Facebook Marketing Strategies

A recent review of over 11 thousand Facebook ads found that the ad market on Facebook is evolving. A Webtrends study analyzed 1,500 campaigns, 11.2 million ads, 2.2 million clicks, and 4.5 billion impressions. A quick review can be found here and then a link to the actual study at the bottom of the article.

Demand most often produces higher costs for the marketer, while decreasing the effectiveness of campaigns. Of no surprise to most who market on Facebook is that you are paying more for each click then you were just a year ago. The 2009 to 2010 difference though, is quite telling. Ad costs per click rose 81% while the actual c/t per ad dropped 19%. Yes, the overall cpm cost is still quite puny, at only 25 cents cpm during 2010, even though that reflects a 47% increase over just a year prior. The takeaway? The longer you wait to begin your campaign on Facebook, the costlier that campaign will likely become.

But there are some metrics you can use to increase your Facebook marketing effectiveness:

Marketing that targets mid-life adults (45-64) will produce the highest c/t rate, and that the difference in c/t rate is quite substantial. A 55 year old is almost 3x as likely to click a Facebook ad then an 18 year old. And if the 55 year old you’re targeting is a woman then that percentage is likely to increase even more. If you need to market to a younger audience though, there are several methods you can use to increase your c/t rate:

  1. Increase Effectiveness using Social Brands
    Google AdSense is so effective, because it targets a users interest at that very moment with a marketers ad. This study shows that if you’re marketing a social brand, then Facebook will likely give you a better c/t rate as your ad will perform better. That’s not that surprising and should have been surmised by the fact that users using a social site would be more inclined to click on a social ad. When writing your copy is there a way you can key into this social awareness on Facebook to increase your c/t’s?
  2. Target Non College Educated
    If your ads are not specifically college related, then targeting non college educated fans will increase your c/t by an average of 87 percent. Using the friends of fans feature on these same fans will increase your c/t by an additional 32%.
  3. Use Friends of Fans to Target College Educated
    If you need to target specifically college educated fans then use the friend of fan targeting. This study found that using the friends of fans feature can increase the c/t rate by 113% for college educated fans.

Probably the most important metric that came out of this study is the diminishing return on your ad. Ad staleness is nothing new, but the unusual quickness in which this occurs on Facebook… only 3-5 days per ad, means marketers on Facebook will have to spend more time managing their ads then they may have through other advertising means. Using the friends of fans feature can diminish the speed of deterioration, but deteriorate your ad will do, until it is removed by Facebook as no longer effective.

What reason would there be for such a rapid loss in Facebook marketing effectiveness? Likely the issue lies someplace between the nature of social marketing, ad staleness, and visual blindness. Which of those three contributed, wasn’t discussed in the report, which concentrated more on the facts then on supplication, so your guess is as good as mine. The underlying fact can not be ignored though, your ads effectiveness will deteriorate rapidly on Facebook until it is removed. Make sure you have a game plan in place to prepare for that.

While this study provides some great insights into the likelihood of a user clicking on your ad, and how to keep your ad viable on Facebook, it doesn’t touch the more important factor of fan conversion. Basically, it’s studying the wrong metric. The most important metric isn’t how many c/t’s you get (except maybe for Facebook itself), it’s how well you can convert a c/t, and at what cost. Getting 600 females 55 years old to c/t to my ad, but only 1 conversion, is less effective then getting 200 males 20 years old, when I get 5 conversions of those 200. And this is ultimately Facebook’s dilemma. Their engagement metrics are more concerned with the effectiveness of your ad on their site, then they are with the effectiveness of your ad producing sales for you!

Some other posts which provide a unique look into this data:

Facebook Marketing

I recently attended the National Genealogical Society conference in Raleigh, North Carolina, where I was able to meet with several genealogical companies, and socialize with a few acquaintances.  One of the items that was consistently brought up was the success of FamilyLink’s “We’re Related” Facebook application. It was mentioned that they’d had an incredible success story with their introduction of this application on Facebook. That made me wonder as to the viability of marketing using Facebook, so I picked up a copy of Facebook Marketing by Steven Holzner, and sat down to read it this past weekend.

