It's the multimillion-dollar question: What's the ROI of a Facebook campaign? Usually, that question is answered from a brand or marketing perspective, which leads to much head-scratching and vague conjecture about "greater visibility." That's because the marketing campaign that drives brand reputation and awareness isn't the same as the program that drives sales through customer conversations, joint buying and game dynamics. CMOs are approaching Facebook as an experimental advertising platform, not a viable business-building platform. Simply put, CMOs are doing it wrong.
There is a strong and compelling business case for Facebook and plenty of evidence that the site can be used to drive traffic and sales. But CMOs and other execs are falling prey to a handful of blunders that have prevented them from capitalizing on the site's potential. Let's take a look at the biggest four.
1. Failure to look at the right data
CMOs can readily say how many Facebook fans their brand has or what the "sentiment" is on the social web, but very few are looking at the Facebook referral traffic to their site and the conversion of that traffic. In a recent Forrester report, "Will Facebook Ever Drive eCommerce?" 62% of retailers with an online presence stated that the returns on social marketing were unclear. And 68% stated that if Facebook went away tomorrow, it would not adversely affect web sales. These findings show just how seriously Facebook's capacity for driving traffic and sales is being overlooked. Want evidence of this? Companies such as Amazon, Apple, Netflix, Forever21, eBay and MTV are already finding that Facebook is a significant net new source of traffic that converts to sales. Amazon, unsurprisingly, figured this out more than a year ago, and has had perhaps the most striking success. According to data published in JP Morgan's "Nothing but Net" report, nearly 8% of Amazon's October 2010 traffic was referred from Facebook, an increase of more than 328% from the previous year. Even if this traffic converted at a lower rate than traffic from Google, Facebook sourced up to $25M in sales for Amazon last October.