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How advertisers can take advantage of a maturing social media market

How advertisers can take advantage of a maturing social media market

By Will Ashton, MD, Alchemy Social

When Sheryl Sandberg announced the launch of Timeline for Brands and premium ads at the Facebook Marketer’s Conference in February, the platform opened up a range of new opportunities for marketers looking to make a lasting connection with their audience.

The social media environment is now primed for advertisers. Recent figures from the Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB) predict that the global online advertising market is set to reach $106 billion by 2016.  while social media ad spends are expected to take up 20% of budget in the next five years.

With Forrester predicting that 76% of businesses now realising the value of Facebook, the company is really focusing on tools that bring added benefits to business and marketers on the platform. The wider roll-out of ‘Featured Stories’ and custom edges earlier this year means that brands can now utilise their existing connections from their standard Facebook page while creating tailored adverts that encourage user engagement like never before.

The fast-paced nature of Facebook has traditionally given brands a relatively small timeframe with which to promote pages or campaigns, before quickly falling to the bottom of the newsfeed. But Featured Stories offers advertisers a bigger opportunity to attract its target demographic through more prominent placement on the Facebook homepage.

The maturing social media market

These developments come just at the right time for the Facebook platform. Mark Zuckerberg himself highlighted in the recent IPO announcement that user numbers were starting to plateau. When growth in demand for a medium begins to surpass growth in users of that medium – in this case Facebook – we reach a stage of maturation. 

Demand for Social Advertising is growing at more than 100% per annum, as more brands begin to recognise the added value of targeting and customer engagement. The market has now entered a phase where there is no longer any super-growth in user numbers to dilute the increases in cost caused by growing demand and advertisers need to step up their game to get noticed.

As television advertising matured in the 1960’s, ads went from being radio style testimonials with visuals to the entertaining sketch styled ads that are still commonly used. This approach succeeded because the primary purpose of the medium is to entertain.

When ads are entertaining, viewers react better to them. As print as a medium matured, ads became more visually enticing. When radio matured, ads became more informative. More recently, as search matured the landing pages of ads became more relevant to the users search terms.

Campaign cycles – what works best?

The maturation of the Facebook platform really means that marketers really need to ensure that costs don’t spiral out of control. The cost of social advertising inputs - Impressions and Clicks - can be shown to be increasing as a result of growing demand and a slowdown in supply. As such ROI is becoming more difficult to achieve each period. Consequently advertisers now have to consider the effectiveness of the entire cycle of each ad they post and not just the click through rate associated with a particular image, copy or target audience.

We recently conducted some analysis into social media campaigns conducted by our clients and were able to illustrate how levels of maturation and changes to the platforms had impacted on campaign length and timing.

While advertisers had traditionally focused on what we call long-cycle campaigns (a social campaign whose cycle begins with an impression followed by a click and ends with an offsite conversion, registration or purchase) to drive traffic from a Facebook page onto an external site, we’re now seeing a rise in short-cycle and medium cycle ads:

  • “Short Cycle”: a social campaign whose cycle begins with an impression and ends with a click.
  • “Medium Cycle”: a social campaign whose cycle begins with an impression followed by a click and ends with an onsite conversion or registration.

With the developments around Facebook apps, Timeline for Brands and custom edges this is a trend we expect to continue – the platform is now primed for in-platform engagement like never before and advertisers need to ensure they update their tactics to suit this.  

It’s not just the campaign, it’s what you do with it…

Properly targeted campaigns are a great tool for marketers in building online engagement with brands but in order to make social advertising ‘worth it’, brands needs to do more than just implement campaigns – they need to analyse their strategy and make changes accordingly.

Campaign management across a network as vast as Facebook needs to address two key areas – implementation and management.  Get this right and the numbers become less of a daunting task – they become a true wealth of opportunity and a chance to engage the right people with the right content.

Specific Facebook advertising platforms are now widely available, offering brands the ability to quickly and easily navigate Facebook’s wide array of targeting options. In a couple of clicks, groups can be selected  at scale or with pin point accuracy – for example targeting the UK as a whole or segmenting down to a City or radius around a city.  This level of accuracy is something that’s widely accepted by Facebook users – a recent Experian poll conducted on the platform found that 3 in 4(74%) of Facebook users are happy to receive recommendation s for pages based on their existing likes and interests.

Through features such as budget controls and one-click campaign implementation, Facebook ad platforms  allow marketers to group together any number of locations (country level, regions and cities) and target groups (based on a range of information from Keywords to Relationship status etc).  These centralised tools ensure that marketers have full control over budget spend – avoiding the need to create multiple campaigns.

Once you’ve figured out who needs to see your ads, the next thing to conquer is the continual management of these campaigns.  By leveraging tools such as automated rules-based optimisation and ad management, marketers can monitor and amend a whole campaign based on its real-time performance - from total spend to CPC and CPA. 

If your campaign is underperforming, you can simply adjust the variable without having to re-implement a campaign from scratch.  This level of visibility and freedom can be the difference between success and failure; an imperative in today’s competitive advertising environment.  

For social media training, contact the experts at The Knowledge Engineers who can help you to achieve social media success.

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