By Priya Ramesh (@newpr)
Happy New Year! I am sure you are tired of the “Top ten trends in 2011” blog posts that most of us forget anyways in less than ten days so let me take you through a different route with this one I am writing from Bangalore, the Silicon Valley capital of India where I have spent the last two weeks on vacation with family and friends. One consistent theme that I noticed during this vacation is that Facebook has redefined our social interactions. From my aunts, nephews and childhood friends to new business contacts in India, no one asked for my email or phone number anymore but definitely asked me, “Are you on Facebook?” No doubt, the Social Network has brought a paradigm shift in how we communicate and maintain relationships but the bigger message to marketers is how Facebook is rewriting the rules of advertising and search and how that affects your brand in 2011. Here’s why you should treat Facebook more seriously in 2011:
Chances of customer engagement higher on Facebook than on any other social network: The 2010 Facebook usage report shows that over the past year its 500 million users uploaded more than 2.7 million photographs shared one million links and ‘Liked’ 7.6 million pages every 20 minutes. Take a look at what 20 minutes on Facebook looks like:
Shared links: 1,000,000 every 20 minutes
Tagged photos: 1,323,000
Event invites sent out: 1,484,000
Wall Posts: 1,587,000
Status updates: 1,851,000
Friend requests accepted: 1,972,000
Photos uploaded: 2,716,000
Facebook moving from “atrocious” clickthrough rates to higher conversions: Analysts predict that the six-year-old company will report $2 billion in revenue in 2010 and close to twice that in 2011. The bulk of that revenue is predicted to come from selling ads. Facebook ads are not for everyone and there is a huge gap between brands like Starbucks (17.5 million Likes) and Coca Cola (18 million Likes) that are considered benchmarks in Facebook engagement and millions of other brands that struggle to increase clickthrough rates. Having said that, Craig MacDonald, writing for Search Engine Watch, stated he estimated pay per click marketing providers are planning to spend between 10 and 20 percent of their budgets for the year on Facebook campaigns.
He explained that, while last year clickthrough rates for Facebook promotions were “atrocious” and there were virtually no conversion rates, the site is now onpar with major search engines for returns on investment. MacDonald noted the key factors that make the service appealing to marketers are that it is “huge, it’s global and it’s growing”, adding the sites performance on a dollar-for-dollar basis is the same as Google’s.
Search and Shop on Facebook to gain momentum in 2011: BusinessWeek (http://www.businessweek.com/technology/content/dec2010/tc20101217_877527.htm) recently confirmed senior execs at the Palo Alto based social network have met in the past month with more than 20 companies, to help retailers set up shop on its pages and build tools that let Web users interact while buying. Facebook is adding e-commerce features to attract users, keep them logged-on longer and generate higher advertising sales. Companies like P&G and Delta Airlines are investing heavily on Facebook e-commerce, and this is just the start of what’s to redefine how we search and shop online.
There is a good reason why 500 million chose to join Facebook and more than half of them log-in every single day to update their status. Now as digital marketers we need to think smartly about how to get your brand mentioned in those status updates, Likes, comments and discussion threads to ensure when someone searched for you on this growing social network, you DO have a favorable wall to show off.
Good luck Facebooking (yes that’s officially a verb now) in 2011!
Image courtesy: Time magazine.