• Act-On Software
    Act-On Software on January 22, 2015

    The Rules of Engagement on Facebook

    If you want to make your content sharable and searchable on Facebook, you need to have a thorough understanding of Facebook principles and the general rules that apply to content and behavior.
  • The growth of the mobile web has led many business owners to embrace mobile marketing by creating mobile websites and adapting their email marketing campaigns. The growth in mobile has continued for the past year as smartphones and wireless networks become more powerful. A recent study shows that app usage has grown tremendously in 2014.

    The growth of the mobile web has led many business owners to embrace mobile marketing by creating mobile websites and adapting their email marketing campaigns. The growth in mobile has continued for the past year as smartphones and wireless networks become more powerful. A recent study from Flurry Research shows that app usage has grown tremendously in 2014. This article will discuss the research and how small business owners can use it to their advantage.

    The main takeaway from this study is that people are spending more and more of their mobile internet time on apps. According to the data from Flurry Research, overall app usage grew by 76 percent in 2014. The study measured the number of times users opened an app and used it long enough to trigger what the researchers considered to be a “session”. The apps were divided by category, all of which showed improvement in the past year.

    Retail apps were in the group that saw the largest increase. Flurry reported that sessions in shopping apps on iOS and Android increased by a 174 percent year-over-year. The researchers noted that  for iOS, the “Lifestyle” category includes more than shopping. However, on Android devices, the shopping category increased by 220 percent.

    “As our mobile devices become more and more a part of our everyday lives, we are increasingly using them for always-on shopping, working, and communication,” wrote Simon Khalaf on the Flurry blog. “Where years past have seen massive growth in games and entertainment, 2014 was the year apps got down to serious business.”

    Flurry pointed to retail giant Target as an example of the power of mobile. Target stores have said it views “mobile as the new front door to Target”, and that mobile front door is increasingly in-app. Citing research from comScore, they noted that in 2014, 68 percent of the time spent on Target mobile properties was in-app vs. web, up from 21 percent in 2013.

    Mobile also makes it easier to reach consumers on the go and at home. The researchers used a sample of Android devices in the US to plot engagement with Shopping apps by zip code. They were able to estimate the zip code of “Home” versus “Away” by looking at the zip code where the most activity happened in the 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. time frames. Activity outside of this zip code we labeled “Away. Using this method, they saw that Shopping app usage spiked during the commute time of 9 a.m. and lunchtime at noon. Since people can’t (or shouldn’t) be shopping during work hours, mobile shopping app usage spikes again during prime time at 8 p.m.

    What does this rise in mobile app means for small business owners. For one thing, it doesn’t mean that mobile websites are unimportant or that every business should run out to have an app developed.  When someone has a problem with an ecommerce website, it rarely matters what brand or model of computer they’re using. On app, the make, model, operating system, and version of a phone play a huge role in app compatibility and that can make customer service issues involving the app hard to diagnose and fix. Maintaining an app is more challenging than maintaining a website, so a business shouldn’t embark down that path unless they are truly up to the challenge.

    Rather than develop a dedicated app for their business, small business owners should look for ways they can get their business, products or services listed on apps that people already used. The easiest way to do this is by using mobile ads on Facebook. Facebook is the most popular app on Android and iOS and most businesses are already set to use Facebook advertising. The same is true for Amazon or eBay. These selling platforms have popular apps that automatically work with products listed on the platforms’ main sites.

    Business owners should use the increase in mobile app usage to increase the reach of their marketing campaigns and find new ways to engage consumers. By getting products listed on retail apps, or developing an app on their own, marketers can take full advantage of the marketing revolution.

    For more tools that can help mobile marketing efforts, read this article with three recent changes from Facebook that can help mobile marketers.

    Great ideas mean nothing if they stand in a structure that can't support them. To those of us in marketing roles or at agencies, building a channel strategy seems like a piece of cake. Many times, however, these pitches and presentations fall apart because we've overlooked how they're supposed to actually work. Want to make sure your big ideas get buy-in? Build a process strategy that sets everything up for success. Here are a few things to consider along the way.

    At this point, I probably sound like a broken record to my clients and students, but it's true: Great ideas mean nothing if they stand in a structure that can't support them. To those of us in marketing roles or at agencies, building a channel strategy seems like a piece of cake.

    We know platforms like the back of our hands, and can build user personas at the drop of a hat. Many times, however, these pitches and presentations fall apart because we've overlooked how they're supposed to actually work.

