Last week I was in lovely New Ulm, Minn., presenting to a small group on Facebook advertising. You can find the full deck here, if you’re interested.
As I prepped for this presentation, I was refreshing myself with a few clients I’ve worked with in the last 2-3 years, and the Facebook ad campaigns associated with those clients.
One thing they all had in common: Building the SIZE of their Facebook community by acquiring “Page Likes.”
But, then I got to thinking. Does the Page Like even matter anymore?
And I came to the (somewhat) surprising conclusion: No, it doesn’t.
Here’s the thinking.
In the “old” days of Facebook, your approach usually looked something like this:
* Build your page by acquiring “page likes”–typically you’d have to pay for these through Facebook advertising.
* Since organic reach hadn’t completely plummeted, you could post content and those existing fans (the ones you attracted via FB ads) would see that content.
* And, if there was a post you really wanted ALL your existing fans to see, you amplified it with a little promoted post.
That strategy worked. I saw it work first-hand with a few different clients.
But then, Facebook started changing the rules.
First, organic reach started to plummet.
Then, you started seeing more brands paying to promote content. Some even went as far as to say Facebook was now ONLY an advertising platform (and you know what, they’re RIGHT!).
At the same time, Facebook expanded its ad options, so you could promote posts to fans outside your existing fans.
So, rules kinda changed. Landscape changed.
And now, I would argue, the Facebook Page Like is dead.
You don’t need it anymore. It’s a complete vanity metric. And, some could argue it’s been a vanity metric for a while now.
Let me walk you through my thinking.
Let’s say you’re a midsized business with a page of 30,000 page likes. Not a huge community, but not a small one either.
Let’s say your goals with Facebook are to raise awareness for your brand and to drive traffic to your corporate web site (fairly common goals, I would say).
I would argue you can achieve both those goals now WITHOUT acquiring more Page Likes.
You could easily still drive awareness by running a number of Facebook page post ads each week targeting your key customers using Facebook sophisticated ad platform. Target by age. Zip code. Interests. You can do this no matter if you have 10 page likes or 1.5 million. No difference, as far as I can tell.
You could easily still drive traffic to your web site by running ads against posts that include links to your site. You could use promoted posts (and target fans outside your existing fans) or run page link ads, which are typically successful in driving traffic. Again, you could do this if you have 10 page likes or 1.5 million. No difference.
OK, so why do we need the page likes?
Good question. Vanity, maybe? From what I’ve observed over the last year, that seems to be a possible reason.
Some are merely infatuated with the page like, and haven’t kept up on what’s happened with Facebook.
For others, it’s a competitive thing. Our chief competitor has 1,00,000 likes–we have to get 1,000,001 likes!
I don’t get it, but I think that’s largely what’s to blame.
But, brands will wise up. And I believe they’ll wise up soon.
Because folks, let’s face it, the Facebook page like is officially dead.
There, I said it.
When I say “Facebook advertising”, for many the straight-forward marketplace ads you see on the right-hand side of the site come to mind for many. And, for many in the PR world, “Facebook advertising” is a dirty word. Heck, anything around “advertising” has been a historically dirty word for our profession. But that’s all changing with Facebook advertising. And, as a result, a lot of PR people are missing out.
There are many ways to use Facebook ads (and now, the new promoted posts), but I continue to believe one of the more effective ways for PR folks to use Facebook ads is to amplify your most compelling or strategically-pointed content on Facebook. What am I talking about? Let’s take a look at a few examples from a client I worked on for a couple years here in the Twin Cities called “Bike Walk Move.”
Bike Walk Move was a campaign created to increase awareness around biking and walking in specific neighborhoods in the Twin Cities. Our goal? To get more people moving via bikes and walking.
On the social side of this work, one of our strategies on Facebook was simple–use Facebook’s page post ads to amplify some of our more visually compelling content to reach a large number of people in the Twin Cities metro area.
Here was the simple four-step process we took:
1–Identify powerful/compelling visuals to build a Facebook post around
2–Write a compelling headline to drive engagement.
