The Facebook Fetish: Marketing for Free

I have often mentioned my view of social networking as a marketing tool; I have always thought it was ineffective and sort of pointless. Well, I’ve changed my mind. Recently we were discussing social networking in my publishing thesis class, and facebook and myspace came up. I raised the question, “Has anyone in here actually used facebook successfully as a marketing tool? Do you click through to ads, or is it a waste?”

Diana Bogan, one of my classmates, responded with a number of ways that she’s used facebook or has seen it used successfully. (Although she said the ads on the right hand side of the page remind her of infomercials – and hasn’t ever clicked through on them, either).

She gave several examples of companies using Facebook successfully:

We have a magazine that is published and distributed for free at select locations called “Sarasota Downtown & Beyond” that touts itself as a “community-centric publication.” They have set up a Facebook group as an easy, economical way to expand electronically. So far they are utilizing the space to promote contests, content in upcoming issues and gain reader feedback/tap into interests.

A few months back I had to reach the owner of a Karaoke Lounge for an article I was working on. I was looking for contact information for his business, so I googled it to find a website. I also found through google a group page the owner had established on Facebook. This tracked all the behind the scenes activity in trying to get the club open. I was truly surprised by how many “fans” were following this and eagerly awaiting the opening. In fact, by finding this page, I was able to deduce the reason my phone messages had not been answered was because his status showed he was currently out of town. Information I could relay back to my editor and get an extension on contacting him for his contribution to the article. Under the groups setting search the word “magazine” and you’ll find mainstream magazines and art/literary magazines listed. I’ve checked out a few International magazines I never would have been exposed to otherwise.

I also know of a local book publisher who utilizes her Facebook page to start threads about common issues writers have. She will pose a question and get a conversation going. From here she can lure people into receiving her e-newsletter, visiting her work web site to look into classes, manuscript critiques etc.

While those are all ‘local’ examples, she also pointed out several mainstream, national marketing strategies being implemented on facebook. CNN’s Anderson Cooper is successfully tying a Facebook page into his broadcast, and film maker Alan Sorkin’s Facebook group page has nearly 10,000 members, and he actively answers his wall posts.

Engaging in an online community is more like word-of-mouth, subtly promoting your projects through conversation. […] I had a very closed mind toward social networking, and my eyes have greatly been opened.

As have mine. She also provided a link to an interesting piece by Josh Korr “Networked Link Journalism: A revolution quietly begins in Washington state,” showing an interesting example of using Twitter to cover breaking news.

Thanks Diana for letting me quote you!

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