    Want to make sure your big ideas get buy-in? Build a process strategy that sets everything up for success. Here are a few things to consider along the way.

    Involve the Stakeholders

    The stakeholder interview is one of the most important steps of strategic design. Talking to key decision-makers in a variety of departments and roles across an organization uncovers things that you may not have thought about, even if you're in-house at the organization itself.

    While part of your interview should focus on the marketing objectives, another part of it needs to address the functional framework that currently exists. In other words, you should leave these interviews with a clear understanding about what your process strategy needs. Helpful things to think about during your discussion:

    • Department structure: Who reports to whom? How does this chain impact the approval your ideas will need, or delay any realtime initiatives?
    • Internal savvy: Do the stakeholders on the front lines have the same knowledge that those behind the scenes have? What gaps exist that will need to be addressed in order for your ideas to make sense to everyone who touches them?
    • Willingness: Everyone is inspired by an edgy marketing campaign. Not everyone is comfortable executing one at the end of the day. Where is the line taht you can't cross? For those in highly regulated industries, what does your legal and compliance team feel comfortable with? Most importantly, how do these boundaries impact how things get done?

    Think About Scale

    Whether your task is to start something from scratch, reinvent an old approach, or build on last year's success, you can't ignore scale. In the case of process strategy, I'm not talking about how your email campaign targeting gets more aggressive YOY or what your content looks like on Facebook; I'm talking about your resources.

    Often times during stakeholder interviews, I'll discover that my clients only focus on marketing as part of their role. If we're just starting out with something, it's easy enough for them to devote part of their attention to it, but if I don't address what happens once my clients reach critical mass as-is, the strategy I've built falls apart. A good, scalable process strategy accounts for:

    • Marketing implications: How will this campaign's success change the customer's expectations of my client/team? 
    • Human assets: Who will we need as marketing efforts become an increased area of focus? Who are the hiring priorities for my client/team? What does that team look like as it grows? Is it even realistic for my client/team to make these hires? If not, how does that impact our efforts?
    • Financial assets: How is the budget we're working with going to scale with success? Are we factoring the costs of hiring the right people to support the ideas into this? What happens if we don't get the money we need?

    Manage Expectations

    Especially on the agency side, we're eager to impress clients with ticket items that go above and beyond the task at hand. For clients who have deep pockets and aren't particularly risk-adverse, this can be a great way to win new business. For everyone else, this can be a process nightmare. It's our job as team members or partners to know when to sell that big idea... and if it's not the right time during the initial strategy conversation, it's important that we lay out what our strategy aims to do. 

    If you leave out that timeline or those projections, I can guarantee your digital team will burn twice as bright, but for half as long. Let the process dictate what you promise - and stick to it. A solid strategy is being measured and optimized regularly, so let the numbers and the resources tell you when to revisit things. Just make sure that when you do, your process can support the changes.

    What does your strategic framework look like? How do you make sure your ideas work? Share your insights in the comments.

    Priced out of Super Bowl advertising, Newcastle Brown Ale creates a digital campaign that draws attention to its brand and capitalizes on the buzz around the Big Game.

    With Super Bowl ads running $4 million a pop for a 30 second spot, only the world’s biggest brands can afford to advertise during the Big Game.

    But a small brand—Newcastle Brown Ale—has found an ingenious way to subvert the process while poking fun some traditional marketing clichés. (It is worth noting however, that Heineken owns the Newcastle brand.) 

    “This is one of the biggest seasons for beer drinkers,” says Newcastle Brand Manager Priscilla Dohnert. “But we can’t afford $4 million, so how can we get people to talk about our beer?”

    Newcastle’s unconventional Super Bowl campaign began last year with the then-theme, “If We Made It.” Working in conjunction with award-winning ad agency Droga5,  the duo created a digital campaign featuring a video ad Anna Kendrick, best known for her roles in  Pitch Perfect, and Up In the Air with George Clooney.

    In the Newcastle ad, Kendrick talks about how she’s not “beer commercial hot,” but is willing to do it for the money, even though “it’s not a beer I even drink”:

    Kendrick goes on to say that when they were just days away from shooting, the company called to say that they didn’t have any money. “Disappointing---because I was really looking forward to the paycheck,” she deadpans.