3–Post to Facebook and keep the post up for 3-4 hours until 5-10 likes/comments were added.
4–Create a Facebook page post ad, target it appropriately and launch 4-6 hours after the initial post ran for a three-day period.
The results were outstanding (again, keep in mind this is a smaller, more localized client/organization):
* Grew our Facebook community by 1,500 percent in just eight months (in large part–almost entirely–due to the page likes generated from these page post ads)
* Posts promoted via Facebook page posts had an average of 109,000 impressions per post
* Page post ads featuring infographics averaged 68 likes, 10 comments and 16 shares (well above like/comment/share numbers for our average post)
We didn’t just use the page post ads with any old post, either. We strategically chose a number of different kinds of posts to put ad dollars behind to accomplish our goals of: 1) Building more “likes” for the page, 2) Getting more impressions among key audiences in key areas of the city we were targeting, 3) Building conversations around key topics we cared about relating to biking and walking. Here are a few examples:
Share posts to help us spread our message
Like posts to build engagement
Posts sharing links to bylined articles promoting our cause
Engagement-focused posts designed to spur discussions
Resource-based map posts (based on analytics that told us readers wanted more map info)
So, that was our approach with Bike Walk Move. I’ve since been using a similar approach with other clients and it’s working equally as well (based on different goals, of course). How are you using Facebook page post ads to amplify your client’s key content on Facebook?
That’s a pretty bold claim, right?
But, I think it’s pretty accurate. And, it’s exactly what Facebook wants.
This isn’t great news for brands–especially smaller ones who welcomed Facebook a couple years ago. At that point, it was the ultimate playing-field leveler. Now, with the advent of Timeline and Facebook’s decision to go public, all that has changed.
In the blink of an eye.
What am I talking about?
Recent studies have reported that as few as 1 in 10 of your Facebook fans see your posts at any given time (real number Facebook shared: 16 percent). You might doubt the stats, but I’ve found this to be pretty close to the truth. For the handful pages I manage (or contribute to managing) for brands, we only see a small number of likes/comments on “organic” posts.
For example, one page I help manage currently has 2,200 fans (it’s a smaller organization). For organic posts, we typically see 10-15 likes and a handful of comments. But, for one post a week we put $300 of Facebook advertising behind it to spur engagement (and ultimately, page likes, too). The result? North of 700 likes and 50 comments for each of those posts. Pretty big difference, right?
And, that’s where we’re headed with Facebook from a brand perspective. Facebook ads (including sponsored stories and promoted posts) will be the PRIMARY way your fans see and engage with your content. I’ve seen some folks recently suggest that companies should add a line item to budgets for 2013 for Facebook advertising costs (I’m guessing that’s already happening in 2012, too). After what I’ve seen the last few months with my clients, I can’t argue with that suggestion.
Now, I’m not suggesting brands need to promote every post, or turn every post into a sponsored story. But certainly if you want to succeed on Facebook, whether your goals are engagement, reach or leads, you’re going to have to invest monetarily in the tool.
That could be $2,000 a month for smaller clients. Or, it could be $10-20,000 a month for larger brands. Depends on your pockets–and ultimately, it depends on how much focus you want to put on Facebook as a brand driver.
But make no mistake about it, Facebook advertising is becoming ESSENTIAL to success on the platform.
What do you think? Do you agree with that position based on what you’ve seen on Facebook with your clients/organization the last few months?
As more companies climb atop the Pinterest bandwagon and starting pinning and sharing photos on the popular social network, many are also looking for ways to connect their Pinterest page and content to the biggest social network they are active on: Facebook.
What are the options?
There seem to be a few that most brands are gravitating toward. Take a peek at the options I’ve discovered below:
Pinvolve is the relative newcomer to this category. But it may also be the most interesting of the three. Just look how Sports Illustrated is using it above. It features the individual pins instead of the boards–but it also gives you the opportunity to follow SI right on the Facebook app (and they’re using it as a warehouse for all images on Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram, too).
