• Act-On Software
    Act-On Software on November 17, 2014

    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.
  • As content marketers, our goal is to authentically connect and engage with consumers. By trying to set the trends, are we manufacturing experiences? Shouldn’t we be letting our online audiences organically set trends themselves? It’s our job to monitor their experiences with our products, with other products, and then use that to create better, more relevant experiences for them, not us.

    Time Magazine recently published an article about Pantone unveiling its new Color of the Year for 2015. Author Tynan Sinks claims boredom over the manufactured trend, arguing that anything truly trendy, happens organically:

    People see something, respond to it, and incorporate it into their own lives. Like, I don’t know,dark lipsticks, messy fishtail braids, or literally anything on Pinterest. All of that caught on because that stuff is cute. No one just decided on those certain things and handed them down to us.

    It got me thinking. As content marketers, our goal is to authentically connect and engage with consumers. By trying to set the trends, are we manufacturing experiences? Shouldn’t we be letting our online audiences organically set trends themselves? It’s our job to monitor their experiences with our products, with other products, and then use that to create better, more relevant experiences for them, not us. Otherwise, it feels a bit lazy. Impersonal, even.

    With that in mind, here are the most basic steps you can take to help you organically follow / piggyback off trends that may already be bubbling under the surface. It’s as simple as:

    Listening – There’s no better way to understand your target audience than by simply listening to the audience you already have. Open up the floor for them to communicate what they’ve been doing, how they’ve been using your product, and what they’d like to see from you in the future. Considering them members of your product development team will create an organic flow of everlasting feedback. Things you can do:

    • Surveys

    • Email nurturing campaigns

    • Focus groups

    • Questionnaires

    • FAQ page response monitoring

    Watching – What are your audiences doing online? Where are they spending time, who are they socializing with, why, and what about? Imagine all of the places they visited to learn more about your brand: your website, your social accounts, review sites, etc; searching for answers to the same questions. Take the same amount of time they’ve invested in learning about you, and invest it back in them. Places you can frequent:

    • Twitter

    • Google+

    • Pinterest

    • Quora

    • LinkedIn Groups

    Responding – Once you’ve done your listening, take that information and create personas. This will allow you to better monitor for those specific bubbling conversations that can be turned into action plans for a better product or service. Each place you frequent will house analytics for user demographics, locations, and even the interests of your audiences. Segment your audiences based on that data, and then you’ll truly be able to recognize and respond to the dialogue taking place within each group.

    According to Pantone, Marsala is the color you’ll be seeing at all of this year’s holiday parties and beyond. And while Pantone won’t be profiting from the purchases of those dresses, the buzz certainly doesn’t hurt. But for the rest of us, when it comes to driving business forward, we need to focus less on trying to set the trends and more on getting ahead of the curve of what our audiences are already talking about, wishing for, and interacting with. All you have to do is keep your finger on the pulse.

    Just like fishing tactics in real life, the better marketers understand the Facebook advertising environment and system, the better the results of future campaigns. Here are four advanced targeting tactics business owners and marketers can use to improve their Facebook ad campaigns.

    With more than 1.35 billion users around the world, there’s a good chance that the target audience for any business can be found on the social network. That’s great in principle, but in reality, it’s about as helpful as saying, “There are fish in the ocean.” Marketers need to know how to fish for their target audiences when using Facebook to promote content, events, sales and more.

    Fortunately for marketers, Facebook makes it easy for page administrators to find and target specific audiences once they start using paid content. However, the system is more complex and robust than people realize. And just like fishing tactics in real life, the better marketers understand the Facebook advertising environment and system, the better the results of future campaigns. Here are four advanced targeting tactics business owners and marketers can use to improve their Facebook ad campaigns.

    1. Include Your Major Competitors as an Interest Target
      This first tip is a simple way for marketers to chip away at their competitors market share by peeling away a few customers with enticing Facebook ads. When selecting interests to target in the ad creation menu, just include the names of large competitors or national brands. For example, if a business is trying to sell supplements, they can target fans of national chains such as GNC or The Vitamin Shoppe. Many of these fans will be loyal to the brand, but most consumers won’t ignore a good price or a product with better features if they see it in an ad.

    2. If You Have the Data, Use Custom Audiences
      When trying to calm down privacy advocates, Facebook often emphasizes the fact that marketers can’t target specific people with Facebook ads, but that isn’t entirely true. Facebook allows marketers to create custom audiences which includes creating audiences based on email mailing lists. In practical terms, this means that if a company has an opt-in email list, they can import that data into Facebook. If any of those email addresses is being used to login to Facebook, the logged-in user would see the marketers ad. So while it’s not guaranteed that a particular person from that group would see the ad, it’s still a lot more targeted than many realize. At any rate, marketers can take advantage of this to integrate their email marketing and social media marketing campaigns. This can be very beneficial. A study from earlier this year found that when consumers saw the message on Facebook and via email, the response rate increased by 22 percent. However, when using data in this way, business owners need to be careful. For example, it would be wise to include a line in the privacy policy that states the marketer may use their email address in such a way, or at least make sure there’s nothing in the policy that says you wouldn’t do it.

