Facebook’s Page Post Targeting: What it Means for Brands

Facebook recently added a powerful feature for brand page administrators and community managers: Page Post Targeting. Before this feature was introduced, the only message segmentation available to brands was based on location: posts could be geotargeted to a specific country or city. Now, commmunity managers have many more options at their disposal: posts can be targeted by age, gender, interests, and more. So, what does this mean for brands?

Messaging can become more relevant. By developing content for specific segments and subsets of the community, the brand can be more like a true friend, and talk about things they know will be of interest.
Costs for Content Development and Community Management will increase. Because a brand will be developing several different streams of content, the number of posts will increase, along with the variable costs associated with developing those posts. Community Management and monitoring costs will also go up, both because of the increase in the total number of posts being made, and because of increased rates of response and engagement with the more targeted posts.
Editorial Calendars may become more complex. If brands are already using segmentation strategies in their email communications, the same editorial calendars may be able to be adopted for Facebook. But for brands that are not already developing segmented messaging, the work will get more complex and the management tools will need to evolve. Community managers are already working with social Editorial Calendars that include multiple dimensions such as channel, georgraphy, time of day, and day of week, and will now need to add the additional dimensions chosen for segmented messages.
Interaction counts may go down, but rates may go up. It will be important that Social Dashboards emphasize interaction rates rather than sheer numbers, as each of the segmented folks will be targeted to a smaller number of individuals. However, if relevant content is being created and the segmentation strategy is working, engagement rates should increase, resulting in increased overall reach. Community managers will want to spend time with those who read the dashboards to help them anticipate and understand these changes.

With these new tools available to them, brands that are large enought to have multiple consumer targets should modify their content strategies to include a a mix of content. Some posts should continue to be developed to be appropriate for the entire audience of brand friends. Messages that reference brand values, features, and attributes experienced by all consumers should continue to be delivered to everyone. New categories of content should be developed that will be focused more on the consumer and the lifestyle connection points they are likely to have with the brand. A producer of premium meats may want to speak differently to a 25 year old single man compared to a 35 year old married one – because they will likely be using the product in different ways and have a different path to their purchase decision.

The incremental costs for adding segmented content may pose a challenge to brands and digital managers with already tight budgets. Demonstrating the ROI for community engagement will become even more essential as brands seek to gain additional funding for these efforts. The linkage between rates of engagement and a consumer’s increase in purchase intent or sales volume will becomoe even more critical to quantify.

This enhanced targeting capability gives community managers and Facebook content editors powerful new ways to increase the rate at which the brand’s friends interact with brand content. By working closely with market research and consumer insights collegues to identify the targetable characteristics of the most influential members of the community, community managers can augment their existing general content with relevant posts that will result in higher rates of engagement with the brand’s friends.

What’s the Point of Facebook?

Last month, the Australian Advertising Standards Board ruled that the comments of fans published on an brand’s Facebook page are actually advertisements and must comply with industry self-regulation and consumer protection laws. This ruling created a lot of discussion among social media managers and digital marketers. It felt like the common consensus was “how can they expect this of us? There is no way we have the resources to read every single post on our Facebook page!”

I beg to differ. Whether or not it is required by regulations, I firmly believe that if a brand is going to create and maintain a social presence on Facebook, the brand SHOULD be reading every post. That level of listening is the reason for having a social presence in the first place: Facebook allows a brand to humanize itself, to express its personality, and to be a “friend” to those who want a relationship with the brand. It allows us to hear what people care about – and the folks that have decided to “like” our brand on Facebook are possibly our most important customers. Why wouldn’t we want to listen to everything they have to say?

For Facebook to be effective with consumers, the brand’s comments need to feel “at home” in the news feed of those who have decided to “like” the brand. The brand’s posts should be like a lot of the other content that shows up in an individual news feed: things that make you smile, make you wonder, help you learn something, or give you a way to bear with a long line at the DMV. The comments posted by a brand’s friends on the page matter just as much as what the brand creates.

I often liken a brand’s Facebook presence to a cocktail party, and the brand is the host of that party. As a host, you don’t want to talk too much about yourself, and you want to help your guests to enjoy themselves. If you are hosting a party, and someone obnoxious is destroying the atmosphere for everyone, you would do something about it; inappropriate comments on your Facebook page can have the same effect as that obnoxious boor. They spoil the party for everyone. It’s the host’s responsibility to handle the situation.

