Does social advertising work, specifically Facebook?
Great question. In fact, there has been a lot of discussion regarding the effectiveness of Facebook ads. Social media is as much a part of our everyday lives as eating and sleeping, but does advertising through social actually translate to more sales?
GM, the third largest advertiser in the US, recently suspended their Facebook advertising, an estimated $10MM, over suspicion that no one is taking the time to stop and read their ads. Yet, a study by comScore (co-sponsored by Facebook) found that Facebook ads can actually increase purchase rates, by as much as 38%, by those exposed to the ads. So what should you do? Well, first, consider the following:
- Facebook Reach: 800MM Global Users (Mashable, June 2012)
- 141.2MM (59%) US Facebook Users (eMarketer, 2012)
- Globally, Facebook accounts for 1 in every 5 minutes spent online and 90% of all time spent on social networking sites in the US
- Average Facebook user has 130 friends and is connected to 80 pages (Social Media Examiner)
- There are more than 3.5B pieces of content (web links, news stories, blog posts, etc) shared each week on Facebook (HubSpot)
Based on the above stats, are you willing to pack it in on Facebook? There is massive opportunity to reach your consumer base. As marketers, we need to better understand how to properly utilize the paid portion of social medium (but we will save that for a different post).
The larger question we need to be asking is: How do we begin to define social effectiveness?
The old model was ROI – if sales outweigh the costs, then it was a success. Generally speaking, that’s how businesses have measured the success rate of most traditional media to date. And, I think we can all agree that sales are the lifeblood of a business, but should social media be held to this same standard? Some would likely argue unequivocally yes, but from the viewpoint of a brand planner, I would argue that that’s an outdated way of thinking. In my opinion, Social ROI transcends the sale and the trackable metric, as it’s a much more complicated medium. Let me explain. Consider the difference in communication pathways between traditional media and social media.
In its most elementary form, the difference is engagement, the reciprocal interaction between brand and consumer. Unlike traditional media, social is not a one-way sales pitch. It’s about developing and fostering a relationship with your consumer. It’s engaging them to understand their needs, who they are, and what they like to talk about.
For a brand, social media is knowledge. Its access to the purest form of data that helps you, the brand, speak to your most qualified and engaged audience. That’s your social ROI. If done right, social not only helps build brand loyalty, but brand advocates who will champion your brand – for free. That’s why social cannot be bound by sales. The actual sale is a by-product of the social relationship that you worked to develop and nurture. And let’s face it, relationships take time. Seriously, would you ask someone to marry you on a first date and expect them to say yes?
- Interesting stat: Nearly three-quarters of consumers use Facebook to make retail or restaurant decisions, while half of consumers have tried a new brand due to a social media recommendation
But remember, just because Facebook is a mass medium, does not mean it’s right for your business. If you have determined that Facebook would be a good tool for your brand, here are a few best practices to consider:
- Determine your success metrics. ROI can be translated a thousand different ways. Try to understand what makes sense for your current goals and objectives.
- Be realistic with returns. Understand industry benchmarks and work from there.
- Always consider your target consumer and their mindset. Make sure your message is relevant to their interests. The occasional promotional pitch is okay, but remember, this is “social” media, not the QVC channel.
- Are you providing fresh content regularly? Are you asking questions and listening to responses? This is an engagement medium and a marriage is 50/50. Interesting stat – 95% of Facebook Wall Posts are not answered by brands. (AllFacebook.com)
- How much is too much – check out this great social calendar to help get you organized.
- You hear it all of the time, but optimize, optimize, optimize. Refine your targeting and cut out the waste. This will help stretch your dollar by reach only a relevant audience.
Agree? Disagree? We would love to hear from you. Leave us your opinion in the comments below.
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