It may be the king of virtual connections, but Facebook knows the value of in-person meetings for business relationships.
Launching a new service called Facebook IQ, which offers consumer research to enterprises, the popular social network recognised that it had to go out to its customer base to show companies what these resources could do for them.
Whether you love or hate the idea of the social media platform selling user data to advertisers, it's worth taking a moment to learn from the firm's road show strategy.
Understanding the cast: Facebook IQ
What exactly is Facebook out to sell? Its recent investment in a fifth data centre hints at one of its biggest assets: information.
— TechCrunch (@TechCrunch) July 7, 2015
The company has been collating data from how its users utilise the platform, providing a wealth of information for reports on trends, seasons, reactions, behaviour and so on. Ever wonder what effect Valentine's Day has on people's relationships? Facebook IQ published results that 75,000 Australians updated that personal detail in the days that follow the holiday – usually transitioning into a more committed state.
Up at night pondering whether smartphone or television advertising is more effective at engaging consumers? Facebook has your back, showing the immersive effect of the device on a mobile-minded generation. For this research, the social media company commissioned SalesBrain, a neuromarketing agency, to analyse how people respond to advertisements on each platform.
However, Facebook IQ doesn't just want to put these reports out there to capture interest and inform readers. It also wants companies to buy in, and it thinks organisations could get enough value out of having their hands on key data that it's actively pursuing this opportunity.
Positioned as 'moments that matter', Facebook IQ's insights showcase trends like when mothers are most likely to check their Facebook accounts, the behaviour of consumer segments like gamers, what people care about when they move house and so on.
Hitting the road
Several weeks ago, Facebook IQ began touring the United States, visiting key cities with the possibility of holding the event overseas in the near future. The tour, called Facebook IQ Live, has already made stops in New York City and Chicago, with Los Angeles likely up next, Advertising Age reported.
— Ad Age (@adage) July 7, 2015
So far, these marketing events have drawn hundreds of representatives from advertising agencies working with major companies, along with some of their clients. Advertising Age noted the three-hour Chicago event included people from McDonald's, MillerCoors, Kimberly-Clark and Target.
Attendees could visit a number of stations that demonstrated the depth and value of the research, with displays designed to put visitors in the mindset to better understand the implications, the source added. For instance, one space had the appearance of a home, wherein attendees could learn about where Americans discover new television shows to start watching (hint: on their phones).
At road shows, you can speak individually with potential customers.
Taking an aggressive approach to marketing
Advertising Age called Facebook's road show an aggressive part of its attempt to improve its relations with ad agencies. Even for a company that's founded on the very premise of maintaining and encouraging virtual interactions, Facebook recognised the power of face-to-face encounters, and a road show was just the avenue to do so.
"The more you cut the audience and look at the segments … the more accurately you can market to that group," said Erik Hawkins, Facebook's group director for sales among specific industries in the US, according to the magazine.
Speaking at the Facebook IQ Live event in Chicago, Mr Hawkins was elaborating on how his company's services could help agencies with their advertising efforts. However, his statement rings true for the social media giant's road show strategy as well. By targeting a specific segment it wanted to forge closer ties with and then creating a space to speak more individually with potential customers, the organisation gave its marketing efforts a significant boost.
Will advertising agencies bite? Only time will tell, but road shows clearly remain compelling even for those operating almost entirely in the digital realm.