agency, see if they have resources, partners, or experience with building out the type of campaigns you are looking for, if they don’t have the answers, find out what vendors are leaders and schedule a call with them to see what they can offer. You don’t have to go at it alone. 


Regardless of what you do remember to measure measure measure. We never advocate aimlessly trying new strategies without a solid plan and a way to track and compare.

Have you had any experiences with leveraging Facebook? Let me know how it went and how you think it can be best used to reach your audience (if at all!).

Sam is a Research Analyst within IDC’s CMO Advisory Service you can follow him on twitter: @SamMelnick

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