As a relatively new and rapidly evolving digital channel, social media is subject to considerable debate among marketers when it comes to return on investment Although the metrics in which we measure success across each network may differ, collectively they define ROI and drive strategy.
Social media is increasingly becoming more effective in connecting businesses with prospects and customers. It is also beneficial in gaining user demographic insight, keeping up to date on trending topics and addressing customer wants and needs.
With over one billion users, Facebook is the world’s largest social network. It alone presents a robust opportunity for your brand to reach both potential and current customers. If correctly optimized, Facebook increases brand awareness and advocacy, lowers service costs, and drives customer loyalty and incremental sales.
To achieve these goals on Facebook, you need to do two primary activities:
- Grow your community
- Engage your community
Let’s have a look at growing your community first.
Step One: Community Growth
The best way to rapidly grow your Facebook community is through fan acquisition campaigns. These campaign types vary, but are consistent in that they must inspire participation via the following
- Compelling value propositions within Facebook
- Targeted paid Facebook advertising
Three Types of Compelling Value Propositions Within Facebook
Value Propositions are the incentives, offers, or experiences that will prompt users to “like” your page and share with others. It is a key component that can ultimately determine the success of your social campaign.
Types of value propositions that have proven to be successful include:
Facebook’s “offers” include both free and discounted deals. When polled, most Facebook users say they “like” brands in order to receive coupons. Offers not only increase engagement, but sales as well, because the discounts encourage purchases that may not have been made otherwise. Kohl’s provides an excellent example below with their coupon for an additional 15% off merchandise.
Of course, a free offer is always appealing to every demographic. As TGI Friday’s demonstrates, sometimes all it takes is a free hamburger and a couple of days to see impressive results – within one weekend, they accumulated 500,000 more fans on the social network.
Ideal for stimulating organic friend-to-friend sharing, donation-based causes are successful because the entry barrier is low and the return can be extremely high. Olga Intimates, for example, collaborated with ZOG Digital’s Creative Studio to honor Breast Cancer Awareness month.
A “Virtual Quilt” Facebook application was created, turning every “like” into a dedicated quilt square and money donated to charity by the brand. This resulted in a 400% increase in fan base in less than one month.
3. Content Gates
If your brand already has compelling content – images, videos, or other experiences, a “like” is simple action for a user to take to gain access. A particularly innovative example of this is “The Society of Good Taste” campaign run by Grey Poupon.
They require that Facebook users apply to be eligible to “like” their page, and put those users pages through a screening “taste test.” The success of the campaign is yet to be determined, but it has greatly increased engagement and the idea of “exclusivity” is one all brands should examine.
Four Types of Targeted Paid Facebook Advertising
For social, the maxim, “if you build it, they will come,” should be amended to read, “if you build it – and spark awareness with paid social media – they will come.”
In particular, Facebook advertising is effective in reaching the right type of prospects because it segments consumers into niche audiences. As Facebook’s ad products continue to evolve, the quality of their user data continues to become more targetable and effective. As of November 2012, you have a choice of four major types of ad units:
1. Standard Ads
Traditional ad units found on the right side of the page, the effectiveness of these ads is debatable. Although these are not often implemented for a fan acquisition campaign alone, they can have value in combination with other ad types listed below.
Similar to standard ads, but designed specifically to drive traffic to a Facebook page and increase likes, which increases brand visibility.
3. Page Post Ads
With this option, you can take one of your posts and boost it into an ad unit. This is an interesting product to both increase “likes” and drive engagement with existing fans. Non-fans will have the ability to like your page directly from the ad, while current fans will see sponsored posts.
4. Sponsored Stories
Sponsored stories turn your fanbase interactions into ad units. They are effective when it comes to increasing visibility, especially in light of the recent modifications to the Facebook algorithm. There are many different types of actions that can be turned into stories: page likes, post likes, comments, shares, and more.
Some Alternative Paid Social Ad Options
Along with the four basic types above, there are three other up-and-coming ad units worth considering: mobile ads, Sponsored Results ads and Facebook Exchange.
