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What is more important to an online marketer; a Facebook Like or web visit?

8 August, 2011

As the importance of both the web and social media grows, we soon meet a crossroad as to which becomes more important and where budgets and resources should be shifted towards. This blog post will discuss what is the fast becoming the more important of the two.

Facebook is the most important marketing channel

Facebook was recently ranked the most important marketing channel in a survey ran by Smart Insights with 65.7% of respondents using the social network – 10% higher than Google, who came in second.

Online markets are already moving towards Facebook pages to promote and market their product but that does not necessarily they are using it correctly. In fact, most companies approach Facebook the wrong way and could be doing more negative than positive to their brand.

Marketing on Facebook could ultimately damage your brand

A recent study by ExactTarget and CoTweet shows that more than 90 percent of consumers have stopped “following” or “unliked” at least one brand on Facebook.

The study, titled “The Social Break-Up,” surveyed 1,500 consumers and identifies how people are changing their online behaviors and with the top 2 leading reasons being closely related with spamming such as “posting too frequently” and “being crowded with marketing posts”, many companies have seemingly lost their chance to get it right with social.

How many times does a Facebook fan visit your website?

According to a report by Hitwise surveying the top 100 retailers in the UK, each fan of a Facebook page produced an extra 20 visits to the website. The study also found that brands utilizing Facebook saw increased brand searches on Google, Yahoo! and Bing.

This conclusion supports the results we have seen lately in Google Analytics as Facebook referring traffic to the Hurtigruten website has increased by 200% compared with 2010 and 2011. Facebook is now a top 10 referring traffic source and a top 5 referring traffic site. The traffic has surged within the last seven months and once we have Google URL tracking implemented we will be able to see the exact number of bookings and revenue converted from Facebook – And provide ROI on social media activity for senior management.

Can Facebook replace a company website?

Having been involved with the recent user tests lead by Spotless Interactive in the UK, Germany and Norway we found that even with all the information found on our websites, there still was not enough.  Our websites have more than 1,000 pages each and in 15 different languages. Hurtigruten could not replace the websites with a Facebook page, but I can see how it would work for small businesses. The opportunity to build the brand easier at a low start-up cost, engage with smaller audiences and targeted ads is much more appealing and cost effective and I fully understand those in favor of doing so.

What becomes more important to online marketing and brand building?

Before the web, before traditional media on TV and radio, developing a relationship was the key to the success of a business. If no relationship was formed, the business would go bankrupt. With social media, the following applies, which is why I choose a Facebook “like” over a web visitor:

  • People buy from people but more importantly people buy from people they like. Using Facebook allows us to create context and connect with our audience
  • An accidental visitor is common on a website. A Google search for Norway could lead to an accidental visit but this is less common on Facebook for a fan to accidentally click the “like” button.
  • Publicly acknowledging a brand on Facebook is announcing to your friends and family that you support this brand. Brand advocates do have this opportunity on the websites.
  • Engaging with the audience in real time is a competitive advantage. Email customer service response times can take up to two or three hours and calling customer support costs money. Providing real time responses is what the audience expects in the modern day and with Facebook, we can deliver this.

Ultimately, both are important and cannot replace each other. Without a website, a customer cannot review product and pricing information and book. Without a Facebook page, we cannot engage with our audience. However, the added value of having a Facebook page is that we can create context with our fans and we get to create the relationship before the buying process and in the world of today, creating a relationship is what brings in the business.

Will the shift of online marketing continue to move towards to Facebook?

As Google have now entered the social networking equation with Google+, a new marketing channel has emerged. However, in the war between Google and Facebook and the importance of visits and “likes”, another question surfaces in that will search marketing now lean more towards Facebook than Google?

4 Comments leave one →
  1. 8 August, 2011 15:02

    A facebook like and a web page visit are equally important. As this article says a facebook like can produce 20 visits. Each one needs the other. Great points in this post.


  1. Four simple steps to double your Facebook fan base « Hurtigruten Web team Blog
  2. Is email marketing still relevant in a world full of social networks? « Hurtigruten Web team Blog
  3. 10 lessons I’ve learned at Hurtigruten « Hurtigruten Web team Blog

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