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Facebook marketing is twice as effective - Mark Cowan

Facebook marketing is the new word of mouth because it is twice as effective. So said Mark Cowan, Facebook head of emerging markets, last week at the Habari Media Facebook Connects forum held last week in Johannesburg and Cape Town, pointing out that Facebook ads are so much more powerful because, when someone sees an ad with their friend in it, it draws their attention and gives the message credibility.
Facebook marketing is twice as effective - Mark Cowan"Ads with friends give brands the benefits of earned [meduia], at the scale of a paid click. This is the new word of mouth and it's marketing that is twice as effective at driving brand results," he said.

A Facebook ad has the potential to lift brand recall by six times, lift a message twice and lift purchasing intent four times, Cowan explained.

"Build a community, publish and engage"

"Brands, as part of the social graph, need to build a community, publish and engage. Pages enable you to make a connection and a two-way dialogue. Ads drive awareness, advocacy and community while measurement helps you measure, refine and track the return on investment," he said.

As social media drives businesses and the web to reorganise around people, experts warn brands that they might face "significant" consequences if they do not start thinking differently now.

"The connected world has reinvented how brands and consumers relate to each other. That is the new philosophy," said Trevor Johnson, Facebook head of planning and strategy for global emerging markets.

"Social media has given the people the power whereby the message is controlled by the people. And what they do with that information is up to them... and all of this is happening in an age of rapid technology innovation," Johnson added.

"You must start taking advantage"

"You must start taking advantage and start moving on to much bigger plans. If you get it wrong, it could have significant consequences," he warned, without elaborating.

Facebook, the world's third-largest market, is said to slowly but surely becoming the new Eldorado for businesses to market their products, although in a different style.

Cowan said: "Brands have always talked to people and ads done for a long time. But, on Facebook, there is a huge opportunity to listen. Many brands are now making Facebook pages their main online destination."

He added: "Fans are just the beginning. There are many benefits to having fans. You can learn from them and build deeper relationships.

"Not enough"

"However, when you launch a marketing campaign, you typically have goals like announcing a new product, running a promotion to drive sales or trying to build awareness. Just engaging your fans with this message, and the small amount of buzz that this may generate, is not enough.

"If you have many fans, target the friends of those friends. Fans are more valuable when they impact their friends. This is a virtuous cycle. With each campaign, brands gain additional fans. These fans will allow them to show ads with friends to a greater population."

It is in this way, he said, that these additional fans will increase the effectiveness of their message among a greater audience.

The most successful brands, he said, can reach a phenomenal portion of the total Facebook community with this powerful type of word of mouth.

"We are moving from a company-centric model to a user-centric model," Cowan said.

You can download many of the presentations at

Updated at 11.50am on 21 February 2011.

About Issa Sikiti da Silva

Issa Sikiti da Silva is a winner of the 2010 SADC Media Awards (print category). He freelances for various media outlets, local and foreign, and has travelled extensively across Africa. His work has been published both in French and English. He used to contribute to as a senior news writer.
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