Investing In Business Users Will Make Or Break Facebook’s Future

WelcomeToTheFuture650Facebook is more than a social networking site; it’s a business with many complex features working together. Once a small website (for only Harvard University students), Facebook has long since shed its small-town ways for bigger, flashier effects in the horizon. Facebook now combines the best of social networking tools and online marketing tactics to create a single platform that is attractive to both users and businesses, and it is only getting started.

Just as it has brought families and friends together throughout the world, Facebook plans to use a variety of revolutionary, new marketing tools to connect companies to relevant potential customers.

As a social media network, built by connecting friends and family together online, Facebook will have to walk a very fine line. It risks becoming a social pariah; bombarding people with nothing but business ads on their News Feeds. The question is: Can Facebook have its cake and eat it, too?

Walking A Fine Line

If Facebook succeeds, imagine how online marketing will evolve. It will completely transform the industry and change the social networking dynamic for everyday users.

And if Facebook fails, what will replace the social networking giant that has filled our free-time online for nearly 10 years? There’s no doubt about it — this is a risky venture with either a big payout or … plummet.

And a plunge at Facebook’s level means a long, hard fall to the bottom — more catastrophic than the collapse of MySpace or anything of the like. You can only question how long Facebook can run, but this global social media titan has no plans to fall by the wayside.

With two audiences — businesses and individual users — Facebook will have the ability to outperform other social media outlets. The business changes are already underway.

Facebook For Business

Facebook is transforming advertising, catering more and more to businesses that are eager to reach a widely available online audience — more than 1 billion monthly active users, to be exact.

Facebook business pages are already a staple when it comes to being seen on social media. Facebook pages are currently more important than having Twitter handles or Google Plus profile pages (at least for the time being).

Facebook business pages are similar to regular users’ profile pages, except that users have to like business pages, rather than sending friend requests.

With business pages, businesses have a range of options, including different types of ad campaigns. Options vary; accommodating businesses both big and small. They can choose different budgets; select whether they prefer cost-per-click bidding or cost per thousand impressions (CPM) bidding; and even personally manage the ads.

Now, with the new Facebook for Business, there are even more marketing offers. According to Facebook, Facebook for Business will see a lot of growth over the next few months; becoming the central destination for businesses to receive news, information, and inspiration that can be used to drive results with Facebook.

Facebook said the page was “designed with all of our customers in mind, from small businesses to large agencies and brands, Facebook for Business brings together a host of resources.”

Facebook continues to create new marketing tools for marketers, which know that there’s an ample pool of potential customers.

Unique tools that are available to Facebook businesses (some just in the U.S.) include:

  • Custom audiences, which help businesses reach individuals who have visited their business sites on desktop or mobile devices. According to comScore Mobile Future in Focus (Feb. 2013) and an IDC Always Connect Report (March 2013): three out of four smartphones have Facebook applications, and 90 percent of Facebook users visit the site daily. In the months ahead, test partners will soon have the ability to search for website visitors, whom they know are already interested in their products and/or services.
  • Partner categories allows marketers to know what users do off of Facebook. Did they look at a new TV on Best Buy, or did they look at shoes on eBay? Facebook has a variety of third-party partners, such as Acxiom, Datalogix, Epsilon, and BlueKai, which provide data on Facebook users online and offline.
  • Lookalike audiences is a targeting feature that helps advertisers reach new customers and grow their businesses, based on their interests. The lookalike audiences feature is a great solution for direct-response companies like Fab.com, which gets 30 percent of its traffic from Facebook users.
  • New features for mobile app install ads, which utilize many of the main website features, but in a mobile format. This is a great resource for many marketers as people become more mobile.
  • A conversion tracking feature helps businesses measure the success of their Facebook ads through reports, which break down and analyze users’ actions after viewing specific ads. This is important in determining the effectiveness of ads, as well as helping businesses modify their optimized cost per impression (oCPM) for better responses.

There are a variety of other tools to help businesses maximize their online marketing efforts via Facebook.

As Facebook caters more to business’ needs, it will have to incorporate equal opportunities for its everyday, non-business-oriented users. If it fails to do so, its investment in business marketing will fall flat, without a steady customer-base for those businesses to target.

Andrea Fisher is an online marketer and content specialist for TV and internet packages. She has been published in a variety of publications, including the Chicago Tribune and Business Insider.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

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