So according to one recent survey conducted by online marketing firm The Search Agency, about half of “US adults online” have no idea how Facebook makes its money. Even though the site is a public company which has to open its books, even though the site’s revenues are a regular topic of conversation in the financial and technology news, and even though three-quarters of the people who took the survey knew how to use the site, half did not know that Facebook turns their free membership into cash mostly through advertising and a little bit through online purchases made in games like Farmville.
How Facebook makes money is clear. Less clear is how professional users of Facebook make money.
For Big Companies It is Easy
There is certainly been a lot of talk about that too. Search on Amazon for a book on “Facebook marketing” and you are going to have to wade through more than 1,600 results to find a guide that will help you.
Some of the approaches in those guides will point out creative strategies that are being used in select industries. Wedding photographers, for example, have found that tagging images of events that they have photographed ensures that samples of their work are seen by people who match the age, marital status and region of their clients. Magazines and non-profits have integrated Scribd to give away free samples and downloadable content.
But for the most part, and for large companies, the overall strategy is pretty simple: build a Facebook page then use advertising to bring potential customers to the page. Get those customers to “like” one item once and you can drip market them forever. Each time some of those people add a comment or like another post, you get to increase your exposure exponentially.
It is a strategy that requires an ongoing advertising budget (which is why Facebook likes it) and it has measurable results in the form of follower numbers and “likes” (which is why advertising agencies like it.)
The landing page and the funnels that lead to it are straightforward — provided you have the budget and are willing to spend it. Where things get much harder is what you put on that business page to keep people coming in, to encourage those comments and “likes,” and to translate the audience into cash.
Again, some strategies are simple. Check-in deals and special offers are instant ways to buy exposure and convert potential customers. But you cannot use them too often without losing urgency or spamming timelines to the extent that users’ friends block them from their feeds.
Mostly, it comes down to the content — and the relationship.
When the content you are placing on your business page is interesting enough for followers to enjoy reading it, when you are engaging with the comments to the extent that customers feel that they are buying from a friend, when you use social media as a public form of communication that still lets you chat to customers directly, then you will find that people “like” your page and continue to like your content.
I do not think there is a formula for that…except garbage in, garbage out. While you can measure the number of comments and “likes” that different posts and pictures generate — letting you work in more viral posts on a regular basis — you cannot put a figure on the depth of trust your posts are able to build. When your Facebook page creates that trust, though, is when you may start to make money.