Facebook provides a unique opportunity to connect with your customers. Get up to speed on the company's latest insights designed to help you make the most of your Facebook advertising efforts.
Did you know that Facebook recently overtook Google as the most trafficked site on the internet? Social media has gone beyond throwing sheep at each other and has graduated into a full-blown, interconnected personal and business mode of communication.
As much as pundits attempt to pit Google and Facebook against each other, it is not an either-or equation for advertisers. Rather, it's a "yes, and..." equation. Each of the sites serves advertisers in a distinctive way. The most notable difference is that Facebook advertising can more uniquely serve all parts of the consumer funnel (awareness, opinion, consideration, preference, and purchase), while Google mainly serves the role of fulfillment once consumers progress to the latter parts of that funnel (preference and purchase).
With more than 400 million users worldwide, and more than 100 million in North America, Facebook is no longer just a site for college students. Nearly 40 percent of its user base is over 35. But how does Facebook Ads fit into your social media marketing plans?
First up is something that advertisers and their analytics teams have been clamoring for: conversion tracking. You can now track conversions through Facebook Ads that drive traffic to your site. I can not overstate how important this is for advertisers. Internet advertising and the agencies that support it have long understood that metrics are what give their clients the added ammunition to increase budgets internally -- and steal away some of those television dollars for digital. This new tracking capability will only help accelerate that.
So how can you make Facebook Ads work for you? If you remember nothing else, follow these steps.
1. Leverage profile-based targeting
A major advantage that Facebook has in the world of online advertising is its wealth of personal data by which advertisers can target. That comes in the form of both the structured data on user profiles (location, age, gender, education, relationship, sexual preference, and language) and the unstructured information (activities, interests, music, TV, movies, books, groups, applications, connections, and status updates). This provides marketers with the ability to get very specific in the types of ads they show people.
2. Try new additions to Facebook targeting
One of the other key changes Facebook has made is that, when it comes to targeting, the site has changed the phrasing from "keyword" to "likes and interests." This might seem like a small change, but it is a welcome one. Keywords was a confusing term for those who do traditional search campaigns, and it is not really about "search terms" with Facebook -- it's about what people are actually interested in doing. A given search term is not usually on a person's profile; however, a bevy of interests related to it are. Facebook has also upgraded its ad targeting system in a way that enables advertisers to target people's connections. After all, those within a person's friend group are more likely (than the average population) to have similar interests. This is a great way to expand possible customers via Facebook.
3. Hyper-target the right audience
For product advertisers, Facebook gives you the ability to target like no other site can. You can start with people who, according to their profiles, are interested in "wine" (more than 2 million people) and drill down all the way to people who like wine, are between 25 and 45, and live near San Francisco (31,000 people). When you achieve that level of hyper-targeting, you get to the point where your ad is more likely to resonate.
4. Optimize. Focus on quality and relevance for users through creative optimization and performance analysis
The key components here are images, copy, and Social Actions. Change your copy to ensure it is specifically relevant to who you are targeting, and add Social Actions to your ads -- something unique to Facebook. It can be as simple as providing an RSVP that users can add to their calendars. When you do that, you extend your ads' usefulness by providing opportunities for users to remember you brand outside of the ad.
As for copy, one of the mistakes Facebook says people often make is to use up their entire allotted ad space for words. Data demonstrate that the simpler you are in your ad description, the higher response you get -- and the more conversions. So, new rule: Stop trying to cram every last character you can into an ad. Simplify it. Then, use the performance analysis spreadsheets available through Facebook to understand your clicks, conversions, and pricing to see if you are targeting the right users.
5. Avoid ad fatigue
A great piece of advice from Facebook: Create ad variance. One of the advantages of Facebook is its high usage and time on site; however, that also means that when you have a picture associated with your ad, users might burn-out on it quickly. During its workshop at ad:tech San Francisco, Facebook showed several examples in which, by merely changing the picture associated with an ad and having 10 different pictures available, advertisers could significantly increase ad response and reduce burn-out.
Yes, creating ad variance requires more upfront time and planning, but you can prepare everything in advance -- you can have one ad shown during week one, and then schedule the rest week by week. That little extra planning can boost response by 50 percent. Previously, this was a bit time consuming when working through Facebook's Ad Manager, but the company listened to its users and created a bulk upload tool to facilitate the process.
In short, don't think of your campaign in terms of a couple different versions -- this of it as a couple hundred variations. Keeping your ads fresh and highly relevant to your specific target will lead to a much more robust campaign.
6. Think outside the "keyword box"
Unlike in traditional search, where people are actively looking for a specific term like "sleeping bag," the word "sleeping bag" is unlikely to be on someone's Facebook profile. However, the fact that they like "camping," the "outdoors," and "nature," or have teenage girls that might be having "sleepovers" with their friends or going away to "camp" would all be very related -- and highly relevant -- to a company trying to sell sleeping bags. It might even be useful to get creative and look for users who go to "Burning Man."
In addition, Facebook has created the Facebook Ads API, which is currently in beta testing and being rolled out over the next couple of months. It provides programmatic access to the Ads Manager functionality and enables you to implement business rules automatically, build tools for internal or external use, and create cross-channel dashboards.
Facebook has been busy listening to its advertisers while also being very conscious of its users. A consumer has the ability to click whether they like -- or do not like -- an ad. That helps Facebook further adjust your profile behind the scenes to ensure it is delivering the right user experience, while also continually delivering a more robust and responsive user base to advertisers. In the end, it means that the system will continually improve its ability to deliver the right message to the right person at the right time. A trifecta in advertising.