Word of mouth has always been one of the most powerful selling formats. Social media then amplified its effect, as people’s networks spread from the refines of geography to global interpersonal networks built on shared social connections and, increasingly, interests. What Paid Organic does is give companies the ability to amplify and repeat the exposure of word of mouth in a way that’s A) controllable and B) traceable.
Facebook was never going to be able to compete with Google on direct response advertisements like AdWords. When someone’s searching for something, they’re more than likely already aware of what it is they’re searching for. Where Facebook has the upper hand is that they can take advantage of, and amplify, the natural curiosity someone has when they see a friends actions. Sponsored Stories increase the likelihood of more friends’ interacting with a brands activity, and as such increasing the effect of this curiosity.
To make the most of Sponsored Stories, don’t try to hyper target ads like you would when using Facebooks direct response or Google AdWords units. Increase the chance of serendipitous discovery by adding in extra layers of random targeting, or by capitalising on the effect of homophily (think “birds of a feather flock together”) by running a campaign that solely focuses on friends of fans targeting without any additional interests/demographic segmentation. By trying to run Sponsored Story campaigns with demographic/interest based targeting you end up overexposing them with something they may not be interested in, leading to increased CPCs and much more negative responses.
The Internet often doesn’t care for the details, so in summary:
- Run a Sponsored Story campaign that targets only based on friends of current fans
- Optimise towards engagement, not network size. This is made all the more easier with Facebook’s now including actions other than connections in their analytics
- Make users aware that their name and information may be used alongside advertisements for your brands. They’ve already accepted Facebook’s Terms of Service, but offer them the knowledge out of the respect that they’re going to help you capitalise on their identity
The Internet is crying out for a medium that allows brands to build themselves online. Display is often heralded it’s branding capabilities, but let me ask you this one question, can you name one great brand built on display advertising? They don’t even offer a click-through rate anything like what you’d achieve using Google AdWords.
My advice? Move your money to social. With macro factors like the cookie law taking effect, you’ll see and even smaller effect of display advertising in the future. Show me one more online environment where prestigious brands like Burberry and Nike are happy to have their name proceeded by that of another, just as they do with Facebook.com/Nike and Facebook.com/Burberry, and to even include this on further marketing, I’ll eat my hat.