Accomplishing Your Advertising Objectives with Facebook

Our marketing team just spent a couple of days with our friends at Facebook, and some of our discussions focused specifically on Facebook advertising. As always, advertising is only part of the entire marketing strategy, and Facebook advertising is only a part of the overall advertising program. For this post, I’m focusing on how to match Facebook advertising units to the overall marketing objectives, and ignoring other advertising that may be part of the campaign.  I’m also writing from the perspective of a larger advertiser that is not using the self-service ad platform. 

Facebook ad units can be effective and cost efficient for all sorts of businesses, and can provide “social context” which can increase the effectiveness and recall even more.  As with any advertising, it is critical for the advertiser to begin with a clear understanding of what you are seeking to accomplish, which will guide the decision about whether, and what type, of Facebook advertising is right for your brand.

There are 2 primary questions you want to answer as you plan your Facebook advertising:

  1. What’s your objective?
  2. If someone clicks through on your ad, where will they land?

Your answer to these questions will influence the type and content of your ads, and how you will measure your success. Plan for continual optimization during the campaign. Try things; see what works best, then put your full budget to work.

Objective: Building Brand Awareness

  • With awareness as your goal, you want ads that will catch the attention of your target consumer, and structure the buy with significant reach and frequency. Click-through is less important, and you can invest less on the landing page, perhaps even linking to an already existing page. Standard ads will be less expensive so could give you more room to buy reach, so use A/B split testing to determine what copy and images generate the most clicks (which is a proxy for telling you which are gaining the most attention). With a sufficient investment, you can put a Nielsen Brand Lift study in place to measure impact on awareness and recall.
  • If your brand has a sufficient fan base to make it worthwhile, use Facebook’s “social context” ads that will allow folks to see which of their friends already “like” your brand. If desired, you can narrowly target your ads to only those folks who are connected to those who already “like” your brand on Facebook. The study that Nielsen conducted with Facebook demonstrated significant upside to ads with this social context.

 Objective: Increasing the Number of Brand “Likes”

  • You will want to make it as easy as possible for folks to like your brand, so you will want EVERY ad unit to incorporate the “like” button.  You can test different copy and images to see which work best, and quickly make adjustments to maximize the most effective units.   
  • Deliver valuable, share-worthy landing page content to the consumer clicks through. Consider investing in some time of incentive that will deliver value back to the consumer in exchange for their “like”. After all, they are giving you access to their newsfeed, and the potential of reaching their network when they share your content.
  • The ad should link to your brand, not to an application. Facebook requires that the “like” button be linked to the landing page for the ad, so a “like” button linked to an application tab will only “like” the application, not your brand page.
  • Measure not only the number of “likes” that come directly from your ad, but the growth in your overall fan base during the time your ad campaign. Some new fans will come to you by seeing your brand added to a friend’s newsfeed, or by someone who looks you up later.

Objective: Stimulating Engagement

  • Engagement is a broad term, so the first thing to think about is the depth of engagement you are seeking. If light engagement is sufficient, to perhaps reinforce something about the brand in the consumer’s mind, create units that allow the consumer to take action (like, poll, rsvp) within the ad. The folks at Facebook told us that polls are very popular with the typical Facebook user, and have the added advantage of providing light engagement plus allowing you to do some quick and easy research.
  • If you want the consumer to click through to a deeper engagement with the brand (meaning something that takes more of their time), devote the early part of your campaign to testing copy and images. Identify what combinations generate the most click-through, and then heavy-up on those units.
  • Your budget will need to have a relatively larger investment in the landing page content; it needs to be compelling enough to cause others to spend some time with it and share it with their network. If the content is worthwhile, people will be willing to “like” your brand to get that content. The content could be a game, an exclusive video, a chance to participate in a special experience, or a charitable cause.
  • Depending on the investment you are making on the landing page content, you may want to build “likes” for the application or other landing page, rather than for the brand itself. This will have the effect of driving more network traffic to that landing page.

 Objective: Encouraging User-Generated Video Content

  • A campaign to generate user-generated content has two targets: you need to identify those who like to create content (who may or may not be your brand’s consumer target), and you also need to stimulate the viewing and sharing of the best of the content that is developed. You will use different ad units, content and targeting strategies for each.
  • For those creating content, you will need a landing page that will incentivize them to participate (some combination of prizing and recognition for the best entries), and provide them the information they need to participate. Ad units targeting these folks will need to focus on click-through, and will use the guidelines noted for stimulating engagement.
  • To encourage viewing and sharing of the content that has been created, create video ad units that tease the content, carefully measuring results (number of click, comments, and video completion percentages) so that you can maximize the most successful units.

