FaceBook has over 400 million active users. Around 200 million of them log on to Facebook in any given day. An average of over 71 million pieces of content, which include links, images, videos, notes etc., are shared among them everyday. To say I find it difficult to fathom the enormity of viral possibilities on Facebook would be an understatement. Two years ago, Facebook was touted as the go-to social media platform for marketing, viral or not, but now it has become the social platform de rigueur for anyone looking to promote just about anything online. It’s always a good idea to Compare Twitter, Facebook and Google Plus against other social platforms.
At the risk of sounding like a FaceBook fanatic, let me say this: Facebook’s reach in the US and worldwide is nothing short of phenomenal (okay, I admit, not as phenomenal as Twitter’s), with 94.91% yearly increase in the number of visitors, eclipsing the 8.11 % yearly increase that Google, the world’s most popular site, enjoyed. But the point of the post isn’t to list out the many virtues or quirks of FaceBook, lest you misinterpret my intentions. And I am not intentionally dithering, I just want to you to realize how much Facebook has grown and how much it will continue to grow. But that is not the point of this post either. The point of this post to is to highlight the fact that by growing into the mammoth social networking site it is, Facebook has also made viral marketing opportunities on it bigger and better than ever before!
The following is a list of features and tips that make Facebook so viral-friendly. Consider each one carefully if you wish to embark on a viral journey with Facebook.
- FaceBook Applications – Viral marketing hasn’t been the same ever since Facebook swung the doors to Facebook Platform wide open in 2007. We’ve seen an endless number of applications come our way. Of course, not all have gone viral, there are many that have gone bust as well. But the sheer number of viral successes that have happened on Facebook through apps argues in their favor. Want to launch a viral marketing campaign on Facebook? Create an application or sponsor one. The number of FarmVille invites I have received is in three digits and is responsible for introducing Zynga to a non-gamer like me. The interactive nature of the apps makes them appear less like the marketing props they are and goes a long way in hooking people in.
- FaceBook Pages – FaceBook Pages are essentially (slightly) modified profiles for businesses, brands, celebrities and (other) public figures. You cannot ‘friend’ them, but you can become a ‘fan’. Setting up a Facebook Page for your business is a great way to reach out to your customers, also to lure in new customers. The Page will allow you to set up discussion boards and give your customers a forum to air their views. Having said that, updating your Page regularly is a must, even your most loyal fan can ‘unfan’ you if given the opportunity. To prove just how popular Facebook Pages are, let me give you this piece of statistics: There are over 3 million active Pages on Facebook, and every day, 20 million people become fans of these Pages.
- Facebook Connect – Facebook Connect allows you to add a social element to your site. For example, if one needs to login first to comment on your blog, then if you have ‘Connect’ integrated in your site then all the person needs to do is sign in with their FaceBook details. They do not need to go through the entire registration process in your site, this makes your site more user-friendly.
- Add the Fan Box widget – Take a leaf out of your Facebook page and add a Fan Box widget on your site. Literally. This will allow your users to become fans of your Page, without first having to visit it. They just need to click on the ‘Become A Fan’ widget and voila! It is done! I think it goes without saying that before you add a Fan Box widget to your site you need to have a Facebook Page in place. So, what makes this little widget so special? The answer lies in the Principles of Scientific Management – ‘eliminate unnecessary motion to increase productivity’. Or if you want to put a non-scientific spin on it, think of it as an instance of ‘Bringing water to the horse’. By eliminating unnecessary steps (that of signing in to Facebook and finding the right Page first), you most likely increase the chances of converting a user into a fan.
- Use Your Status to Your Advantage – You can post the link to your article or website on your status message & can be assured that all the friends on your list will see it. For example: if I designed clothes for a living then I would put up the link of my website where my latest collection is displayed. This way I have promoted it effectively without spending a single dime. However, the trick out here is not to look too promotional.
Also, you need to make good use of the Meta tags and Link tags in your site’s HTML head to ensure that when links to your site are posted on Facebook, they appear the way you want them to, the pictures you want come up. When Facebook searches your site for images and parsed text to display with the link, your optimized tags can tell it exactly what to pick. Tweak your Meta description tag and have an absolute image source to ensure this works.
- Share With FaceBook – Like you ‘retweet’ with Twitter, you can ‘share’ with Facebook. The ‘share’ button is a recently added feature in Facebook that allows users to share videos, links and images posted by friends and which appear on their feed. Something tells me, it has the potential to make content go viral faster and easier.
- FaceBook Memes – For the uninitiated, Internet memes are concepts or ideas (also, images and videos) that catch on and spread quickly on the web (LOLcats is a great example of a meme, the one where you see pictures of cats in funny poses saying funny things). In less than two months, three separate Facebook memes had the web buzzing about their wildly viral nature. A good example is the Breast Cancer Awareness – bra color status updates. I know you all know about this 😉 The Urban Dictionary name meaning updates and Celebrity Doppelganger (lookalike) memes also very successfully managed to revive user interest in two old sites. If you can think of a clever meme, it will surely help draw attention to your site too.
In addition to this, it allows a two-way flow of information. User activities on your site will reflect in their feed as well. Users will be encouraged to invite their friends to ‘connect’ with your site. Take it from me, this is very nifty. This is how the button looks like:
Let me illustrate this point by citing the example of ‘Stripey the Cub’. In the past few days, I have seen so many of my friends sharing this link that I think I will see this tiger in my sleep also! This is a page about tiger conservation awareness. Here are some stats on how the share feature has helped this cause. This page was started on 30th Jan ’10. In the first day itself it had 5000 fans. On the 2nd day, the number went up to 11000. By 5th Feb ’10, the number of fans had already crossed 50,000 & as I write this post the number has gone up to 146,186 fans! Do let me know what is the number by the time you read this post! This is just the tip of the iceberg. If the tigers can benefit so much, imagine what you can do for your website/product with a well thought out FaceBook marketing strategy!
If you are still not convinced of the viral qualities of Facebook, let me tell you about the “famous Facebook dog pic” that became so viral that it helped a homeless dog find a new home (aww!). That’s right, Facebook helped save even a ‘dog’s’ life. If that too hasn’t helped change your mind, you should still give it a whirl. If nothing else, it’s free.
About The Author:
Bhavya George represents Social Maximizer, a social bookmarking service that assists webmasters in promoting their blog posts & articles in various social bookmarking sites.