The Most Powerful Secret In Facebook Ads

Yesterday we discussed the trick to growing a Facebook fan base — to place the like button everywhere, get folks to like everything, as treat your fan base like an email list. Now that you have the initial set of fans, here’s where the fun begins.

Facebook has 3 types of connection targeting: users who are fans, users who aren’t fans, and friends of fans. It’s this last option that is amazing– so awesome that I’m afraid public mention of it may cause Facebook to remove it. And that’s why we keep testing, plus don’t reveal all our tips, but I digress.

Let’s consider a poker site– the National League of Poker. When we target only fans of the page, Facebook gives us an audience of 2,060 people:

NLOP Direct Screenshot

The actual fan count is 2,894, but that’s because Facebook’s estimate are delayed and we’re automatically filtering by US 18+. By using the first connection targeting option, we can continue to nurture those folks who have become fans. As a marketer, you know that you want to say something different to folks who already know you versus those who don’t, right? So why is it that Facebook advertisers treat everyone the same? When you use the first connection option, you’re trying to move people from the interest stage to either desire or action. You should not be trying to generate awareness with these folks who are already fans. Note that how our messaging is quite different than “Learn how to play poker!”

If you already are a fan of the page, the like button won’t show up, by the way. It will just say “You like this ad/page”– and if you have other friends who like it, they’ll show up, too. Sometimes the unlike button shows- not sure what governs when it shows. There are so few advertisers that are sending traffic to Facebook pages and also using connection targeting that it’s hard to tell.

Finally, this is what you’ve been waiting for. The average Facebook user has 130 friends. So the 2,060 fans allow us to reach 304,800 people.

NLOP Friend Of Friend Screenshot

This particular example works out to 148 friends per fan. The larger the base, the smaller the number of friends per user. It’s partly that your initial users are more likely to be early adopters and have more fans in general. But it’s also that the more fans you have, the greater the chance of overlap between them, such that the unduplicated audience decreases. When you have over 500,000 fans, then your factor of reach vs fans may be only low double digits. While decreased reach may appear bad, this is actually VERY good, since it means that each time you show the ad, it’s showing MULTIPLE people below providing endorsements. Awesomeness on Facebook = maximizing PEER PRESSURE!

Consider an ad for a pizza restaurant that says they have the best pizza in town. Yawn. That’s what 99% of advertising is about– in fact, pretty much all advertising outside of Facebook is like this– we just tune it out. Now imagine the same ad, but below it, your friend says they like it. Might you trust the claim a bit more– perhaps even be more likely to drop in and order pizza the next time you drive by the place?

How do you think this may affect the CTR as well as the conversion rates?

What if we could say this to 304,800 people– showing each of them an ad that had their particular friend’s endorsement below it?

What if you got clever with your ad copy to make outrageous claims?

NLOP Chicken Icon

By the way, these are fake examples– you’ll have to see what you can get by Facebook’s ad review team. The winning psychology: if you’re doing retargeting (remarketing) on Google, then you can use similar ads in your direct fan and friends of fans (FOF) targeting. For example, if someone has abandoned their shopping cart, you can say “Hey, why didn’t you buy? Here’s 10% off now to make it worth your while!” And you can put a retargeting pixel on your Facebook page, but that’s something to discuss in a post by itself.

Now consider the reach you have when you multiply your fan base by 150 and hit each of those folks with ads that have endorsements attached. The Las Vegas metro has 606,460 people on Facebook.

Facebook Las Vegas Targeting Screenshot

UNLV has 14,151 fans of our page of their 3 Las Vegas stadiums. We can cover over 50% of Las Vegas Facebook users with an endorsed ad. Consider if you’re a dentist in a suburb of 100,000 people. You need only a fan base of 500 people to effectively dominate your town with endorsed (FOF) ads– to have more than 50% coverage of a geo-graphic area.

Now before you go crazy with FOF targeting, consider when it works and when it doesn’t:

  • B2B: Nearly a complete FAIL. Why? When you do FOF targeting for an electronics manufacturer targeting design engineers, you end up targeting that design engineer’s family and friends who are decidedly NOT interested in the latest data sheets on your 16 bit transformer assemblies. For B2B, use workplace and interest targeting to hit their place of employment and title.
  • Consumer products and entertainment: ABSOLUTELY! Targeting the friends of of your fans is highly likely to result in something interesting to them. Ask yourself what percentage of a user’s fans will be interested in their endorsement of a new movie, their favorite brand of soap, or whatever.
  • Local: This is the goldmine of Facebook ads. People’s Facebook friends tend to be people they see and interact with in real-life. There is a high likelihood that you can leverage that fan’s recommendation broadly across their friend base. You can make it even better by adding a geographic and age filter, so you’re not showing ads to old college alumni or children, depending on what your business does. BlitzLocal has asserted that Facebook is the sleeping giant of local, because of the wealth of trusted information available and effectiveness of targeting. We don’t believe this will replace Google, but rather, augment it.

By the way, users who are being hit with this targeting aren’t aware that the advertiser is doing so– unless you are as blatant as the example I’ve provided. The ad itself doesn’t show what targeting criteria was used to match them to the ad. Note to Facebook: this would be a cool feature– and it would assuage many of the privacy concerns, where users are afraid that anything they have on their profile or interactions on Facebook is fair game for ad targeting.

There is a third targeting option, which is to exclude folks who are fans. Negation targeting matters only when your fan base is large enough that you risk showing awareness ads to folks who are fans.

TYING IT ALL TOGETHER

Few people realize that Facebook plays at all points in the conversion funnel– they simplistically believe that Facebook is just display advertising with social elements, and that Google is for conversion. It’s true that Google is primarily demand harvesting and that Facebook is more towards demand generation.

Facebook Ads Funnel
(image courtesy of Facebook)

More accurately, because you can target whether people are totally new to you, are connected to someone who does know you, or knows you– that lets you separate out your messaging and conversion paths. Most marketers are familiar with the AIDA funnel (Awareness, Interest, Desire, Action). And you can see how clearly Facebook’s ad system allows you to hit people at each of these points.

Blitz Local Facebook Ad Funnel

Advertisers inherently understand that word of mouth has been the most powerful marketing vehicle– previously unmeasurable. These ad options on Facebook, which we’ve only superficially covered here, allow not only for the measurement of word of mouth, but the aggressive amplification of it. Social media is inherently about leveraging trust to promote your business.

Was it Mark Twain who said something like “The key to success is to be genuine…. Fake that and you have it made!” Seriously, when you have a solid brand, you get an amazing boost from advertising on Facebook– the investment you’ve made in your brand means that users are already aware of who you are, are more likely to like your page, and are more willing to endorse you– whether they know it or not.

In our next article, we’ll discuss the next phase of your Facebook campaigns– how to manage your pages effectively such that you build upon the principles we’ve discussed so far. What if your company has multiple brands and multiple products in multiple countries. Do you create one page for each combination of country, product, artist, and language? Maybe have one page per country and then separate tabs for each product, so local fans can interact? Or maybe one page per product with tabs by country? The answer is none of the above and we’ll explain why.

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.

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