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Facebook and Twitter are key promotional tools for the media

November 21, 2010

As I looked around for something to distract me from Arsenal’s sickening second-half capitulation at the hands of rivals Tottenham at Emirates Stadium on Saturday, something caught my eye on the pitch-side electronic advertising hoardings.

It was an advertisement for Barclays Corporate. “The power to help you succeed,” it read, before the bank’s logo zoomed across the screen. “Visit facebook.com/barclaysfootball to find out more.” Something struck me about that last part. Why are Barclays promoting their Facebook page rather than their own website?

And it wasn’t the only social media-related promotion inside the ground that afternoon. Arsenal themselves were plugging their own Facebook and Twitter profiles on the same boards. “Stay up to date with the very latest from Arsenal on Facebook and Twitter.”

The message is clear. Websites such as Facebook and Twitter have evolved so much into key promotional tools for businesses that many top firms now opt to drive consumers directly to their Facebook page or Twitter profile rather than to their own websites.

The rise of social media has been well-documented. Facebook surpassed the 500 million users mark earlier this year and Twitter has already notched up 190 million members.

But to advertisers and media outlets, what is more valuable is the very nature of these websites. Facebook and Twitter users usually visit them on a daily basis. By their very design they encourage users to keep up-to-date by logging in as often as possible. And this is clearly attractive to businesses who know they are likely to get more interaction from their target market through Facebook than on their own websites.

By urging consumers to ‘like’ their Facebook page, firms are establishing a long-term link with the consumer. Barclays, in this case, can make their way into their fans’ News Feeds by posting timely updates which are of interest to them.

And Twitter is not just a place where users can discover what their favourite celebrity is up to. Businesses are increasingly using the network to interact with their customers, listen to feedback and promote special offers.

Most media outlets have a Twitter profile from which they promote their latest articles whilst also engaging in debate with their audience. Newspapers such as the Telegraph, the Guardian and the New York Times as well as online-only outlets such as The Huffington Post and Mashable have active social media presences.

It is clear then, that social media has become an integral part of online business. Without it, both firms and media outlets alike, have simply fallen behind.

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