The book itself delves long into the actual workings of Facebook, taking the reader through the steps of targeting your profile, Facebook groups, creating pages, hosting Facebook events, etc. It quickly became clear to me that the back cover of the book says it well “traditional marketing methods won’t work here.”

Which marketing methods work there, are very little. It’s probably the reason why Facebook is struggling to gather income from its own internal marketing methods. The members of Facebook are using the site for entertainment and socializing purposes and they don’t want to be interrupted by advertisements. In fact, in reviewing several widely commented applications, some members appear to be almost hostile in receiving what they deem as “spam” and marketing. The reason? The spam and marketing messages make the usage of Facebook not fun.

So the crutch is how to make your marketing attempts at Facebook useful and fun for the users, while still getting your marketing message across? In that one sentence, I’ve saved you a lot of time in reading this book. Steven, the author, goes about detailing the minute features of Facebook, often simply copying and pasting the very help sections of Facebook into the manuscript. And these minute details take up a whole lot of space and your time, if you even read them. But the point he is trying to get across is valid, and very important.

So what methods does Steven suggest you use, to get your marketing out? In order to find that out, read the book… However, I will share some of my own findings while working with Facebook:

1) If you can develop an application which interacts with your existing website, then this is likely the best marketing method for you. But be prepared to support it. You get one good chance to impress the Facebook audience with your application… don’t blow it.

Make your application fun or useful, better yet, make it fun and useful! Be attentive to the users of your applications. Have somebody constantly monitoring the comments for your application page, and have them respond immediately to all comments. Don’t have the manpower to allow this? Then reconsider creating an application.

2) Facebook does have advertising methods. At a minimal $5 a day, and no commitment time, this is quite affordable for most marketers. This is also a more traditional source of advertising for companies unfamiliar with social marketing. However, as much as I enjoy clicking an ad just to see the marketing pitch, I’ve yet to do so at Facebook. Yep, not one ad clicked. The good thing with this method, is you can opt to pay by click… so at least if nobody clicks, you don’t pay.

3) Socialize. Find groups that interest you and socialize with them. This is what Facebook is about. Be prepared to give a lot of time and effort into an unproven method of marketing though. Once you have established yourself in the Facebook community as an active, trusted user, you can then spin some marketing messages out in your socializing. As an over-worked, unable-to-manage-my-time effectively, webpreneur though, I really don’t want to market in this method. Especially since the overall success is in doubt.

All in all, the book, Facebook Marketing, was an easy read. But it lacked substance, not because Steven was unable to articulate the methods he suggests you use for marketing with Facebook, but from the fact that there are so little marketing methods possible with Facebook at this time. Steven wrote a very detailed analysis of what one would expect if they had read a Facebook Guide. In fact, that might be a better title for the book: A “Facebook Guide – with marketing tips thrown in!”

Whilst browsing Facebook this weekend, I took a more careful look at the “We’re Related” Facebook application. If you browse the Facebook Applications I found that the “We’re Related” application was first on the page, even though it has only 2 stars. It makes me wonder if developers can pay additional monies for a better ranking to get themselves position higher? The “Verified Application” button that accompanies many applications, does get them listed higher in the ranks, and does cost the developers money… while at the same time, it appears to have little or no weight on the actual effectiveness of the application, regardless of Footnote’s claim to the contrary.

The We’re Related application currently has 13,492,725 monthly active users. While quite effective, earlier in the year it was approaching 17 million monthly users… the recent drop may be in part that like most family tree’s, once the data is entered, there’s little to be done for the casual user (the fun has worn off), and the fact that increasingly the application has become very buggy. While changes are being made to the application regularly, the developers seem to be making the changes they feel are needed, instead of listening to their users… this has the effect of upsetting many current users.

The App Data for We’re Related shows that they lost almost 3 million users over a 2 day period at the beginning of May. This may be in part to the buggy nature of the application.

We’re Related Application Data

It is apparent by the success of We’re Related that a well conceived application which takes advantage of the social tools which Footnote presents can do well. What isn’t known however, is how successful has this been for FamilyLink in promoting their family of websites, and has it been cost effective? Before I’d want to delve into developing an application I’d like to have a blueprint established for profitability. How about you?