Abstract

This research proposal focuses on the effectiveness of Facebook marketing. The success of Facebook has not escaped the specialists’ attention, but there is a clear absence of quantitative research because there has been huge debate within the marketing community that is influencing consumer behaviour and brand perception, so, this study will help to support the debate. Many brands and small businesses have already entered the Facebook platform and due to the economic remunerations of this platform, brands with a truncated marketing budget can be lured to join the race. The purpose of this research is to, with a quantitative approach; determine whether Facebook is an effective marketing standard. An experiment will be accompanied where a sample of participants will be exposed to a selection of fictive fan pages on Facebook during one week’s time. After experimentation process and surveying fans I will be able to demonstrate the fact of considering a Facebook an effective marketing tool for businesses.

2. Introduction

Facebook is a very famous social networking website which was launched in the second month of the year 2004. Seemingly, it has been studied that almost one out of 14 people in this world is a Facebook user. Facebook has become an unbeatable phenomenon by its fastest growing number of users and user friendly platform. By the time it has started, Facebook has approximately more than 500 million users. Each user is connected to an average of 140 friends which shows if a company persuades a single person to post something about their business or brand they are having the potential of reaching 140 or more. There are more than 25 billion content shared like pictures, posts and links and over 170 million things to interact with, includes pages, events, applications, games and groups (Facebook web-page, press information, 2010). Facebook’s early achievements attracted investors and marketing companies to nurture their businesses with the help of its growing number of users. Many national and international companies are using the help of Facebook to market and advertise their business in order to fascinate more clients (Retrieved from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Facebook).

Facebook marketing is becoming talk of the business town. Facebook’s enormous user power helped multinational and national companies to build number of clients and sales of their products and services in a very short period of time. The advertiser is no longer the person in a company that decides how, when, where and whom to communicate. Nowadays it is the customer that decides which company and what information to take part of (Meadows-Klue, 2007). Facebook is thus an attractive marketing channel to reach younger consumers, and particularly interesting for new companies that do not have extensive marketing budget. As a researcher, I would like to explore more on the effectiveness of Facebook marketing. So, this research mainly focuses on the effectiveness of Facebook’s marketing.

3. Problem

Facebook is a young contender in communication platform and there are not many studies or researches regarding its effectiveness as a means of marketing. Deceptively, there are very few guidelines concerning what role fan pages should play in a business’ marketing strategy and how the brand should communicate with consumers through such a medium. The absence of scientific studies does not however reflect a lack of interest amongst advertisers and the number of businesses starting their own fan page is constantly increasing. Lately, there has also been a debate concerning the effectiveness of a creative approach versus a selling approach to marketing. This debate has been supported by extensive research and according to several studies a creative approach is to be preferred (Colliander, Erlandson and Modig, 2010). However, these results have yet to be tested on Facebook platform. The problem question that will be used to perform the research is is Facebook marketing an effective?

The main purpose for this research is to investigate whether start-up companies shall use a Facebook fan page in order to enhance perceptions of brand associations and improve traditional key advertisement indicators amongst consumers. The study will also determine whether an advertiser shall adopt a creative approach rather than a strictly selling approach on Facebook. We address this study to start-up companies targeting young students.

4. Proposed Literature Review

4.1. Facebook-ing for business

According to author of this article Facebook is everywhere these days, and it isn’t going away. A recent report stated that 10% of total time spent on the internet is on Facebook, and it would be stupid for local businesses not to take advantage of the opportunity accessible by Facebook. Jared Todd (author) also represented some primer for business looking to reach out to customers through Facebook

Invite customers, but don’t be pushy: Invite customers to join the page but never push them otherwise they will get irritated.

Publish your Facebook Page on Website, Twitter, or any other social networking website

Run Facebook Only Promotions: Run promotions which are only accessible through Facebook.

Facebook for Business: This is the process where a company can promote its products with the use of Facebook.

(Retrieved from: http://whizkidkonnect.com/)

The main reason why I chose this article, because of author’s straight forward approach in describing benefits of Facebook, he also shows the main possible ways to get the attention of the customers. This article represents all the possible ways which make Facebook an effective marketing tool.

