Common lore teaches that Facebook allows the user to connect with people he once knew while Twitter provides access to people the user wishes to know. While this is a gross over simplification of what these two different, but very similar, virtual communities are used for, it is true to countless individuals cruising on the information superhighway.
The click-through rate (CTR) of a site is a way of determining the success of an online advertising campaign. The CTR is defined as the ratio of the number of clicks on a link to the number of times the ad is displayed. Facebook generally has a much lower CTR than most major websites, at an abysmal 0.04%. In layman’s terms, this equates to four clicks for every 100,000 pageviews. This may be attributed to the reality that Facebook friends utilize the site primarily for social interaction rather than to view the content on a page. In contrast, Google, boasts a CTR of 8%, 8,000 clicks per 100,000 views.
This phenomenon is not unique to Facebook. A similar statistic can be observed on Twitter. If an advertiser’s window CTR on Twitter is above a mere 0.5%, he is among the most successful advertisers on the site.
Does this mean that companies looking to market through the internet should ignore social media and focus elsewhere? Not necessarily.
With the exception of throwing colossal amounts of money behind an online advertising campaign during the Superbowl, there is no quick and easy way to gain huge amounts of followers. However, it is important to realize that an advertiser is far better off with a small audience who listens than a large one who does not. In the latter case, the amount of followers is just a number without understanding. While it is vital to build a large audience when marketing through social media, it is absolutely essential to have an audience that is paying attention to what you are attempting to relate to them.
A seemingly infinite number of pages are competing for the attention of one consumer, and it is important to ensure that your company rises to the top. How? Facebook and many other social media outlets employ algorithms to determine what content is shown to a page’s followers. In general, when something is posted on a Facebook page it is only shown to a small percentage of the page’s followers. In order for the rest of the page’s followers to see the post, this small percentage of users must interact with it first through likes, comments, and shares. Only then will the exposure of the post be maximized. By having followers who interact with your page, your ad will reach an audience that understands, that desires, and that needs what you are offering. It is clear that the ‘quality’ of the followers that you attract is much more important than the quantity.
Throwing an unsolicited ad in front of millions of bought followers leads to the following truth: it is unlikely that followers who are genuinely interested in seeing the content of a page are ever going to see it on their newsfeed. Yet the argument for a social media platform to support a filtered newsfeed is also strong. Twitter does not screen any of the content that shows up in a user’s newsfeed. The pattern of users following many pages can be attributed to what is today called FOMO- a dreaded “Fear Of Missing Out” on the newest trend. Because most of these users follow many pages simultaneously, the likelihood of them seeing something posted a few hours before is unlikely.
Therefore, it would seem that separate approaches to marketing through Facebook and Twitter are needed. In the case of Twitter, a social media platform that does not filter its newsfeed for its users, the volume of posts is most important. The advertiser must hope that a follower happens to be online when the ad is posted or it will be buried in the other pages the consumer is following. When advertising on Facebook or other platforms that filter newsfeeds, it is imperative to have quality posts that users will feel motivated to like, comment on, and share so that the content of your page may be read by as many people as possible.