Facebook. Love it or hate it personally, there is no doubting its success in community building.
The website currently has more than 222 million active users worldwide. To put this into perspective, 1 in 5 people who access the internet is a Facebook user. It is nothing short of a social media phenomenon.
A little history.
Started by Mark Zuckerberg in 2004, while a student at Harvard University, Facebook (or The Facebook as it was originally known) was initially built as an online community for the use of Harvard students.
As word spread, it was soon expanded to other colleges and universities, then to all high school students, and, finally, to anyone aged 13 and over based anywhere in the world.
By June 2008, just over four years since inception, it had attracted 132.1 million unique visitors worldwide displacing the iconic Myspace as the most popular social networking site in the world.
In the UK alone Facebook now has over 17m users (Feb 2009) and numbers are still rising fast!
A new route to targeted marketing.
Aside from its obvious and daily fascination for millions of users, Facebook Ads is a new media channel which allows you to reach relevant audiences in much the same way as direct mail has done for decades.
With direct mail you don’t blanket the whole population with your advertising message, but target a demographic or postcode areas to cut down on wastage, usually renting an opt-in list of profiled names and addresses.
Facebook takes that profiling a stage further and allows you to show your advertising message only to those you believe would be interested in your product or service. In addition to age, sex and geography, the beauty of Facebook is you are able to target via user’s hobbies, pastimes, special interests, even travel preferences.
It can be used in one of two ways.
You can opt for a cost-per-impression campaign whereby you will pay a set amount for every thousand times your ad is exposed. Alternatively, there is a pay-per-click model, (similar to that of Google Adwords), a model by which you only pay if the user clicks through from your ad to your goal. This allows you to essentially gain brand exposure to the entire profiled audience for free.
Another notable and very handy difference from the Google Paid Model is that you can use a visual in your ads to catch the eye.
Having said this, Facebook in general delivers a lower CTR (Clickthrough ratio) than Google Adwords, basically because of the difference in user intent. With Google Adwords, the user is actively searching for a relevant product or service at that very point in time, whereas on Facebook the exposure is on a far more passive basis.
New channel, new challenges.
It all sounds a fantastic opportunity for advertisers, but as with all new channels, agencies are only just starting to understand how they can harness the power of Facebook Ads and the many other social media platforms to provide a cost-effective ROI for the client.
As with any advertising medium, it will not be right for all brands, but what we are discovering here at Further is just how much value it can add to a campaign – and not necessarily on massive budgets.
The recent France Show 2009, which took place 7-9th January at Earl’s Court is a perfect case in instance.
Further’s France Show 2009 campaign.
It was the second year that Further had carried out the online marketing to gain visitor bookings for the consumer show – and one notable addition to this year’s strategy was a small campaign on Facebook to reach a new base of potential visitors to the Earls Court extravaganza.
For this campaign we were interested in users based in the UK who were interested in gourmet food, wine, champagne, holidaying in France, cookery and the Uk’s favourite French chef Jean-Christophe Novelli.
In addition to the demographically targeted ads, an official event page was created for the show and seeded with influential users and past visitors. This group was then advertised on the official website and grew hugely, creating a pre and post show buzz.
So how did it deliver?
Working with a tiny test campaign budget, Facebook was used for 8 weeks and proved its worth in a number of ways.
The France Show ads (which were rotated, honed and tested throughout the campaign);
– were shown over 4 million times to hundreds of thousands of Facebook users.
– received over 3000 clicks, resulting in 241 ticket registrations for multiple tickets and converted at a far lower cost per click than Google Adwords for this event coming in at an average of just £0.36 a click.
– were also responsible for the late stand bookings of two new exhibitors at the event – an unexpected, yet very welcome bonus for the client.
The France Show 2009 itself turned out to be another resounding success, despite the economic climate – with over 25,000 visitors flocking to Earls Court to join in the UK’s biggest celebration of France.
This first Facebook campaign for the event not only delivered over 500 visitors at very low cost, but these were a new audience which other offline and online activity had not reached – therefore as part of an overall strategy, has to be deemed to have been hugely successful and will be key in next year’s strategy, building on the existing user base as a startpoint.
And all for a total Facebook media spend of £1,045!
1. Don’t think it can replace all other channels.
Use it to supplement your strategy. It’s still early days and the CTR is lower than Google Adwords.
2. Don’t dismiss Facebook as just for young audiences.
Take a look for yourself. You’ll be very surprised.
3.Test, test and test your ads again.
Don’t just sit there and wait for it to happen.