I was uncertain what to expect when I showed up for the Facebook marketing presentation at Eli’s Cheesecake Cafe in Chicago earlier this month. About a hundred savvy marketers and networkers chatted on Eli’s patio while tasting slices of different cheesecakes. We were soon to be dazzled by an hour-long presentation with one of Facebook’s very own, a rare treat, yet we all did a good job concealing our anticipation.
It turns out that Eli Schulman himself, founder of Eli’s Cheesecake Company, was an avid social networker. Eli kept track of customers’ visits to his restaurant by writing down dates on check stubs. If he saw someone hadn’t stopped in lately, he’d make sure to call and personally invite them back. Eli would be proud to know that today his company forges ahead with an ambitious online marketing strategy, currently exceeding 1200 fans on their Facebook Fan Page and 1800 followers on Twitter.
As the Facebook presentation began, no one really knew what direction it would take. However, its main intent was soon revealed: to inform area professionals of the great benefits in purchasing ad space on Facebook.
The excitement in the eyes of Brad Keown, Midwest Director of Sales at Facebook, bore testimony to the popular social network’s increasingly aggressive pursuit of advertising dollars. What is happening, as you will see, is nothing less than an online ad-space takeover.
Brad outlined some of the key benefits behind “social graphs” and “self-service advertising,” which allow advertisers to include or exclude potential customers based on information extracted from Facebook users’ profile information. Put in plain terms, Facebook deploys crawlers which pull information from your private profile for the express purpose of target marketing. In other words, anything you include in your profile information—basic information, personal interests, etc.—is fair game for advertisers.
The term “organic search” is used to describe how the process works. No individual is browsing through your information. It’s the FB web crawlers that do this. That’s how you get “targeted” ads on the right column of your FB page—essentially ads organically selected by FB robots.
So what’s the big deal? The big deal is that the need to search for products and services online diminishes with the increase in organic search advertising. You no longer need to look for things to buy. Today, products and services find you. The ultimate benefit to businesses has yet to be seen. However, the ease and relatively low cost (at least right now) of deploying “self-service,” custom targeted ads on Facebook is an exciting opportunity for many. The incredible speed at which Facebook has advanced on the social media scene is enough for anyone with a fair amount of common sense to jump on the bandwagon.
Of course, advertising can only get you so far. Without an effective brand image and strong online presence, many companies will fail to attract new customers. The real growth will be achieved by those savvy enough not only to utilize new social media platforms, but by those who understand the importance of successful branding and powerful messaging. It’s a brave new online world, and consumers today are more informed than ever. Develop an authentic brand. Build your presence. Then get in the stream.