Frank Speiser has a guest blog post on the value of social advertising @Forbes.com.
Facebook has a growing universe of 950 million users, nearly 500 million of them active every day. But what if only a few of those people are willing to engage with your business? If you are in charge of your company’s social media strategy, shouldn’t this be keeping you awake at night?
Creating a page for Billy’s Crunchy granola and looking for “likes” is not going to leapfrog your brand into prominence. Your use of Facebook has to be about relevance to the audience, not just numbers. You need to understand what grabs their attention and gets them talking. Where does momentum really lie?
Facebook is the largest communication and discovery network in the history of humankind, but the company has been getting a lot of attention from investors and the press over concernes about their monetization strategy. Tried and true measurement methodologies are coming up short when applied to Facebook – and that’s led to a perception problem about what Facebook is and is not for marketers.
Instead of adjusting measurement models and marketing strategies to account for a new paradigm, many of today’s marketers are trying to cram their current opportunity for success into old school means of measurement. Social media is many things but it is clearly not all things.
Social media is not TV or radio.
Old school television viewing – and the ads you watched – used to be the anchor of branding campaigns. That model has been turned on its head. Facebook, Twitter and other channels are not at their essence ad networks. They are better conduits for responsiveness and can be measured with a greater level of precision. Social media offers marketers the ability to access real-time data about their audiences and make smart, data-informed decisions. Because of this, businesses and brands can build and measure trust by being relevant at the very moment it matters. What does trust really mean?
In the social marketing sense it should be defined by an increased ability to yield engagement from your target audience with each successive attempt to reach that audience.
Social media is not Google search
Search as a measure of success on social media channels is also a misnomer, especially if you are trying to measure with the accepted metrics of a search engine. When someone searches for a particular item, marketers can advertise next to the relevant results. There is very little competition for the user’s attention within Google’s search funnel, and that is by design. It would be hopelessly boring to hang out and browse search results for any length of time.
In stark contrast to a model where attention is focused, the Facebook paradigm offers a never-ending stream of chances to switch attention. Everything in the newsfeed, from posts to shared news articles to pictures, is an offer to change what you’re currently doing and engage with something else that captures your attention. Advertising on Facebook requires marketers to use an entirely different set of metrics to determine when and how to get a message across. But luckily the vast amount of data available makes this kind of real-time targeting not only possible, but also incredibly precise.
Social Media marketing is engagement marketing, not reach marketing: It’s about value, not volume
Above all else, social media requires you to build relationships of trust. Audiences on social sites tell you what they care about right now, which offers a way to predict what they will care about in the near term. When the Associated Press gives us news we care about, they become a trusted news source. If you are timely and topical, your brand or businesses will win the trust of the audience.
Once trust has been earned, an audience will be open and receptive to a wider range of engagement opportunities, including commerce and brand awareness. Marketers must keep this in mind – it is the bedrock to ongoing consumer relationships.
If you’re doing it right, you should be able to see the number of clicks, shares, likes and comments increasing in the minutes after you post. Increasing velocity in those success metrics is your best view into the trust you are building with your network. The goal should be to directionally improve these with each strategy you employ. Recognizing that the goal has shifted from total eyeballs to total trust is necessary in order for marketers to understand and fully unlock the value of this channel.
Connections with a brand don’t need to be human – we don’t want to see our laundry detergent’s vacation pictures – but they do need to mean something. When someone is in the market for your product or service, your ability to be timely and trustful could be the deciding factor when it comes to winning business from the consumer. Do this again and again and again, and the compounding returns of trust will shape the future of how all of your marketing is measured.
Facebook represents a huge opportunity to tap into an unprecedented aggregation of human interaction. Success should not be measured by how many people you can reach, but by the depth and longevity of the relationships you build. There is a way to get it right – by paying attention to data, discipline and the way your customers wish to engage. Marketers have an opportunity to reach nearly a billion people. Since nearly everyone with a wallet and a bank account is now on Facebook, your potential customer is out there. Now you only need them to pay attention.