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Why and How Companies Use Facebook

Let’s agree on one point: Facebook is like a colossal online dustbin in which all of us are throwing our junk bytes, but none of us knows where that junk is going. In other words, it’s extremely difficult – rather impossible – to accurately measure the level of interaction with your brand messages on Facebook and consumer engagement with your brand.

While Facebook’s own analytics are too crude, you can’t easily rely on external Web analytic services, which sing different songs for the same lyric. That means, their traffic analysis data goes in diametrically different directions for any particular Website.

In the absence of trustworthy analytics, even Facebook’s claims of having over 850 million active users on its site can’t be confirmed. It’s as difficult to count the number of users on Facebook as it’s to count the number of flying crows in Calcutta, a densely populated city in India.

Moreover, even after eight years of its existence (Facebook was formed in 2004), it looks like an underdeveloped beta site with many user experience (UX) flaws.

Analysts believe that Facebook bubble will bust. The National Inflation Association (NIA) announced recently that it believes Facebook will likely start trading this May at a peak valuation of $100 billion and see its market capitalization and share price decrease in value in the years afterwards.

Even after such a chaotic scene on the Web and particularly on Facebook, brands are running in a mad scramble to throw their information on Facebook. Of late, a slew of companies have jumped on the Facebook bandwagon with different offers for consumers.

Let’s see who is doing what. Nissan is among the most aggressive Facebook players. The automaker said it has crossed half million Likes on the brand’s Facebook page at Facebook.com/Nissan. The growth, predominantly organic, took a jump with the all-new Pathfinder Concept revealed on the Facebook page in a series of videos during the North American International Auto Show, it says.

Plus, Nissan launched a social media-directed Nissan 370Z build-up called “Project 370Z.” The project aimed to utilize the knowledge of Nissan Z fans to help direct the creation of Nissan 370Z. It invited fans on Facebook to vote on potential modifications and follow along with the progress online.

It’s mostly observed that merely creating a brand page on Facebook doesn’t help. That’s why most companies run their campaigns either through games or applications.

Here are a few recent examples. A Facebook app, built by FreeCast.com, provided Facebook users with the ability to watch Super Bowl right from their profile pages while socializing and commenting about the big game with their friends simultaneously.

Similarly, Apps Genius Corp, a creator of social games and mobile applications, released “Snooki’s Match Game,” a Facebook game developed on behalf of MTV Jersey Shore breakout star and New York Times bestselling author Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi.

Most companies that use Facebook for brand communications are already well-known among consumers. They use Facebook as one of the many other marketing initiatives – online and off-Net – to promote their brands. As these are deep-pocketed companies, they don’t care much to measure the impact of their Facebook campaigns.

Look at this: The Sims Social on Facebook aimed to provide Progressive Insurance with a platform to connect with the buyers. It was done in collaboration with top interactive entertainment and video games maker Electronic Arts (EA).

As most Facebook users are passive in nature, companies also try to offer them different baits to win their ‘likes,’ etc., though it’s an utterly useless brand promotion method. Such bait-based offers can’t bring loyal consumers.

For example, travel fans were given a chance to win 50 vacations at destinations around the world with the latest version of Orbitz.com’s Facebook sweepstakes Orbitz 50 Faves, a free Facebook game.

Starting Valentine’s Day, the ultra-luxe line Crystal invited its travelers to share an essay of Crystal-adulation on its Facebook page, with the chance to win a free cruise for two worth up to $15,000.

Among other top brands, Starz Digital Media had announced a sneak preview of its Facebook social game, Spartacus: Vengeance The Game. Viewers of the sneak preview video teaser could “like” the game and sign up to be invited to play.

Of late. Conde Nast’s SELF, a leading women’s active lifestyle brand, entered the social gaming scene with the debut of SELF Workout in the Park, its game available on Facebook.

Some believe that a brand’s value increases if it has some kind of link with Facebook. A recent report claims that the display of a social media icon such as a Facebook “Like” button on a shopping Website increases the likelihood that consumers will buy some products, and reduces the likelihood that they will buy others.

As most brands fail to leverage their presence on Facebook, other companies that claim to have specialization on Facebook are ready to help them. Payvment Social IQ, a “Social Marketing Expert-in-a-Box” promises to guide sellers towards the optimal social media activities to boost sales and engagement in their Facebook stores.

And GraphEffect, a social marketing software company, has unveiled GraphEffect 2.0, a product that provides marketers with new software that ties together Paid, Owned and Earned Media on Facebook.

All these activities on and around Facebook are creating a multidimensional and nebulous business ecosystem. As a result, Facebook has become a knotty hangout for consumers as well as marketers. So, you can take it or leave it purely at your own risk.

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