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The Changing Face of Facebook – Implications for Brands

Facebook is undoubtedly a top social media platform. For years now, it has been an indispensable part of any brand’s digital marketing strategy. In a recent study, an astonishing 58% people said that they have a personal profile on the site.

Facebook hasn’t let its success get better of it as it continues to build relevance for users and advertisers alike. For example, when the emphasis was on images, Facebook re-designed its News Feed to make it more image-centric. When e-commerce was gaining importance and customer segmentation became necessary, Facebook launched the ability to identify customer groups.

If your brand takes Facebook seriously, it’s in your best interests to stay informed about relevant updates and make changes to your strategy accordingly. According to a recent study by Technorati Media, brands today are spending more on Facebook than other social networks.

  • The Demographics of Facebook Users

    The Young Brigade is a force to reckon with

    Recent research shows that users in the age bracket of 12-24 on Facebook have “friends” in the 500’s. Young users in other age groups are also not that far behind. Building a large fan base where fans have a large number of friends is a wise step towards a successful Facebook strategy.

    It’s common knowledge that Facebook is immensely popular with youngsters and also that the number of fans a brand has determines the extent of its organic reach. However, a lesser known fact is that the number of friends fans have directly influences brand virality. This fact can provide brands with additional motivation to expand their fan base and thereby improve their chances of virality.

    Number of Facebook fans X friends = Extent of brand reach and virality

    Want to catch the wavering attention of young folks? Then post content that jives with the tastes of the young crowd. Research has shown that Facebook satisfies people’s need for connectedness and self-promotion. Facebook’s motto was and is to help people connect better. Young users are typically looking for cool, light hearted content such as catchy one-liners and jokes. With users looking to connect better on Facebook and the motto of the site is also the same, brands need to post content that the youth can connect with and so, share.
    Oreo Pro Tips
    MasterCard and ISIC hosted a social game on Facebook to generate awareness about their ISIC MasterCard which is a payment card that also doubles as a student ID and has access to over 42,000 relevant student benefits and discounts worldwide. Since this is a student card, their primary target audience was young Facebook users. The fact that a major brand chose to host a social game on Facebook as part of its strategy to promote its product that targets youngsters is an example of the kind of branded content young Facebook users like.

    Careful researches on the kind of content youngsters prefer can go a long way in gaining virality. Put yourself in the place of an editor of, say, a youth magazine and think. What kind of content would they use to catch their audience’s attention? The right content will be noticed irrespective of the brand posting it but it’s not the case vice versa.

    Oreo, the cookie brand, has a superb Facebook campaign where they post cool and funny content that is also light hearted. Judging by the number of likes each of their posts get, one can gauge the extent to which they are a hit with their fans.

  • The seniors aren’t too far behind

    While it’s true that the young folks are ruling, older users are also catching up.

    The presence of users who are 55 and above has been increasing every year. The growth of this demographic compels brands to concentrate on developing content and strategies that will be liked by older users. Though young users top the charts, brands cannot do ignoring older users. Why? People in the 55+ age group control more than three quarters of America’s wealth and baby boomers outspend younger adults online 2:1 on a per capita basis.

    Bank Of America
    The reasons for seniors to use social media is quite different from youngsters’ reasons. Most seniors use it to re-connect and stay connected with friends from the past many years. They mostly share anecdotes about personal happenings or past events. Older users don’t have the need to appear “cool” or anything like that. They would, however, like to be appraised of latest happenings and good deals. Seniors are also likely to be interested in sharing information about good investments, insurance, health and real estate than random trivia.

    Older people have better attention spans than youngsters and can be lured to heavier content. They look at content with a questioning mind. All you need to do is craft your content differently from the way it is done for youngsters. Even seniors share a lot of content but since they are more critical in their evaluation, your content needs to be more persuasive.

    Bank of America is a brand that’s doing a good job of posting content that older users like, such as, ways to identify counterfeit notes, how people can spot their routing number etc.

  • Users Are Noticing Increased Amount of Brand Content in News Feed

    Well, what do you know…?! Four in ten Facebook users say they are seeing much more company and brand related content in their News Feed than a year ago. With subtle tweaks, brand content has now reached levels where users are actually noting the difference. Being exposed to increased amount of brand content will undoubtedly affect user perceptions of those brands.

    The fact that users are seeing increased brand related content means that brands have made their messaging noticeable and hopefully identifiable too. If relevant content is delivered interestingly then it’s likely to be seen as a positive move for the brand. However, this means fine tuning content not just based on demographic profiling of your brand’s audience but by considering their psychographics too.

    Facebook’s Graph search enables brands to search for users’ interests from their publicly shared information. This should help you get a better idea of how to reach out to and make your content more appealing to readers across segments.

What’s your take on these manifestations of Facebook’s increasing power in the social world? Drop your comments in the box below.

Team Position²

Position2 is an innovative digital marketing agency that accelerates demand through integrated Content Marketing, Paid Acquisition, and Marketing Technology solutions. Our demand acceleration solutions map the buyer's journey across multiple touch points such as search, social, mobile, media, and email. These integrated campaigns are powered by cutting-edge content creation, digital advertising, web design/development, marketing automation, and analytics. We serve hundreds of clients ranging from VC funded startups to Fortune 500 multinational firms. Our 200-member team is based in Silicon Valley and Bangalore and consists of marketing gurus, engineers, data scientists, writers, and designers.