Facebook Marketing Can Help in Unexpected Ways

To the non-web marketers out there: If you have any teenagers in the house, you can bet they’re on Facebook or MySpace (NWS). But did you know that, for the sake of your business, perhaps you should be too?

This past February, Entrepreneur Magazine included a piece about one small business owner’s unexpected findings through Facebook:

After Alicia Rockmore’s Ann Arbor, Michigan-based organizational products company, Buttoned Up Inc. scored shelf space at Target, Rockmore began doing research to keep the big red bull’s-eye happy. A friend invited her to join social networking site Facebook, so she created an individual profile touting her business. She hit pay dirt when she found an existing group of Target customers on Facebook.

“They talk about what they like, what they hear is coming from Target,” says Rockmore, 42. “It’s like free market research.”

That’s my favorite price. Free. Aw yea.

This is part of a new phenomenon called “social media marketing“, where you use social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace to reach out to current and potential customers. Sites like this aren’t just for teenagers anymore. If used correctly, they can augment the power of word-of-mouth marketing and make your brand louder and stronger.

It’s a tricky new field though. If you come across too corporate and have no personality, or have a truly awful product, it can backfire. Some companies have faced harsh criticism and negative publicity doing this.

That’s why Rockmore’s approach is a safe middle ground. Even though she created a profile to promote her business (which can attract loyal fans as well as competitors and detractors), she didn’t see the value of Facebook until she found a group of consumers similar to the demographic she was trying to reach.

There are hundreds of groups on Facebook. All are formed by motivated people covering any number of topics, hobbies, and interests, such as:

There’s bound to be a group that fits your target demographic on Facebook. Once you create an account and find a few relevant groups, join them and monitor their discussions for a couple of weeks. Get a feel for the temperament of the participants. You may be able to gleam lots of information just by reading their rants and raves.

When it comes time for more direct information, you can be more proactive and write a message to the group. Ask them for their opinion or suggestions. Be careful not to come across too corporate though, or you might be labeled as working for “The Man.” Also keep in mind basic netiquette, which are a set of informal do’s and don’ts in online communication.

You may be thinking, “That’s great for Rockmore, but my customers don’t use Facebook.” If that’s true, then you’re right, don’t waste your time or brain cells. But if there are potential customers sitting there right now, tweaking their Facebook profiles and complaining about your products, then maybe it’s worth it.

Currently, about 84% of Facebook’s members are between 14 and 26 years of age, according to MarketingHub.info. About 30% of their members have a household income of over $100,000, according to iMedia Connection. There’s some more data on Emergence Media too.

Does that sound like a demographic you want to reach? If so, then perhaps, for the sake of your business, you should get an account. And if you’re not sure how, just ask that teenager of yours.

Author: Mike Lee

An idealistic realist, humanistic technologist & constant student.

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