Mobile growth has expanded enormously over the last quarter, with 14% of Facebook’s revenue in Q3 coming from mobile and 604 million monthly active users logging on through smartphones and tablets. Click-through-rates are 23 times higher on mobile than on desktop ads, and mobile advertising allows businesses to specify details such as the device type in which the ad should appear.
1. Facebook’s Sponsored Results Ads
This allows companies to place ads in the type-head search results, so that they will appear before organic results. You are able to target exact pages and search entries (such as competitors) with this ad unit.
2. Facebook Exchange
This is a network-specific form of re-targeting, has great potential as well in that marketers can target audiences based on behavior and interests and bid in real-time. This helps brands increase visibility and gain customer insight.
Step Two: Community Engagement
Community engagement is a quantifiable demonstration and this includes
These all generate the attention of your community. This is important because attention is the fundamental precursor to
Aside from doing secondary research, these types of clicks are a good way to validate that engagement.
Another critical component of engagement is friend-to-friend organic sharing. On Facebook, this activity happens overwhelmingly within posts in the newsfeed. In order to stimulate engagement, your brand needs to create ongoing timely and compelling post content.
What is the best way to create post content that will gain the most “likes,” comments, and shares?
We’ve analyzed brand and social network content and categorized the most popular posts into four types – topical, visual, expressive, and target-specific content. By integrating these into your posting calendar, you will improve the likelihood of increasing community engagement and ultimately increase consumer-generated referrals and sales.
1. Topical Content
People tend to share content that is relevant to current events. By monitoring and “newsjacking” events relevant to your audience, you can take advantage of the popularity of these topics to increase engagement. Oreo did this amazingly well in their “Daily Twist” campaign by incorporating topical content into images of their product (The Mars Rover Landing is shown below).
Not only did it drum up social media mentions and engagement, but it also garnered significant news coverage.
2. Visual Content
Social continues to evolve into a more visual medium, as illustrated by the rise of sites like Pinterest and Instagram. Images garner higher engagement rates than other forms of posts because of the instantaneous nature of understanding and gratification. In fact, 44% of users are more likely to engage with brands on Facebook if they post pictures. High-quality and high-resolution images in particular further raise engagement. The difference in post engagement with images vs. without is shown below by the brand WaterPik.
a. Engagement without an image – 10 likes and 10 comments
b. Engagement with an image – 100 likes and 43 comments
3. Expressive Content
Expressive content refers to content that demonstrates a certain persona or point of view. For example, a brand looking to demonstrate their charitable tendencies may check-in at a volunteer event or share their philanthropic donations through status updates and pictures. This is best utilized when you understand the positive attributes of your brand and are able to express those through specific posts. The Humane Society of the United States, for instance, sees all current events in terms of animals, and so posted the following on their Animal Rescue Team during a hurricane:
4. Target-Specific Content
Target-specific content is content that your audience engages with most. In order to identify what your target group finds most interesting, it is necessary to utilize Facebook insights and categorize the recurring topics and themes for the posts that tend to get the most engagement. For example, Healthcare provider TriWest discovered that the most engagement on their page occurred within posts acknowledging the contribution of military members to our country.
Wrapping it up!
To successfully increase the value of your Facebook community, you need to grow and engage your fans. This is initially done by way of compelling value propositions: Facebook offers, causes and content gates. Those efforts are then accelerated by targeted paid social media campaigns, including standard ads, “like” ads, page post ads and sponsored stories. Once you’ve accumulated fans, you want to keep their interest by producing timely, intriguing content that inspires interaction by way of “likes,” comments and shares. Incorporated into an optimized Facebook strategy, these tactics can ultimately increase brand awareness, site traffic, customer loyalty and sales.
Guest Author: Greg Getner who is senior vice president of strategy at ZOG Digital
Want to Learn How to Create Contagious Content and Market it with Social Media?
My book – Blogging the Smart Way “How to Create and Market a Killer Blog with Social Media” – will show you how.