Facebook: What Is It Good For? Part II of II

By James Malins, Director of Social Media at Adconion Direct. 

Continuing our quest to solve what Facebook is good for, we move beyond branding to other equally valuable uses of the platform when approached correctly. In case you missed yesterday’s guide to the plethora of features Facebook rolled out recently, you can find it here.

Let’s continue…


2 years ago a person liked your page and saw your content, for free. Facebook was the new CRM, and it was glorious.  Shortly thereafter, Facebook grew, people liked everything, newsfeeds cluttered, and an Edgerank algorithm later, you have an audience that can’t hear anything you say. That’s ok. Fans have tremendous value, if you understand what that value is.

First, let’s define what a fan should be, as there doesn’t seem to be a consensus. A fan should be a consumer of your brand (or at least an aspirational one).  People don’t fan Bieber because they don’t know his music. Why do brands expect people to like them when they don’t know the product? (More Bluntly: Don’t acquire fans to launch a new product.)

Once you have a fan base, acquired organically or through paid, you can use it for CRM. It just isn’t free. With Edgerank, if you want to reach your whole audience, you have to pay for it. Think of it as mailing costs.

Do this with page post ads targeted to your fan base. They will see your content, and it should help retain them (assuming your content is good, but that is another conversation for another time).

The true value of fans is used a lot unknowingly, and not nearly enough knowingly.

People trust their friends and complete strangers more than they trust brands. That’s why Yelp! and review sites are one of the largest contributors (outside of price) to the purchasing decision of consumers. People trust people’s opinions of your brand.

Exploit this.

Every person that likes your page is, in effect, endorsing you. That endorsement can efficiently help bring new consumers on board. Look at the performance of Marketplace Like Ads vs. Page Like Sponsored Stories for fan acquisition. It’s not even about messaging. Page-like sponsored stories simply say, “Your friend likes this. Like it!” and perform considerably better. Use fans like hosts of your brand’s online Tupperware party.

This endorsement can be used to even greater value when using page post ads and sponsored stories to friends of fans. It takes your branding and intent messaging, and pushes it out with a thumbs up to the friends of that fan.

That’s the true value of a fan.

What ad units do you use for this? Page post ads. Page Like Sponsored Stories. Post like sponsored stories. Action spec targeting/stories.

Direct Response

Facebook started as a direct response channel. The initial and leading spenders on Facebook were CPA advertisers. As Facebook shrank the ad units, introduced new ones, and increased prices on ads driving off Facebook, brands forgot this. However, Facebook is a viable DR channel with a lot of distribution.

To make it work, though, you must be reasonable with the action you are looking for and conscious of the targeting options available. Click-based banner ads don’t work on display for large actions, so don’t expect a click-based text ad to be any different. Facebook is not Google (yet).

Trying to drive sales? Start with your existing customer base (your fans). Just becoming a fan isn’t going to drive sales, but it is easier to keep a current customer than to get a new one. Target your fans with DR messaging. They are more likely to purchase than any other user on Facebook, and are a great focus group to hone your message, optimize your landing page and understand who is purchasing before going to a broader audience.

Facebook still offers some of the most accurate audience targeting out there. All of the data is user expressed, and at least mostly true (if only selectively comprehensive). You can find your target audience on Facebook.

Missing, though, is intent data. Defining your audience profile is one thing, knowing when they are in-market is another.  Facebook solved that, too… Enter Facebook Exchange and Action-Spec targeting. Now, you can layer in intent data from display to reach all your Blue Kai bought intender data, too (just waiting for FBx + FB data targeting for the gold mine).

So, how do you drive sales: The right message. The right audience. Marketplace ads and FBX.