The following guest post is by Neal Rodriguez, an online marketer who has helped iconic brands such as The Nielsen Company, Adweek, AOL, and dozens more meet their business objectives using social media and the search engines.
It’s probably not a surprise to you that Facebook is the largest social network on the planet. With an estimated billion users, it has also become one of the most attractive social networks for companies to market their brands. In order to capitalize on this activity, Facebook has launched an advertising platform that helps brands build their digital assets on Facebook and drive traffic to their websites.
I have enjoyed success generating leads by posting Facebook ads that link to forms programmed on the Facebook domain. I program the forms on a Facebook tab to collect contact and other information from users. I found that I am able to generate more leads when I collect a user’s information on the Facebook domain as opposed to collecting it on an external website. On Facebook, brands target their advertising based on users’ interests, location, and the pages on which they click the Like button. Marketers target social media users who post this type of psychographic content, so they can find which users are most likely to become prospects and customers.
Targeting people based on interests is nothing new in online marketing. Communicating on online forums and through newsletters to people who shared a particular interest was among the first ways to engage digital communities on the web. You want to know how easy it is to engage people who are interested in the topics in which your industry is involved? Read on.
A Minnesota online marketing agency called aimClear has developed a system to distribute content through social media ad platforms. Marty Weintraub, founder of aimClear, has been able to drive rising influxes of traffic to his client’s websites using social media ad platforms. Mr. Weintraub has also been able to positively impact his client’s conversion rates using social ad applications like Facebook ads for as low as 60 to 80 cents per click.
“It’s the most misunderstood and greatest underused tactic in all of marketing today,” Mr. Weintraub said. “Distributing content that lives on your site, and cranking it out to psychographics by your social walls; that’s the greatest only lightly contested marketing opportunity since about 2002. Adwords was the last time I saw anything that was that amazing for that good a price.”
An electronic component manufacturer called Tektronix hired aimClear to help use these social media ad platforms to increase the amount of its incoming traffic. Tektronix also wanted to increase its conversion rates. Conversions on the Tektronix website constituted white-paper downloads and information requests for the campaigns on which aimClear has worked.
In the month prior to using Facebook ads, Tektronix would simply post unpaid links on Facebook pointing to its landing pages, and Tektronix Global e-Marketing Manager, Imelda Khoo, reported a conversion rate of 2 percent on those pages. These landing pages were built for the primary purpose of increasing conversions by catering them to Facebook users. While using Facebook ads, Tektronix enjoyed a 6 percent conversion rate on these same landing pages. The time on site also increased to 3 minutes and 27 seconds while using Facebook ads; the time on site coming from unpaid Facebook posts was at 2 minutes in the month prior to using Facebook ads. It is important to note that the traffic volume significantly increased while using Facebook ads to 12,160 total visits during its most recent month of use; from 305 total visits driven through unpaid Facebook posts in the month prior to using Facebook ads. Further the organic or unpaid referral traffic from Facebook increased to 2,717 total visits in the most recent month while using Facebook ads.
Tektronix also used Facebook ads to increase the traffic to its blog content pages. As expected, its traffic level to its blog significantly improved to 3,747 visits referred from Facebook in the most recent month while using Facebook ads; from 64 visits that it welcomed from its Facebook unpaid posts in the month prior to using Facebook ads. The conversion rate generated from unpaid Facebook traffic welcomed by its content pages was 1.8 percent in the month prior to using Facebook ads. The conversion rate increased to 5.9 percent in the most recent month while using Facebook ads. The success Tektronix enjoyed using Facebook ads helped Ms. Khoo convince stakeholders at Tektronix that Facebook ads are a viable marketing channel.
“Internally, the biggest challenge was changing people’s mindset that Facebook can be used for demand generation, that it can be used to drive traffic outside of Facebook, and that this can be done in a highly efficient way,” Ms. Khoo said. “Doing an initial test helped to show what was possible, and the importance of the channel as part of our overall marketing mix.”
