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Marketing 2.0 – Leveraging Facebook For Brand Building

Our Thinking

Facing Up To Facebok

Published Dawn, Aurora Magazine, Jun-Jul, 2009 Issue.



Media has been leveraged for sociable purposes since the caveman first discovered walls. Thus it can be said that the phenomenon of social media and social networks is not new. Even in Pakistan, the most popular applications that were ever installed on PCs were framed around communication and sharing – bulletin boards, mIRC, instant messaging through software like MSN Messenger, AOL or ICQ, chat-rooms, etc were very popular in the last decade.

In recent times, however technology has enabled the twin modes of communication and sharing on an unprecedented scale on what are called social networking sites examples of which include MySpace, Zedge, LinkedIn, Orkut and Facebook. These are changing the human fabric of the Internet in Pakistan with over 1.83 m users on Orkut and over 500,000 users on Facebook alone.

Pakistani marketers are eager to tap into these platforms. They have realized that it’s critical for them to reach the tech-savvy youth demographic that thrives on these sites. On Facebook e.g. out of the total 574,740 (Figure: May, 2009) people from Pakistan, 436,680 are between the age of 18-30. Thus social networks do have the potential to pay off big for marketers if they learn how to use it properly.

There has been ample growth in advertising on these sites and the figures speak for themselves. Eyeblaster Pakistan, a leading internet marketing company reports Adex on Facebook in 2008 was USD 150,000 out of the total USD 1.6 million (some sources cite USD 3.0 m) spent on online advertising and increasing every year.

Facebook Apps

Facebook Apps

However if we take advertising on Facebook (the most advertised site) as a case study, it has continuously produced less than stellar results for advertisers. Facebook is a social network site that brings friends together according to interests, existing connections, networks and groups. Yet while the targeting on the site is phenomenal, Facebook users are more engaged by the content within the site rather than the advertisements. It can even be said that Facebook is a little too engaging. The metrics tell the story. With historically high CPMs (current avg. CPM on Facebook for Pakistan is $0.95) and historically low click-thru, Facebook is facing a challenge to produce effective campaigns for the marketers. The graph below highlights the problem with objectives set around CTR.

EyeBlaster Data of Various Campaigns runs on FB & Zedge


Standard Banner – Average CTR Range

0.10 % to 0.12%

0.4% to 0.75%

Rich Banner – Average CTR Range

0.53% to 2.67%

0.95% to 4%

Average Dwell Time

0.41 Seconds

0.44 seconds

User Engagement (Brand interaction Rate)

10% – 40%

30% – 75%

Source: Eyeblaster, Pakistan

However this same graph might be viewed differently if the objectives of the campaigns were to be changed to ‘User engagement’ or ‘Brand awareness’ instead of how many leads were generated through CTR. e.g. in terms of branding efficiency, you’re getting your name, logo and ad in front of thousands of people for pennies per thousand. If such were the objectives, then the efficacy of campaign will boil down to the advertised content – what do you advertise that works and what sort of rate do you get? However even then it’s not as simple. The world average of User Dwell Time on FB is around 20 minutes a day (Figures: Jan 2009) with global 50% daily logins (both numbers for Pakistan are not available). The peak amount of time spent on the site tapers off at 190 minutes. That means that a ridiculous number of impressions are being spent on the same user and that will understandably will generate low click-through rates.

Another thing marketers need to realize about social networks like Facebook is that unlike say Google, users on Facebook don’t want to leave the site. With Google the goal is to redirect the user to another site as quickly as possible. Facebook’s goal is to hold the users attention as long as they can.

Tip: When creating ad campaigns on Facebook, consider linking it to your Facebook company page instead of an off page website.  This way the user remains within Facebook and can continue utilizing the full functionality.

Facebook advertising also will never be truly effective for the users who have even a tiny bit of knowledge about PCs. For example any display banner can simply be blocked automatically with the Firefox Browser’s adblock feature.

Facebook Pages

Facebook Pages

Thus keeping the above in mind, advertisers need to approach the Facebook medium differently. There’s a lot of focus on advertising, banner ads and the amount of traffic but to really connect to your customer it’s important to look beyond traditional forms of web adverting to see the real potential… that Facebook is a great place for relevant traffic, without the need to pay for ads! There are millions of groups associated with all kinds of subjects in the Facebook empire, so whatever niche you specialize in there is usually a collection of individuals talking about it somewhere in that world. The challenge is leveraging the connectivity of the sites and using them to form communities around products, media or services. This approach will also ensure that you are actually connected with your users.

It would be wise for marketers to take a page out of the history of MySpace, another very popular Social Network. MySpace when launched was effectively ignored by the press and digerati. They gained traction with the musicians who were just starting to get that social network sites were valuable. Based in Los Angeles, they had an upper hand. They managed to attract club promoters and others catering to 20-something urban hipsters who were looking for a tool for coolhunting. Slowly, a symbiotic relationship emerged on MySpace as bands and fans became mutually dependent on one another. Against this backdrop, the youth phenomena emerged.

What companies can learn from this case is that social networks have the power beyond ad revenue to act as a customer relationship management (CRM) tool for them. As in much of media, creativity is the key here. If you can find the type of ad that Facebook users will click, that’s one thing, but if you can build something they’ll click, engage with (or buy) and help you spread, you’ve got something far more exciting

FB Users

FB Users

and effective. One campaign that used this technique very successfully was the Burger King “Whopper Sacrifice” application, which recently also earned a Grand CLIO in Interactive. BK developed a Facebook app that once installed promised to give the user a coupon for a free hamburger if they were to delete 10 people from their friend’s list to prove how they preferred the Whopper over their friends. The “sacrifices” showed up in the activity feed. So it said, for example, “Caroline sacrificed Josh for a free Whopper.” Facebook ended up disabling the WHOPPER Sacrifice, after the love of the user for the WHOPPER Sandwich proved to be stronger than 233,906 friendships.

All things said it also has to be remembered that not all products can be successfully marketed on Facebook. A new company or a brand that’s not a household name will have a tough time jumping into the mix, but so will established companies that don’t necessarily have public opinion on their side. It’s tough to get the conversation started when no one’s primed to talk about it and this is the challenge on Social Networks that brands must muster. They must remember that it’s not the marketers who are powerful on these sites, it’s the people and people empowered by technology won’t always go along.

Media isn’t neatly boxed into little rectangles called newspapers, TV or magazines anymore. People now connect to other people and draw power from crowds, especially IN crowds. If you want to be part of the Social Networks marketing process, than you have to be part of the conversations – that’s when real marketing takes place.