Committee Corner April: Meeting the Challenge of Advertising on Facebook

COMMITTEE CORNER

Ava SeaveyAs of fourth-quarter 2017, Facebook boasted more than 2.1 billion monthly active users worldwide, a 14-percent year-over-year increase. For any serious marketers, being on social media is mandatory, and — like it or not — Facebook is too big to ignore.

The consumer journey now involves so many different touchpoints — and interacting with customers has never been more crucial than it is on Facebook, where 1.2 billion of our best friends visit every single day. However, more companies are advertising on Facebook than ever before. In April 2017, there were 5 million advertisers, growing from 4 million in September 2016 and 3 million in March 2016. It’s a trifecta of trouble: more competition, higher prices, and less visibility. 

But hold your horses: Facebook’s CPMs have increased 171 percent in the past year — and CPCs have nearly doubled. Yes, that’s right: ad impressions are flat, while costs are increasing.

Facebook’s organic reach has been steadily in decline, with the average organic post reaching less than 2 percent of fans who have liked the page — and trending downward. So, if you want to be seen, you must advertise.

So what types of tactics and strategies are marketers using to stand out? 

If you are going to make an investment in Facebook advertising, as in any platform, building consistency and trust is important, not scattershot, once-in-a-while ads. This requires consistent messaging and quick response to customer inquiries.

Time of day and day of the week are important, especially if you’re working on a limited budget. A post at 7 p.m. will result in more clicks, on average, than one at 8 p.m. (source: Forbes). And Bit.ly’s blog notes that engagement on Thursdays and Fridays is 18-percent higher. 

Growing a fan base and being able to use that base to advocate for your brand is a critical component. Your fan base can give great customer insight and offer rich data for your planning, in addition to increasing sales.

According to Sally Clapper, director of digital marketing for global hearing intelligence marketer, Nuheara, Facebook advertising is a moving target. “Reliable answers in black and white are hard to tie back to ROI, especially in e-commerce,” she says. “Look for trends, in addition to trying to nail a specific metric.” This is important advice, especially for performance marketers who suffer from lack-of-100-percent-attribution syndrome.

Using unique codes for tracking on Facebook is important as well. However, Clapper says, “Having a robust community of advocates allows people to comment, post, and tag their friends. The more we post on Facebook, the higher the revenue — although direct attribution is not always there.”

Another great tip from Clapper is to set extra UTM parameters, especially for higher ticket purchases. “The longer the consumer consideration period, the more you will lose that traction,” she says.

Remarketing is key, offering higher conversions at a lower CPA. Clapper adds, “Target engaged site visitors differently, based on how many times they have visited, how much time they visited, and which pages they were on. That can lead to narrowed-down custom audiences with more targeted messages and higher conversion.”

Facebook also can help build email lists for future marketing. This is a tactic that can pay off in large dividends — Facebook can generate qualified leads who are interested in your content and category. Whether you are seeking a form fill, giving out a free eBook, or asking for signups for exclusive offers, pre-offers, or discounts, Facebook can open the door to a prospect — and email can close them.

Finally, engaging video is more likely to capture attention than a still image. And Facebook video views have increased exponentially. But testing close rates from video also must be measured. Getting a million views and no sales does nothing for the bottom line. Gone are the days of expecting a video to go viral and save the day.

While some marketers are using the Facebook ad manager platform, others are opting for different software solutions, including artificial intelligence (AI) solutions, which create a more custom user experience, have the ability to integrate with display and other campaigns, and purport to tie in and overlay multiple data points for a more sophisticated and customized outreach.

There is no one panacea for better ROI on Facebook. It is important, as we do in all other media, to try different things — and test, test, test.