Stephen Croome is the founder of FirstConversion.com, helping companies make money from social advertising. He values academic knowledge married with years of experience and expertise, and holds a Masters degree in Social Media - awarded with Distinction.
Stephen brings first hand experience and theoretical knowledge to social advertising, helping companies to show its positive impact on their bottom line.
In this guest post Stephen shares some of his experiences from advertising on Facebook. He talks specifically about Facebook advertising from a startup perspective, which is something he has deep experience from.
He also points out a few common mistakes that most companies make, and teaches you how to avoid them.
Connect with Stephen on Twitter: @firstconversion
Hi. Stephen here. I'm going to run through what startups need to know about Facebook advertising. That's me if you want to put a face to the voice. I have a Master's degree in social media, many years of digital marketing experience and I run a social advertising agency. But more to the point for startups is I used to work for Mendelay and Trial Reach, two London
Mendelay's in science, recently sold to Elsevier for 100 million. Very nice. But the most important thing is I quite often go to Silicon Milk Roundabout which is a London institution. It's a job fair that puts people who want jobs in startups together with all the startups looking for people
and in the last one I went around and I asked all the startups, are you using Facebook advertising? I had a pretty mind blowing response from quite a few of them because the response was, 'Well we did Facebook advertising and it didn't work for us so we stopped it.'
Most of these companies have products and services that are perfect for social media distribution so it's really amazing to see these very clever people try this platform, fail and then just go somewhere else. So what I'm going to talk about is kind of a few things that startups might possibly run into that create problems with Facebook advertising and show you a few
examples of how to use Facebook in a positive way.
You can win with Facebook advertising if you really look after these four things. You talk to your audience about a story or a USP or an angle that they care about inside of distribution and sharing framework. We'll get into that in a bit. Let's look at this advert against those four points. I
got shown this on Facebook so the first thing is it takes you awhile to figure out what it actually is but it's for a fertility show. I'm a guy. I'm not married. I'm unlikely to be having children any time soon, let alone having problems with fertility so really they have targeting the
wrong audience. They have no real story.
You can see the first line is, 'Do you live near London,' which makes no sense to me at all. There's no reason within this to actually share this on anywhere and you can see that as they've got the heading and the subtext incorrect they don't really understand Facebook yet. They don't really understand how to get effective advertising onto Facebook let alone the strategies and techniques for being effective with it.
Here's a great example from Paypal that shows you even the big companies get it wrong. Again, an ad that was meant to be targeted to women but that came through to me as well. Very easy fix, just don’t target guys. But more than that you can see that they're just going for a big brand play. Like three times they repeat their brand instead of actually getting to the USP or why I care about whatever they were trying to get me to do. I'm not really shopping for clothes while I'm on Facebook and I certainly wouldn't just magically want to go and set up a Paypal account for it.
The strategy, the story there is incorrect. No matter, even though they got the audience wrong. Even if they were talking to women it's a very strange story. There's still no reason to share. There's no reason for me to go on and tell anybody else about this. You can see Morrisons who are a big UK supermarket chain trying to ride on the back of Halloween so there is some audience but there's still no story and no reason to share this.
There's something I see a lot when just about anybody starts doing Facebook advertising and I think there's a key mistake that clever people, especially with a startup iterative mentality make this mistake a lot. There's a real fake learning curve that catches people. There's a learning curve when you become competent with the mechanic of getting Facebook ads running. You can get something up and running but the real learning curve comes if you have a very set method of testing your ads toward specific Facebook audiences, specific segments.
What happens quite often, especially in the startup mindset is you try something, it doesn't work, you abandon, you go on to the next thing. If you don't go through the testing phase and the measurement phase of a Facebook ads you're never going to get it right. The real learnings and the real light bulb moments come after you have a process of testing over time.
There's a big difference between Google ads and Facebook ads so people take what we're doing on Google - answering people's questions - and then they just apply that directly to Facebook and that just does not work. Google visitors are like a stream of visitors to you so on day one you could have somebody putting in the question, buy yellow shoes and six months later somebody else will put in the question, buy yellow shoes. That's just a constant stream of people asking you the same question.
That's very different from Facebook. What you have are pools or segments of people and over time those segments will change so you'll be speaking to one type of people at the start of a campaign. You'll use up that segment or that pool and you'll move on to another segment or another pool of people who have different interests or who like different things on Facebook. You'll need to talk in different ways to each of them.
