If you’re like many search marketers, advertising on Google and working hard to keep your website Optimized for the Search Engines, you’ve likely already had a go at doing some marketing on Facebook. In our articles we have discussed Facebook and Twitter marketing before (there are links to these articles at the bottom of this text) but now we’re ready to take it up a notch and explore more of the opportunities offered by the social networking giant, Facebook. There’s good news too – it’s still fairly early in the game, and there are still plenty of bargains to be found by the brainy marketers amongst you out there!
Facebook is starting to really go mainstream amongst marketers right now and that’s great; a recent Webtrends survey found Click-Throughs on Facebook averaging around 0.05%, and average cost-per-click at around $0.49 last year. In fact, in just the last couple of years Facebook’s top advertisers have increased their spending about 10 times. – That means that the results they are getting from marketing on Facebook are very good.
Marketing agency Efficient Frontier’s March 2011 study shows Facebook on a par with Google in terms of Click-through and CPC pricing today but also shows that Facebook is a real bargain, especially for brand marketers because the value of the site’s rich (and it is incredibly rich – this is the 2nd most visited website in the world after Google!) data — and its power to spread viral messages — is only just becoming fully appreciated.
Facebook is an exciting marketplace to start working in; you’ll find many of the skills and techniques that you’ve developed and used as a search marketer will lend themselves very well to Facebook and the skills and techniques that you have learned as a website builder – such as dealing with images – may be new but you’ll be equipped to deal with them.
In this article, I’ll show you many aspects of ad creation and optimization on Facebook, as well as testing them over time and ways to fight ad fatigue.
It’s important to keep in mind that Facebook is a very significantly different animal to search because consumers on social media sites have a different mindset; a mindset geared towards connecting and discovering. They’re not too focused on finding and perhaps buying as they are when they’re surfing around using the search engines of the Internet. As a result, you should treat Facebook as being slightly higher up in the sales funnel and you should keep this in mind as you measure your success.
The first task to set your mind to, as you would with any campaign, is to set your goals and objectives. What is it you are looking to do? Are you looking to build the list of “Friends” who “like” your brand(s) or product’s page(s)? Do you want to promote downloads of a coupon that you are offering? Do you want to send Facebook user traffic to your website? Do you have any branding goals in mind?
Whatever it is you would like to achieve, the goals you choose here will influence the tactics you choose to use as you create your ads and optimize them.
Very many marketers run Facebook ads to promote their Facebook social media marketing efforts by promoting a page, group, or other Facebook feature. There’s nothing wrong with doing that and setting a goal related to social media, like number of new fans or friends but equally, there’s nothing wrong with setting more traditional campaign goals (direct sales and traffic to your website) for your Facebook advertising efforts.
Whatever the choice you make here, make sure you keep the campaigns separate from one another. Promoting your Facebook social media will mean that different ad texts, URLs, calls to action and probably different amounts of spending will be needed than a more traditional online marketing campaign might require for driving traffic direct to your website. You shouldn’t mix and match them if you decide to market via Facebook ads for both.
The best possible practices in Facebook advertising suggest that you’ll probably want to begin by considering the segments (your target audiences) that you’ll be targeting with your ads so you can create customized ads a little later on with those segments in mind. You can apply many different filters to best target whatever audience you are trying to reach. Facebook defaults to people who located in your country and are over the age of 18 but you can change this as you need.
Facebook neatly organizes it’s targeting into the following sections:
- Likes and Interests
- Connections on Facebook
- Education & Work
Facebook uses its users’ IP addresses and profile information to determine their location on Earth and because of this, you can target by country, state/ province, city, or city radius. Currently Facebook allows you to target up to 25 countries. A feature called “City radius targeting“, which is available in the United Kingdom, United States and Canada, allows you to expand a city target to within 10-25- or 50- miles of a given city.
You MUST Understand the demographics of your target audience; it’s absolutely crucial for the success of your ad campaign. For some of you search marketers out there, who are used to optimizing ads in response to searcher queries, this can be a new and slightly tricky challenge. When you’re advertising on Facebook, you need to know your audience demographics at the outset — where they live, what they like, who they’re dating, who their friends are.
Facebook offers several demographic targeting features, a number of basic features and a number of advanced ones:
- Age – You can target people who are within a particular age range (say 18 – 45) or choose to target a specific age if you only wanted to reach people who are 21.