4.2. Viral Marketing

Groups are one of the simplest ways to perform viral marketing on Facebook. It is as easy as if somebody is relaxing on a couch. It starts when members starts joining a group after that they can invite any person or a friend on Facebook by using a very unique feature called the built in Invite feature. If your members are interested and would like to join about your group, it can grow really fast. Additionally, the group name will usually appear on your members’ personal profile pages until they leave the group. Many people view groups as “Bumper Stickers”. Because profile pages are exceedingly trafficked, these links can engender a lot of clicks to a group page. (Justin Smith, 2007) (Retrieved from http://www.insidefacebook.com/2007/12/09/inside-facebook-marketing-bible-24-ways-to-market-your-brand-company-product-or-service-in-facebook/, http://www.facebook.com/pages/Viral-marketing-tips/92274993058)

Viral marketing is a part of internet marketing. The source here mainly states the meaning of viral marketing which is also known as word-of-mouth marketing. All these information is essential for a best conclusion on the research topic. There are certain parts of Facebook page that results to viral marketing such as its application that connects people with each other instantly, its fan page feature, invitation process i.e. inviting your Facebook fans or Friends for an event or gathering. This information is vital for knowing the effectiveness of Facebook marketing. (Bhavya George, Social Maximizer, 2010) (Retrieved from: http://sem-group.net/search-engine-optimization-blog/social-media/viral-marketing-on-facebook-7-points-you-just-cannot-neglect/)

4.3. Vancouver Business: Success story

One success story which is about an entrepreneur who worked hard to develop a successful and profitable e-business is Sandy Stevens of Sandy’s Home-style Baking Company. Being healthy to channel her love of baking and sweets into a viable career, Stevens has experienced a great deal of success over the short time her e-business has been running. Based in Vancouver, Canada, Stevens was unaware of using marketing tactics that are provided online, but due to his friend encouragement she learnt all the possible to ways to market her company products through web. She done her own web designing and she also created a link with newspapers with the help of search engines like Yahoo! and Google. Now her business is blooming because of her effort and believing in online marketing and advertising (Retrieved from: http://www.biz2success.com/2010/06/anyone-can-do-it-small-e-business-success-stories/).

This is a good example of how getting customers in an efficient and effective way. In terms of expenses, she spent a small portion of her money to create a platform where people can get information easily. This article will help to strengthen the topic as it demonstrates the success rate of promoting products and services through internet marketing. Facebook is a part of internet, thus, this article is essential to find out the speed of growth in business by using Facebook as a marketing tool.

4.4. Critique and Analyze

The most vivacious part of this research is to provide a theory or a model that proves the effectiveness of Facebook marketing. Therefore, these are some literatures which are essential for researching on effectiveness level of Facebook marketing. In the first article, the author is primarily focused on the way to get attention of online customers and the rest of the articles are all about active Facebook users’ signals innovativeness of brand. It covers branding, Approach and style of a product or service that is being marketed by the company. Branding a product through web is an opportunity for those businesses who would like to increase to increase their brand value (Steven Holzner, 2009). Furthermore, it elucidates on viral marketing and its practices; it also shows how it is essential for local businesses. Lastly, it articulates on the success stories of some business that adapted internet marketing as their marketing tool (Chris Treadaway, Mari Smith, Facebook Company, 2010). Overall, all the research articles are deliberated to be resourceful for the research.

5. Proposed Methodology

5.1. Methodology

There has been quite a buzz about social media currently, and of how it is giving the consumer increasingly more power while rapidly changing the real face of marketing. I found myself very captivated by this sensation, but was soon to realize that this open-ended belief in the influence of social media lacked some very fundamental quantitative research. I decided to fill this breach and found a great source of inspiration reading Kocken & Skoghagen (2009). They had conducted quantitative research, analyzing whether Twitter was a valid marketing platform and how it should be used. With the conviction that there are many similarities between Twitter and Facebook I decided to perform an equivalent study on Facebook.

Inspired by Kocken & Skoghagen (2009) a deductive approach is to be applied in the research. The study is of underlying character, being that the objective is to find a connection between the acquaintance of a brand on Facebook and certain effects on consumer comportment and discernment of brand associations. A quantitative study will be held by simulating a realistic environment which I believe to obtain more general results. Respondents will be given four specific brands (i.e. fan pages) to follow on Facebook during one week and were thereafter will be asked to answer a survey. I chose to follow this experiment design despite the difficulties attached with involving a rather big test-group into a relatively time-consuming study. Our choice was greatly influenced by the fact that Kocken & Skoghagen (2009) had used a similar design, which had already been proved to be successful. Moreover, I am hoping that by using a similar design as Kocken & Skoghagen (2009), I will open up for an interesting comparison between Facebook and Twitter as marketing channels.