Mr. Weintraub simplifies the key tactics required to succeed on Facebook’s advertising platform into three easy steps. You have to first ensure that your content is appropriately packaged using the Facebook Open Graph. The Facebook Open Graph allows you to program your website to customize the images, headlines, and excerpts that link to your web pages on Facebook. For instance, if you want a particular image to be used when Facebook generates a preview of your post, you would code the selected image with the go:image tag in your pages HTML head element (kids don’t try this at home without a developer’s supervision).
It is also critical that you develop your content with the objective of helping people as much as possible. I work with brands to help them develop content magnanimously, as Mr. Weintraub so eloquently puts it. You achieve this by transparently publishing content that tells your readers how you resolve issues that most of them face. When posting ads to landing pages developed to increase conversions, think about this when writing free white papers or ebooks that you can offer as an incentive to convince visitors to make an information request and subscribe to your newsletter. The more your content works to help people resolve problems they face, the more of a chance it has of attaining viral distribution or word of mouth exposure. People tend to gravitate to people with the same interests. So when your article is so helpful that a reader puts it to use, and the advice works, that reader will be more inclined to link a peer with similar interests to that piece of content. I for one regularly meet people who are on the job search, like I used to be until I opened my own shop. The timeless advice that I received from Barry Cohen, City University of New York (CUNY) employment coordinator, and probably the best job search counselor on the planet, helped me land 6 figure jobs. So I’m always selling and giving his book on job interviews and cover letters to people who need it. Some of my friends have landed jobs after I relay Mr. Cohen’s advice and tell them how I modified his tactics to sell this good-looking online marketer’s qualifications. Mr. Cohen has gained consultation clients from my distribution of his material; he’s even sent me some clients when he’s been too busy.
The final step is by distributing your content through your social media ad platform of choice. Mr. Weintraub recommends targeting Facebook users based on various interests including but not limited to media consumption habits, professional roles, cultural preferences and more.
Last month, I delivered a presentation before some public relations professionals representing some of the biggest universities in the country. And when I suggested that they should consider using social ads to convince people to subscribe to their digital assets by Liking their pages on Facebook, or buying views on YouTube using their ad platform, many rejected the idea like I was passing them a plate of AIDS. Interestingly enough, Mr. Weintraub outlined some ways that public relations specialists or marketers assigned to acquire publicity can use social advertisements to target journalists, writers or reporters based on how they classify themselves and post their professional titles as an interest. He simply instructs his readers to target Facebook ads by listing keywords, such as blogger, editor-n-chief, correspondent, news editor, writer, columnist, and dozens more in the interest field.
On social media or other advertising platforms, I always aim to advertise for life-time value; meaning, I like to advertise to acquire contact information and/or have people subscribe to my digital assets like a Facebook business page, or email list. This way I can keep subscribers abreast of everything I’m communicating or marketing. With an engaged following, you create an endless line of opportunities to recoup your investment in the advertising every time you publish new content. Moreover, now that everybody’s a “journalist,” with the immediate ability to tweet, post on Facebook, or launch an online publication with WordPress or other type of open source content management system, when something is worth citing, you’ll have an active user base of publishers that are likely to link to your content. I have also managed email lists to which writers of mainstream media outlets are subscribed; thus having them on board also increases the chance of securing publicity on iconic publications. Mr. Weintraub’s approach, however, allows you target journalists that are not subscribed to stay abreast of your content. He argues that since social advertisements look like organic posts, media stakeholders are more likely to simply click and cite the piece of content to which they’re exposed.
Mr. Weintraub will delve further into how brands can leverage Facebook and other forms of social advertising during his upcoming talk at Search Exchange, in Charlotte, North Carolina in July.
What are some ways that you use the Facebook or other social advertising platform to market your brand? I would love to read your responses in the comments section below.
Neal Rodriguez will discuss how brands and companies can market their businesses on social media and the search engines on May 9, 2013 in conjunction with the City of New York Small Business Services department.