Sunday, December 21, 2014

Is Facebook becoming a dead-zone for brands?

The news about Facebook lately has been pretty grim. The Wall St. Journal recently ran a piece on how smaller brands are seeing sales generated from Facebook in “the lower digits” even on pages with tons of “likes”, and Facebook recently announced that starting January 1 our newsfeeds will see even less of “promotional posts” which include:

  • Posts that solely push people to buy a product or install an app
  • Posts that push people to enter promotions and sweepstakes with no real context
  • Posts that reuse the exact same content from ads

Here’s an example.

facebook ad

Too pushy? What if I LIKE watching Gary the tiger? Ol’ Gary is going to see a “a significant decrease in distribution” unless he cleans up his act. Even if you have opted in for news from that page you won’t see organic or paid ads for them as often in your newsfeed.

Even brands with deep pockets are feeling the pinch. Ogilvy reported earlier this year that pages with over 500,000 likes are seeing engagement rates plummet to just 2% and that rate is falling by .5% per month. . The Wall St. Journal post focused mostly on small businesses, and they will certainly be hardest hit by the push towards ads because of three factors:

  • Lack of resources to create effective ads and optimize them for clicks so you ads convert to the goals you’ve set for your campaign. You need to do the homework to optimize and target your ads effectively. You also need to do a lot of testing, trying multiple ads to see what the formula is for your particular user base and your own goals. This can be challenging for a small business to manage.
  • Cost: We see Facebook ads with a typical CPE (Cost Per Engagement) of between $0.29 and $0.65 on the brands we manage. But cost per engagement is defined by Facebook as “The average cost per action related to your Page’s posts as a result of your ad.”. Geez, what does that even mean? Well, what it means is any action taken. Liking, viewing, sharing, commenting and link clicks are all ways to engage with the post.It depends on your goals whether this is useful to you or not.In most cases brands are more interested in cost-per-click and cost-per-lead or cost-per-conversion metrics or developing discussion on their page, so these are the metrics you need to be able to generate.

OK, so we should pay for ads anyway right? Many argue that it’s ridiculous to expect to get a free ride on any online service and I support that. But you can’t tell us it’s all about community and engagement and then stick it to us on organic reach!

On the surface, yes. But when you read numerous reports of click-farm fraud you might want to think again. Click farms are basically sites where people are paid to click the “like” button on a post or page. They often don’t even see or care what the page is about so these users are not engaged on your page and while it is tempting to “up your numbers” it results in a lower engagement ratio and so you show up in newsfeeds LESS. Here’s a great example of how promoting a page through Facebook worked for one brand.

So, what to do?

Facebook recently announced the addition of Facebook Search. Something that on the surface may help businesses be found. IF you search for products on Facebook. Frankly though that’s not the norm for Facebook users. Generally they search for friends and brands they’ve encountered offline to look for deals or special offers at check in. Some serious re-training will need to happen for consumers to start thinking about searching for products and services.

The other option is the most obvious. Use Facebook as just another social media network in your toolbox but not as the be-all end-all of your marketing campaign. Sure, you can promote posts from time to time to appease the Facebook gods, but even promoted posts have a questionable return.

In the end Facebook has to make money and they look at every avenue to do that. I suggest you take a long hard look at how useful this network really is to your brand. Are you getting REAL engagement? Comments and traffic to your website? Sales? Word of mouth? Customer Service? A virtual focus group for product development?

If not you may consider spreading the love a bit more on other networks and on your website. You own your website and no-one can direct how you carry on conversations there. Every brands needs are different of course, and if you need help evaluating how your brand is using social media as part of your marketing strategy let me know. I’m happy to do an audit help brainstorm your best options to meet your goals.

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content calendarContent calendars can be an excellent tool to plot out your social outreach strategy for creating and sharing content over time. The calendar may include links to existing resources like e-books and white-papers, videos and other downloads. These are easily scheduled in a content calendar and that allows you to see the story you are weaving over a period of time and also step back and see where there are opportunities to create more information or to curate relevant content from other sources.

All good right? Yes and no. It may be tempting to fill in the calendar with all the marketing info you possibly can and call it a day. Schedule it in Sprout Social or Hootsuite and you’re done. Awesome. NOT.

Write this down and put it on your monitor. 75% of the content you share every day should be about your network and their interests, not about you. This content may be curated from relevant news stories, breakthroughs in the industry you are related to, regulatory issues or re-shares to support the people within your networks. The remaining 25% can be about you, though it still should be useful and valuable information not canned marketing speak, and that 25% can certainly be planned out in a content calendar!

What does a content calendar look like?
It varies a lot sometimes it’s a shared Google spreadsheet or a literal calendar on a whiteboard. It’s good if it is in a format that can be shared with your entire team. This makes it easy for people to edit and add their own ideas and plan ahead. Here’s a good tutorial on creating a content calendar and a free template to boot.