 Objective: Building Consumer Relationships

  • Because of the targeting capabilities inherent in Facebook ads, they can be an effective vehicle for customer acquisition for a permission-based relationship marketing program. Since a brand is not able to communicate one-to-one through Facebook, your goal is to encourage the consumer to give you permission to contact them by email, text, phone or direct mail.
  • The “tortoise” method: slow and steady wins the race. Build the number of “likes” for your brand using the strategies outlined above, and then use your publishing strategy to build consumer affinity with the brand over time. Periodically publish offers that encourage friends to click through to a registration form or other engagement mechanic within your Facebook page.
  • The “hare” approach: Use the engagement strategies outlined above, driving traffic from your add directly to something that will encourage them to register with you.
  • Once a consumer has given their permission for one-to-one communications, be sure to say “thank you” right away, ideally through an automated response that is sent immediately. Follow up again within a few days, providing them more information or value, and asking for a bit more information about them in return.

 The links below provide more information about Facebook advertising, along with tips for writing copy and targeting.

Working Myself Out of a Job

I think I shocked a few folks recently when I told them that my goal is to work myself out of a job. That’s not a typical statement in corporate America. My title is “Interactive Marketing Director” and I’ve been figuring out how to use the internet for consumer marketing for more than a decade. But the fact is, digital marketing is now mainstream, and understanding how to leverage digital strategy needs to be a core skill of every marketer. Digital strategies and tactics are becoming integral to every facet of marketing, including advertising, PR, media, research, packaging, promotion, and marketing communciations, and each discipline needs to understand the digital environment and how to leverage it to meet the business objectives.

You know this must be the case when the Pentagon decides to shut down their Social Media office. “It’s important for people in press operations, community and public outreach and communications and planning to be able to know how to use and access Facebook, Twitter and the other social media tools, rather than just have a single unit or single person do nothing but social media,” says public-affairs chief Douglas Wilson.

And to take this idea just a bit further, it’s not just the folks in marketing or sales that need to understand how the digital world impacts our brands. As digital social networks become intrinsic to the lives of more and more of us, everyone in the company has the potential to influence opinion about the brand, if only to their own social network. That means that it isn’t just the marketing and sales team that needs to understand brand strategy – everyone in the organization needs to know whether/how to respond when someone in their social network asks a question or makes a statement about the brand.

Sure, that can be scary, but it can also be a tremendous opportunity. Everyone in the company is proud to be part of the work and wants to see the brand(s) succeed (and if that’s not the case, there is a bigger problem that I’m not going to try to address!) In Empowered, the authors call these folks HEROes: Highly Empowered and Resourceful Operatives. Essentially everyone in the company can be a marketer – and wow, doesn’t that make our always limited budgets so much more powerful? As Jeremy Epstein notes in his recent post, it is like having a pile of money sitting around, waiting for it to be invested.

So, as I said at the beginning, my job is to work myself out of a job. It obviously won’t happen overnight (hopefully!) but over the next few years, much of what I do today will become part of the jobs of lots of other folks. But I have a feeling that the essence of what I have always done will be much the same: I will still be an evangelist, a change-agent, someone is looking for what’s next, to make sure that we have HEROes for our brands and our company.

5 Steps to Your Brand’s Mobile Strategy

The rapid adoption of mobile technologies means that, in Yogi Berra’s immortal phrase, it’s deja vu all over again. Just as marketing strategies in the late 90’s were adapted to incorporate web sites, email, and digital advertising, this year many marketers will be making sure they develop comprehensive mobile strategies leveraging mobile sites, applications, SMS, email, the video and audio capabilities of smart phones, mobile advertising and casual gaming. The good news is: many of the lessons learned with the internet can be applied to mobile technologies. We will want to do many of the same things, but in a new environment: create valuable (entertaining or useful) content that communicates a brand message to our consumer, find ways to bring the consumer to that content, encourage consumers to interact with brand and to deepen the relationship, and measure and optimize our results for efficiency and effectiveness in delivering business results.  

Why now? To put it simply: mobile is where our customers are, and brands who can provide their consumers something of value can be with their consumer wherever they go, and at the point of purchase decision. Brands who have previously needed to rely on distributors and retailers to communicate the brand story now have unprecedented opportunities for a true one-to-one dialog with a consumer. And in many cases, a brand’s presence in mobile environments is a statement of brand identity in itself: it sends a message that the brand is innovative and forward-thinking.

Brands that are ready to develop a comprehensive mobile strategy will need to consider the following five steps:

1. Defining the Brand’s Mobile Presence. Define what your consumers need from your brand when they are “out and about”, then meet that need with a persistent mobile presence. The need might best be served by a mobile application, or by a streamlined version of your brand’s web site. Will your consumer be looking for coupons and offers? Are there ways that geo-location tools could be used to help them find and choose your brand? Will they want a recipe? Will they be looking for store locations? Would they just rather be entertained with videos that communicate the essence of the brand? Will they want to show your content to people who are with them? Think about how the use of the mobile device relates to their purchase journey, and create points of brand intersection on the journey. Matthew Poepsel’s recent post on Mobile Marketer provides a great outline of how to decide whether a site or an app is right for your brand. Don’t forget that there are many devices and operating systems available to your consumer, and you will want to be sure the brand experience is consistent across all of them.

