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Still Wondering "Do Social Ads Really Work?"

When Facebook’s annual revenue hovered around $40.6B in 2017, an SVP of marketing approached me and the following conversation took place:

 

SVP: Do Facebook ads really work?

Me: Well, about $40B in revenue says they work pretty well.

SVP: Right, but could just be a fad. When one business does something everyone else will jump onboard. Maybe it’s just great PR by Facebook or people riding a tech wave.

Me: Sure, but it’s $40B globally, companies everywhere.

SVP: Of course, surely you believe word spreads across borders with the internet nowadays etc.

Me: Well, we also have months and months of data and tons of spend to prove performance.

SVP: Right, but I’m still not sold.

 

This actually happened…the reality is many people still don’t believe anyone “buys anything off social media” or, a step further, that social media impacts the sales journey. Part of me didn’t want to pen this piece because it sounds so outlandish, but clients and marketing peers continue to ask, “do ads in social media (any network) actually work?”

 

100% they work! Absolutely there are instances where social ads may not be effective, but I’ve found in these scenarios that other channels fail too including SEM and the holy grail email. Such cases tend to be more so about the inadequacies of the business and its web presence rather than shortcomings of online marketing channels.

 

Now the Facebook research appears to be done in-house, but people spend more time on social than anywhere else so it’s common sense that they’ll be willing to shop during the hours that they’re liking and posting selfies. Remember, Facebook’s ad platform in particular is phenomenally powerful, so odds are better than average that they can find people likely to buy.  The article also contains a bunch of good links to Facebook best practices and techniques, so take a peek. Time to get onboard, the world isn’t only search, email and amazon. Social demands a seat at the table too.


 Joseph Nolan is the founder of JONO MKT, a digital marketing and strategy agency. He has pioneered digital and social transformations at several billion-dollar brands and is an alumnus of the renowned MA Strategic Public Relations program at USC Annenberg.

Facebook Algorithm Apocalypse 2018

Breath in…and…out. Step back from the social media ledge, the world isn’t ending (yet). Although the buzz about the great Facebook algorithm change of 2018 has been so tremendous, one might think the digital marketing apocalypse was finally upon us. 

Yes, the reality is branded content was further deprioritized and social ad inventory will decrease - so buckle up. The results at first glance can cause concern: ad rates may increase due to decreased inventory and fewer people will see organic content. Now what for marketers??! Damned if you pay, damned if you don’t.

Not so fast on the doom and gloom. Let’s pause for a minute and take a close look at the social landscape. First regarding advertising…ad rates may increase but maybe not as pervasively as anticipated and not so much so as to be a deterrent from spending. What if in the future you received the same number of purchases for the same cost as today but frequency and impressions went down? In other words, your CPMs go up but your CPAs stay the same - greater efficiency. Not so bad after all, right? And, all the while users have a better experience which means they spend more time on Facebook and that benefits both Facebook and your business. Not impossible...

That’s right, we tend to neglect that Facebook has the most powerful ad intent platform in history and it’s in their best interest to continue to deliver results for their advertisers. Better today than ever before, they know when people will watch your vids, click your ads and buy your products. Don’t believe me? Simple example, they retarget other members of a household using the same IP address with relevant ads within 1-3 minutes of a user visiting a company’s site - get on onboard it’s not hype.

Additionally, the ad platform has evolved perhaps more significantly in the last 6-8 months than ever before making it easier for marketers to be more successful. Asset creation and testing, advanced targeting and measurement, robust campaign optimization capabilities - all of these previously privileged to 3rd party ad tools now at the fingertips of every advertiser in Ads Manager. So the tools are available to the masses to be more effective, more efficient with less wasted spend.

Now the good stuff, the holy grail of social media - organic content. It’s FREE so it’s got to be good - oh wait, forgot about those rapidly growing content production and personnel budgets…The reality is the organic reach percentage is already at ~0.7% on Facebook and ~4-10% on Instagram — that means that on average less than 1% of your Facebook fans will even see a post every day, let alone engage with it. And, the engagement number is roughly 10% of the 0.7% reach! Now maybe that organic reach drops to 0.4%, or 5% on Insta…so what? Is that really making a dent in your campaign?

The best brands generate up to ~9-10% of traffic organically from social channels (excluding media publishers and top of the top online retailers) and these visitors tend to be overwhelmingly existing customers. This means that organic traffic isn’t the cure all of online customer acquisition like many companies are learning the hard way after over leveraging personnel allocation to content creation. Should you continue try to excel at organic content in order to maximize that organic reach and engagement rate - ABSOLUTELY. Is organic content effective at retention - YES. Does organic play a role in acquisition - SURE. Magic bullet - NO.

So should you look to diversify further from social with this latest algorithm? Where will you go? Display ads? Likely not, the c-suite threshold for believing 22 impressions causes a purchase has about reached its peak. More paid search? Perhaps, but you’re probably really good at SEM already and you’re saturated. Event marketing? Nope. OOH? Umm, no. Straightforward solution: continue to get better at social overall - organic and paid - and excel at omni-channel / CRM. Instead of screaming SOS, start championing S-E-S. Now more than ever it’s a Search - Email - Social world. And not necessarily in that order...

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Joseph Nolan is a NYC-based marketing consultant and thought leader with over a decade at major brands in auto, ecommerce, lifestyle and fitness. Opinions are his own. Feedback, article ideas and business inquiries welcomed at joe@jonomkt.com. Learn more @ jonomkt.com / @josephjnolan.