- Birthday – If you choose birthday targeting, your ad will be delivered to users in your target audience on their birthday.
- Relationship status -
- Preferred language – Facebook has been translated into 70 languages. If you are targeting by country and want to target that country’s primary language, you don’t need to enter a language. However, if you want to target a language that is different from the country’s official language (for example, French speakers in Canada), you’ll need to specifically select that language.
Interest-based targeting is where Facebook ads most resemble search. With this type of targeting, you’re displaying the ad to people who have expressed interest in something particular. These interests, or keywords, become a part of people’s profiles in a couple of different ways – when they type in something when creating their profile, or when they later “like” something along the way that fits into a particular category.
For example, if a user “likes” the musical group “Porcupine Tree” then that is stored in his profile and ads can be targeted to him by that band, and any other advertiser that suspect he might like them, too. Interests cover favorite movies, books, TV shows, music, extra curricular activities, hobbies and other interests. They also include religion, political views and job titles.
For search marketers, it may require a new way of looking at keywords, as it’s important to think in a broad sense when it comes to defining ‘likes and interests.’
It pays to be very aggressive at mining additional sources of words and phrases. Good resources for research include a thesaurus, Wikipedia, Visuwords, WordStream, and theOneLook Reverse Dictionary.
Facebook’s own Suggest tool can also be a rich source of keywords, but you need to think carefully about the segments being suggested.
For example, imagine you’re selling Minnesota Vikings’ tickets. Start with people who like the Vikings or like specific players, or like football. Using the Suggestion tool, you start with the root interest – football – and uncover related phrases that people have chosen to put on their profiles.
Beware, though; interests may not be what they seem.
In this case, you see the word Football has a double meaning. In the U.S., it means the NFL, and what Americans call Football. Everywhere else in the world, it means what we call soccer. As soccer fans are not likely to be buyers of Vikings tickets, you’ll want to make sure you don’t inadvertently include those interests. Another example: to some people “Breakfast of Champions” might be associated with the Wheaties brand, while others think of the Kurt Vonnegut book of the same name.
To surface other relevant keywords for football, think creatively. American football is associated with Sundays (and Monday nights), so you could try typing in “football sun” and see what comes up.
When you’re creating these interest segments, avoid grouping together interests that are related, but dissimilar. For example, if you have an alternative energy brand or client, you might be thinking about creating a segment that includes folks who like “wind energy”, “solar energy”, and “green energy.”
Instead, create separate segments for each of these interests, so you can create ads targeted to each of these groups that include language likely to trigger their curiosity.
Facebook’s real “special sauce” is the ability to target people based on their relationships with the brand and with each other. You can choose to target “friends” of your brand’s Facebook Page with a special offer – since you already have a relationship with these people, your ad should acknowledge that. These are your friends, after all, and they’ve already become brand advocates by “liking” your Page.
More interestingly, you can target their friends with ads. This approach is especially useful if your campaign objective is to get more friends of your brand’s Page on Facebook. As the campaign goes on, and folks seeing your ad become friends with your Page, the potential audience for your ad grows. New people are continually exposed to your ad, combating ad fatigue.
A recent study by Webtrends found that having a friend who “liked” the ad increased ad performance. This type of network targeting increased click-throughs across the board, but the impact was especially significant among those who attended college.
Connections targeting allows you to include or exclude friends of Pages, Groups, Events or Applications. Depending on the offer and goals of your campaign, you can choose to include/exclude your fans, your fans friends, or users who are connected/not connected to your page, group, event or application.
Education levels seem to make a difference as well. Those who attended college are twice as likely to click if a friend “liked” the brand, suggesting that social influence is stronger among college attendees than among those who didn’t attend.
Education levels include “College Graduate“, “In College” and “In High School“. For college selections, filters also exist for specific college names, college majors and the dates attended.
Ads on Facebook consist of as many as four different elements. Three of these are common to all:
- 25 character title
- 110×80 pixel image (landscape orientation)
- 135 characters of body text
The fourth element depends on whether your ad is pointing to a Facebook Page, or whether it leads instead to an external web site. In the first case, you’ll get a “like” button, in the latter, you’ll get a destination URL. (Be sure to test any tracking URLs to ensure they work.)