    In addition to the digital ad, Newcastle created a website called “If We Made It. Com,” that featured storyboards spoofing other brands’ ads, as well as a Twitter handle and Facebook page with the “If We Made It” moniker.

    This year, Newcastle decided that the theme was to get other brands to pitch in on a Super Bowl ad. “Last year, the theme was ‘this is how great our ad could have been if we could afford it.’ This year, we’re going to do whatever we could to get in,” says Dohnert.

    The new social and digital campaign, “Band of Brands” features actress Aubrey Parks, better known for her role as April Ludgate in Parks and Recreation, and plays on the notion of the sharing economy and crowd funding. In the video ad, Plaza strolls though a bucolic countryside replete with an adorable dog and a studly cowboy, (two enduring Super Bowl marketing clichés), and talks about how Newcastle and other smaller brands could afford a Super Bowl spot if they all banded together:

    Part call-to-action and part spoof, the latest Newcastle campaign has been a hit among brands and consumers. “Three hundred and fifty brands from around the world tried to get into the ad,” says Dohnert. “And so far, we’ve had over 4 million views for all of the videos to date, and over a billion PR impressions.”

    And those numbers should climb, given the release this week of the final campaign ad that features 37 brands including Armstrong Flooring, Beanitos Chips, Bounty, Quilted Northern, Lee Jeans, and Jockey in the 60-second spot:

    While the free publicity generated by this clever ad campaign is worth its weight in gold, Dohnert says that it has helped to boost beer sales tremendously for the little-known brown ale.  

    “Obviously we don’t have the numbers in yet for this year, but last year we saw a big increase in retail sales,” she says.  “We’re not only having fun,” she adds,  “But we are also selling more beer. “

    Mastering your Facebook ad targeting strategy gets you in front of very specific and often motivated segments of your audience, on the network where Americans religiously spend an average of 40 minutes of their day. Here are a few ridiculously powerful Facebook ad targeting strategies you probably haven’t heard of.

    You can target audiences on Facebook with a dozen different ad formats and thousands of possible ad targeting parameters. Mastering your Facebook targeting strategy gets you in front of very specific and often motivated segments of your audience, on the network where Americans religiously spend an average of 40 minutes of their day. Here are a few ridiculously powerful Facebook ad targeting strategies you probably haven’t heard of.

    1. Tap Into Recent Purchasing Behavior Among Facebook Users

    Early on, Facebook was criticized by advertising analysts as a fun place to hang out, but a network with little commercial intent or potential for consumer insight. That changed early in 2013 when Facebook forged partnerships with data brokers including Epsilon, Acxiom, and Datalogix.

    These companies have access to trillions of data transactions each year. Acxiom executives have stated that their database alone contains information about 500 million active consumers worldwide, with an average of 1,500 data points per person.

    Suddenly, Facebook knew a whole lot more than whether you spent more time in Farmville or Candy Crush Saga. Getting married soon? Taking medication for hypertension? Love reading murder mysteries? Facebook probably knows.

    This gave advertisers the power to reach out beyond their own CRM databases and tap into insights gleaned from shopper loyalty programs of all kinds and matched to individual user profiles. Facebook advertisers use this data to target audience segments by thousands of different purchasing behaviors.

    Here’s one that I use: People who buy Business Marketing Services (which is relevant to my company, as we sell business software and services).

     Facebook ad targeting purchase behavior

    Purchasing behavior subcategories include Buyer Profiles, Clothing, Food & Drink, Health & Beauty and a lot more. Within each broad subcategory, you can drill down into types of behavior; for example, choosing Buyer Profiles will then let you target DIYers, Fashionistas, Foodies, etc.

    Facebook shows you how many user profiles you can target in each subcategory, based on their aggregated, multi-sourced offline transaction-based data (or in simpler terms, the number of Facebook users in that category they’ve matched to offline purchasing data).

    The options here are limitless. Get in there and explore!

    2. Get Creative With Life Events Targeting

    Certain types of businesses or campaigns are based on selling to people experiencing certain major life events. Funeral homes, for example, obviously want to connect with people who are planning a funeral, terminally ill, or lost/losing a loved one. Moving services want to get in front of you if you’ve just purchased a new house or apartment. Wedding photographers target people who are engaged.

    Facebook has pretty much every conceivable life event targeting option, since we tend to post these to our timelines.

