Online Marketing: Facebook Works Best

If you want to reach customers, you have to do it where they spend their time. And these days that means social networks like Facebook and Twitter. Small businesses are quickly coming to appreciate this fact and rushing to use social media in their marketing efforts.

The Fall 2011 Attitudes and Outlook Survey by small-business marketing consultant Constant Contact found that 81 percent of small businesses are now using social media to do marketing, up from 73 percent last the year.

Facebook is the go-to medium, used by 96 percent of small businesses, but Twitter is taking flight as well. It’s now used by 76 percent of small firms, up from 60 percent last year. Eighty-six percent of survey respondents said they’ve found Facebook to be an effective marketing tool; 60 percent said the same of Twitter and 55 percent of LinkedIn.

By comparison, 95 percent of survey respondents said they do email marketing, 98 percent use websites, 66 percent run online ads, 71 percent do print advertising, and 55 percent hold events.

Use of social networks is rising because small-business owners are figuring out how to leverage them better — and quicker. Forty-five percent of small businesses said social media marketing does not absorb too much of their time, up from 31 percent last year.

What are small businesses doing with social media? A lot of them are using the platforms to interact directly with customers. The Constant Contact survey says almost two-thirds of small businesses answer all comments on social networks, both positive and negative. Those who don’t say they can’t find the time, think it’s not necessary, or just don’t know what to say.

(I know what we’d say to a negative comment. But that’s why we don’t run a successful small business.)

What part of Facebook gets best results? So you know Facebook is the most effective way to market your small business online. But what section works best for ad campaigns? Digital marketing firm ComScore just released a research report, “The Power of Like,” that supplies an answer.

The report analyzed brand messages that appear on the newsfeed and profile pages of Facebook users to find out how many fans of a brand — and friends of those fans — see the messages and how they react to them. It discovered that brands get tons more exposure from messages on the newsfeed page than on their brand fan pages.

That’s because messages on newsfeed pages capture the eyeballs of not only fans but fans’ friends, which can add up to millions of extra impressions. Better still, that translates to a lot more visits to your website, as ComScore found that not only do your Facebook fans go to your website more often, their friends do also.

Yes, all fine and good, you say. But show you the money. OK. Turns out, according to ComScore, that your Facebook fans do buy from your business more often than other consumers. It tracked fans of Starbucks and found they visit Starbucks 11 percent more often and spend 8 percent more than the average Joe for a cup of same.

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Follow me on Twitter @vikrambhardwaj

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