The experiment will be started by ideating four fictive brands, thus ensuring that none of the respondents would be familiar with them, and creating all the necessary fan pages. Status updtaes will be prepared and would be posted during the study. The participants will be divided into four groups. Each respondent will be given four fan pages (i.e. one for each brand) in order to follow and asked to create one friend list consisting of all fan pages he/she will be assigned. The friend list is a necessary deterrent in order to simulate a news feed (i.e. one of the sections of Faceobok) and make sure that all status updates I will like the respondents to perceive will be noticed.

After the experiment, a survey will be distributed to all participants through the Facebook-mail. The participants will be given one week to answer the survey before they will get disregarded from the study. This will help to reduce the time period in order to pass between the experiment and the survey as that could have biased the study. The survey was created with the survey-tool provided by the website of Survey Monkey (www.surveymonkey.com). An exact same survey will be given to all the respondents, covering all the four brands examined. Most of the questions will be standard where respondents will be asked to determine how well they agreed with some given assertions, similar to those asked by Kocken and Skoghagen (2009).

5.2. Participants

Since the study would require some involvement from the participants I realized that it would be challenging to influence people to participate unless if I have any kind of personal relationship with them. That is the reason why I decided to recruit participants to my study amongst own social networks. Nevertheless, being part of the target group I will be to involving a sample that is relatively representative with regards to the aims of the study.

The target of this study is to gather almost 300 people who are interested in participating to this study. The respondents of this study will be 20 to 30 years of age. Most of the participants will be asked to become fan of selected fan pages. After this process I will be giving out a survey to all the fans. Questions in the survey will be concerning the effectiveness of Facebook marketing.

5.3. Ethical Issues

All the sources and references are open and accessible through the web except information gathered directly from the company itself is not accessible. According to them any information from the company is confidential and cannot be used in any research without their permission. So I decided to send them a letter that will authorize me to gather appropriate information directly from their website. Other issue is the sample that will be collected within the same network (i.e. students of Vancouver) and this may have inhibited reliability of the scores. (Retrieved from) http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/programmes/click_online/7375772.stm).

6. Project Work Plan and Deliverables

Tasks to be performed

Dates

Time Required

Final Research proposal and submit for clearance

3-11 November 2010

One week

Typing

22-30 November 2010

One week

Pre-test study

5-15 December 2010

Three weeks

Collect Data

16th December 2010 – 1st march 2011

Ten weeks

Process Data and make preliminary interpretation

End of each month of data collection

Five weeks

Analyze and write report

2-30 March 2011

Two weeks

Publish and discuss work findings

6-25 April 2011

Two weeks

Final Thesis and submission

26th April 2011 – 15th May 2011

Three weeks

7. References

Colliander, J. Erlandsson, S. Modig, E. (2010), “Speed or Distance”, Manuscript, Stockholm School of Economics; Cote, J.

Chris Treadaway, Mari Smith, Facebook (Firm) (2010). Facebook marketing: an hour a day, Indianapolis: Wiley Publishing.

Steven Holzner (2009). Facebook marketing : leverage social media to grow your business, Chicago: Que Publishing.

Creswell, J.W. (2003). Research design. Qualitative, quantitative and mixed methods approach. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Meadows-Klue (2007), “Falling in Love 2.0: Relationship marketing for the Facebook generation”, Journal of Direct, Data and Digital Marketing Practice, Vol. 9, Issue 3, p. 245-250;

Facebook web-page, press information, http://www.facebook.com/press/info.php?statistics, 15 May 2010

http://www.facebook.com

http://www.clickrmedia.com/services/social-media-marketing/facebook

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Facebook

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Criticism_of_Facebook.

http://whizkidkonnect.com/

http://arc.hhs.se/download.aspx?MediumId=947

http://netbrands.net/

http://www.insidefacebook.com/2007/12/09/inside-facebook-marketing-bible-24-ways-to-market-your-brand-company-product-or-service-in-facebook/

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Viral-marketing-tips/92274993058

http://www.biz2success.com/2010/06/anyone-can-do-it-small-e-business-success-stories/

http://sem-group.net/search-engine-optimization-blog/social-media/viral-marketing-on-facebook-7-points-you-just-cannot-neglect/

http://wilderdom.com/research/QualitativeVersusQuantitativeResearch.html

http://hbr.org/2010/03/one-cafe-chains-facebook-experiment/ar/1

http://www.sagepub.com/upm-data/10982_Chapter_4.pdf

Social & Ethical Issues of Information Systems – Facebook from Marielle C

http://www.churchofcustomer.com/2009/10/facebook-fan-pages-are-the-future.html

http://news.smh.com.au/breaking-news-technology/paypal-to-become-a-way-to-pay-for-facebook-ads-20100219-oj88.html