Facebook is unquestionably a giant of social media — the network has over 2 billion monthly active users worldwide. But it's not just baby pictures and relationship status updates. Facebook is a hub for business.
Businesses of all sizes use Facebook to cultivate followers, build their brands, engage with their audience and maybe even manage employees. Karen North, professor at USC’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, joined Marketplace Weekend to discuss how businesses use Facebook for marketing and data collection.
1. Facebook is a powerful marketing tool. The vast and extremely valuable cache of data Facebook collects from user profiles has been a major asset for businesses when it comes to targeted marketing and reaching the right audience. Facebook is in the business of keeping user attention on the site; the network wants to keep users happy and engaged, and it uses personal information to craft a unique experience. For businesses, all that data is a treasure trove.
2. Not all businesses are collecting data of their own. Cambridge Analytica's app allegedly mined and misused Facebook user data. But many businesses aren't collecting data on the platform, they're using Facebook's data to sell their own product or push their message out.
3. Facebook isn't the only option. Facebook-owned Instagram is already a major contender in the advertising space. North says that Pinterest is also very effective (though not much discussed) and that Twitter, while not great for reaching customers, is a good tool for reaching influencers.
4. What matters most is the content. Advertising in the digital era takes a lot of creativity and, most importantly, authenticity. Regardless of which platform they're using or which social network they're tapping into, businesses will have to focus on creating high-quality campaigns. That goes for the future of business on Facebook, too, maybe especially during a time of heightened skepticism.
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