     Facebook ad targeting life events targeting

    The Life Events parameter is unique in that you can choose to target people at specific intervals of time after the change. For example, a jewelry company would obviously be interested in getting in front of people celebrating their one-year anniversary, so they could target audience members who were newlyweds one year ago. The date ranges possible are 3 months, 6 months and one year.

    3. Nurture Leads & Build Loyalty With Facebook Custom Audiences

    Facebook Custom Audiences are an advanced feature that enable you to connect on Facebook with your existing contacts. Getting in front of your existing customers and app users on their favorite social network reinforces your brand, but also gives you the opportunity to increase lifetime customer value, order frequency, and loyalty.

     Facebook ad targeting icon

    This works the other way, too – you can increase the efficacy of your campaigns and avoid wasted clicks by excluding your existing customer list. If you’re offering a free trial to new users, for example, there’s no reason to show it to your loyal customers.

    Custom Audiences are created by uploading your customer phone list, or purchaser/subscriber email list in CSV or TXT format, to Facebook. You can also create a Custom Audience based on your site visitors (and specific pages visited on your site), or on specific actions taken within your game or app.

     Facebook ad targeting create custom audience

    Then target or exclude the whole list, or just specific subsets of it using other targeting parameters to home in on your ideal audience.

    This is crazy powerful! You could target your existing customers who work in a specific job function, make XX amount of money per year, and live in a certain ZIP code with a higher value product offer, if those insights told you these people are more apt to be your affluent customers.

    Or, you could target people who visited your company’s blog with offers to demo your product. They already know your name and were interested enough to visit you, but not to convert. Facebook Ads targeting that Custom Audience can close the gap.

    The number of different demographics points you can target and combine is staggering. Net worth, living arrangements, marital status, parental status, interests, location – it’s all in there, and more.

    4. Expand To A Lookalike Audience

    Lookalike Audiences are a logical next step, once you have a good Custom Audiences strategy in place. Even if you don’t have your own email or phone list, you can mirror your Facebook fan base. Lookalikes allow you to expand beyond your reach but still target people with highly specific profiles, by creating audiences that look like your own targets.

    If you have neither a list nor a big enough Facebook following, you can still create a Lookalike Audience using a tracking pixel to create a Website Custom Audience to mirror.

     Facebook ad targeting create lookalike audience

    Once you’ve decided which audience you want to replicate and expand on, you can make the audience larger (more broad) or smaller (more specific and similar to your original audience). At the most similar level, Facebook is going to find you the top 1 percent of users with similar traits, in your target country. At the opposite level, optimizing for reach, Facebook will display your ads to the 10 percent of users in your target country who are most like your target audience.

    5. Get Super Granular With Layered Targeting Options

    The really powerful thing about Facebook ads is in your ability to layer targeting options on top of one another, gradually making your audience more and more specific. An extreme (and hilarious) example of the power of hypertargeting was featured in AdWeek last year, when a marketing pro targeted his roommate with ads so specific the poor guy thought he was being cyberstalked.

    Yes, you can use combinations of behaviors, demographics, and geolocation data to reduce your audience to as little as one person. Far more useful for you, however, is the ability to match ad creative and offers to smaller audiences created using combinations of data.

     Facebook ad targeting household composition

    Facebook ad targeting net worth


    For example, a moving company promoting a special discount for senior citizens could target people who purchased a house within the last month, layered with an age range of 60 years old or greater and their service area locations.

    Or, a retailer selling baby products meant to soothe and calm a baby could target new parents who have purchased colic medication. Imagine the ability to speak directly to the parent experiencing those sleepless night with such targeted messaging! (As a new parent, I totally get this.) Your messaging can be tailored to speak directly to that problem and offer your solution.

    If you can understand the intent, needs and likelihood to respond of any given audience segment, you can layer Facebook Ads targeting options to tap into it and get in front of them.

    The Best Facebook Ad Targeting Strategy Is Diversified & Comprehensive

    You don’t have to pick just one of the strategies above; check each of them out and see how they might fit your various target market segments.

    Create personas for your ideal customers – who are they? Where do they live? What do they do for work and what do they do after work? What traits and characteristics might they have, and how do those align with the many targeting parameters listed above?

    Identifying just who it is you want to reach will guide you to the best Facebook ad targeting tools and options to get in front of them.


    It is more important to have influence in social media than popularity. You could easily have more visitors than your competitor, but your competitor could be more influential. It is better to receive less traffic if your visitors are regular and more invested. When your visitors are more involved in your site, this increases the likelihood of their making a purchase as you have now earned their trust.

