Is Facebook an Effective Marketing Platform?

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Earlier this month I had the opportunity to speak at a conference at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania entitled: “Empirical Generalizations II: What Works in the New Age of Advertising & Marketing.” The event featured presentations from practitioners, academics, and the research community on trends occurring within the marketing ecosystem.  Not surprisingly, one of the hot topics of the day was the impact of social media.  There is no denying that social media has become an increasingly important part of consumers’ lives, but the marketing community wants to know whether these social platforms drive actual ROI.  Compete partnered with Joel Rubinson of Rubinson Partners to explore the effectiveness of “social.”

We focused particularly on whether engagement with a brand’s FAN page on Facebook led to increased visitation to that brand’s owned website.  We studied 63 brands across four months in three industries – retail, food/restaurant, and beauty.  The study specifically analyzed the frequency of visitation to owned websites thirty days prior to an individual “liking” a brand on Facebook versus thirty days after the liking event.  One of the most interesting findings was that liking a brand on Facebook did not drive increased visitation to brand sites if there was only one interaction with the FAN page.  However, consumers who returned to the FAN page two or more times visited brand sites at four times the rate as those who did not go to the FAN page.  On average, when looking at these two groups (single FAN page visitors and multiple session visitors) in total we see an 85% lift in the number of visits to brand sites (Figure One).  So what does this mean?  Well, the short of it is that Facebook does drive incremental consumer engagement with a brand, yet it is repeated exposure to social content over time that drives this engagement.

Figure One: Relative change in Visitation to brand sites 30 days pre-post “liking”

Relative change in Visitation to brand sites 30 days pre-post “liking”

Joel Rubinson, President of Rubinson Partners, Inc. concluded that, “The implication for marketers is that they must change their focus from delivering impressions in Facebook newsfeeds to doing everything possible to make their brand page engaging.  Every newsfeed update should offer a reason for a fan to go back to the brand fan page.”

You can read more about the study methodology and key findings in the piece that Joel posted on the Rubinson Partners blog.