I’m not saying that I agree with the Advertising Standards Board’s view that consumer comments on a brand’s page are “advertising”. But I am saying that the brand has responsibility for them, even if we didn’t write them. They are on our page – a page we created to build a community. We must treat our brand’s Facebook pages as a two-way street. It is not simply a vehicle for us to deliver our brand message to a flock of sheep. It is a place to get acquainted with real people, build friendships, have some fun together. We can’t allow ourselves the excuse of saying we don’t have the time to listen to our friends, or even those who are “posing” as friends: if that’s the case, then we should simply shut down the Facebook page. Unless we treat our friends as more important that the brand, we won’t be able to generate real consumer engagement anyway. We must find the time, the resources, the social management system – whatever it takes to allow our brand to be a real friend. Otherwise, what’s the point?

The Three Essential Elements of Your Brand’s Video Strategy

Video is an increasingly important element of brand communications. We all naturally are drawn to moving images – it is probably part of our DNA to keep us safe from saber-toothed tigers. Brands can develop all sorts of video to provide content that provides value to their customers and consumers. This post is intended to help you think about how to incorporate video into your marketing strategies.

Key Elements of Video Strategy

A brand’s video strategy must incorporate three elements of consumer behavior:

  • Discovery: Identify the mechanisms by which consumers will find and discover video content. Develop plans for the use of paid advertising, search engine optimization, and brand social and email communities to help consumers find the brand’s video content.
  • Content:  Develop a content calendar that provides value to the consumer, in the form of utility (making life easier), entertainment (making life more fun) or education (making life more interesting). In some cases, the content will integrate with the brand’s promotional calendar, but there will also need to be content that is relevant at any time of year. The catalog of content needs to be deep enough to allow for repeated and in-depth consumer engagement, and it needs to be portable, should users wish to consume it across different sites, devices, or platforms.
  • Context: The brand’s video content should be relevant to the channel; not all video belongs in all channels. The content calendar should be designed to entice consumers from larger-reach and/or paid channels into a deeper brand experience on a brand-owned property. Video content should be integrated into brand paid, owned and earned communications with consumers.

Who and Why?

Video consumption is growing at breakneck speed around the world; consumers see all video as content, and are more than willing to embrace and share content they find useful or relevant, regardless of source. This gives brands the opportunity to build affinity with the consumer by meeting their needs, rather than simply delivering a message. Statistics from ComScore and Forrester Research:

  • 181 million U.S. Internet users watched nearly 37 billion online content videos in April 2012.
  • US video ad views totaled nearly 9.5 billion, representing 1 in 5 videos viewed online in April.
  • More than 200 million people in the EU7 (UK, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Russia and Turkey) watch an average of 20 hours each of online video every month .
  • Duration of average video content was 6:20; average video ad was :24.
  • digital video ad spending in the US is projected to balloon by more than 250% from $2 billion in 2011 to $5.4 billion by 2016

“Online video” is becoming a misnomer. People watch video anywhere and everywhere, on whatever device and through whatever platform is most convenient. According to Forrester Research, 37 million US households currently own a connected device that enables them to watch digital video on their TV screen, up from fewer than 25 million in 2010. Media companies are beginning to package TV and online video buys together, and Nielsen and others are developing cross-platform tracking tools. As video ad networks begin to partner with TV manufacturers and cable providers, the lines between “TV” and “online” video will continue to blur, and brands will need to ensure that all brand, creative and media partners are collaborating very closely.

Where and When?

Google’s YouTube channel continues to be the #1 site, far outpacing other channels for number of viewers and the number of videos watched. Globally, YouTube has 3 million views per day with average time on the site of 20 minutes. Over 48 hours of content is uploaded to YouTube every minute.

Top   U.S. Online Video Content Properties Ranked by Unique   Video Viewers, April 2012, Total U.S. – Home and Work Locations; Content   Videos Only (Ad Videos Not Included)
Source: comScore Video Metrix
Property Total   Unique Viewers (000) Videos   (000) Minutes   per Viewer
Total   Internet : Total Audience 180,785 36,848,001 1,307.7
Google   Sites 157,663 17,022,226 434.8
Yahoo!   Sites 53,604 741,995 73.7
VEVO 49,479 674,183 57.9
Facebook.com 44,298 264,903 27.0
Microsoft   Sites 42,833 486,567 42.4
Viacom   Digital 41,247 501,100 58.9
AOL,   Inc. 38,925 496,400 54.3
Amazon   Sites 30,168 104,581 17.4
Hulu 28,233 901,060 228.5
News   Distribution Network, Inc. 27,005 186,956 75.2

Video content is now being consumed in “prime time” –  a big change from just 3 years ago, as shown in the solid line below.