    3. Use Behavior Options to Zero In Likely Engagers
      Because of the nature of the platform, Facebook is very good at identifying people’s interests, but less good at identifying their behavior patterns. To fix this shortcoming, Facebook gets a trove of behavior data from their 3rd party partners, which marketers can use to cast their bait where the fish are biting. For example, clothing retailers can’t target users based on the type of clothes they buy. Similarly, realtors can find people who are plan on moving soon and travel agents can find users who are frequent flyers. For any goal of a marketing campaign, there is a behavior that correlates to it that marketers can include in their targeting. There are some limitations to the effectiveness and accuracy of the behavior data, but it’s definitely something marketers should try for some of their ad sets.

    4. Targeting By Location
      Facebook has several options for targeting users by location. These features are essential for local marketers. The simplest way to include location in targeting is to select a particular city or state for the ad to run in. This is targeted enough for most marketers, but Facebook has made the system even better by introducing Local Awareness Ads earlier this year. These ads can be targeted with a specific radius around an address. This feature is still being rolled out, but once available, a marketer can use it send ads to people when they are in a location to take advantage of the deal. This makes Facebook a valuable tool for increasing foot traffic to local stores, boutiques or restaurants.

    Facebook may be a vast sea of people, but that doesn’t mean that marketers need to search the waters blindly. Using these advanced tips for targeting audiences makes it possible to get ads in front of the right people. And when the right people, see the right message, at the right time, then advertising is usually effective in that situation. Use these advanced tactics when targeting audiences on Facebook, and you can land the big fish.

    For more news on changes and updates on Facebook, read this article about changes to the Facebook Terms of Service and Privacy Policies that go into effect in a couple of weeks.

    Your marketing database is a veritable treasure trove of actionable insights – if you are willing to work hard with your data. Mining for gold is a filthy business, but the returns can be massive.

    Here we look at five reasons why your business should be investing time and effort in mining your marketing database. Your marketing database is a veritable treasure trove of actionable insights – if you are willing to work hard with your data. Mining for gold is a filthy business, but the returns can be massive. Here we look at five reasons why your business should be investing time and effort in mining your marketing database.

     

    1. Upsell opportunities

    Deep analysis of your data allows you to identify new opportunities using the information you already have. Customers who have previously bought product A, may well be interested in product B, which provides additional functionality. Your existing customers are also your most valuable, so it makes good business sense to prioritise them with value-added offers to generate additional revenue. 

    “75% of consumers say they have spent more with a company because of a history of positive customer service experiences.” Global Customer Service Barometer Report - American Express 2012.

    2. Poach from your competition

    Not all marketing data has to be stored in your system for instance. Proactive monitoring of open social channels will identify potential leads who have reached out to your competitors. You can use this information to create specially targeted offers, such as personalised discount vouchers, as a way of enticing buyers to consider your brand.

    "Nearly 15% of organisations don’t know what percentage of requests originate in the social sphere as they aren’t programmatically monitoring or engaging in support conversations on social." – Social Media and Customer Service: From Listening to Engagement – Aberdeen Group.

    3. Build a community of brand advocates

    Even in the digital age, word-of-mouth referrals are both powerful and effective. Cross-referencing market data with social sources will help you identify customers who have expressed positive sentiments towards your brand. This information can then be used to build a loyalty club, provide early product access opportunities or other experiences that encourage further engagement with your brand.

    “Marketing-induced consumer-to-consumer word of mouth generates more than 2X the sales of paid advertising.” – McKinsey Research.

    “Customers referred by other customers have a 37% higher retention rate.” – Deloitte.

    4. Create new product innovations

    The people who use your products and services are also those most likely to identify shortcomings or potential enhancements. Whether you use your contact data to follow customers up with surveys, or you simply monitor online sentiment, there will always be new input available that can be fed back to your product development team. At the very least, you should be able to carry out the earliest stages of market research using this information. Admittedly this isn’t a direct sales technique, but developing new products that have been crafted to specific customer needs is a powerful USP.

    5. Deliver improved support

    Using what you know about your customers to provide exceptional support and services is an excellent way to create brand loyalty. Again, this is not necessarily a sales tactic, but it has been shown to boost revenue.

    “55% of consumers would pay more for a better customer experience.” – Defaqto Research.

    Knowing what your customers want and delivering it is a sure fire route to success.

    Takeaways:

    So is it worth investing in further data analysis? Absolutely! You can:

    • Up-sell and cross-sell existing customers with relative ease.
    • You can target buyers who may be headed towards your competitors’ offerings.
    • You can build a community of brand advocates to spread your message for you.
    • You can improve your product and service offerings.
    • You can create an exceptional customer experience, raising revenue in the process.
    The success of Facebook’s new search function depends entirely on how well users respond to the perceived benefits of the feature vs. its potential creep factor. When Facebook first announced the new search tool, people were quick to point out its potential to unearth old and embarrassing posts, and make Facebook stalking that much easier. From a Facebook user’s point of view, will the usefulness of this feature really outweigh its potential for embarrassment?

