facebookMark Zuckerberg, the creator of Facebook, may be young but he certainly knows a thing or two about getting his business noticed. There can hardly be a day that goes by where you do not hear someone talking about Facebook, or you see a Facebook “like” button on a  web page, or you notice something about Facebook in the mainstream media. Goodness – Facebook is everywhere you look. But the truth of the matter is three quarters of people ignore Facebook. That’s right – most people DO NOT go there…! Even in Facebook’s home country, only one in four website page views is made on Facebook. True it has over 500m users and yes it is one of the most popular websites in the world – yet the fact is, most people go elsewhere as they make their daily online journey.

Whether or not you are a Facebook user, you know about Facebook. You are aware of it, you even probably have thoughts and opinions about it. One thing you cannot say is Facebook is invisible. So how visible is your business online? Are people constantly aware of what you do? Do they know you still exist? Or are there potential customers “out there” saying “I wonder what happened to….?”. New research shows that just “being there” is important in helping people make future buying decisions.

At the moment, many website owners measure things in terms of clicks. But this new study confirms that these are not as important as many of us think. Much more important it seems is simply “being there” – visibility. The study reveals that often people do not click on paid adverts, nor do they click on display ads or even website results in search engines. But they do see them. They know you are there…! For instance, most people check insurance on a comparison site. But if the provider listed on the comparison website also has their own website which the potential purchaser has previously seen a link to there is a 150% increase in the likelihood to purchase, according to this study. Similarly, in the software sector the study found that if a company has plenty of obvious links on other software sites, there is a 37% higher chance they will visit the software company’s site. And in the banking industry the results of this study demonstrated that the mere presence of display advertising – even if it was never clicked on – increased the trust in the brand by 44%.

In other words, adverts, pay per click (PPC) and a well promoted website do much more than what we think they do. Focusing on getting clicks is all well and good – but it seems that people who do not click on adverts or web page links know you are there. They log this information and use it in the future to make purchasing decisions. This study suggests that what people are really looking for is evidence that you are an alive, active and thriving business. After all would you really want to buy something from a company on its last legs? You want to be sure that the company is solid – and this study suggests that one of the ways we do that is merely observing the activity of the firm. When we notice a company is “all over the place” we increase our likelihood to buy because we trust them more.

So it begs the question – is your brand “all over the place”? Facebook’s certainly is. But do you advertise only because you want a “return”? Do you only seek links in some kind of exchange? Do you get your name and website address listed in all sorts of directories? Most businesses appear to want “ROI” on their advertising – a return on investment. That’s all very well and sensible – and you can measure it by clicks. But this new research suggests that such information is misleading. If we don’t get the clicks we stop advertising because of our lack of ROI. But even zero clicks on an advertising campaign can have significant impacts on your sales.

All those Facebook “like” buttons on websites around the world probably rarely get used or clicked on. But as Mark Zuckerberg probably realises, the value they have for his brand is immeasurable. Sometimes, measuring things leads us in the wrong direction it seems.

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