Facebook is commanding an ever-increasing piece of advertising budget pies, thanks to the measurable results it provides marketers in terms of new fans and website conversions. While Facebook’s auction-based bid and cost-per-click pricing structures are similar to Google’s, they are much more valuable to marketers for a few key reasons—namely, the interest-based targeting, immediate gratification opportunities and the potential for viral activity they offer. Here’s how each of these serve marketers:
Interest-based targeting. Advertisers, both in the most traditional (brands) and non-traditional (anyone with a Facebook page) sense, can use Facebook to target customers in several ways, including demographically, psychographically and behaviorally (based on Facebook usage).
If a company is selling running gear, for instance, it can target people who have indicated an interest in running by liking related profiles and pages. With 150 million Americans and 500 million consumers worldwide spending ample amounts of time on the site, it is the place to be for both consumer and business to business marketers.
Immediate gratification. Another attribute that sets Facebook ads apart from traditional search is that they offer advertisers instant gratification. For all the different ways a brand is able to present content on Facebook, there are only a few ways users can endorse or share it, which means that advertisers can narrow their focus to producing these key behaviors.
By tying an ad to a branded Facebook page, users are greeted by an opportunity to take action—either in the form of liking the page, or, in the case of more savvy brands, exploring custom landing pages, tabs and content generated by the marketer.
Marketers who are trying to grow their databases would be foolish not to have opt-in and call-to-action features in place prior to drive new eyeballs to their pages through ads or other efforts.
Potential for viral activity. Facebook ads can be used to increase the number of fans of a company’s Facebook page. This helps create an audience and community where brands can have a two-way conversation with prospects and customers. This could not be accomplished with Google or any other advertising medium.
Facebook gives marketers the unique ability to combine traditional ads with a permission-based content strategy. This intersection of ads and content will make Facebook an advertising powerhouse over the next few years.
Real World Test. A marketing agency ran a test with the objective of increasing the number of marketing professionals who “like” its fan page. It created a welcome page as a gateway to its website’s original content and research, and continually updated the page with news and information relevant to senior marketers and CMOs. The agency used a split test with two different messages and targeted marketing professionals. The campaign ran for a month to see if it would increase the pool of prospects.
What happened? The agency’s Facebook fan base increased by 75% during the trial. The campaign generated nearly 1 million impressions, which was a very welcome side benefit to the actual clicks. The effective net cost per click was only $1.27, which is lower than most keywords purchased within the category on Google. The impressions bore a cost per thousand of 28 cents–not a bad way to get the word out about a small- to medium-size company.
Not only did the campaign increase the number of fans, but during the test period referrals to the corporate website from Facebook increased fivefold. These were quality visits, with visitors viewing multiple pages and spending a few minutes on the site per average.
There were additional lessons:
- It is worthwhile to test different messages specifically targeting a number of segments. Facebook offers very quick data in its campaign management area, so testing on the fly is easy.
- Narrow down audience selection criteria as much as possible—using custom messaging for each group, rather than using a one-size-fits-all message and casting a wide net.
- Don’t commit too many dollars up front. Start off slowly with a low daily “test” spend, and increase it depending on the success of the campaigns at hand.
The most important thing to remember about Facebook, or any social media platform, is its strength is not as a direct sales channel. The purpose of social marketing is to build community and audience for continued permission-based content marketing and conversation. Once a marketer gets prospects into its sales funnel it can further qualify them as prospects and nurture them into customers with a variety of communications and tactics.
Gordon Plutsky is the director of marketing and research at King Fish Media.