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How brands should best engage with Facebook users

How brands should best engage with Facebook users

By Ed Stevenson, European Managing Director, Marin Software.

It is hard for any marketer to ignore the advertising opportunities presented by social media. Used effectively, channels such as Facebook and Twitter, enable brands to generate demand through performance display and ad exchanges.

Due to its relative novelty, brands are still working out how to allocate resources and honing their skills in regards to the most accessible of the channels – Facebook.

Just as advertising on Content Networks required a move from intent-based to contextual advertising compared to search, effectively using Facebook Ads needs a similar shift.  Advertising on Facebook is driven by targeting users based on their likes and interests, as opposed to user queries.

However, despite this difference, these latter search marketing skills and techniques developed by successful brands can be translated into a winning campaign. This is because Facebook and paid search advertising share a common bond – their ad platforms fundamentally rely on targeting specific segments of users.  

With a large set of potential keywords to explore, Facebook marketers have the challenge of expanding their audience, whilst refining their traffic quality at the same time. They also need to make sure they are doing this with factors such as creative and landing pages and the affect they have on conversion in mind.

Doing these things is all part of a search marketer’s skill-set: analysing conversion rates and ROI down to the creative level, building out multiple similar campaigns with varying targeting parameters, sub-segmenting campaigns based on quantitative results to refine traffic, testing ad copy and landing page effectiveness, bidding to business goals on ads with little history or data, and managing ad quality.  

But how to take the first steps?  As a retailer, there are lots of ways to use existing search programs to gain a head start on Facebook.  And more importantly, there are some unique best-practices on Facebook that should be highlighted. Below are four tips that I’ve put together after observing how agencies and brands are using Facebook Ads:

1.  Carefully consider how to re-purpose Your Top Keywords to Generate Likes and Interests

Just as in paid search, keywords (called Likes and Interests) will be used to target ads to potential customers on Facebook.  Identifying the highest performing paid search terms can give a head start in determining relevant keywords for use as likes and interests.  

But, consideration must be given to how these keywords are used.  Similar to advertising on the content network, focus on topics and themes rather than individual terms in order to translate from search keywords to keywords representing likes and interests.

For example, if selling tents, consider likes and interests like “camping”, “backpacking”, “trail running”, “rock climbing” and other related activities.  Also, you need to be wary of keywords that are too general, which can end up diluting traffic quality and performance.  

2.  Test Images Before Copy

On search engines, ads are typically limited to a 25 character headline and 75 character description, making testing and tweaking copy easy. On Facebook, there is a little more copy to play with, but more importantly images can also be included in the ad.

With a wide variety of engaging social content on Facebook pages, brands need to ensure their ads stand out and can grab the user’s attention.  While relevant value propositions, differentiation, and calls to action, in copy are vital, using the right image can have a much larger impact on whether or not the ad warrants a second glance or a click.  

Adding borders to photos in colours like orange or yellow, which contrast with the blue and white Facebook interface, is a simple way to draw in users’ eyes. The most successful images tend not to be the most aesthetically pleasing, but are instead the ones that grab the most attention.  

3.  Automate to Innovate

Managing and optimising large-scale advertising programs on Facebook is a time consuming task for marketers. It’s one than can often, if not careful, overshadow the innovation needed to keep a brand’s reputation alive and new. It is therefore crucial that organisations employ the necessary measures to ensure that non-strategic processes are cared for without interfering with the creative process.

The good news is that there are tools readily available that can ease the burden of time consuming processes such as bidding on Facebook ads or segmenting and reporting on the wealth of information contained within user’s Facebook profiles.

With these tools automatically catering for the non-creative processes marketers can be sure they are making the most of the allocated budget and get the desired effect from their Facebook campaigns.

4.  Keep Your Ads Fresh

With users spending an average of over seven hours a month on Facebook, “Ad Blindness” is a common problem. Facebook users are often served the same ad multiple times and therefore become less and less likely to click through and make purchases. Additionally, as the click-through rate reduces, Facebook may look to serve the ad less than those newer ones without performance history.

To combat this, rotating images and ad copy is an important tactic to keep ads fresh and quality scores high. Serving a variety of ads to the same target group can also help you hone in on the messaging and images that make an impact on particular segments.

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