Which factors are marketers advertising on Facebook using to influence consumers?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

When advertising on Facebook, advertisers have access to a massive amount of data that they can use to precisely target their ads. A user's Facebook can be viewed as a massive database they create over a period of time—detailing their interests, networks connections, and how these things change.

At the...

Unlock
This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your 48-Hour Free Trial

When advertising on Facebook, advertisers have access to a massive amount of data that they can use to precisely target their ads. A user's Facebook can be viewed as a massive database they create over a period of time—detailing their interests, networks connections, and how these things change.

At the most basic level, advertisers can target ads based on demographic factors: the age, gender, and location of users. This can give advertisers better tools for targeting consumers in specific demographics; thus they decrease the odds of paying money to advertise to someone who will be completely disinterested in a product.

However, the kinds of tracking and targeting used by advertisers can go much further. In a famous example of targeted advertisements, Target once created a system to analyze customers' buying patterns in order to tell when a customer had become pregnant in order to start sending them coupons for pregnancy-related items. The automated system was so effective it discovered that one teen was pregnant before her parents knew and sent her explicit pregnancy coupons.

While advertisers learned at the time that it would creep would-be customers out to reveal how much they know, analytics have only gotten more advanced, and the amount of data available via Facebook far exceeds a user's shopping record at an individual store. Through analyzing a user's patters of likes, reactions, check-in's, network connections, etc., an advertiser can obtain a level of knowledge about their audience that most would find creepy. Through a little subtly, this can lead to incredibly effective advertisements.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The biggest factor which companies advertising on Facebook are able to use to their advantage is superior knowledge of what Facebook users are interested in, thanks to information that users supply to the network. If, for example, you run a bridal boutique, Facebook can target your adverts to be seen by women who have recently gotten engaged.

Adverts can also be targeted by location, meaning that, for example, an advert can be set up only to be seen by people in the USA.

The very nature of Facebook is that content is shareable and has the potential to go viral. If one person likes or spares a post that a company puts up, that post is likely to be seen by that person's entire network.

Companies are also using the services of social media influencers, who receive gifts or freebies in exchange for sharing favorable reviews with their large Facebook following.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Social media marketing has been a major trend among marketing professionals for the past five years. It exploits the ability of social media to reach extremely precise target audiences on the basis of the massive data that social network users themselves provide. Thus rather than ads often being off target (e.g. women receiving spam for Viagra and men seeing ads for feminine hygiene products), Facebook ads can be made narrowly relevant to users, exploiting knowledge of organization memberships, habits, favourite media personalities, etc. Facebook advertisers also use "likes" and the mechanisms of being able to reveal your friends' preferences to exploit a herd mentality, taking advantage of the fact that the more people in your network buy or follow a product, the more likely you will be to buy it. Often they trade free samples or discounts for "likes" or "follows" to exploit this effect.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team