Video viewing on mobile devices has tripled during the same time period. Using TV and online video together greatly increase the brand’s frequency of exposure to brand messaging.

What?

Video content will be seen by the consumer as one of the brand’s products, not as an advertisement.  ComScore research (March 2012) has shown that professionally produced video content and user-generated product videos are highly synergistic, driving higher levels of sales effectiveness when used in tandem.  “In the campaign examined, professionally produced content and product videos drove strikingly higher lifts when used together than when either was used individually.

While marketers may already be familiar with the effectiveness of professional video content alone, these results suggest that even greater returns can be had by combining their use with authentic, user-generated content.” “We found that consumers perceived feature benefits as more believable when coming directly from the brand through professionally produced content, while the unbiased user-gen videos were more believable in verifying specific product claims, such as superiority and convenience. When used together, all of the perceived gaps get filled in and consumers become more confident in their purchase decision, resulting in better sales effectiveness from the advertising.”

The Road Map

Forrester recommends a process of content creation that is channel-agnostic until the end of the process. By thinking about all the places where a person might view content, and their frame of mind when they are within that particular environment, the same video shoot can yield several different angles for the same message, and create different “entry points” that can draw people deeper into the story.

Woody Allen was talking about Your Brand

Woody Allen famously said: “80% of success is showing up”.  This is as true for brands as it is for people – the key to brand building in today’s environment is to be found by potential consumers when they are in a receptive situation. These days, each of us has an unprecendented level of control over the messages we receive. We can choose when and how to be entertained, get the news, or learn about what is happening with our friends. If we have a question, we can look up the answer. If we want to solve a problem, we can ask others who have faced the same challenge. As long as the source of the solution is credible, we usually don’t care much about where the solutions t comes from: it could be a person halfway around the world, or a brand that is in our kitchen pantry. Brand marketers need to find ways to “show up” in relevant places, with relevant content, to be successful in this evolving landscape.

We have all changed the way we consume media. Studies show that we actually consume more than ever, as the number of channels through which media is delivered has exploded in recent years. And because of this, brands are changing the way we market our products and services. Brand marketers can no longer choose the channels into which we place our messages and count on our messages being received. Brands must rely more on “being found”.  New phrases like “brands as publishers”, “content marketing”, “inbound” and “always on” are being added to our marketing lexicon to help us express these changing ways of marketing.

The premise behind these phrases is that marketers are moving away from an environment where the brand simply needed to create messages and deliver those messages to their consumers through a few mass market vehicles. Today the number of channels through which a message can be delivered has exploded to a size that makes it impossible for a brand to rely on placing its message in all the right places. We must make sure that the messages are compelling enough to be passed along to the channels we can’t afford to reach.

So how can brands be sure that they “show up”?

1. Understand your consumer’s decision journey and where they get information as they are considering and evaluating your brand and be sure that your content is in places s/he will be looking – at all stages along the decision journey, online and offline. Identify ways to “recognize” individual consumers as they interact with the brand at each stage and record each touch point.

2. Design content that will add value to the consumer’s life when they find it: make them smile, solve their problem, make their life easier. Provide consistent and relevant content at every stage in the journey, to increase the opportunity to be included in the consumer’s evaluation set and to reinforce a positive experience after purchase.

3. Identify the consumers that have entered the loyalty loop, and no longer go through the consideration and evaluation stages before they buy your brand. Develop strategies to help them advocate for your brand to others, in online and offline channels, and reward them in tangible and intangible ways for doing so. Seek to establish a relationship with them: listen to them, remember their birthday, let them get to know you – and I mean YOU, the real person(s) behind the brand, not some corporate entity. Help them to share their experience with and loyalty to your brand with others – in the thousands of channels a brand’s advertising dollars could never reach.

If Woody Allen is right, and 80% of success is just showing up, brands will be successful as they allocate their marketing resources to ensure that they “show up”.

