So I must ask... of everyone who has replied, other than myself, has anyone themselves actually made an effort to use Facebook for some level of marketing?
I had, and failed - and my product was a low-budget indie film.
My market was almost non-existent (unfortunately it still is), and my FB page was part of my online strategy - website+FB+Amazon+Indieflix. I did have some local PR but my plan was to not pay for anything.
I must also mention that I'm sort of a marketing expert, having been a media manager for a real estate firm and five star hotel. So I fancy I know a thing or two about marketing.
In my analysis of FB in 2009-10 I came to the conclusion that FB ads weren't for me, the ROI just wasn't there. I came to the same conclusion about Google ads.
Here's my thought process in general terms:
1. Define your market - identify those metrics that you will use to make the distinction. E.g., age, income, gender and so on, as specific as you can make it.
2. Find the size of your market - how many individuals matching your criteria exist on this planet ready to buy/hire you?
3. Identify your budget - how much can you spend now and how much are you comfortable spending on a monthly basis?
4. Identify your goals - What is your income projection? Note: I don't care about exposure if it doesn't result in sales or work. Having a million followers is an ego boost but if doesn't translate into business what's the point?
5. From 3 and 4 you will know how many from 2 you can
realistically reach - this is your target market
6. The big question: Which tool(s) can help you get your target market with minimum expenditure in time and/or money?
Analysing FB as a tool:
1. How many of your target market is using FB - this figure is estimable, and is critical. You might discover you have millions, or only thousands - let's call them your FB market
2. How is your FB market using FB? You must realize most people use FB for personal reasons only, and it is important to identify how many of your potential FB market actually hunts for whatever it is you're selling?
3. This will bring you to a fork on the road: Advertising vs Fan Page - if your FB market are hunters, you can skew your FB strategy towards your fan page - if they are passive users you'll need FB advertising.
4. Using FB ads, try to calculate your outlay via FB for ads - how much do you have to spend to reach your target audience. How many clicks will you get?
5. From the number of clicks how many can you convert
into sales? Do you expect this process to happen passively (people buying via Amazon for example) or do you have to follow up and convert (insurance salesmen, e.g.)? Do you have the time and money and/or expertise to make any of this happen on a continuous basis?
6. If you go the ad route, you will have to ask yourself - Can you better reach your online potential target market with google (or other) ads? After all, google can go where FB cannot, as far as advertising is concerned. Can FB ads offer you something that google cannot?
7. If you go the fan page route, can you generate interesting content regularly - can you maintain the chatter? What do you want your average fan to do once they click the 'Like' button? Do you want them to engage you, converse with other members, buy, subscribe, etc. It is important to trace this route very clearly since this will decide the design
of your marketing material.
For my movie, I decided right off the bat that since my market didn't exist (99% of my sales comes from US/Europe, and my movie isn't even in English!) it would be a fruitless exercise to either use FB ads or generate a continuous online page - that's the reality of my market. 99.9% movies have a shelf life of a few weeks at best. I didn't want to spend the time or money since my ROI didn't work out.
This is my general impression about FB as well. From among all the other potential tools I can use in my marketing arsenal, I've come to realize FB generally isn't very productive for my purposes. This is also the general case in my industry - whether multi-million dollar budgets or zero budget productions.
So, can you get the same sales with one well-placed ad in a local magazine as you would with months of FB activity? Can you provide better service to your customers via FB or your personal website/telephone/email? Does a FB page do justice to your brand image? Is the design of a typical FB page layout / constraints of a FB ad enough to communicate your marketing message without compromise?
This can go on and on...so I hope this helps in some way.