Following are best practices for ads so that they don’t get disapproved by Facebook. Disapproval on Facebook is especially onerous because, once an ad has been rejected, you can’t edit it to make it acceptable – you have to start all over.
- No symbols
- Full headline
- Full sentence in body
- No excessive punctuation (exclamation points etc.)
- No excessive capitalization (not every word!)
- Real URL
Let’s look at each element of the ad in turn.
The title, or headline, strategy will depend heavily on the campaign objective and targeting. If the ad is going to people who “like” your brand’s Page, it’s probably a good idea to use your brand name in the title. If you’re targeting based on a segment, use your title to grab the attention of the segment by mentioning their interest; you might use something like, “The Next Wind Energy,” to promote a product in the alternative energy world.
In another example just mentioning “family” in the headline performed much better with moms than mentioning it in the description. The headline “Family Train Tour” produced a click-through rate of 0.054% and a CPC of $0.64, compared to 0.026% CTR and $1.01 CPC for the headline without the word ‘family.’
Image is of paramount importance in Facebook advertising. Affiliate marketing firm Shoemoney did an analysis of the relative importance of image versus other elements of Facebook advertising, and found that having an image of some kind made a 70% difference in click-through rate, while title made a 10% difference and description came in at 20%
What’s the most compelling type of image to use? While some may believe that a picture of a woman showing some cleavage is the most compelling image (no matter what the offer) others disagree. Here are some tips for optimizing ad images:
- Make your image consistent with your landing page imagery, so leads are qualified, and so that those who click-through find something familiar on the other side.
- Since images are fairly small, use a close-up image that people will recognize.
- Crank up the saturation and contrast or alter colours to draw attention. You could use a free tool like IrfanView)
Whatever your approach, be sure you assemble plenty of images to begin with, because you’ll need them for testing and to keep ad creative fresh. Some common tests for images are brand vs. product, brand vs. people, and people vs. product.
Put segment-targeted language high in the body text, include a call to action and create a sense of urgency. If you’re trying to reach a younger demographic, don’t be afraid to be fun, goofy and provocative.
You might even consider a technique called the WTF? Factor. This involves being a bit mysterious with your description and provoking click-through through vagueness.
Here’s an example:
Because we are brilliant!
Dear Santa, now I really
want to ask you
something: do you drink a
lot during Christmas? No
because in 40 years you
got it right once.
The ad is just wacky enough to encourage you to click further to find out what it’s about.
Make sure, though, that your landing page from such an ad is solid, and clearly conveys what the user is expected to do. Also be sure that the WTF? factor is appropriate for the audience you wish to target.
Facebook’s interface has some challenges when it comes to ease of use. One way to make things easier is to think of Facebook’s “campaigns” as “ad groups.” Then, name campaign in such a way to make it easy for you to find them later. The default organization method for ads is alphabetical, so, to keep promotions together, use an abbreviation of the promotion name as at the start of the campaign name, then use a hyphen and list the segment you’re targeting with that particular campaign. Use another hyphen and include more information, as needed.
Another workflow tip is to create a “placeholder” ad for each campaign with the appropriate targeting for that campaign. Make sure it meets Facebook guidelines so it doesn’t get disapproved, but bid only a $1 daily budget and $0.01 so that it doesn’t run by mistake. With those parameters, it shouldn’t. Don’t rely on Facebook’s suggested ad, as that usually gets disapproved.
The purpose of this placeholder ad is that it gives you a generic starting point when you’re creating new ads for that segment. This is especially important, because, given the ad fatigue problem on Facebook, you’ll likely be creating new ads throughout the run of the promotion.
Audiences on Facebook tend to respond most favorably to something that keeps them within the Facebook experience, so using your brand’s or product’s Facebook Page as a landing page is a good idea. You’ll need to for your account be an admin on the Page for this to be possible though, so be sure to get that squared away before you begin setting up your campaign.
When you use your Page as a landing page, and you’re targeting new people – those that have not already connected with your Page – you can send them directly to a specially set-up landing tab on the Page.
This allows you to highlight special offers to that group. If you’re targeting your existing friends, they will be delivered to the Wall by default.
The other advantage of using a Page on Facebook as a landing page is that your ad then displays a “like” button, and each user will see which of his or her friends “liked” that particular Page. This is a very powerful social signal.
