What marketers need to know about Facebook advertising

30 Apr What marketers need to know about Facebook advertising

The great thing about getting out of the office and mixing with other marketers is the chance to learn about newer technologies that sometimes take longer to penetrate the B2B space. Facebook definitely falls into this category. While Facebook is a no-brainer for B2C companies, B2B marketers have found it more hit or miss. But some newer Facebook advertising options certainly give me food for thought.

At the Mid-Atlantic Marketing Summit (MAMS), several leading area marketers went through some of Facebook’s paid social options, and they go well beyond promoted posts. The panel consisted of Roger Hughlett from the Wireless Infrastructure Association, Josh Greene, from The Mather Group, Kelly Barrett from National Geographic, and Thomas Sanchez from Social Driver.

Facebook Groups provide powerful marketing opportunities

Facebook Groups were the first area that marketers were encouraged to consider. I confess, I don’t think of Facebook for groups, but, in reality, some of my most powerful connections on Facebook come through groups. I guess I’m not thinking of them as groups, because the participants feel so much like friends at this point. They are more akin to old listservs where you knew people pretty intimately even if you had never met in person.

For marketers, Facebook Groups offer a lot of options to engage. Some of the panelists spoke of using promoted posts to pull people into their groups and then continuing to engage with those people over time in more personalized ways. This strategy also served as a powerful method for list building for other marketing activities. Several panelists suggested that the best way to launch a successful group is to start with existing contacts – for example, participants in your annual conference or current customers.

A group does not have to be large, necessarily, to be effective. The key is to engage with them and respond very quickly, so they feel like they are participating in active conversations. Panelists felt that people are more likely to respond in a group setting, and are often more likely to participate in work-related conversations in a group than to post or engage with work-related issues in their general feeds. Apparently, Facebook users like to segment their various personas.

Social Driver recently was approached to run an ad campaign to promote a network for a social cause and suggested a Facebook Group instead. This group came together quickly, and 80% of the group’s posts ended up being read.

Facebook Messenger drives great engagement

Social Driver also found that Facebook Messenger campaigns can get up to 90% engagement. This was surprising to me. I use Messenger because it’s almost impossible not to use it. Facebook allows people to send you messages through Messenger even if you don’t have it set up, and there is no other way to read the messages. On my phone, Messenger stays persistent on my screen when I am using other apps and goes away only when I drag it to delete; and it only stays away after I view it and then drag to delete. It’s a very obtrusive channel, in my humble opinion.

That said, the panelists are finding amazing early success with the application. National Geographic’s rep was intrigued by the quiz functionality of Messenger, since her audience likes to show how smart they are. Another panelist suggested that Messenger may be a flash in the pan as people begin to see Messenger campaigns as spam, but he felt marketers have a small window to use them to engage with audiences. Most of the marketers felt that you should only use Messenger campaigns with users you had engaged with in other ways– extending the conversation rather than starting a fresh one.

Positive vibes about Facebook in general

When asked how they feel about working with Facebook, the feedback was generally positive. The Cambridge Analytica scandal has not yet affected their use of Facebook, and there has been no large drop off in usage. One panelist felt we would start to see marketers and Facebook self-police campaigns in the wake of the scandal, shifting to “realness” and “transparency” — especially in political ads.

When it comes to communications, the panelists feel that Facebook does a good job. Facebook does not overwhelm you with multiple messages simply because you have multiple accounts, and they believe that Facebook’s self-training is better than the training offered on other platforms. Most of the bigger brands and nonprofits have their own Facebook point of contact, which helps the process go more smoothly, but they acknowledged this is probably not available to smaller companies or those who dabble in Facebook advertising.

Like many of the panels at MAMS, this could have been a full day workshop on its own. The B2B marketing panel later in the day gave their own unique perspective on Facebook marketing, which I will touch on in another post. The panelists did not cover Facebook Audience Insights or their developer tools, nor did they touch on how to run a campaign across all Facebook properties. But, what was covered was timely and unique. It is clear that Facebook will continue to be a viable channel until something new unseats it.

Robin Bectel
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