Initially, Facebook was available only to Harvard students, then to other Ivy League institutions, companies like Apple and Microsoft and as of September 26, 2006, everyone in the world who has a valid email address and is at least 13 years old.
As of last month, the social network has over one billion active users worldwide. California-based web analytics company Quantcast reports that in May 2011, it had 138.9 million monthly unique visitors in the U.S.; that’s close to 45 percent of the country’s population.
At least it should be because the automotive sector has, until now, considered the world’s largest web company after Google and Amazon as a means to show, but not promote sales of, their cars.
That’s about to change soon. According to Automotive News, technical improvements such as the “custom audience” feature that was introduced in the network last September, allow car dealers to find their customers on the Facebook simply by using their names and email addresses.
General Manager of Rick Case Honda in Davie, Florida, Richard Bustillo commented, “Facebook is starting to understand what we need to sell cars”.
His dealership took its customer list, which included thousands of names and email addresses, and identified who were Facebook users. It then delivered to their news feeds its "employee-pricing-for-everyone" June offer.
This resulted in 615 new car sales – the most for any Honda dealership in the States that month. Bustillo added that, until October 23, his dealership has delivered 4,238 vehicles, which makes it the third most successful Honda dealership in the country.
Doug Frisbie, Facebook’s head of automotive global marketing, said that ads placed on users’ news feeds are more than eight times more likely to prompt a reader to “like” or comment on the item than those placed on the right side of the page.
Frisbie added that advertisers receive 10 times greater recall from news feeds than static ads as Facebook users are much more willing to interact (or “engage” in FB language) with the former.
Rick Case Honda spends 20 percent of its US$250,000 monthly advertising budget on digital ads. Bustillo said that the US$2,000 they spend each month on Facebook is the best investment they make. That’s why the dealership plans to launch a new campaign early next year to heavily promote the 2013 Accord.
By Andrew Tsaousis