While Facebook’s owners have monetized the social network with great success (co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s net worth jumped by $5 billion in just two weeks earlier this year), driving revenue from this marketing spend remains elusive for brands.
However, considering the amount of real estate Facebook owns in the consumer and business spaces, the channel is impossible to ignore.
The challenge for brands isn’t so much deciding if Facebook is right for them, but rather learning how to personalize management of the channel and properly track attribution between Facebook and other touchpoints in today’s omnichannel sales environment.
Thankfully, emerging technologies are making this process easier, particularly when tracking movements between phone, desktop and mobile.
Calls driven to businesses via smartphones are quickly on the rise, in large part thanks to the growth of native social, which will be responsible for 36.4 billion calls annually by 2019. This is up from just 5.7 billion in 2014. While the format was once the lowest-ranking driver of calls to businesses, a more than 500 percent increase in just five years will see native social take leaps much bigger than other popular approaches like search, traditional display ads and landing pages.
With phone calls increasing and the technologies to track them readily available, there’s no excuse for marketers to miss this major sales opportunity. Likewise, with the overwhelming majority of Facebook’s daily users accessing the social network via mobile, brands can easily connect Facebook native ads and content with phone calls to develop stronger relationships with target audiences and, therefore, sales.
Developing a mobile-first native advertising strategy
Although some Facebook ads are displayed alongside the Facebook News Feed when browsing on desktop, mobile optimization must be top of mind for marketers looking to drive full value from native ads.
There are many ways brands can improve native ad performance on Facebook.
A/B testing specific components of an ad is a good first choice. For example, marketers can play around with call button placement, ad copy and even ad colors to determine what users prefer.
Second, in-feed Facebook ads are an easy testing ground for content that looks natural and/or native. Thanks to the diversity and scope of Facebook’s user base, brands have the opportunity to refine their native ads based on feedback from real people around the globe.
In an age where native content is an increasingly viable alternative to limitations placed on traditional digital advertising, improving ad performance should be top of mind for all marketers.
Third, brands can develop call-centric calls to action that make it clear that phone calls are the best way to reach a brand.
Marketers have two options when developing native ad CTA on Facebook. The first is the “Call Now” button, which is a simple and intuitive tool that allows users to call a brand directly from a Facebook ad. The second is an option to click though to a landing page, which encourages a user to visit a brand’s own website outside of the Facebook platform.
While these options are distinct, both are well situated to mobile users. Marketers can use clickable call buttons and feature phone numbers within an ad to make it clear and easy for users to make a call.
Fourth, brands can leverage Facebook’s variety of targeting options to personalize these call-centric interactions.
For instance, Facebook allows marketers to target users by location, device usage, lookalike audiences and custom audiences. Making use of this information can help brands get in front of ready-to-call Facebook users, nurturing the experience with a high level of personalization that today’s consumers have come to expect.
Custom audience features are particularly useful, as marketers can upload their own contact lists or customer-relationship-management data to better target users they already know things about.
Marketers should then incorporate call tracking technology across all Facebook touchpoints (ads and landing pages), from which they can monitor how many phone calls each ad inspires and, therefore, its full value. This level of insight allows marketers to refine campaigns over time and improve performance with feedback from real users.
Finally, marketers can introduce analytics software to aid both human and automated touch points within their customer-service teams in order to learn more about users. Based on the ad a user clicked before placing a call, marketers can determine a customer’s intention for calling, which starts the entire conversation on a productive note.
Looking forward: Facebook and beyond
With omnichannel expectations on the rise, tracking systems can help marketers deliver on promises of personalization and consistent, seamless experiences.
Facebook is a powerful discovery engine where users encounter personalized content based on previous activity and/or history. Armed with call-tracking software, a marketer knows the path a consumer took to call, such as if he or she searched for the company on Google or browsed its website and then was served a relevant Facebook ad.
Some brands are hesitant or unsure of how to embrace social networks, but the ability to adapt and make use of modern advertising channels defines 21st-century marketing.
Take late-night TV, for example. While hardly anyone watches late-night TV anymore, millions of viewers tune into popular segments like James Cordon’s Carpool Karaoke or Jimmy Fallon’s Wheel of Musical Impressions. These networks recognize that audiences have moved online and are investing in cross-channel strategies to publish content where viewers already are.
It may take a little unique thinking, but any brand can make use of the Facebook ad network, particularly the burgeoning connection between native advertising strategies and phone calls. And brands better get on board fast because, it’s true—social is calling. Is your brand ready to answer?
Nancy Lim is director of marketing at call tracking and analytics company CallRail.