Once you get some items in your content calendar step back and take a look. It should give you ideas to look for the other 75% of content through searches, curation tools like Scoop.it or Feedly, and keyword alerts with apps like Mention and Buzzsumo.

Bottom line? Content calendars  aren’t a shortcut to social media engagement. They’re a planning tool that can help you get a better big picture of your messaging and the time to engage with your network and support and add value to it in real-time.

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Facebook Business ManagerFacebook is making it much easier for agencies like ours to manage business pages and ads with Facebook Business Manager. You may have gotten some emails from the third party apps you use for ad creation, sweepstakes and custom tabs on your page. These are what Facebook calls “Grey accounts” These are accounts where you are using a 3rd party application to manage your ads, known as “shared logins”. You’ll need to enable these accounts through your business manager directly. More on that below.

Here are the highlights of Facebook Business Manager:
Only one person in your organization will be the admin for your business manager account. If that’s you, log in to Facebook with your personal Facebook details, answer a few questions and read the terms of service before you accept. You’ll select one of the pages you manage to be the primary page. If you don’t have a business page for your own business to make the primary page you’ll want to set one up before you dig in.

When you’ve got it set up you’ll see all the pages you manage in one place as well as the power editor and a list of “projects”. Projects help you organize your pages and ads and assign people on your team to manage them. Finally an easy way to add a manager to a Facebook page or ads without having to connect on Facebook personally.

Another nice feature, you can select a group of pages and assign them all to one person on your team with one click. You can also easily change the roles of people  through the “People” tab in the business manager dashboard.

Screen Shot 2014-10-02 at 9.44.50 AMGoing forward anyone with access to the management tab of your facebook page will see an alert like this one, letting them know who to go to to make changes to roles etc. for the page. This makes it easy for you to jump into business manager right from the Facebook page. If you are an agency, give your clients a heads-up this is changing so there are no surprises.

Here are the various roles you can assign:

Business Manager:

  • Business Admin: Can manage all aspects of the business settings, including modifying or deleting the account and adding or removing people.
  • Business Employee: Can see all of the information in the business settings but can’t make any changes.

Ad Accounts:

  • Ad Account Admin: Can manage all aspects of campaigns, reporting, billing and account permissions, and can set ad account spending limits. Ad account admins can also associate business payment methods.
  • Ad Account Advertiser: Can see and edit ads and set up ads using the payment method associated with the ad account.
  • Ad Account Analyst: Can see ad performance.

Pages:

  • Page Admin: Can manage Page roles, send messages and post as the Page, create ads, and view insights.
  • Page Editor: Can edit the Page, send messages and post as the Page, create ads, and view insights.
  • Page Moderator: Can respond to and delete comments on the Page, send messages as the Page, create ads, and view insights.
  • Page moderators can’t post as the Page.
  • Page Advertiser: Can create ads for the Page and view insights. Page advertisers can’t post as the Page.
  • Page Analyst: Can view insights. Page analysts can’t post as the Page.

Adding pages is easy, you just click add page in the manager dashboard if you own the page and are an admin of it, just click “Claim a Page fro Business Manager”. However, if you use the page on behalf of another company you may need to request access to the page. Within the admin panel you can easily see what agencies and people have access to your page and at what level.

Business manager and ads
I’m really excited about this. Now we can see an overview of the spend and reach for a specific ad account all in one place in the business manager. This is a huge improvement over the previous methods. You still can’t drill down to specific campaign data, but we hope that too is coming soon in an update.

Payment options are easier to set up in the business manager too. You can now add more than one payment method on file for your business account to suit the needs of your clients. Each payment method is associated with an ad account so you can have alternative payment options for different clients. Only the admin can make changes here or access the credit info so your data is safe.

What about “Grey Accounts”?
Managing Grey accounts is simple. Go into the business manager and click Shared Logins and then add shared logins for each of the applications to give these businesses permission to assign roles to work on any of the shared assets on your accounts.

Bottom line?
Overall this is a nice step for Facebook to make it easier for agencies or companies with multiple pages to manage them more easily and efficiently.

 

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How social media is like spaghetti sauce

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If you don’t remember anything else I’ve ever told you about social business, remember this: ALL business is social. Even if you aren’t using social media–other people are–and they talk. Oh how they do talk. Let’s take a lesson from the Union Street Guest House, a hotel in Hudson, NY who recently made the news [...]

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What whitewater rafting taught me about social business

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Yes, that’s me in the raft on the left with the huge grin heading into “Troublemaker” rapids. We just got back from a two day trip rafting the American River and it was awesome. What’s that got to do with social business? Not a lot really, just this one thing. Unplugging is good for our [...]

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