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Deciding Whether Facebook Fits Your Web Marketing Needs

For many small businesses with limited marketing budgets, time, and resources, Facebook represents a temptingly inexpensive way to advertise, with one study showing that 70 percent of companies that are at Merchant Circle are already using Facebook.

Given its high rate of adoption, ease of use, and relatively low barriers to entry, Facebook definitely has curb appeal. The problem isn’t “doing” Facebook — it’s doing it well enough to have a positive impact on your bottom line.

Facebook’s own statistics contribute the following types of data to your assessment of its potential value:

  • Number of active users: Fifty percent of active users log on to Facebook in any given day.

  • Number of minutes spent per month: Users spend more than 700 billion minutes per month on Facebook.

  • Geographical location: About 75 percent of Facebook users are outside the United States.

  • Number of connections: The average user has 130 friends, connects to 80 community pages, groups, or events, and posts 90 pieces of content per month.

  • Site integration: More than 7 million websites or apps have integrated with Facebook.

  • Mobile use: More than 350 million active users access Facebook via their mobile devices.

Watch the numbers on Facebook. TechCrunch reported that for the first time Facebook lost users in the United States in May 2011, although its worldwide expansion more than made up for it. It remains to be seen whether this occurrence portends a true shift in usage, an inevitable slowdown in Facebook’s rate of growth, or simply a blip in the numbers.

Be aware that averages can be misleading. Although the percentage of active Facebook participants is higher than on other social media, where a tiny percentage of users produce a high percentage of content, it can still be difficult to obtain active communication. The 2011 report “Social Networking and Our Lives,” from the Pew Internet and American Life Project, found the following percentages for activities on an average day:

  • “Like” another user’s content (the most popular activity): 26 percent

  • Comment on another user’s post or status: 22 percent

  • Comment on another user’s photos: 20 percent

  • Update their own status: 15 percent

  • Send another user a private message: 10 percent

As a business seeking engagement from prospects or customers, you still face a steep challenge. Again according to the Pew Study, 56 percent of users update their statuses less than once per week, and 16 percent have never even updated them.

In other words, more than half of Facebook’s users are more or less missing in action. Half have fewer than ten friends, the minimum number that seems to produce involvement.

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