    The success of Facebook’s new search function depends entirely on how well users respond to the perceived benefits of the feature vs. its potential creep factor. When Facebook first announced the new search tool, people were quick to point out its potential to unearth old and embarrassing posts, and make Facebook stalking that much easier. From a Facebook user’s point of view, will the usefulness of this feature really outweigh its potential for embarrassment?

    Time.com reported the roll out of this new feature as ‘Facebook taking a thinly veiled shot at Google’, which will effectively mean the death of GooglePlus. While this may be likely, it is questionable whether Facebook's new feature will prove to be useful enough to truly detract people away from using good old reliable Google.  According to Facebook’s Vice President of Search Tom Stocky

    “You’ve told us the most important thing is being able to find posts you’ve seen before, and now you can. With a quick search, you can get back to a fun video from your graduation, a news article you’ve been meaning to read, or photos from your friend’s wedding last summer.”

    The issue with this is that it’s already fairly straightforward to search for those things, and it remains to be seen whether it will take less time for Facebook’s search algorithm to accurately predict a search intention rather than the user simply clicking on the multitude of Facebook navigation tools that already exist. It is also quite possible Facebook’s new search feature will end up mimicking Twitter’s hashtag feature- a tool for people to jump onto discussions based on topics and trending news with Twitter users around the world. It’s fairly obvious now that Facebook’s own version of the hashtag functionality proved largely to be pointless. The reason Twitter’s search function works so well is because:

    1. Tweeters are actively looking to voice their opinion on trending topics.
    2. The search function is mostly used for links to ‘newsworthy content’ from users perceived to be trustworthy and authoritative on those topics.

    The difference with Facebook’s search is that these discussions will be limited to your Facebook friends and the Pages you’ve liked- and people are more likely to trust content from their peers over company pages, which is what Facebook is banking on for the success of this feature.  While it is true that people view content from their personal networks as more trustworthy, it remains that social media is still only one out of several research tools used by consumers before they commit to purchase. People will still be researching forums, reviews, etc on brands and products, and Google will likely remain the preferred platform for this function. It will be worth keeping an eye out on what kind of impact Facebook search makes next year, and indeed if it is capable of encroaching on Google’s territory in 2015.

    The way we get our news and how news is reported has changed drastically in the past decade, and with social media comes a rise of social journalism that is once again evolving the current state and future impact of journalism.

    Even though recreational social media usage may be on the decline in some ways, more “functional” uses of social media, and its purposes, are on the rise through the use of “social journalism.”

    The current state of journalism looks quite differently than it did just years ago, and the creation of social media sites has evolved the field of journalism even further, giving the average person the power to make and report the news like never before. We get our news instantly now, and most of that news comes via social media sites like Twitter and Facebook. With the rise of social media as a means to obtain and share news and information has also come the emergence of social news networks. Social news networks are online publications that work as a community of writers and editors that choose what news is, and what’s not. Described as a sort of “news bank,” social news websites like Reddit and Digg allow users to submit news stories, articles, pictures and videos to share with other users. Editors then determine the items to be featured. For contributing writers, these publications are excellent ways to get noticed, and for editors, it’s a great way to experience more journalistic freedom and possibly make an impact on the larger news media circuit. And many of these stories go viral, bringing a few minutes of fame to potentially unknown writers or publications.

    Just this past month, eBay founder and creator of the news organization First Look Media, Pierre Omidyar, launched a new social journalism project with the goal of bringing ”global news directly to you through social media” while encouraging a community of readers to participate by pitching stories and using social media to comment and share. This new effort by Omidyar, called Reported.ly, is a new project that will “use a team of professional journalists to sift through social media to deliver important global news, using the same social platform,” with full editorial independence. This is big news considering Omidyar’s other online publication, The Intercept, founded in February of 2014, is the platform used to report on the documents released by Edward Snowden.

    Sites like this and many others are a natural emergence considering the number of social media sites available for use to share and contribute stories, and one must wonder: what’s the future of major media news sites like NBC, CNN and Fox News? For years, the term “citizen journalism” has been used to describe the reporting of news by citizens, instead of professional reporters. The idea of citizens as news makers got its start during major events like the Arab Spring and the Occupy Wall Street movement where journalists were not always present. Using tools like Twitter, average people became newsmakers, and social networking has increased the prevalence of citizen journalism, making it possible for anyone to report the news, and most of the time quicker than major news networks who would have to send a reporter and photographer. While it’s not necessary a “phenomenon,” social news networks are changing the way news is manufactured and delivered and while some major news publications are embracing citizen journalism, time will only tell what the overall impact on journalism as a whole will be.