Having worked with Facebook for a long time, I’ve had a pretty good idea of where their ad strategy was headed for a while. I understand how Open Graph is really a foundation for improved targeting, and I thought I understood what promoted posts and sponsored stories would mean for brands. However, after a conversation with Jascha Kaykas-Wolff and Brad Cohen at The Oracle Social Summit, I realized that promoted posts may be as much -if not more- for consumers.
In short, if Apple can train kids to buy songs for a dollar why can’t Facebook train kids to drop a buck to reach their friends? As a backdrop there has been research recently that points to the fact that you may only be reaching about 10% of your friends when you post.
Research conducted by Group M Next (a unit devoted to sourcing new technologies) into pages operated by 25 brands finds that the share of Facebook users seeing organic posts from a brand they “like” was down 38% in the five weeks after Sept. 20, from 15.56% (consistent with the average 16% Facebook has often reported) to 9.62%.
While “liking” a brand is not quite the same as a friending someone in your network, I suspect that the stats are comparable. So Facebook is giving kids a paid channel to reach their friends while slowly reducing organic reach. Nice. Were you wondering why folks weren’t engaging with your posts quite as much as they used to? Well promoted posts could be for you … I mean, if you really want your friends to know how cool you are or what you had for dinner.
And there’s an added bonus if you care about your Klout score. I happen to think that what Klout -and Kred for that matter- are up to is very interesting. It’ll be interesting to see how they stay a step ahead of folks who are rolling their own “influence scoring” but that’s an aside. Today, Klout does not factor in that some posts are promoted. Thus, it’s theoretically possible to impact your Klout score with promoted posts. Which means that it’s possible to buy influence.
Now if you’re even a slight bit cynical this won’t be a surprise or even be inconsistent. People buy influence all the time. We did just have an election, remember? With Klout, your posts still have to generate comments and likes and such (my content does that). So, promoted posts get me more comments and likes and such. I suspect that Klout and others will address this as their application evolve. Let’s face it, promoted posts should count though perhaps not quite as much?
Subscribe To Me
Facebook, of course, has a solution for those of us who don’t want to promote posts but who do want to see our friends’ updates. It’s called “subscribing” and it works. Thus, those savvy personal brand builders will encourage their friends to “subscribe” to them on Facebook. Hint hint.
If I weren’t so damn busy, I’d test out my promoted posts theory just for kicks because I’m really curious to see if it works. My colleague Marius Ciortea told me that he might give it a shot. If he does I’ll circle back to share the results. And, if you’ve done it please comment.
Here’s some data on my promoted post for this article:
I recently produced an event for Sprout entitled Building Brands on Social Networks and am writing to share some of the presentations and content from the half-day summit. We had an overwhelming response and ended up with a packed room, which was very exciting. I hope you’ll find value in the assets below.
I also want to put out a big thank you to our presenters and to San Francisco Social Media Week and the San Francisco Chapter of the American Marketing Association for their help getting the word out. And, thanks for Justin.tv who produced the live video feed which is archived below.
Building Brands on Social Networks
Note: the video from the event did not start until part way though this preso, so we’ve added the audio to the slide deck on slideshare.
Alexandre Roche’s presentation
Dog Book: Lessons Learned from the Popular Facebook Application
Deborah Schultz’s presentation
It’s the People Stupid
Kaz Brecher’s presentation
Rock The Space Toyota/MySpace from the Schematic Perspective
Archived video from the event at Justin.tv
This is a repost of an article I wrote for Sprout.
As marketers look for the best ways to build brands on social networks they’ve experimented with a wide range of strategies from friending campaigns to network ad buys, but what efforts are most effective? A recent study by MarketingProfs shows that branded applications top the chart, but are under utilized, with less than a quarter of all respondents having created one. At Sprout, we know from first hand experience that applications are at the heart of the most successful campaigns.
eMarket’s article What’s Working for Social Media Marketers? sums up the research well and identifies branded applications as a rich opportunity area. At Sprout, however, we also understand that getting the most out of a branded applications requires an integrated approach to your overall Facebook experience with fan pages, viral content, and sharing opportunities.
As brands move away from traditional marketing strategies, campaigns are becoming increasingly iterative and conversational in nature, with consumers participating through content generation and sharing. In general, consumers have greater expectations around engagement with brands where they socialize online. At Sprout we work with brands to drive engagement opportunities a key points in the cycle (click to enlarge):
The first stage of the engagement cycle is focused on attracting consumers. For brands that are establishing a presence on social networks, this often means relying on display ads that sit inside and outside of the social networking platform. Sprout helps brands with engaging interactive display ad solutions that include Twitter feeds, RSS feeds, polls and more. Of course, we can make these ads shareable as well to support viral spread.
The next step is to get fans to engage with your brand on the social networking platform by identifying themselves as fans. We create engaging fan page solutions that are social, interactive, and rich. Our fan pages include viral hooks and incentives to encourage fans to share your page with their friends and drive new fan acquisition.
With a fan page in place to serve as the foundation for managing relationships, it’s possible to place rich interactive messages into the stream with our Sprout Publisher tools. For example, some of our clients use this to send out weekly coupons, music releases, or polls. It’s even possible to create applications that are shareable within the news feed, so that your fans can engage and share without leaving their page.
In stream messaging is one tool to drive the initial engagement with branded applications that can include games, quizzes, polls and more. Brands that are still building momentum online may also use ad placements to drive application use. For those brands that have built an extensive fan base, they do not need to rely on ad buys because their fan base is large enough to drive the viral spread of the application experience.
Throughout all the points in the engagement cycle Sprout provides performance metrics to measure the success of ads, fan pages, and applications. Our technology platform allows us to modify all of the above in real time so we can optimize campaign performance based on real time data and take advantage of time sensitive opportunities.
With this cycle in mind, we agree with eMarketer that apps are at the core of successful brand building on social networks, but that in order to take full advantage of their value they must be incorporated into the larger engagement cycle. We believe that this understanding was part of the reason that we were selected to be a Preferred Facebook Developer.
Thanks for reading and we’d love to hear about your experience using applications as part of an integrated strategy.