Victoria Ransom is founder and CEO of Wildfire, a global leader in social media marketing software. She is also a sought-after expert on social marketing trends and was recently named a 2012 TechFellow by the Founders Fund, NEA, and TechCrunch. For more on social advertising, register here for Wildfire’s free on-demand webinar.
In the run up to Facebook’s fast-approaching IPO, the company is making extensive and ongoing improvements to its advertising platform. The most recent updates, which are not yet live, will allow marketers to optimize their ads for any Facebook action (not just likes). These new capabilities will also give advertisers a much greater understanding of their consumers, allowing them to segment marketing messages based on certain user groups. All of this goes to support the general belief that Facebook wants to turn their ad platform into the main driver of a brand’s reach. To be successful in this space, brands will have to be very authentic. The first big move towards making ads into more organic-feeling messages came when Facebook introduced the updated Premium ad format, in which Premium ads could only be created from real content posted to a brand’s page.
It continued with the recently announced extended feature set for the ads manager, which includes the ability to set different metrics and goals for different campaigns. This capability allows you, for example, to set up one campaign and optimize it to be shown to users most likely to post comments; and set up a different campaign for users most likely to spend their Facebook credits on an in-app purchase. With this tool, marketers will be able to more efficiently use Facebook advertising to capture the attention of very different kinds of Facebook users.
This means that now, more than ever, the challenge to create organic-feeling and genuine ads is on! Here are four ways to drive more engagement with the new Facebook ad units, along with tips for how to enhance performance once the new action-driven optimization capabilities are live.
1. Create Versatile Video Content
When viewing a premium ad with video, users can watch the clip in its entirety straight from the ad, or click through to the page to learn more. The variety of options means more interactions are possible, which is great news for an ad because it can be doubly effective!
Above, McDonald’s and Tide turn video posts into premium ad units. McDonald’s adds in a second user interaction: a hyperlink to the local farmer campaign on an outside domain. In this way, users can land in one of two different places: the outside website or the fan page itself. They can also just watch the video without leaving their news feed at all.
Tip: When Facebook makes the new action-oriented optimization features ready, you’ll be able to optimize your budget by the action you value most. Those actions can include targeting users who are more likely to watch the video, targeting users who are more likely to share the video, or targeting users who are more likely to post a comment on your video.
2. Use Promotions to Track ROI and Ad Performance
Soon, Facebook advertisers will be able to segment the demographic coverage of their varied ad campaigns by propensity to buy, click, or share (or any other activity). For the time being, however, brands like Starbucks and Schick can track the ROI of their premium advertising placements by tracking mention of the $2 Petites deal in Starbucks stores, and by tracking entry rates to the XTreme3 Eco remake contest by using custom referral links for the promotion.
Tip: Once you’re able to target your ads based on action-specific metrics, ROI will become easier to track. For example, if your product can be purchased from the Facebook page either with credits or through a custom application, the Facebook ads manager should be able to optimize the reach of your ad to those users more apt to make purchases ahead of those who take longer to buy.
3. Showcase New Product Lines
Since Premium ads make use of the content a brand posts to its own page, it can be challenging to think of posts that will both organically attract user attention but also serve as compelling advertisements. Consider showcasing individual items by pointing to their trendiness, or showing off a unique set of products from a new product line. These are both good ways for users to view your ad from their fan page.
Incase and Rugby Ralph Lauren demonstrate two ways to advertise products without crossing that delicate line into inauthenticity. The photo of the new Andy Warhol iPhone case collection reveals an interesting and limited edition collection. Rugby Ralph Lauren’s post about spring-ready classic oxfords and blazers offers helpful advice, while linking directly to a ready-for-purchase catalogue item. In line with all the “typical” posts to Rugby Ralph Lauren’s Timeline, nothing about the post looks out of place, or forced.
Tip: When you endorse page posts by turning them into sponsored ads, and you optimize those ads for certain engagement activities (i.e. comments or likes), your ads will be served first to the users most likely to perform those actions. Since your page post is receiving the benefit of being served to more “engaged” users, once those users interact with the ad, your brand benefits from the boost in EdgeRank and subsequent posts enjoy an increased reach.
4. Post Interactive Content
Posting content that specifically instructs users to take action, and pairing that call-to-action with an example image, is a great way to influence engagement. Iams is a good example of this.
Tip: The Facebook ads manager will be able to optimize for photo tags, which is one of many new metrics a brand can set a campaign around. An example of how a brand might use this can be illustrated with the Iams ad. The Iams fan page administrator will be able to track the viral effect of requests in their ads if, say, a user posted a photo to the Iams page even a week after the ad ran (in response to the call to action). Before, Iams wouldn’t know if the success resulting from asking their fans to post their own photos to the page was because visitors saw the ad or the Timeline.
Which in-network actions do you anticipate optimizing most of your campaigns for? In-app purchases? Shares? Share in the comments!