Facebook is a social networking site that has more than 900 million users as of 2012. It is the most popular networking site in many countries, including the United States. Facebook launched a portal in 2011 that will help marketers promote their brands on Facebook. The determination of whether or not Facebook marketing is beneficial for a small business requires you to consider many factors, such as the customers, budget and objectives of the business.
The usefulness of Facebook as a marketing tool requires an accurate estimate of the number of small businesses that use this form of social media. This number is difficult to estimate due to the large variation between sources. Almost 50 percent of small businesses don’t use social networking at all according to Hiscox, an insurance company for small businesses. Facebook only accounted for 19 percent of the businesses that use social media in this survey. Palore is an Internet marketing firm that surveyed small businesses about their use of social media. This survey showed that 54.2 percent of small businesses have a Facebook page and 22.3 percent of small businesses have a Twitter account and a Facebook page.
Customer engagement is a primary factor in determining the effectiveness of a marketing strategy. Facebook is more likely to be useful for large businesses that have stores in many locations. The Roost Local Scorecard is an analysis of Facebook pages for small businesses. This analysis found that an average of 15 percent of the “likes” on the Facebook page for a small business were from local users, which means that a Facebook page would provide little benefit for small businesses.
A business must consider the cost of a particular marketing strategy, especially small businesses with limited financial resources. Facebook does not charge a fee for creating a Facebook page, but a Facebook page used to market a business requires a substantial investment of time and money. This includes the resources needed to update the page with fresh content and respond to comments. A large business typically hires consultants to maintain a Facebook presence, but small businesses often must perform these tasks themselves.
The effectiveness of Facebook also depends on your specific marketing objective. Small businesses typically rely on sales leads more than brand awareness to increase revenue. Facebook can be highly effective in building brand awareness, but it is less able to generate sales leads. A lead generation program that consists of rewarding people for referrals is often more beneficial to small businesses. These businesses may generate leads with a direct mail campaign. Webmaster tools can also allow small businesses to implement pay-per-click and SEO campaigns.