If you choose to send traffic from the ad to your own web site, you’ll have a URL displayed as part of the ad. Make sure that the URL you send traffic to ties directly to the ad copy, and allows users to take action immediately.
Optimization and continued refreshing of your ads is so important on Facebook. Facebook doesn’t enable frequency capping, so people can see your ad over and over again.
Try and identify ads that are winners across segments — take a look at all of them, sort by Click-Through rate, and you’ll find those ads that are working and performing the best. Then, look for a specific winning combination — did one image consistently outperform, regardless of headline or copy? Did one headline outperform all others regardless of the image used? You’ll likely need to test various combinations to find the winners.
And, beware of ad fatigue on Facebook. Webtrends research found that Facebook ad burnout comes quickly — after three to five days —because, unlike search ads, they are targeted to individual people who can tire easily of seeing them over and over. Once your click-through starts to drop, Facebook considers your ad of lesser quality, and you’ll have to pay more and more to get it to display.
It’s better to drop the ad and create a new one after you drop below 0.01% click-through, if not before. If something is successful initially but begins to drop, take the ad out of rotation, and then consider bringing it back in after a couple of weeks pass.
If you begin seeing fatigue in the segments you’re targeting in a longer campaign, you might try rotating in new interest-targeted segments. One approach would be to find movies, books, and TV shows that map well to your product’s theme. For example, environmentally-themed products might perform well with people who say they like Rachel Carson’s “Silent Spring”, or authors like Henry David Thoreau. Healthy environmentally-conscious food would do well with people who count “Food Inc.” and “Super-Size Me” among their favorite movies.
Friend-of-a-Friend targeting can also be a useful technique to combat ad fatigue, as mentioned above. If you target the friends of people who are connected with your Facebook Page, your ad can potentially be continually exposed to new people. As someone “likes” your Page, they no longer are exposed to your ad, but their friends – potentially a whole new group of people – begin receiving impressions.
To avoid ad fatigue, you need to be nimble. Routinely change out the creative — headline, image, body copy — to keep the ad from going stale. If you can continue bringing new elements into the ad campaign — either in the creative or the targeting, you’ll be able to beat ad fatigue.
When testing the headline of your ads, try testing brand mentions versus copy that speaks to the segment without including a specific brand. You could try using a question as the headline or even use a direct call to action as a headline. Until you test several different approaches against each other you’ll never really know how the audience is going to respond to each!
In one campaign of note, the headline “Martha Stewart Cookies” outperformed “Holiday Cookie Recipes” with nearly double the clickthrough rate ( 0.119% vs. 0.066%) and almost half the CPC ($0.29 vs. $0.42.)
When testing the headline, try testing brand mentions in your ads versus text that speaks to your audience without including any specific brand at all. Headlines closely tailored to the segment were the winners. “Show off Your Pup” clearly beat out “Fun Pet Project by Martha.”
In body copy, if you have a brand that has some sort of stigma – like “SecondLife” is considered by many to be for losers – trying a non-branded approach may be best.
In optimizing images, try branded versus non-branded images. Experiment with images that map closely to the interest segments – pictures of cupcakes, for example, to people who have identified themselves as bakers or cupcake fans. Try faces, or pictures of products.
Always keep an eye on the reports you get from Facebook for vital clues and ideas that will help keep your ads fresh, relevant and driving responses.
- For example: In each campaign, identify winners that have potential to succeed in other segments, and target them across additional campaigns.
- For those of your ads that drive traffic to your website, use your own analytics to determine what time of day you see the most Click-Throughs and then set new ads to start and end accordingly to take advantage of the best times.
- Check out the Responder Profile report to get a few new ideas on which segments to target. For example, perhaps you’ll discover a book, a TV show or a movie that seems to be a shared interest among people who respond to your ad.
- Within each campaign or segment, find the winners and look closely at what worked best. Then try to copy that approach with all your new ads.
Like almost any marketing effort, the answer to the question “Which approach should I take?” is “it depends.” It depends on your brand, on your product and on your goals for your campaign. Testing and optimization are your keys to success every single time.
Congratulations on being ready to take your Facebook marketing campaigns to the next level. We hope that with the ideas, techniques and tips in this article you’ll be well able to take advantage of the tremendous opportunities available to you from the vast Facebook audience!