In the lobby of the apartment building where I live, the semi-annual dumping of telephone books tells a modern tale. Not a single resident picks one up. They sit — yellowing (if Yellow Pages can continue to yellow) — until finally the building super scoops them up and transports them to the trash.
Same scene at the post office. Piles and piles of them, rejected by box holders, brought in by recyclers.
What has changed? In a word: everything.
We go online today to get information, search out phone numbers, find businesses, check store hours.
And where do we go? A lot of the time, we go to Facebook.
That reality is underscored in a recent USA Today story by Rhonda Abrams, which reveals that “20 percent of all time spent on mobile devices — smartphones and tablets — is spent on Facebook, according to market research firm comScore.”
“Fifteen years ago, search-engine advertising elbowed Yellow Pages aside,” writes Abrams. “Now, social media is becoming a dominant avenue for customers to find businesses, products, and services and see which companies their friends use.”
Abrams notes that Facebook definitely has a clue.
“Recognizing that small businesses are an increasingly important segment of their advertisers, Facebook has been stepping up efforts to get smaller companies to understand and use the power of its platform,” she writes.
Sure, Facebook is where you see your cousin’s wedding photos and connect with old classmates, but it’s a whole lot more than that now.
Just ask facebook.
“People think of Facebook as a social platform, and Facebook is social because it’s about real people,” says Dan Levy, Facebook’s director of global small business. “But the only way Facebook is going to succeed is when we get to the place where we’re helping them (small businesses) drive real business results, not social results. We want to help drive real things: people walking in your door, people buying from you online, people downloading your application.”
The beauty of Facebook’s system is that it’s now streaming those ads in the middle of your best friend’s photos of her new baby and the firebrand post about how the cell phone company is ripping us all off.
“Businesses often like Facebook ads because they show up in a user’s news feed in the middle of updates from friends and family,” says Abrams. “You also can advertise in the right hand column on webpages, but small businesses repeatedly told me their most effective ads are in the news feed.”
There’s a lot more to this story — including some examples of companies using Facebook to acclaim as well as more info on social media as “the new Yellow Pages.” Check it out here.