The only downside I can see to Pinvolve so far is that there aren’t a lot of larger brands using it so far. After browsing through the company’s Facebook page, it looks like a lot of smaller companies are adopting it. Not necessarily a bad thing–but the founders have also said Pinvolve is more of a “side project”–which would make me a little nervous if I were a brand using this, due to the legitimacy of the tool (read: Will it be around in a year?).
Where very few big brands were using Pinvolve, seemingly all the big brands are using Woobox. Besides Etsy shown here, Whole Foods, Starbucks and West Elm were among the others using the tool. Woobox seems to merely replicate your Pinterest page–laying out your boards, just like they are on Pinterest.
Nothing fancy here, but it looks professional and similar to the Pinterest experience (which is why I’m guessing these larger brands like it). One click takes you to the Pinterest page/board. Pretty easy and simple. Woobox is also a Facebook Preferred Marketing Vendor–so that gives it a ton of clout with brands, I’m guessing. They also develop a series of other custom apps for Facebook so many agencies and brands are familiar with the tool.
Tabfusion seems to be a bit more Pinvolve than Woobox, with a very simple layout. Except Tabfusion showcases the pins themselves–not the boards (like Woobox). Other than that, not a lot to call out here. Again, couldn’t find a ton of bigger brands using TabFusion–most seemed to be using Woobox. But, unlike Woobox, Tabfusion is also an app designed to create ANY app on Facebook–not just around Pinterest. So, most brands using the tool are using it for all sorts of apps–not just apps relating to Pinterest.
So, which app sounds best to you for baking Pinterest into your Facebook page experience? Did I miss one in the list?
Last week, I talked about the obvious trend of “art direction” when it comes to content on Facebook. However, what’s relatively shocking is the few number of brands that have caught on to this huge content shift on the biggest social platform.
I mean, by and large, many of the larger, Fortune 500 brands are on board. Mostly because they have huge agencies assisting or guiding them (not all the credit goes to the agencies, but it surely mitigates the risk that you’d miss a trend like this when you employe a huge, international agency to keep you AHEAD of trends like this). Look just below those larger companies though, and you’ll find an overwhelming amount of companies that are still playing by the 2010 Facebook rules–share links, ask questions, use polls.
Those rules are virtually dead, my friends. Welcome to the visual era of Facebook (and, oh by the way, I really should have welcomed you about 4-5 months ago).
Truth be told, imagery is everything on Facebook right now. So, what can you do to catch up? Here are a few simple ideas (that seemingly all the early adopters are using):
Art direct shots on the fly
I know this has been well documented by now, but you know what I love most about what Starbucks does on Facebook? It’s the ad-hoc shots they share. These are shots that are not taken by a full-blow production team, but instead (most likely–my guess) by one of their PR or social media folks “on the fly.” It’s the way of the new world. Brands that are nimble enough to pull these sorts of visuals off quickly are going to succeed in the new Facebook world.
Use (pieces of) ads as the post
Look what Tiffany’s is doing here. Simply using pieces of ads as the visual and pairing it with an “ad-like” headline is enough to earn a few likes/comments.
Branded photos still work
As much as everyone wants to be Oreo right now (don’t lie, you do), good, old-fashioned branded photography still works in terms of engagement. Remember, most of your fans on Facebook are there because they are EXISTING customers. They’re just looking for reasons to like your posts. Sometimes you just don’t need to overthink it. Give them branded photography–like what Burberry does here.
Celebrate the odd dates–creatively
Oreo solved the problem so many brands have: How do we “celebrate” all these odd dates we want to recognize on Facebook, but do it in a way that inspires engagement? As we all know by now, Oreo has done it brilliantly by using their product in a creative way. I’m not say you need to go follow Oreo’s lead, but how can you use your creative flair to do the same? Visually.
Still use quotes–just make them visuals
You know those quotes you use all the time on Facebook via text? Here’s the thing–they work MUCH better as visuals. Just see what Dove has done here. You’re seeing more brands taking this approach–because it WORKS.
Make regular posts visual
You know those run-of-the-mill text posts that worked so well 4-5 months ago? Fill in the blank posts, for example? Well, why not make those visual, too? Just look what Burt’s Bees has done here. Perfect.