There’s been a lot of buzz around Google+ and Facebook these last few days. Google+ recently made its social network available to the public and Facebook had its F8 conference touting the new features that will be rolling out. Both Google+ and Facebook want to be the social media site that everyone goes to for social interaction. The real question is why? It could be because they want to boast that they have the most visitors, but Facebook (see the Computerworld article) already won that title. Plus, it’s safe to say that neither Facebook nor Google+ is improving their social media site for that warm and fuzzy feeling. So what’s the real reason? It could be that by reaching out to people, they are both competing for the attention of businesses and their advertising dollars.
Facebook and Google+ know that companies will pay top dollar to reach their target audience. Businesses already pay to reach their target audience, so what’s the big deal? The social media sites can use data and information to predict a user’s actions.
According to an article on CNET, Facebook’s “algorithm can determine what you’re likely to like based on who you like, what you do, where you go, which apps you use (and how), and so forth–all of which is information that Facebook will now collect through its own service and all the apps that are being built to run on it.” This is a game changer.
It means that Facebook and Google+ (at a later date) can help corporations pinpoint people who should be in their target audience based on their social behavior. This makes advertising dollars even more valuable. In the past people’s profile information, their interests and their “likes” determined which ads would be relevant. Now, their actual behavior and interactions will be watched and ads will be served based on those actions. Its one thing for a social media site to say a user is interested in country songs based on their status; it’s another thing to say that they listen to the song “Sweet Home Alabama” once a week. By collecting and providing more valuable data, a social media site can make itself of greater worth to advertisers. In fact, it can help advertisers adjust their strategy based on the data received. According to CNET, if this works, “Facebook is on its way to becoming the source of the most valuable information on the Web: who likes what, who they influence, and how to reach the people most likely to influence others (hint: go through their friends).”
It’s no wonder that Facebook and Google+ continue to attempt to out-do each other. In the end, it adds up to greater revenue for both companies.
Everyone likes to get incentives for following through on an action. Think about it, how many times have you signed up for a newsletter or given a company your e-mail address in order to get a discount or a particular item in return. The world of social media is no different. Many companies lure in customers with special offers on social media sites.
Social media sites are the new place to hand out incentives in order to reach more potential customers. In fact, many companies offer incentives that can only be accessed through social media sites. Take the Cheesecake Factory for example. July 30th was National Cheesecake day and every slice of cheesecake at the Cheesecake Factory was being sold for half price. However, The Cheesecake Factory decided to sweeten the pot even more. On July 29th only, if a Facebooker clicked the Cheesecake Factory “like” button they would receive a coupon to buy a slice of cheesecake for $1.50.
This was a great incentive for consumers, but the Cheesecake Factory also benefitted. When a Facebooker clicked the “like” button on the Cheesecake Factory Facebook page, they were notified that their information would be accessible by the Cheesecake Factory. They were asked if they consented to their information being captured. If they said yes, they were taken to $1.50 coupon. In return for the $1.50 coupon, the Cheesecake Factory received a lot of fan “likes” that day, but they also were given access to information about the people who “liked” their page. For those who clicked the “like” button, they’ll continually receive notifications and updates from the Cheesecake Factory in their status section.
The Cheesecake Factory is not the only company to capitalize on the friendliness of the “Facebook” network. Einstein and others have run promotions that encourage Facebookers to fan or “like” a page in order to receive an incentive. If a company creates the right strategy, then they too can benefit from offering potential customers incentives on Facebook.
When most businesses think of social media they think about getting their name in front of people and building relationships. However, one important factor is overlooked by many businesses that could actually help them grow. It’s called learning. Time and money can be saved, and frustration lost, if businesses learn how to glean information from their competitors on social media sites.
Social media sites have a wealth of information. In fact, companies can get valuable insights from and about competitors on social sites. How do you this? Search around for your competitors and see what they are doing. Many have a Facebook or Twitter page where they are posting their latest products or services. Why not join? It’ll allow you to stay abreast of what’s going on. When they launch a special promotion you’ll be one of the first to know. It’s almost like having the inside the scoop. Plus see what fans like or dislike about the company.
Let’s look at an example. Say Company A does a promotion, offering a coupon on Facebook and Twitter for people to try their new spicy chicken sandwich for free. They set aside one day, where all their locations are serving a free chicken sandwich. They have a good amount of people show up for the promotion at all their locations. Throughout the week customers tweet and send posts to Facebook about the free sandwich. The majority of the people say they appreciated the free meal, but didn’t like the long lines. Company A, posts a survey online, asking people if they liked the new spicy chicken sandwich, but they get very little response. In less than 2 months they discontinue the new spicy chicken sandwich. Company B, which also sells chicken sandwiches has been learning from Company A. They know from Facebook posts and tweets that Company A discontinued the new spicy chicken sandwich because everyone came for the free meal, but after that the spicy chicken sandwich didn’t generate much revenue.
Company B, which also sells chicken, launches a promotion on Facebook and Twitter for a free spicy chicken sandwich. However, they offer the sandwich for a week, and they give a schedule of locations and time slots that are available. As people sign-up, they are shown locations and time slots that are still available. They select what’s most convenient for them and print out their coupon. When they visit the location, they are given the free chicken sandwich and asked to fill out a quick survey. Company B gets good feedback and they make the adjustment to the chicken sandwich based on the survey. The new spicy chicken sandwich becomes a huge success for Company B, in part because they watched their competitor’s promotions and looked to see what their fans were saying.
Learning from competitors via social media sites can be a golden key for many companies. Fans aren’t afraid to share what they like or dislike about a company’s product or service. If you’re paying attention, your business can gain a host of new customers, by providing the solutions that your competitor ignored. Remember one man’s loss is another man’s gain or treasure. Are you looking for gain?