Facebook Page Changes: What Brand Managers Need to Know

In support of Facebook’s goal of helping brands to tell their stories and engage consumers in those stories, Facebook has changed the layout for Brand Pages; these changes will take effect on  March 31 (or sooner if the brand chooses.) If you have an advertising campaign in market on March 31, all traffic will land on the new Timeline, rather than any custom tab or app that you might have created for your campaign, unless you adjust your media links to go directly to the URL for the application.

The new layout, called Timeline, will be the same for every page visitor: those who have already liked the brand and those who have not. A brand is not allowed to create any graphics for the page that are designed to emphasize “liking” the brand, encourage sharing, highlight any offers or prices, or provide contact information (i.e.: website or email address).

The Timeline is important, but the brand’s publishing strategy continues to be more important and deserves the most focus. Most consumers will experience the brand’s content through their own News Feed, not via the brand’s Timeline page or applications.

What you should do now (and what you shouldn’t):

  1. DON’T PANIC. Brands have the option of “publishing” the new Timeline anytime between now and March 31. Go to your page and choose “preview” to see how your brand page will look if you do nothing; you can make as many changes as you like before you publish the page (or it automatically publishes on March 31.)
  2. Pick a cover photo. Facebook has already selected one for you from your photo album; you may want to choose a new one.
  3. If you use apps, identify the 3 most important ones and move the thumbnail images for these apps into the tops spots below the cover page.
  4. If it is appropriate for your brand, identify four or five important milestones in the life of your brand, decide how you can illustrate those milestones, and develop associated text for each. You can add milestones to your brand’s timeline without posting the update to the news feed of your brand’s friends.

The Timeline’s important “above the fold” features:

  1. A large “cover photo” image
  2. Four buttons below the cover page image that link to brand tabs and/or applications; the brand can choose what shows up in 3 of 4 of these.  (The photos button is immovable.)
  3. Up to 8 additional applications can be made available to consumers via a drop-down button.

How these changes will affect the brand’s publishing strategy

In this new format, visual images will be much more important to a brand’s publishing strategy. Photos and videos are much larger in the new layout, so posts that are text only will get lost on the Timeline (but might still work very well in the News Feed of the brand’s friends, so don’t go overboard and  force the use of an image if you don’t have something appropriate.)

Despite its name, Timeline does not appear to be displaying posts in a strictly chronological order. Facebook has added a “pin” feature to allow you to pin a post to the top of the timeline for up to 7 days. You can also “star” a post to make the image double wide.

Helpful links for more information:

http://ads.ak.facebook.com/ads/FacebookAds/Pages_Product_Guide_022712.pdf

http://mashable.com/2012/03/01/facebook-timeline-brands-guide/

http://mashable.com/2012/02/29/facebook-brand-timelines-changes-marketing/

http://techcrunch.com/2012/02/29/how-to-use-timeline-for-pages/

Facebook Insights for your Brand

The platform that Facebook has developed for brands includes a standard set of Insights, visible to site administrators. There are four Insights tabs providing an overview of the level of interaction with the page and its content; additional data can be downloaded for deeper analysis. The brand’s objectives for the page will determine which of these metrics will be important. Here’s a rundown of what is available. 

The Insights Home tab provides top line stats: Total Likes, Total Friends of Fans, People Talking about This and Weekly Total Reach.

The insights tab also shows a trend graph for People Talking about This and Weekly Total Reach, along with bubbles that symbolize the number of posts made.  The “people talking about this” number represents the number of unique people that have created a “story” in the previous week; a “story” is any of the many way a person could interact with your page content, including liking the page, posting to the wall, interacting with a wall post, mentioning or tagging the page or responding to an event.

This page also shows a listing of recent posts and their performance: the number of engaged users who interacted with your post, the number of people “talking about” the post, and the “virality” of the post (the percentage of folks who interacted with it compared to the number who saw it). These statistics are accumulated for a 28 day period, and additional detail can be viewed by clicking on a result. You can spend a lot of time looking at all the data here; it is most efficient to download the file on a regularly scheduled time frame, and analyze the results in a way that is consistent with your brand’s objectives on Facebook.

