Recently, I had the pleasure of sitting in on a Facebook webinar by MarketMotive.com. Internet marketing companies offer webinars all the time on an array of topics from social media trends, and search strategies to web analytics and site diagnositcs– they are indeed one of the easiest ways to learn via the web. The specific topic covered in this latest session: 5 Ways Facebook Rocks, 5 Ways Facebook Sucks by Jennifer Laycock – and I must say she did a fabulous job! Below, I’ve recapped some of her key takeaways, with some personal commentary.
The Good: 5 Ways Facebook Rocks
1. An insanely invested audience
It’s true – Facebook users are extremely active. According to the statistics Laycock provided, the average user spends 55 minutes a DAY on site, averages 9 “likes” 25 comments and 3 invites! Those are some pretty engaged fans! With more than 500 million users, half of which log in each day, it is clear why so many businesses choose this social platform as one of their key word-of-mouth marketing vehicles. The numbers are staggering.
What was even more interesting, is that she described Facebook marketing as more trustworthy than Twitter marketing. She described Facebook as having “a higher barrier for connection.” And I can see the validity in her point. For most of our Facebook friends (or brands we “like”), we typically have a pre-existing or face-to-face relationship. Think about it: These are the people you’ve either reconnected with from high school, met through a mutual friend or have worked with. Your Twitter audience, on the other hand, is most likely made up of industry leaders or brands you’ve connected with out of a mutual interest. Thus, it makes sense that you’d be more likely to trust a recommendation coming from a group you’ve actually had a real-life experience with versus a complete stranger.
2. Easy auto-tagging
Facebook recently launched it’s auto-tagging feature – which goes beyond the @[insert friend name] tagging in status updates to include auto suggestions. What this simply means, is that as you type the name of a friend (or brand you like) in your status update, a drop-down appears with name completions. This makes it easy to find the specific friend you want to tag, but more importantly for brands, this allows for greater exposure. Say, person “A” tags “New Brand” in an update. Person “B” who is a friend of “A” but unfamiliar with “New Brand” now has the opportunity to see this brand in their Facebook feed with a visual snapshot upon scroll-over. Talk about increasing brand awareness and getting people to “like” your Facebook page!
3. Location-based tagging
This feature is basically similar to the Foursquare “checking in” idea. The benefit here of course being for mobile integration. People can now tell all their friends where they are and also get notifications of friends at nearby venues. Pretty neat. Although of course this brings up a whole slew of privacy issues. Can anyone say, “stalker”?
4. Open Graph protocol
We’ve all seen it. It’s the integration that saves users time and earns brands visibility, by allowing connections to be made from within a brand’s site, rather than calling for users to visit a variety of company Facebook pages and “liking” them there.
It is extremely useful in building a fan base, making an article buzz-worthy and simply keeping with the changing landscape.
But it has also been widely controversial for making Facebook the central hub for user information and for the possible data made available to third-parties.
Of course in the age of sharing everything from where you are, who you’re with and what you’re doing, what still is private?
5. Build a secondary home on the Web
The bottom line for this one? Facebook can now act as a second home for users who “like” a brand. When you integrate your games, contests, discussions and conversion events within tabs on your page, users can take all the actions you desire of them, right there. Just be sure your call-to-actions are very clear.
The Bad: 5 Ways Facebook Sucks
1. Ever-changing interface.
Admit it. We all get frustrated when Facebook makes some new “site upgrades” and we find ourselves searching for the new inbox location, where to upload pictures or where to find our apps. For the audience who is checking in daily, surprises aren’t always welcome. Changes to any site, whether necessary or not, causes navigation trouble…at least in the short-term.
2. Big-money wins.
Big brands, willing to spend more money are likely to get more attention from Facebook support. Whether it’s access to a dedicated representative or just the resources necessary to build an app – if you have the money to show, then you can expect quality service. On the flip side, a small company who can’t shell out the cash, won’t get any of that first-class treatment. You’ll have to do your own research!
3. Uncontrolled tagging
The new auto-tagging feature, of course comes with one major down side: ANY of your friends can tag you and let the world know what you are doing. Point in case: Not so good.
4. Rules, Rules, Rules
We are all guilty of it. Ya’ know. Not reading the fine print: TOS. If you actually look carefully, there are a number of legal restrictions on what you can and can’t do with your Facebook page. One of the major ones? No contests or promotions – unless of course you notify Facebook, first. It’s there way of keeping the money flowing in. They are a business aren’t they? NOTE: Just to be clear here, it’s still okay to provide a link to your contest or promo within your status update. Just don’t do it within a tab or Facebook app.
5. A Modern Day AOL
Major takeaway here: don’t do so much with Facebook that users don’t have a reason to come back to your site. It’s all about strategy.