Why Facebook Advertisers Don’t Have To Care About Likes Anymore

When marketers first flocked to Facebook, they were desperate for any metric that showed successful interactions with audiences on the social platform. That began an arms race of status updates and photos to bring in as many likes — that ubiquitous thumbs-up of approval — as possible. It’s now abundantly clear that Facebook is here to stay as an advertising channel, and the social network has responded to its increased stature in the advertising world with new products and developments that help marketers demonstrate return on their investment.

In short, marketing on Facebook now goes well beyond the simple like. In an effort to take full advantage of these improvements, more advertisers are employing managed services from agencies that work closely with Facebook, and what they’re finding is that Facebook no longer requires a different set of rules.

New Measurements Translate To Other Channels

One of the biggest changes is how people who buy media are measuring success on the Facebook platform. The like is no longer the only metric that defines Facebook success. In fact, an equal number of Facebook media experts measure fans as a success metric, according to a recent B2B survey of people who buy media conducted by BLiNQ Media and Toluna. Many respondents also measure page site traffic, page views, and time spent, as well as conversions (key site-side desired actions such as email registration or scheduling test drives), and even sales, when judging the success of Facebook ad campaigns.

This change in measurement shows that advertisers have come to understand the many different ways they can extract value from having a presence on Facebook. Rather than likes, for which measurable results can be difficult to translate to executives, brands are looking at fan engagement (a good measure of brand awareness), and, of course, conversions and sales, which prove that brands are actually driving revenue directly from the ads. Nor should we forget the target-mapping insights that agencies and brands can derive from Facebook, the largest ongoing focus group ever built. Facebook recently announced a reporting change that makes it even easier for brands and agencies to pull target data (e.g., clicks, actions, cost per action) by selecting a specific metric (e.g., age, gender, country). This change will enable you or your managed service partner to focus on delivering timely, actionable insights and optimizations.

Mobile Has Matured, At Least For Facebook

Now back to those emerging channels. According to various reports, Facebook’s mobile app draws more traffic than its desktop Web URL, and those who buy media have taken note. Nearly 70 percent of the respondents in the BLiNQ/Toluna survey said that mobile is at least “important” in their social ad strategy. Nearly one-half of those polled (49 percent) said mobile was either “very” or “extremely” important to them, showing a seismic shift in where and how advertisers reach consumers.

For years, the ad community has predicted an elusive “year of mobile,” when the channel would finally mature. These survey results show that mobile has already matured, especially in social platforms. If consumers spend more time accessing their social networks via mobile than they do via the traditional Web, then it makes sense for advertisers to follow them there.

Local Creative Drives Measurable Offline Sales

The other emerging trend in social advertising is local-at-scale targeting. More than one-half of people who buy media reported that at least 10 percent of social campaigns have a local element, and 36 percent of those say that at least 30 percent of their campaigns have a local element.

Local-at-scale targeting ties very closely to the revenue measurement above. By delivering local ads at scale, national advertisers can drive consumers into their regional brick-and-mortar locations. While that’s not measurable directly from Facebook or social media buys, it’s very easy for third-party data providers such as Datalogix to monitor upticks in sales or revenue based on ad flights on social campaigns. At the same time, brands can create special local offers through social ads, and monitor in-store redemptions. The key, of course, is to use the locally shared data available on social channels to build different creative executions.

It’s not unusual that advertisers would change their buying tactics on emerging channels like social. The difficulty is in how brands can actually act on these desires. Greater reporting, mobile, and local targeting are growing in importance, but that doesn’t mean every media buying shop or agency is equipped to handle full-scale campaigns that tap into all three. So while brands push for better management and deeper reach within the Facebook ecosystem, they need agencies that work closely with Facebook and can manage these services.

Facebook still works as a self-serve platform, but as the social network’s complexity and importance both grow, brands will need to enlist partners that help them take advantage of its changes quickly.

Luis Caballero is CEO of Gannett-owned social engagement and advertising agency and Facebook Preferred Marketing Developer BLiNQ Media.

Like like like like image courtesy of Shutterstock.

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