An old marketing adage says that getting customers isn't the hard part: it's keeping them. Facebook (News - Alert), meanwhile, looks to help out on that front with recently-announced plans to offer a new advertising tool geared toward letting businesses stay in touch with their current customers, and help keep them coming back.
Essentially, Facebook's new advertising tool looks to take the customer lists that businesses have already established for themselves--the various phone numbers and e-mail addresses that some businesses collect as a standard practice--and use them as the engine to launch advertising.
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Facebook touts its overall process for performing this advertising as secure, and since there was a previous business relationship involved, there's no risk of spamming. Facebook won't even be getting any new data out of the deal since the data is promptly hashed--a process that scrambles data for security before conversion can take effect--and Facebook dumps the hashed data once the ads have been launched. The new tool was briefly spotted, according to reports, in the Facebook Power Editor system, so its permanent availability is likely to come soon.
Interestingly, this move comes at about the same time that Twitter (News - Alert) launched a new feature geared toward putting tweets in a broader stream for their own boost to their marketing potential. Facebook likely wouldn't want to have been left out of a process that makes any one social network more useful for businesses than another, so it's not a surprise to see Facebook beef up its offerings on that front lest Twitter be found to be the social network of choice for advertising.
Facebook has needed to shore up its advertising capability anyway, especially following recent losses of major advertisers who've lost faith in the power and reach of Facebook's impressive advertising arms. Facebook's earnings reports and forecasts likely haven't helped perceptions lately and its move to being a publicly-traded company means it needs to devote more attention to its public perception.
Moves like this will likely provide a route for at least some of that lost faith to come back, though only time will tell if it's a move sufficient to give Facebook some power back in the market, or if it will only be perceived as too little done too late to matter.
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Edited by Brooke Neuman