Why A Little Weird Thinking Is Key To Facebook Success

By Dennis Yu 

For Rosetta Stone, at first, we first targeted people who wanted to learn how to speak Spanish, were Spanish teachers, or liked competing products. Failure. Then we started targeting people who liked the BBC, were high-income, and had status in frequent-flyer programs. Interesting content begat emails, and emails begat sales. Success! Lateral targeting is key to winning on Facebook.

This is deeper than targeting fans of Bob Marley to sell bongs or low-income census ZIP codes to sell payday loans. It’s more like fans of Wee Man who like motocross that you could sell Monster energy drinks to. Or selling ADT Security to single moms, day-parted to after midnight. Or Virgin America grabbing the user IDs of folks who just checked in at United Airlines and are complaining.

What do you say in each of these situations?

Think of yourself as a pickup artist who has to write a pickup line for each person you meet. But you have 100,000 people to meet.

Can software do this? Not any more than Alan Turing can impersonate Jay Leno.

You’re at the top of the funnel in social, well before they make their demands in the white rectangle.

So get your targeting and messaging to align.

Think like a cheating housewife. Because isn’t that what brand bidding in both Google and Facebook are all about? You need to temptshock, and delight.

Or just outright poach.

If you’re in business-to-business marketing — perhaps you’re an agency, or you sell software — then you have to aim directly at the heart of your customer.

Don’t just target people who like Internet marketing or Google — that’s 5.8 million ways to fail. Go after SilverPop or CheetahMail if their customers are also likely to buy from you, even it’s a completely different product.  You’re targeting by who they are, not whether the keyword is directly relevant to you.

Go for the highest density (percentage of the interest that also likes you) versus strength (sheer number of fans in that target who like you). The Bible and Spongebob overlap with everyone — not useful. Go after where you overindex heavily.

Readers: Are you targeting your posts efficiently?

Main image courtesy of Shutterstock. All others courtesy of Dennis Yu.

Dennis Yu has helped brands grow and measure their Facebook presences. He has spoken at Search Marketing Expo, Search Engine Strategies, Web 2.0, The American Marketing Association, PubCon, Conversational Commerce Conference, Pacific Conferences, HostingCon, Affiliate Summit, Affiliate Convention, UltraLight Startups, MIVA Merchant, and other venues. Yu has also counseled the Federal Trade Commission on privacy issues for social networks. Yu has held leadership positions at Yahoo and American Airlines. His educational background is finance and economics from Southern Methodist University and London School of Economics.