Facebook’s 400 million [and growing] active users as a group spend more time on the platform than on any other website in the world, freely sharing information about themselves from their favorite music and activities, to photo albums of their recent vacation spots…their likes, dislikes, college affiliation, marriage status, etc.
With this treasure trove of consumer information just sitting out there on the Internet, it’s no surprise that marketers are putting their advertising dollars there in the form of highly targeted ads. A recent survey of advertising executives by Myers Publishing LLC named Facebook the No. 1 website in providing “valuable targeted audiences” to advertisers, and marketers are expected to spend upward of $1 billion on Facebook advertising this year.
Despite the new opportunity and its attractiveness, Facebook advertising is still in its early stages compared to the paid-search market, [worth nearly $14.6 billion in 2009] – and is still rapidly growing.
Facebook advertising has a different modus operandi than the search engine marketing world. On Facebook, advertisers can, and must target users based on their “likes” and “interests” as opposed to users’ search queries. However, when “likes” and “interests” are thought of more as the SEM-familiar “keywords” – advertising on Facebook begins to look less and less a stranger.
This is because Facebook and paid-search advertising have ad platforms that fundamentally rely on targeting specific user segments based on keywords. As well, creative ad copy, and conversion quality of landing pages have an impact on both platforms, and must be considered and executed thoughtfully.
And so with an SEM minded expertise, one can advertise on Facebook and consider many common elements and practices: analyzing conversion rates and return on investment down to the creative level, building out multiple campaigns with similar targeting parameters, refining campaign targeting, testing ad-copy and landing-page effectiveness, bidding on audiences and managing campaign quality.
Everyone loves BEST PRACTICES. Here you are.
Morph Keywords into “Likes” and “Interests”
Facebook targeting relies heavily on keywords to target users based on their Likes and Interests, and users have voluntarily identified millions of those things on Facebook, from South Park to Indian Food to Obama to hiking and beyond.
Your highest-performing paid-search keywords may give you some guidance in developing relevant keywords to use as Likes and Interests on Facebook.
When developing your initial keyword list, focus on terms that represent topics and themes rather than extremely narrow, product-specific keywords (unless, of course, your product is well known enough to be “liked” by a significant number of people on Facebook) – and just because you like it does not mean this is the case on a grander level.
For example, if you sell tents, consider Likes and Interests such as “backpacking,” “eagle scouts,” “s’mores,” “campfires,” and other related activities.
Paid-search marketers are of the mindset: TEXT, TEXT, TEXT and search ads are typically limited to a 25-character headline and a 75-character description, making testing and tweaking ad copy a breeze. On Facebook, there is another volatile player. Not only is there more copy to play with, but—more important—you need an image.
Think about your last visit to Facebook. I am sure you recall a huge feed of enticing updates from your friends, family and colleagues, images screaming to be expanded, engagement announcements, viral video sharing, etc. The Facebook feed is a busy, exciting and ever-changing place.
And it is the place with which your ads must compete. Now how do you get a busy, involved, Facebooker’s attention? Welcome back to the age-old question.
The most successful ads include colorful, engaging images—and, needless to say, a relevant offer. Like the search engine marketing world, testing ads is crucial – and your results may surprise you.
Mix It Up
Users spend an average of more than seven hours a month on Facebook, so they will be exposed to your ads much more frequently than to paid-search ads. Because a Facebook ad can be served to the same user multiple times, it doesn’t take long for Facebook users to become “blind” to an advertisement.
And if your ad has low click-through rates, Facebook may serve it less frequently than newer ads that have no performance history. As a result, continually updating ad images and copy is important to keep Facebook ads fresh and quality scores high.
Keep in mind, there is also an option for Facebook users to “x” out your ad – and when they do, they receive the following question:
So if you put out uninteresting, misleading, offensive or repetitive ads, don’t expect much success within this advertising platform. Like search engine advertising, Facebook ads take thought, work and not an ounce less of creative brainpower.