2. Helping your consumers find your Mobile Presence. Just as with a web site, it’s not enough to build the site or the application, you must also bring people to what you have developed. Will your consumer be using a mobile search to identify a solution your product can provide, making an mobile search strategy important for you? Do you have strategies to build your opt-in SMS list so you can send alerts and offers to your consumers? Are your emails designed to be compelling when they are read on a mobile device? Will they be engaging with games or mobile sites and applications on which it would relevant for you to advertise? Do you have an opportunity to use tagging technologies or bar code scanning at point-of-purchase to bring consumers more information or deliver promotional offers for your products?

3. Empowering influencers and advocates. Mobile devices are made for sharing. As you develop content, think about what brand advocates may want to do with it. Will your consumers be reading your Facebook and Twitter updates on their mobile device? What kind of content would they want to share with their friends? Do they like to create content themselves, or do they prefer to just share content created by others? Will they be sharing in real time, in physical proximity to others? Will ratings and reviews be generating traffic to your mobile presence? How can you help your advocates and influencers have accurate information in a format that would encourage sharing?

4. Measuring the results. We all know that you can only manage what you measure. Mobile devices bring new points of data that can be measured, and it is important for you to decide how much you need to know. Think about what success looks like:  how will you know your actions are having the desired effect? In some cases, you may not be able to measure a sales transaction, so what CAN you measure? Site visits, downloads, coupon redemptions, advertising clicks, time spent with an application – one or more of these may be appropriate to your objective.  Jeannette Kocsis’ recent post provides great food for thought on this subject. Identify what data you need to record in your mobile database, and what needs to be synchronized with data from your other digital marketing activities (web, advertising, social, email). Your consumers may prefer SMS for some messages, email or social channels for others. Your database can help you develop a communications profile that will allow you to deliver a personalized message at the right time through the right medium.

5. Optimizing or “the continual feedback loop”. Review your results, and compare them to the objectives you established for your strategies. Where are you seeing the results you want, and where are you disappointed? Should you shift resources to the more effective tactics? Or should you take corrective actions to make underperforming assets more effective? Are there touch points that need to be added to your measurements? Your brand’s typical purchase cycle will influence how often you will want to review results, and regular review will allow you to continually improve the results for your consumers and your bottom line.

The worldwide market for touchscreen mobile devices will surpass 362.7 million units in 2010, a 96.8 percent increase from 2009 sales of 184.3 million units, according to Gartner, Inc. By 2013, touchscreen mobile devices will account for 58 percent of all mobile device sales worldwide and more than 80 percent in developed markets such as North America and Western Europe. If your brand doesn’t already have a comprehensive mobile strategy, the time to develop one is NOW.

Three words for 2011: Global, Local, Meshy

With his latest Human Business newsletter, Chris Brogan has inspired me (again), and I decided to establish my own “three words” for 2011. The 3 words are not “goals”, but will act as a lighthouse, a guide to new opportunities. I wanted to choose words that can guide me as I establish my goals both personally and professionally, so my 3 words are Global, Local, and Meshy.

Global. One of the things I love about the digital world is the way it can bring people together, no matter where they live. I agree with Augie Ray that social media [and the larger pallet of all digital marketing platforms] can be a multiplier for social change, and I want that idea to guide my actions this year. Personally, “global” means that I will be intentional in learning more about other cultures, and increasing the time I devote to learning a second language and listening to friends and collegues that live elsewhere or think differently than me. Professionally, it means that every project I undertake will be influenced by the awareness that our brands’ consumer could be anywhere in the world and may not understand my native language. I will be thinking about how to be both effective and efficient in brand conversations with our consumers around the world.

Local. Any change happens as a result of individual actions taken by one person at a time, with an ‘adequate grasp and treatment of the whole environment, and in active sympathy with the essential and characteristic life of the place concerned’.   My personal development plans this year will include using my professional skills to strengthen local organizations that make a difference for others, which in my case means my church and several local arts organizations. On the professional side, my work will be heavily influenced by the rapidly expanding use of smart phones and geo-location technologies, which make it easier for all of us to find whatever we are seeking. I want to be sure that each strategy I develop recognizes that the global consumer I mentioned above, who might be anywhere in the world, is going to expect our brands to speak in a way that is relevant to the time, place, and context in which the message is received. Now more than ever, I will need to “think globally and act locally.”

Meshy. Lisa Gansky’s thought-provoking book  The Mesh convinced me of the vast opportunities for access-based business models, and sparked dozens of ideas for the organizations I support as an employee and a volunteer. The idea of “removing the friction of sharingreally appeals to my distaste for the volume of unused “stuff” in my life, and Lisa’s book helped to crystalize ways that I can do something about it. Personally, I will be working to identify how “sharing” can stretch the limited resources of the non-profits I support. Professionally, I will be weaving together information from our brands, the consumers they serve, the markets in which they operate, and using that knowledge to create valuable, customized branded experiences in a resource-efficient way.

So those are my three words for 2011: Global, Local, Meshy. What are yours?