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Facebook as a Marketing Tool: Branding Versus Response

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Facebook as a marketing tool is a struggle between branding and response. Its usefulness varies widely from one company page to another and especially from one industry to another.

The dent in the wall of my office comes from beating my head against it over the use of Facebook for marketing.

I spent most of my career as an online general manager being required to deliver results for aggressive, high-growth budgets. The end goals were profit, revenue and audience targets.

As a result, I usually judge online marketing tactics in terms of measurable benefits.

Do we get any responses? What is the response rate? What is the return on investment? Does it contribute in any way to profit, revenue or audience?

These are all quantitative, provable methods of promoting sites. The measurements are useful in deciding if the tactic is worth expanding, staying the same or being eliminated.

The Facebook Problem

Facebook and other social media platforms represent an interesting problem based on the successes and failures I have seen in trying to use them to benefit their parent businesses and websites.

One large and influential group says that Facebook is all about brand engagement.

Go look at the Coca Cola Facebook page. Talk about branding! The page has almost nothing but large photos showing people drinking the product.

And what business wouldn’t love tens of millions of Likes on its Facebook page?

But for many companies that don’t have access to marketing research, brand engagement is not measurable.

They don’t know if they get any benefit from their Facebook pages.

So they also don’t know how much money and labor should go into building and maintaining a presence on Facebook.

I have seen more than one company invest heavily in Facebook and fail to get worthwhile results.

Facebook Branding, Response or Both

It makes perfect sense to use Facebook as a marketing tool for the branding of any business.

At a minimum, all that business needs to do is title the page with the business name, put a large logo on it and provide some steady, periodic postings that include mentions of the business.

The other option worth pursuing is response. After all, most marketing is a combination of branding and response.

Some tactics are higher in one than the other. Contextual advertising such as Google Adwords is higher on response than branding.

Banner ads, especially the increasingly larger options such as 300 x 600, are higher on branding than response.

But Facebook can be as unpredictable about response as it is about branding.

I have seen enough data from enough websites to know that some websites receive a lot of traffic from their Facebook pages and others receive very little.

Branding and Response Together

Facebook as a marketing tool is about both branding and response. For some companies, the branding value will be higher. For others, the response value will be higher.

Whether the page is more about branding or response depends in part on:

  • The company’s products
  • How the page is built
  • How often it is updated
  • What content is provided in the update
  • Whether or not the content is interesting
  • Whether the posts are visual or textual, etc.

For smaller businesses, the branding value may be uncertain, but the response value is measurable.

Some will argue the branding value may be measured by likes, reach, shares and comments. But none of those measurements can be directly connected to company benefit without the use of extensive research.

The response value may be measured by traffic that goes to the parent website from the Facebook page and what those visitors do while on the parent site.

Invest time and money into a Facebook page accordingly. Watch overinvesting for the sake of “brand engagement.” Watch under investing if measurable responses show the potential for creating value and benefit.

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