The power of presence

Today is Facebook IPO day and the media is all abuzz about what will happen when the social networking behemoth’s shares hit the market. In the days leading up to this momentous event, much bandwidth has been devoted to General Motors’ decision to pull paid advertisements from the site. Pundits wonder if this is proof that Facebook’s advertising model is doomed to fail.

As I’ve noted before, Facebook is not really a great platform for direct commerce. But it’s an invaluable tool for awareness- and relationship-building. It’s not the last point on the conversion funnel, but with increased ability to measure multi-channel conversions more easily, it’s a pretty safe bet that brands with substantial Facebook presence will likely see the social network appear somewhere along the funnel. Facebook provides organizations and companies with the ability to do less-obtrusive push marketing — letting them reach out to self-identified fans without cluttering up email inboxes.

One example I like to use is the folks that run the Facebook page for Run Disney. I “liked” the Run Disney Facebook page last summer in the process of deciding whether or not to run the Disney World Half Marathon this past January. The page’s messaging helps build excitement around the entire family of Run Disney races, and not only helped persuade me to sign up for the half marathon, it also has piqued my interest in several other Run Disney races. Over the past several months, I’ve found myself contemplating signing up for the Wine and Dine Half Marathon and the Expedition Everest adventure race. Yesterday, they released a video with the new course for the 20th anniversary of the marathon, and I nearly signed up then and there — and again this morning when I saw an ad on Facebook with a link to the new course video. Run Disney does Facebook content well, and while I would probably never sign up for a race directly from a Facebook ad, it keeps their events at the forefront of my mind all year long.

There are many organizations and companies doing a poor job of Facebook marketing. They push out constant BUY or DONATE messages and don’t show their own personality or character or an interest in the individuals that make up Facebook’s 900 million + users. There will always be brands that measure the success of advertising in the number of direct clicks to purchase or donate. But if you manage a page on Facebook, look deeper into your conversion metrics — and at Google Analytics’ Multi-Channel Funnels report — to better understand the role that the social network ultimately plays in getting people to engage with your brand.

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