Young and Old Alike on Facebook

 In 4. Jenny Brooks, Marketing, Operations, Public Relations

By Jenny Brooks

facebook1 I’m on facebook, a social networking site, and there is a column along the right side of the page of ever-present advertisers. And they are very targeted. They speak to my interests, my geography and my specific demographic of female in her 30s with young kids. I will admit I have clicked on the ads about the Twilight book series and events related to it, because I am that much of a dork when it comes to Twilight. I ignore the rest of the ads.

This says a couple of things to me about the advertising on facebook.

1. Speak to someone’s passion and you might be able to get them to click on your ad. Draw them into a “community” and you may be able to grab them. In this case, the community of Twilight devotees.

2. Most of the ads are very infomercial-esque. Extreme solutions with extreme offers. They’re impulse driven and not attractive at all. They feel gimmicky.

This brings me to the point of this blog post. Nation’s Restaurant News ran a news story last week about a new Nielsen report that examines the use of advertising on social networking applications.

Among the findings in the report, “Global Faces and Networked Places – A Nielsen report on Social Networking’s New Global Footprint,” as reported by NRN, Nielsen says the audience composition of social networking websites “is shifting from the young to the old.” According to NRN, for example, in the year ended last December, Facebook.com saw the number of users ages 35 and up increase by 40.9 million in the monitored countries, versus an increase of 30.1 million for the group 34 and younger, according to research in the report.

Also from the NRN story, among Nielsen Online’s recommendations is that any advertising targeting social network sites be “conversation” based, not “pushed” on users; that the tone be “more authentic, candid and humble” to generate positive word-of-mouth; and that any such advertising add value by way of interaction and consultation. Similar to a friendship, the research consultancy indicated, marketing on social networking sites requires a “continual investment – in terms of time and effort, as opposed to financial – to be of value to both parties.”
This goes back to my point above, talking to someone about their community is the way to make your attempts to advertise on social networking sites successful. Today’s social networking is changing the way we all do business – not just among the younger generations, as proven by Nielsen’s report.

I think Nielsen’s report says one thing very loudly. It’s different than advertising of old. You can’t ignore facebook or other social networking sites, but you definitely can’t treat your opportunities on facebook the same as you would tread your 1/4″ ad in the weekly alternative newspaper or the food pages.

To balance my support here of facebook and the like, read this article to make sure you think about what you want social networking to do for you. Follow the same line of questioning you should ask yourself about print, radio or TV advertising, but realize the methods of achieving your goals are different. But you must have goals to know if your methods are effective.

Jenny Brooks is a public relations professional providing expert and strategic tactics for businesses trying to increase awareness about themselves and their products. She is also the editor of SMART Systems Insider, a monthly newsletter from Restaurant Expert David Scott Peters. Questions about PR and how she can help your restaurant? Email her.

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