In this article the researchers examined a specific function of Facebook, the marketing power of ‘Like.’ Facebook is one of the most dominant social network services today. More than 1.3 billion users within the United States visit Facebook on a monthly basis today, increasing from 160 million in May of 2011. As the most influential social media platform, Facebook offers a diverse range of advertising venues for corporations and brands. With the advent of this new marketing archetype, the authors sought to carry out a research that focused on how brands reach out to their target audience by using Facebook, and how their advertising strategy affects audience participation. The research included three companies as prototypes – Starbucks, Southwest, and Bing. The authors specifically focused on examining audience engagement in these brands by using three main variables; reach, frequency, and Gross Rating Points (GRP).
To conduct this research, the authors used a measurement service called comScore. It collects data based on a 2 million global panel of computer Internet users. They monitor the users’ site visitation, search activity, advertising exposure, and online purchases. By measuring the behavior of these users, comScore was able to relate social media marketing within social networks to other behaviors in which they engage with around the Web. The study also includes insights from Facebook’s internal analytics platform in addition to the data collected from comScore. Social media brand impression is a unit of branded content and Facebook’s social media brand impression is executed through four channels – page publishing, stories about friends, sponsored stories, and advertisements with social (context). Although Facebook uses these four vehicles, the research focuses on unpaid, or “earned” impressions.
There are three types of user demographic within Facebook. One is fans, users that ‘liked’ a particular brand and consequently the most exposed to social media brand impressions. The other is friends of fans, who are not overt fans of brands but are similarly exposed to brand impressions through a friend who is a fan. Lastly, the non-fans are users that are neither fans nor have friends that have used the ‘like’ function.
Newsfeed is one of the most important features of Facebook. It is where most exposure of branded contents takes place. The research states that the time spent on reading Newsfeed takes up 27% of entire time on Facebook. Therefore what the fan pages manage to do is publish more engaging contents and renew the posts more often to be seen by fans and their friends on the Newsfeed page, which can lead to an increase in the reach of fans by approximately 2.5%.
The authors also carried out a research based on the variables of audience reach, frequency, and GRPs. After calculating these measurements in relevance to Starbucks, Southwest, and Bing, they came up with an interesting result where the fans received a higher number in social impression, but the friends of fans displayed a wider range of reach. The authors also analyzed the demographic and behavior of the target audience and found out that the main age demographic for Starbucks and Bing were between 18 and 24, and for Southwest it was between 25 and 34. Such results indicate that the companies should design their campaigns that appeal to the younger consumers, or their target demographic.
In the case with Starbucks, the majority of their fan demographic consists of those who are younger than 25. Starbucks fans and friends of fans spent 8% more and transacted 11% more frequently than the average Internet user. By taking a look at the Starbucks Facebook page today, we can see that they use the hashtag for a broader audience reach, cause-related issues to promote their brand image, as well as including promotions and deals to attract their fans and friends of fans. For example, Starbucks is currently having a promotion of frappuccinos. They use the hashtag – #FrappuccinoHappyHour – to promote this special. They also have different promotions for their seasonal specials, such as #psl and #pslfie for their pumpkin spice latte.
We took a look at Coca-Cola’s Facebook page and discovered the similar marketing tactics used by Starbucks. “Brands also can take advantage of these users’ social proximity to fans to deliver stories about those fans’ interest and engagement with their brand.” In relation, they are currently encouraging interaction from their fans by having the Happiness Flag campaign for the World Cup this year in Brazil. Coca-Cola ties the campaign to the current social context, the selfie, which is similar to what Starbucks did with the pumpkin spice latte and encourages active audience engagement. In addition, Coca-Cola encourages the “like” as well with their Facebook posts. It is interesting to note that Coca-Cola currently has the most likes on Facebook amongst other brands.
This research article explored the value of a consumer and how companies use social media to reach the audience; the authors did the proper study and analysis. But as active SNS users and brand consumers, it is also our job to carefully filter through different ad contents. Pressing the “Like” button is so simple and easy, but as consumers we should acknowledge what influence the action has among the network of friends, and how companies exploit our connections and information to promote their brands for profit. Both the advertisers and consumers are becoming more cynical and smarter by the day, and although the “Like” function may not bring about any significant impact, there is no harm in being wary of the advertising tactic that dominates the sphere of modern communication.
Lipsman, Andrew, et al. “The Power Of “Like”: How Brands Reach (And Influence) Fans Through Social-Media Marketing.” Journal Of Advertising Research 52.1 (2012): 40-52. Business Source Complete. Web. 28 Apr. 2014.
– YK & FZ