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Facebook triggers deals, redemptions for local merchants: study

A study showing that Facebook triggers deals and redemptions for local merchants suggests that the social networking site’s value lies not simply in driving likes and adding fans but also in using personalized content to convert digital hunters into loyal, repeat in-store buyers.

Fifty-one percent of respondents in G/O Digital’s study, “Harnessing the Power of Facebook for Small Businesses,” reported that discounts/incentives on a Facebook page are most likely to motivate them to click through to a local business’ Web site or mobile site while 54 percent said discounted offers could motivate them to call and/or book an appointment. The findings suggest that social media marketing is an important reputation management tool that needs to be cultivated daily to make customers feel they are invited into a business’s conversations and their personal needs are being met.

“We didn’t expect to see that discounted offers on Facebook are the single biggest influence trigger driving both online and offline actions for small and medium-sized businesses,” said Raghav Mathur, vice president of strategy and business development at G/O Digital, Chicago. “That was a good surprise.”

Targeted ads
There is no right way to describe what consumers want to see from local business on social media.

Thirty-four percent of respondents said they prefer to have a Facebook ad targeted to them based on their interests, 15 percent cited location as their preferred form of targeting and another 10 percent want to be targeted based on their past purchases, browsing history and devices used.

Evolution of an online advertising juggernaut.

The study of 1,000 online and mobile users also found that small and medium-sized businesses do not have to be as hefty as the Nordstroms and Best Buys of the world to see impactful results from social media marketing.

“They have to be laser-focused on creating a multi-pronged, customer-centric strategy that delivers the right messages, content, promotional offers and ads to the right customers at the right times and right places,” Mr. Mathur said. “They also have to be willing to experiment and adjust their strategy – something they are better equipped by virtue of their smaller size and nimble decision-making.”

The findings point to Facebook’s gradual evolution into an online-advertising juggernaut, benefiting from a growing number of mobile users.

The site, which holds an edge over rivals in being able to offer marketers the use of a huge storehouse of user data, continues to benefit as advertisers shift advertising spending to digital from traditional outlets.

Social media
In other important study findings, Facebook beat Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn as the most effective social media research channel.

Facebook “success story” on Web site.

“Given there are over 1.39 billion monthly active Facebook users, I’m not all that surprised to see that 73 percent of the study’s respondents cited Facebook as the most important social media platform where consumers expect a local business to have a presence,” Mr. Mathur said. “The real surprise, however, is just how poorly Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram favored in comparison – coming in at only 3 percent, 2 percent and less than 1 percent, respectively.

“By all accounts, each of these social networks is a formidable competitor to Facebook,” he said. “They have exceptionally high adoption rates worldwide and big-name advertisers are already spending a significant amount of their marketing dollars to test out ads and sponsored content in their channels.

“But being immensely popular with consumers and having buy-in from a few privileged big-box brands doesn’t necessarily mean these channels have enough marketing worth for small and medium-sized businesses,” he said.

Final Take
Michael Barris is staff reporter on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York