Facebook recently passed the half-a-billion users mark, and financial analysts say that this year Mark Zuckerberg and company will pass the billion-dollar mark in earnings, too. Meanwhile, well-informed internet marketing experts calculate that Facebook’s “self-service” advertising is generating at least a million hits per month for Facebook-linked websites. Using this free tool (though there is a fee depending on your advertisement options), small businesses can produce small sidebar ads that link to niche markets among Facebook’s 500 million users. Analysts estimate the “click-throughs” from these two-inch by two-inch promos result in US$5 million e-commerce every month.
Not surprisingly, data for Twitter users looks very much the same as the Facebook data, and the majority of e-merchants regard the two “social utilities” as complementary tools in their kits. None of this data particularly surprises the pundits, but they do express considerable surprise that the land down-under has become the hottest emerging market for social utility marketing.
Australia rules the web.
According to conventional wisdom, traffic from the United States dominates the social networks, but the facts tell a different story. American users account for only 30% of the Facebook population, and they do not use “the big book” as frequently or for as long as many of their worldwide web-mates. In fact, Australia has the world’s highest rates of Facebook and Twitter usage as Aussies log an average of eight hours per month on the networks. Moreover, recent research shows that nearly half of Australian small businesses have generated new leads and attracted new customers using Facebook, Twitter, and other social networks. Just as importantly, approximately one quarter of Australia’s largest businesses now are devoting staff and money to aggressive internet marketing.
How to start-up social network marketing in Australia.
Facebook and Twitter attract legions of new users with their extremely simple interfaces and commands. A newbie can be up and running literally in a matter of minutes. In the hands of a proficient user, a Facebook Page can go from tabula rasa to content-rich and friend-filled in just a couple of hours. The same applies to Twitter, and “proficiency” is determined more by familiarity with the sites and their etiquette than with complex coding languages. A brand new user can, for example, embed a YouTube video in a Facebook post or “tweet” with just three or four keystrokes.
Given that the social networks are only a few years old, “veteran” status has more to do with hours logged than years served, and the “veterans” say that having one person dedicated full-time to social network marketing makes the difference between excellence and mediocrity in the enterprise. “It takes time to maintain personal relationships with loyal online customers,” explains Danielle Brooks, media analyst at Patterson-Forbes Partners. “But small business owners must understand that it is time well spent, because every one of those online relationships puts currency in the till. The immediacy and, some would say, ‘intimacy’ of the online relationship contributes both to fierce customer loyalty and much higher-than-average customer purchases.”
Eventually social media will be an accepted norm within business to do business. Companies will need to start extending their social media policies into more than just who can access these sites, but who will answer questions, how long will responses takeetc. Keep a look out for a future article on social media policies.