Social networks give companies broader access to new customers but, importantly, do so incredibly cost-efficiently, so says Clara Shih, author of “The Facebook Era”. Ms Shih used a speech at the Web 2.0 Expo earlier this week to emphasise how changes in how we communicate has been matched with ever-lower costs, with people moving from face to face meetings, to phone calls to Facebook while progressively paying less for this interaction.
According to the author, before Facebook, companies had a much harder time tailoring marketing than they do now, but thanks to Facebook, user profiles are a marketer’s dream as users reveal so much about their interests – sports, hobbies, books and product preferences. All this has profound implications for companies and users as they find new ways to gain followers.
Shih clearly has faith in this line of thinking. Her start-up Hearsay Labs is building a product around getting small and medium-sized businesses to market and sell to customers on Facebook, Twitter and other sites. The company seems to be in ‘stealth’ mode but on its jobs listings page it claims that “we have working code, paying customers, world-class investors…” and so on. Shih became interested in Facebook when the company launched its business platform in 2007 and alongside her day job at Salesforce introduced a side product called Faceforce (later renamed Faceconnector).
How exactly companies will boost revenue through social media platforms on a more complex scale – outside display advertising – is still a bit of a mystery. The range of social CRM providers, social media dashboards and engagements analytics are proliferating and while each provide input to marketers it remains up to companies to find a truly unique way to grasp the apparent profit-making power of social networks.