Facebook has recently prohibited “like-gating.” Like-gating was the practice of forcing users to become Facebook fans of a brand before they could access its content or participate in a contest. A lot of marketing blogs have commented on this, talking about the demise of Facebook marketing or alternatively the sudden pointlessness of having/getting fans.
But this “news” is just one of the many tidbits buried near the end of an article posted on Facebook’s developers blog.
These days, any serious marketer would agree that were a brand to release a Facebook-connected experience, it should be mobile-friendly, if not mobile-first, given the extent of mobile usage. And since mobile like-gating has always been tricky to implement, and above all purely and simply prohibited since this past May, the recent discussions about the end of like-gating are actually irrelevant!
Facebook’s latest announcement doesn’t change much for advertisers and agencies having already made the shift to mobile. These ones have started thinking about how and why to continue acquiring fans quite some time ago.
“The race for fans is over” is heard here and there – and it hasn’t been more wrong. Here are 6 reasons to continue acquiring fans, now more than ever.
1. It becomes less expensive to reach your target on Facebook using paid media
The reason is simple – the more fans you have, the more people within your target audience you’ll be able to reach thanks to ads with social context, which are ads featuring at least a friend. Facebook’s advertising algorithm particularly favours this kind of ads as users are much more receptive to it. Advertisers therefore pay a lower CPM/CPC. Another point, the more fans a brand has, the more it can target users similar to its fans by leveraging a feature called Lookalike Audiences. This also is favoured by Facebook’s ad algorithm.
2. The stronger the impact of Facebook advertising on brand metrics
This again thanks to ads with social context, which, according to a Nielsen study, generates 50% more ad recall than those without. Another study from Datalogix shows that it also generates 35% more sales for e-tailers (vs. ads without social context).
3. Better ad optimization
Think of your fan base as a lab where you can test different variations of a message, where you can see what generates the most organic reach and engagement. You will then know which stories to put on steroids with ads. You will pay less for CPC/CPM as Facebook will recognize the quality, and this paid media also triggers more earned media.
4. It provides more information you can obtain about your target audience
The more fans you have, the more numerous organic feedback you’ll collect following your page posts, and the more meaningful geo-demographic data provided by Facebook’s admin interface will be. That’s a great way to better understand what your potential customers like, and which geo-demographic categories are the most receptive to which messages.
5. You can reach fans more often than non-fans
Facebook allows you to reach your fans up to 4 times per day in the News Feed with ads, as opposed to twice per day for non-fans. That could prove very helpful for a product launch for instance when you want to make sure your message is heard.
6. Greater organic reach
Although the organic reach rate of page stories continues to decrease structurally due to Facebook’s success, the more qualified fans you have, the more you can expect to maintain, even increase, your organic reach.
But know that fanbase growth won’t be like it was before.
Some time ago Facebook introduced Custom Audiences, an ad feature that revolutionizes the race for fans.
For lack of anything better, companies had been constrained on Facebook for a long time and had to cast a wide net when designing their fan acquisition campaigns, by using geo-demographic criteria and generic interests.
With Custom Audiences, Facebook allows brands to pay to reach the News Feeds of users who have already demonstrated an interest in the brand. Either because they have been able to share their email address or phone number, or because they have visited brands’ website, mobile app or Facebook app.
These users are much more receptive to the invitation to become a fan, converting them costs less, and once they become fans, they are much more responsive and easily engaged!
To acquire qualified fans, this targeting feature is better used with the Page Like Ad format in particular, but could also be used to buy ads redirecting to Facebook-connected experiences (applications or websites). On such properties, advertisers will have more real estate to highlight the reasons to become a fan, while also being able to obtain opt-in information like email address, etc.
Brands must go still even further and take advantage of their owned media to continue to acquire more qualified fans at little cost. To do this, it is important to inform prospects and customers as concisely as possible on all branded materials such as business cards, flyers, window displays, the website, emails, packaging, etc. The information should address:
– Why they should the brand (ex: to not miss any info, any promo, etc.)
– And how to do it (on print material: “Go to this URL and click Like”, or “Scan this QR code and click Like”; on a website: “Click on this button” connected to the “like box” to configure here.)
At the very least, it is suggested you work to acquire fans until all individuals within your geo-demographic target have at least one friend who is also a fan of your brand. The reason for this is because from there you can reach your entire target market with social context advertising and thus take advantage of benefit 1 described above. (The Facebook advertising interface lets you view the ratio of your target market that you can reach with social context.)
Ultimately, when all of your target individuals have become fans of your brand, then you can benefit from all of the advantages discussed above.
@ThomasJestin is the Co-founder of KRDS, Social & Mobile Agency headquartered in Paris with offices in India, Singapore and China, member of the Facebook Preferred Marketing Developer Program since 2010.
Top image courtesy of Shutterstock.