Remember five years ago, when brand pages didn’t exist, and companies were forced to erect jimmied personal profiles in order to be seen on the fastest-growing network on the Internet? I certainly do; brand pages alone were a huge step in the Facebook timeline (pun intended), and the opportunities for brand awareness have only grown.
It makes total sense; Facebook has a tremendous reach, with its numbers recently passing the milestone 1 billion mark. Today, one of two people online are signed up for accounts. To think about it globally, one of seven people in the world has a Facebook page. It’s no wonder that brands are trying more than ever to get their products and services in front of such an enormous, yet targeted, audience.
It’s not just about reach; Facebook’s engagement numbers are equally astounding. Every day, 2.5 billion content items are shared, with 300 million photos uploaded and 2.7 billion likes. Even more interesting than the vast volume of engagement per day is the quality of content sharing. Users are sharing everything in their lives, from the most profound to the everyday mundane. It’s not uncommon to see a coffee date and a birth announcement next to each other in a news feed. The moments we have in real life are the same that we share on Facebook. Essentially, the lines between our offline and online selves are becoming increasingly blurred. Thanks for that, Facebook.
Regardless of whether or not the increasing integration of online into our offline lives is right or wrong, Facebook is a no-brainer for any marketer or advertiser, and it’s only getting better, with new features rolling out consistently. Recently, Facebook has focused on giving advertisers what they want: better targeting, conversions, and discovery.
Facebook advertising is based on audience targeting, which has historically been the most valuable aspect of marketing with Facebook. The advantage of using the platform to advertise is the amount of user information. It’s super-easy to segment your audience based on gender, age, marital status, location, and even interests, and to serve your ads to the most qualified audience. Not even almighty Google AdWords can get that refined.
Recently, Facebook has gotten even more advanced with targeting with two new tools: Facebook Exchange and custom audiences.
Facebook Exchange allows for advertising retargeting by extracting users’ online behavior off Facebook. Advertisers can now retarget customers who have already shown some interest in the product or service. It’s a real-time bidding service for ads – big-time.
Custom audiences enables advertisers to marry information on potential customers with Facebook data. It allows you to take your own CRM database, compare it to Facebook’s data, and then create custom target audience clusters. Boom, instant better targeting.
The one thing all direct marketers are focused on is return on investment. Facebook not only makes it easier to drive qualified traffic through targeted ads, but traditional word of mouth marketing is insanely powerful. Using Facebook offers and coupons is a great tool to capture that channel. When an offer or coupon is claimed on Facebook, it is automatically shared with the recipient’s network. This creates incredible social currency, wit three-quarters of claims resulting from the share and not the original targeted ad.
Facebook’s new tool, collections, seeks to expand brand discovery. It’s essentially an online catalog that lives on Facebook with the addition of the want button. In my opinion, it’s basically Facebook’s answer to Pinterest for brands. Still, it’s an exceptional way to create brand awareness, buzz, and yet another way to increase engagement with customers.
Facebook is in a constant state of reincarnation, always looking two steps forward to make both the user and marketer experience better. I fell in love with Facebook more than eight years ago, and as my career took me into the world of tech, advertising, and search. I’ve only fallen harder. I am always excited when Facebook announces new additions, features, and interface modifications for both consumers and marketers.
I think these recent features are especially interesting and telling. It’s clear that Facebook is committed to maximizing marketing and advertising opportunities for brands to reach their target audience. I’d like to believe that these moves were based less on declining stock prices, and more about building an effective user experience and advertising platform. Either way, engagement is up, so y’all better take advantage of it!
In case you were wondering where I got all my sweet statistics, I attended DMA2012, where David Fischer, vice president of business and marketing partnerships at Facebook, gave a keynote speech on engagement. Clearly, I took great notes.
Image courtesy of Shutterstock.