    Are you gaining influence or popularity amongst your user base? Is there a difference and if so, does it matter?

    Far too frequently, brands fall into the trap of thinking that the only thing that matters is the number of visitors they attract, which is not necessarily the case. You could easily have more visitors than your competitor but your competitor could be more influential. How is that possible? Suppose you have a larger number of visitors than your competitor, but most of your traffic is generated by search engines. That is not a bad thing, of course, as it is a significant goal. With that said, if your competitor receives less traffic, but their visitors are regular and more invested, they could easily have more influence.

    It should always be kept in mind that a large number of visitors can sometimes stem from a significant number of one-time visitors. Of course, all visitors begin as first-time visitors, but if a user only visits your landing page and then quickly moves on, never to return, you are not gaining anything from them. You have no real opportunity to build influence with one-time visitors. With regular visitors, you are able to cultivate a true relationship. Over time, those visitors become invested in your brand and truly care about what you have to say. For this reason, it is vital to consider whether your viewership is based more on one-time visitors or on return visitors who are truly invested in what you have to say.

    Measuring Your Influence

    So, if it is more important to have influence with your audience than to be popular, how do you go about measuring influence? While it can admittedly be difficult to measure influence as compared to popularity, there are a few metrics that can guide you in determining your brand's level of influence. Begin by evaluating your number of return visitors as compared to your number of one-time visitors. Drive-by visitors, those visitors who only visit your website once and then move on, do not really count toward your influence score.

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    What You Can Do to Build Influence?

    Ultimately, influence comes down to authority. The more confident a visitor feels about what you have to say, the more likely he or she is to visit again. The more a visitor frequents your social profile or website, the more they will begin to trust your brand. The more trust you are able to establish with that visitor, the more likely he or she is to make a purchase. Sound marketing has always been built on establishing trust between brands and consumers. The only difference today is the way in which brands proceed in building that trust.

    Social media marketing and content marketing are both powerful methods that make it much easier for brands to reach their target customers today. Both also present excellent opportunities for developing the all-important level of influence that drives trust and eventually sales.

    Influencer marketing is currently one of the biggest phenomenons in marketing today. Based on the concept of partnering with brand ambassadors and social content creators, influencer marketing gives you the opportunity to leverage the power of influential leaders on such social networks as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest. TapInfluence reports that brands are now pouring millions of dollars into the influencer marketing industry. While a brand endorser or social media influencer could easily be a celebrity, an increasing number of brands are now focusing on tapping into the influence held by everyday consumers, as well. This can prove to be particularly important when it comes to "mommy" bloggers who can often have a significant impact. They make blog from their kitchen table or living room sofa, but do not discount the influence that many of these bloggers can have.

    The Benefits of Influencer Marketing

    Bringing a brand advocate onboard can provide a great number of benefits, including the ability to humanize your product or service. E-commerce is great, but consumers can sometimes feel as though they are making a purchase from a faceless entity. A recommendation from an influential blogger or social media leader can help to change that. As brand advocates support your products or services across their blog or social media page, they are actually affirming your brand's value and helping to build trust.

    Of course, as the old cliché goes, there is no free lunch. Brand advocates do not typically endorse products or services without any expectation of remuneration. How you elect to compensate a brand advocate may often depend upon the size of their audience, but the most common methods include a discount, free gift, or a voucher.

    Not sure how to go about attracting prospective brand advocates? This can depend based on the social media platform you are targeting, but in most instances, it is important to begin by finding potential influencers and then following them first. Engage them by liking and commenting on their posts. Sharing and re-tweeting the content from influencers can help, as well.

    This type of marketing can also have a trickledown effect as your loyal customers share the word about your brand. In the old days, we often referred to this as word-of-mouth marketing. While generations past might have recommended products to their families and neighbors while chatting over coffee, today's consumers do so through social media. In order to take advantage of today's digital form of word-of-mouth-marketing, it is important to make sure that all of your content and even your product pages are as shareable as possible. Do not overlook the opportunity to include sharing icons for all major platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.

    Both popularity and influence have their place in today's world of marketing. The key is to make certain that you do no confuse the two. By tapping into the power of influential advocates and learning how to build your brand's own level of influence, you can ensure you stay ahead of the competition. 

    influence / shutterstock