How To "Facebook" Your SMB - InformationWeek

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1/25/2010
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How To "Facebook" Your SMB

Consumer social networking sites like Facebook and even MySpace offer SMBs unparalleled advertising opportunities for reaching highly targeted audiences.

Resource Nation provides how-to purchasing guides, tips for selecting business service providers via VoIP Service, and a free quote-comparison service that allows business owners to compare price and service offerings in over 100 categories from online marketing to credit card processing.

While networking sites for businesses exist, such as Linked In and Ideamarketers, the biggest available free market still belong to consumer social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace.

MySpace has launched numerous small music companies into the mainstream by offering free samples, and hundreds of start-up Web companies have profited from being featured on Facebook's "sponsored link" ads, which allow marketers to select the age range, location, and sex of the users they target.

While that may seem like it can narrow a business' market appeal, what it actually does is personalize the way that ads attract the attention of its viewers. A campaign for Apple's iPhone, for example, narrows down the age and sex of a user to creates an ad that reads "If you are a 27-year-old male you qualify for an iPhone 3GS."

Personal Attention
The idea of "personalized" ads is not new, with big-revenue search engine Yahoo having popularized instances of Paid Inclusion, where a Web designer who paid the right price could have their Web site match more search requests through enhanced search engine optimization. Google also has similar online marketing strategies, such as with Gmail.com account ads that are generated through keyword matches to content within the user's emails.

In consumer networks like Facebook and MySpace, the opposite occurs, where Web site designers and advertisers search for select category markets that help construct their ads. Since consumer networking platforms request that users share certain personal details as part of gaining membership, advertisers can easily and systematically target their marketing.

Perfect For Local SMBs
In many respects, this form of advertising almost specifically benefits SMB's and their local customer bases. Aside from age and sex, the third most beneficial statistic available about Facebook's users is their location. According to a study by Borrell Associates, an advertising research and consulting firm, 74% of Facebook's 2009 revenue ($229 million out of $310 million total) was brought in from local advertisers.

While Myspace totaled just 26% of revenue from local ads (a still impressive $133 million), the power of local advertising efforts on Internet networking sites is undeniable. Companies can now narrow down their selection of targeted users to the zip code, making it possible to contact only consumers in a certain area, of a certain age, with a set list of interests (out of a universe of 350 million active Facebook users).

Marketing your SMB on popular community sites can give your business credibility, and you can also advertise freely throughout the network. Facebook user groups for brands and businesses can quickly communicate amongst themselves through e-mail group notices, as well as direct "friend" comments and status updates.

Create Your Own Social Networks
In addition to simply advertising on existing social networks, advertisers can create their own online social networks. This allows other users to connect directly to stores, retailers, and local businesses. For example, a Wwb design company working on an E-business can focus its marketing solely on networking Web site sales campaigns that target e-commerce buyers.

Another strong attribute of social networking advertising comes from Facebook's and Myspace's relationships with other online entities. Web hosting giant GoDaddy gives registered users of its Website Tonight tools a free credit to advertise on Facebook. Similarly, discount scouting sites like RetailMeNot often share advertising credit codes for Facebook and MySpace.


Don't Miss: Q&A With Juliette Powell: The Business Potential Of Social Networking


David Liu is a writer and comedian based in San Diego, California. He writes extensively for Resource Nation, an online resource that provides expert advice on purchasing and outsourcing decisions for small business owners and entrepreneurs.

Resource Nation provides how-to purchasing guides, tips for selecting business service providers via VoIP Service, and a free quote-comparison service that allows business owners to compare price and service offerings in over 100 categories from online marketing to credit card processing.

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