While much of finding what works for your business on social media sites is a process of trial and error, recent stats from email marketing firm ExactTarget (which recently acquired social CRM platform CoTweet) shed some light on how the Facebook population uses the site and how it interacts with brands.
First, the good news: based on its study of 1,500 Facebook users, ExactTarget concluded that 38 percent of online U.S. consumers “Like” (formerly “Fan”) a brand on the social networking site. And the average fan Likes nine different brands, giving you plenty of opportunity to find your way into potential customers' news feeds.
The news that presents a challenge to businesses looking to benefit from Facebook, however, is that just because someone has liked you doesn’t mean they’re ready to see your promotional messages. Citing an earlier study, ExactTarget reports that 70 percent of consumers don’t think becoming a fan equates to opting in to marketing.
Fortunately, ExactTarget didn’t stop there, and did some research into what motivates users to Like companies on Facebook. The results offer some insight into what you can do as a business to keep the fans you accumulate engaged and not hitting the “hide” button in their news feeds. Here’s the breakdown of why users might “Like” your brand, illustrated by the percentage of respondents who said that they use Facebook for the listed activity:
- 40 percent to receive discounts and promotions
- 39 percent to show my support for the company to others
- 36 percent to get a "freebie"
- 34 percent to stay informed about the activities of the company
- 33 percent to get updates on future products
- 30 percent to get updates on upcoming sales
- 29 percent for fun or entertainment
- 25 percent to get access to exclusive content
- 22 percent someone recommended it to me
- 21 percent to learn more about the company
- 13 percent for education about company topics
- 13 percent to interact
On the surface, some of these findings seem to conflict with the idea of users being resistant to marketing messages. But the real takeaway is that users like brands for a wide variety of reasons, and the mix of content you post to your Facebook page should reflect that.
There’s a bit more to it than that, however, if you dive further into some of ExactTarget’s findings relating to demographics and usage patterns. For instance, 65 percent of Facebook users only access the site when they’re not at work or school – typically meaning early morning or evening. That means that if you’re making social media only a part of a 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. work day, you might be missing out on connecting with consumers during the times they’re likely to be online.
There are also differences in how men and women use the site, with women indicating that their primary focus on the site is on maintaining relationships (by a margin of 63 percent to 54 percent), implying that they have less time for engaging with businesses.
Hopefully, by combining some of these broader findings with your own analytics and anecdotal successes and failures, you can refine your strategy to grow both your fan base and your levels of engagement.
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