What this really means is you can compare your Google ads over time very easily so you start with and ad on day one and six months later you've iterated and improved that ad and you get this nice improvement in whatever you care about, whether it's click through rate, conversion rate, shares. The ad you've got at the end of your six months can be very easily compared to the ad you started with. You see a nice upward trend. That means you've improved what you've done and that's very easy to do because the variable is the ad. The people who are coming have a very constant question, buy yellow shoes, for example. You just iteratively improve your advert.
You can't do the same thing with Facebook ads because you really, over a six months campaign, you'll speak to a lot of different segments. So let's say in this case you are Adidas and you've come out with a new shoe and if you look on the left-hand side, that big blue line would be people who like Adidas on Facebook. You talk to them and you use up that segment very quickly. People buy but by week two or three, the people who wanted to buy have bought and now nobody wants to. You need to move on to another segment so maybe move on to the red segment which is people that like Nike on Facebook. They convert relatively well and then they tail off.
Then you're going to, let's say anybody that likes skate shoes and then the next segment is anybody that liked any fashion brand and once you run through that you'll be, anybody that likes hip hop music. You'll see for each of those segments some have a propensity to convert much more than others and you will be having to have a different discussion with each segment so you'll have different ad texts. You'll have different conversation pieces.
What happens, you get this ad at the end of six months that is much better than the ad you started with but it's much more difficult to just look at the raw numbers and say, 'My six month later ad is much better than my first month ad,' because you were probably, in six months time be talking to a segment of people that doesn't convert as well as the segment you started with so you need to take into account that on Facebook you have variables in the people who are seeing your ads as well as the ads themselves being a variable as you iteratively improve them.
Here's how you win. The winning on Facebook, and on any social media platform, comes when you abandon the Google way of advertising, the one to one advert and you unlock one to many advertising. The tricky thing with Facebook is you can do lots of one to one advertising on Facebook but that's not where the value of a social media channel lies. The value of Facebook and the value of social media lies in being able to unlock this one to many relationship for your advertising or your message or your USP.
Here's a great example of it. We have SMX on the left-hand side. They're showing me a marketing ad and this is an ad that runs on the right-hand side of Facebook and there are loads of ads there. Basically this is the one to one ad. They show me the ad. I click on it. They pay a dollar. I see their webpage and I sign up to go to the conference or not. Each ad, each click they pay for one interaction.
On the right-hand side you've got Red Bull because they really know their audience. They know what's going to resonate. It's an amazing picture that's going to really resonate with the Red Bull audience and you can see over ten and a half thousand people have liked that image. 363 people have taken that image and shared it onto their own Facebook pages and then all their friends get to see this Red Bull image as well as there being 61 comments on the actual post. That, it is quite a simple picture, has allowed Red Bull to do something which once it gets shared and comments on unlocks that one to many relationship. You do one thing and many people see it and that is the value of social media and that's really the value of Facebook.
If all you're doing is this one to one marketing like SMX is doing here it is very, that is exactly what a lot of companies, that's all that they get to. They do that. It doesn't work for them. The ROI doesn't work and then they abandon Facebook or the platform. It's the companies that move over to doing what Red Bull's doing, are doing this creative stuff that really talks to their audience and that they can then as a company, they can say, 'Well maybe we'll put some money behind promoting this because we know it works.' That's where the money should go. Those are two different ways of using Facebook advertising and really, if you're a startup and you have a limited budget what you really need to do is enable one to many advertising
as soon as you can.
Here's a great example of a company that missed it. This is Portent, a marketing company I really like based in the States and they were playing around with Twitter at the time the U.S. government shut down and they were scraping Twitter and they gathered their data and they found that most Twitter users thought the Republicans were to blame for the shut down. They posted that on their website and it got a decent number of Facebook likes and tweets and Google Plus shares and LinkedIn shares.
They got this great feedback on this piece of content, that people were finding it topical, timely and interesting and they were sharing it. That's the kind of content you want to take and you want to put on Facebook. When they put it on Facebook not really much happened but you know this is something that people were sharing and would be keen to share. That's when you need a bit of paid advertising on Facebook. It provides the catalyst for this sharing and you get a real outsize return for your marketing budget because you have a piece of content that's doing all the heavy lifting. You just need a bit of distribution and then once people start sharing that content that's when you really win.
I hope you found that useful. Leave a comment below or get a hold of me @FirstConversion on Twitter. Cheers.