There are many ways to market your business through Facebook. Some are obvious, and others not so much. One thing you can pretty much count on is that there are incredible masses of people on the social network that you can potentially reach, and in ways that will allow them not only to engage with your brand in a comfortable setting, but with other Facebook ecosystems they are already engaging with.
A perfect example of this was recently demonstrated by Microsoft in one of the company's many marketing strategies for its "decision engine" Bing. I sat in on a Bing panel this week at SXSW, where some of Bing's marketers talked about a variety of ways they have used social media to gain users. One of these ways was through none other than Farmville (if you're a Facebook user, and don't live under a rock, you've at least heard of it).
More people use Farmville than Twitter, according to Bing, and People are sharing all kinds of activities within Farmville itself. That's why the company saw a great opportunity to experiment. What they did was offer a special offer inside of Farmville, that would give users free "farm cash" if they became a fan of Bing on Facebook, which would encourage continued user interaction with Bing. As a result:
- Over 72% of users who clicked on the engagement became fans
- 59,000 people published the story to their news feed
- Over 70,000 clicks were received on secondary feeds
- In 24hours, Bing had over 400,000 new fans to keep
Microsoft said its goals for engagement and social media efforts have been to:
- Add or create relevant value (stuff that's not even necessarily a Microsoft property)
- Add depth to Bing's personality
- Lead someone to a relevant engagement with Bing or each other.
- Yield passionate or emotional response from people
- Be intimate and/or scalable (can we be both)?
Bing's Farmville experiment achieved all of these. However, the point of this is not that you should go out and immediately start a campaign through Farmville (although maybe it's worth looking into if you think it's a fit). The point is that there are more ways to harness a massive social network user-base (Facebook recently surpassed Google as the most-visited site in the U.S. for the week), according to Experian Hitwise). That's a pretty impressive feat. Also consider that consumers favor brands who are on Facebook and Twitter, according to a recent study.
Really, it's not even about Facebook or Twitter. It's about getting out there wherever people are, and this is where they happen to be at the moment. That may change by this time next year, or the year after, but the principle will not. We're at a point in history where it's never been so easy for consumers and brands to engage with one another. Perhaps even better for brands, is that it has never been easier to reach customers in places they choose to entertain themselves, and I don't mean just get in their faces, but actually reach them and get that engagement from them.