Facing up to the power of Facebook in NHBy NANCY BEAN FOSTER
Union Leader Correspondent
March 31. 2013 10:37PM
GILFORD - Facebook has become a repository of a vast amount of information about potential customers, but many businesses aren't taking full advantage of that data. Through their company, Ephiphanies Inc., husband and wife team Allen and Lani Voivod are trying to help businesses make those connections.
Allen Voivod, who has a background in sociology and psychology as well as an MBA, said the company has been looking at Facebook statistics for three years to see what information is out there, who is using it, and how it can better be used to help businesses grow.
In a new report called, "The State of New Hampshire on Facebook: Insights Into Granite State Activity on the World's Largest Social Network," the Voivods have created a snapshot of who is using Facebook, examining demographics of age, location and gender.
According to the report, 700,000 people ages 13 and older in the Granite State are using Facebook.
Women represent the majority of Facebook users, and that remains consistent in every age group, from 18- to 24-year-olds to 55 and older. Men ages 18 to 34 use Facebook in large numbers, but men over 34 are less likely to spend time posting status updates and pictures of their vacations than their younger counterparts.
"It's definitely a larger spread than I thought it would be," Voivod said.
And more than 50 percent of the people in New Hampshire who use Facebook take it with them wherever they go through their smartphones, meaning that for the first time, advertisers can actually be traveling with the people they're trying to entice.
"Facebook creates an incredibly targeted way to advertise. You're not mailing out coupons and hoping you hit your target audience. You're not guessing because there's so much data available," Voivod said.
But many companies don't know how to use the data available to them. Though Facebook provides businesses with a great deal of information, being able to interpret that data to improve a company's reach is a whole different ballgame.
"Being able to look at data and pull meaning from it is important," Voivod said.
Also knowing what type of content to post is vital. Posting photos and videos is far more effective than simply posting links or status updates, but many businesses don't realize that. The Voivods are offering a six-course video seminar called "Facebook Business Accelerator" that will be available at epiphaniesinc.com.
May Balsama, executive director of the Souhegan Valley Chamber of Commerce, said Facebook is incredibly important to businesses, both large and small.
"I have seen a local business start with a camera and in six months have a full-fledged photography business just by using Facebook," she said. "It's an important advertising tool."
But Facebook has its disadvantages.
"You have to be careful not to cross the line between business and personal on Facebook," Balsama said. "It helps to get paid advice from professionals to avoid problems like that."
Another downside to Facebook is its superficiality.
"Nothing replaces eyeball-to-eyeball marketing," she said.
Facebook doesn't give that confidence of knowing who you're doing business with. And by relying too heavily on Facebook, sole proprietors can end up isolating themselves from other business owners.
"You can learn a lot about what's going on out there while chatting over coffee," she said.