How should marketers approach Twitter and Facebook in relationship to one another now that both networks are emerging as power-players in the world of marketing?

WebTrends, a private equity-owned company providing brand advertising analytics for companies like Coca-Cola, said while Twitter is great for initially exposing new customers to a brand, Facebook is better at helping funnel them down a path of actions toward making a purchase.

The company launched a product this week providing deep analytics for Facebook Pages, the primary space on the social network where brands can interact with potential customers. These Pages can have micro-sites or applications tucked away under different ‘Tabs.’

“Facebook is evolving to become an extension of a brand’s assets,” said Jascha Kaykas-Wolff, the company’s vice president of marketing. “Twitter is really an assist vehicle for us. It’s your small forward. It shoots the ball sometimes, but they’re not necessarily your star player. Facebook is your point guard. You can actually have complete engagement all the way through to conversion.”

That’s lingo for when a user makes a marketer’s intended action, be it a purchase or submitting a form with personal data.

“Micro-messaging doesn’t give you that sweet trifecta of advertising, custom tabs and rich functionality,” he said.

Kaykas-Wolff suggested creating an entire brand experience enclosed within Facebook, instead of using the social network to drive visitors to a separate standalone web site. Keeping the experience inside the social network makes the user inclined to stay their longer or even share it with friends.

Facebook, which recently dethroned Yahoo as the second most-popular site in the U.S., is quickly emerging as a must-have in marketing. While Google has mastered analytics and created a sophisticated bidding system for ads near the point of purchase through search, Facebook wants to own the ad market surrounding the earlier part of the buying cycle when consumers are just learning about products and brands.

“Google and Yahoo must be looking over their shoulders because in three to five years’ time, Facebook is in a position to cannibalize up to 50 percent of their display advertising market share,” Kaykas-Wolff said.

Of course, WebTrends is speaking from a self-interested point of view. The company launched a new product providing deep analytics for Facebook advertising this week. It tracks how often fans and non-fans click on tabs on a Facebook Page and how they interact with the buttons and links on the tab.

That’s more difficult than it sounds, because typical tracking methods that work for e-mail marketing and pageviews counts don’t work on Facebook Pages. Usually, companies install an image the size of one pixel into e-mail newsletters or web pages and keep track of how many times it gets loaded, suggesting the number of pageviews. But on Facebook, the company stores or caches images after a certain number of views to make sure the site loads quickly, meaning that data doesn’t get sent back to the page owner.

Facebook offers a basic suite of page analytics, including showing how many times updates are exposed to users and how much interaction they attract. Kaykas-Wolff said WebTrends isn’t threatened by Facebook’s growing set of marketing analytics. “Brands are always going to look for a third-party validated source.”

Webtrends is owned by a private equity firm, Francisco Partners.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/8363028@N08/ / CC BY 2.0