Tuesday, November 16, 2010

What are businesses and brands looking for in Facebook

I wanted to do a short write-up on what we heard and learnt from customers when we deployed Oolium apps for them. Our target customer was SME/SMB in the verticals of apparel, professional services, restaurant and food (local), niche equipment manufacturers. Though what I write is applicable to most verticals.
First of all, some facts.
  • Businesses want to follow their audience. i.e. consumers are spending time on FB, businesses are following 
  • Brand's web site is losing its value. Its more meaningful to get consumer's attention on FB vs. spend loads of money getting people to your site. 
  • Consumer time spent has seen the highest growth on mobile (40% Y/Y growth). And if you look globally, mobile is the most important medium. 
Brands and businesses have few simple advertising goals:
  1. Build or increase brand awareness
  2. Get leads using various means - performance/affiliate marketing, etc 
  3. Sell good and services to the leads using various techniques such as direct response, offers, etc. 
Today, facebook does a decent job at (1), however its not there from (2) or (3) perspective. 
Here are some recommendations
  • Brand awareness -  Facebook must continue to act as a platform and enable third party providers and developers create rich brand awareness pages for businesses. And it needs to be supported by a full fledged developer network. Look at MSDN (from Microsoft), they do an excellent job at providing developer support. Today, Facebook policies are favoring few preferred provider and not the general developer community at large. Its in Facebook's best interest to enable creation of rich brand awareness page.
  • Metrics -  have a page statistics page. I know today facebook provides some simple stats on pages - # of fans, new activity etc. But it needs to do more. Just look at Google analytics for web sites. 
  • Getting leads - these are your "fans" or likes. In this FB, has done a good job. You can not only get fans from your facebook fan page but you can embed it on your web site. Very powerful - they have allowed the "like" feature to "off-network".
  • Walled garden - sales fulfillment support is critical if FB wants to be the walled garden of this decade. Keep people on your site. Check out the most popular page on FB today - Lady Gaga. If you've to go to an event or purchase an item, you're taken to ladygaga.com website. 
  • Sales fulfillment - provide platform support to the facebook page to enable storefronts and sales fulfillment. Few startups have started providing this but core platform support is needed. This is critically important to enable sales fulfillment.
  • Mobile, the deals platform is good start. I can view what my local businesses are and what they are offering. There is check-in available as well. More needs to be done - the combination of location and mobile creates an ideal direct response and loyalty end point. i.e. random check-in are not of much value but check-in with an intention to purchase or respond to a direct response ad or offer is needed. Direct response mechanism seems to be missing in the Deal platform today. The deals platform has loyalty deal but its based on check-ins, there needs to be sales fulfillment piece to it as well. i.e consumer gets a deal only if she checks-in (& broadcasts it to her friends) and purchases. 
  • Mobile - pages for local businesses. There are basics of pages built in and I'm sure FB must be working on more. We need images, videos, offers and friends likes built in as well. 

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