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Facebook: more than just a networking site?

Facebook: more than just a networking site?

As the fifth most visited site on the planet, is Facebook a viable marketing and advertising tool for companies feeling the pinch?

January 6, 2009 10:58 by

A few weeks ago, in mid-December, Facebook welcomed its 140,000,000th user. That means a little less than two per cent of the world’s entire population has a Facebook page and, by extension are connected to its megalithic social network.

In addition to being a networking site, Facebook is also a marketing and advertising tool for corporations around the world. The millions of subscribers are inescapably confronted by targeted ads that appear on their own, and their friends’ profiles. Log on in Dubai and you’ll see information for holidays to Beirut or dating websites for Muslim singles; access your page from Europe and you’re bombarded with details of club nights in your nearest city. Advertising is certainly a big part of the world’s fifth most visited website.

But can Facebook be considered a serious tool for those who make their living in the marketing game? At first glance, it would appear not. Absent from the site’s incessant ad flashing are many of the world’s largest and most recognisable brands. You won’t see a Coca Cola banner, or adidas’ newest product range when you check which one of your friends has poked you. You’re more likely to see ads for services in your area than wide-reaching advertisements.

What’s more, the majority of the site’s marketing potential is used up by very small, very simply designed blocks of text. Within five minutes, and with very little technological know-how, businesses can submit advertisements for consideration by the site’s moderators. The ads will run at a daily flat rate of $1, plus 1 cent per click. Given that the lion’s share of the Internet’s unclaimed marketing real estate may soon be at a premium (it’s estimated that by 2012, internet-heavy countries like the UK will spend around GBP5.07 billion – AED27.9 billion – each year on online advertising), small businesses can’t believe their luck.

But the question remains: can Facebook be taken seriously as a marketing tool?

Well, sort of. Companies who can’t afford serious advertising budgets can enjoy a little exposure on the networking site, although the ads won’t be as targeted or as relevant as they need to be to make a significant impact on the market.

But with the credit crunch threatening to erase advertising budgets in 2009, alternative forms of advertising, like those found on Facebook, may soon become the only option for millions of struggling businesses.

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  1. hari athilat on January 9, 2009 11:20 am

    i believe , its a right tool to reach the mass, which is quiet cost effective too .

  2. Anand on June 28, 2009 12:31 pm

    Definitely yes, however it depends on how facebook differentiates itself from other social networks. From a marketeers point, rather than going to too many sites with less differentiation in offerings, if fb can reach the mass that best. Again depends on the primary TG when it comes to segements and wastage, CTR etc.
    Overall if reach is the obj, nothings near facebook.

  3. Shehab Ahmed on July 30, 2009 1:13 pm

    Facebook is awesome I got to meet all of my old friends who I havent heard from for a long time

  4. Nazia on September 9, 2009 12:45 am

    Facebook is the ‘in thing’ in Dubai from Sheikh Mohammad’s profile to whos & whos in the city.
    One thing about Facebook which i like the most is that one can experiment with using it as a tool for marketing other than usual socializing.
    Only time would tell about its effectiveness. But one thing is for sure, its effective among young crowd.

  5. Nabeel Al Wazzan on December 31, 2009 10:15 am

    In fact Advertisement on social networks has become popular, due to budgets cut down at companies in the Middle East. However, medium to small businesses are the ones which mainly focus on Social network websites such as Facebook. On the other hand large companies and big brand names still prefer conventional media, although some of those brands, such as M&M’s have built strong.
    Expectation for Internet advertising growth is expected to boom up during the coming few years. This is because of the availability of the net to vast number of users world-wide. Nevertheless mobile advanced technologies brought the net to users around the globe while on the move. All of this including many other factors makes the social networking websites the best targets for advertisers in the coming years.
    I remember a friend of mine who wanted to establish an on-line business with E-Store and payment gateway etc… asked me for an advice what would be the main product to work with. As I have been out in the region’s markets for the past 25 years, and foreseeing the technology developing each moment of the day; my advice was “Work with people” he did not get it at the first say, and I had to explain for him that social websites would be the next money generator for people who want to work for the next media generation.


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