The Likes tab provides additional details about the people who have chosen to like the page – all the data here is based on the data in a consumer’s profile: gender and age, the top countries, cities and languages represented. This tab also includes a chart that shows the “source” of recent likes, which is particularly useful when the brand is running an advertising campaign that is intended to increase the number of likes. When an ad campaign isn’t running, the common sources of new likes are Facebook recommendations, the Facebook page browser, and from the viral spread of fan activity; an example of sources is shown on the left. This tab is also a good place to keep an eye on the number of “unlikes” – if the graph spikes, it’s a sign of trouble!

The Reach tab helps the marketer understand the reach and frequency of the content: who is actually seeing the brand’s posts. As with the “likes” tab, you can see the gender, age and country, city and language of those who actually saw content from your page within their news feed. Facebook delivers content to each user’s news feed based on an algorithm; not every fan will see every post that is made by the brand. Reach can be improved by improving the rate at which consumers interact with the brand’s posts; as they become more valuable to the fan base, they will be delivered more frequently to a wider number of fans. This tab also allows the marketer to see the sources of reach(organic, paid or viral) and the frequency (how many times a unique person viewed the content).

The Reach tab also provides information about the number of page views and unique visitors, so you can judge whether visitors are going deeper into the page once they land there. You can see the number of visits to each tab within the brand page, and the top external referrals to the page.

The final table is the Talking about This tab, which provides the the gender, age and country, city and language of those who interacted with the brand’s page and created a “story” that posted to their own News Feed. By comparing the demographics of the people who were reached by the content with the demographics of the people who interacted with it, a marketer can determine if their content is resonating with the target consumer. By using the drop down menu available, you can see the relative strength of your own posts compared to posts by others in generating “talk” and viral reach among your fan base.

All of the data is just that – data – and it can be very easy to waste a lot of time looking at all the statistics and results. Each brand manager must define what they are seeking to accomplish with their Facebook page, and then determine which data points will provide the insights to determine whether those objectives are being met, and which tactics are most effective in generating the desired behaviors. Narrow down the important statistics and results, and create a monthly report that provides a consistent measure of results, and how they are changing over time.

The Three Easy Pieces of Digital Marketing: Part Three

This post is the third in a series, in which I discuss the three basic elements of any digital marketing program: Landing Pages, Traffic Drivers, and Measuring the Results. The good news about digital marketing is that there is a wealth of data available for analysis. The bad news about digital marketing is that there is a wealth of data available for analysis. Where do you start?

Forgive me for stating the obvious: you start at the beginning. And the beginning of every marketing campaign, digital or otherwise, is the definition of objectives. What are you trying to accomplish, and  what are the business goals by which you will define success? Are you seeking to increase levels of brand awareness? A greater number of consumers engaging with your brand? Or maybe you happy with the number of consumers that are engaging with the brand, but you want to deepen the level of engagement to build their loyalty and advocacy? A clear definition of success is the first step in measuring results, because you need to set up the mechanisms to track the results that will answer your questions.

Measuring the results of traffic drivers is primarily a game of numbers: how many consumers saw the tactic, and how many did what you were seeking to accomplish with the tactic. Just because I’ve termed this group of tactics as “traffic drivers” doesn’t mean that the number of click-throughs to the landing page is always the primary objective. If a brand is seeking mass awareness, you may be more interested in the number of impressions, the reach and frequency delivered to your potential consumers. When that’s the objective, the bulk of marketing campaign dollars may be spent on online and offline broadcast vehicles. But if bringing traffic to your landing pages is the brand’s primary objective, measurements should focus on identifying the most efficient tactics that generate click-through from target consumers. When possible, marketers should seek to align offline and online measurements to get a true picture of campaign results; Microsoft has developed a white paper on this topic.

Measuring the results of landing pages focuses on consumer behavior once they arrive on the page: what they did, how long they stayed on the page, how they moved through the variety on content options provided to them. Did they come back later? Did they share links with others? Did they respond to an offer or download content? There are lots of things the marketer can measure, but the focus should be on only those actions that are relevant to the brand’s objectives. The most common tool used for measurement of web page activity is Google Analytics; Facebook applications (but not the brand’s Facebook wall) can also be monitored using this tool.

It is easy to become overwhelmed by the volume of data available. To tame the monster, identify the three most important questions that you need to answer about your campaign. Clearly stating those questions up front, before the campaign begins, allows you and your agency partners to build the tools that will allow you to answer those questions once the campaign is underway.