When it comes to paid advertising, Facebook is king. There's no other way around it. It's not a proven fact, but it's pretty safe to assume that they have more data on every user than the next two or three networks combined. With that in mind, you'd be foolish not to focus on Facebook advertising before investing your time and money into other advertising mediums.
The Single Most Powerful Consumer Database in the World
While Facebook started out as a way for friends, family members, and classmates to connect over the internet, it's become way more than that. Facebook has singled-handedly changed the world. It's completely transformed the internet, how people communicate, how content is disseminated, and most importantly - from a business perspective - how data is collected and used for marketing and advertising purposes.
Mark Zuckerberg is incredibly smart, so it's likely he saw the potential for Facebook as a data collection tool early on. That's what allowed him to monetize a free social networking site that never requires users to spend a single penny. So, just how much data does Facebook collect and use?
Well, Facebook isn't quite that transparent. We do know that, in 2012, Facebook processed more than 2.5 billion pieces of content and 500-plus terabytes of data per day. Each hour, Facebook sifts through 210 terabytes of data. That's all nerd-talk for "massive amounts of data."
"Big data really is about having insights and making an impact on your business," says Facebook's VP of Engineering, Jay Parikh. "If you aren't taking advantage of the data you're collecting, then you just have a pile of data, you don't have big data."
In 2013, Facebook forged powerful partnerships with massive data brokers like Acxiom, Epsilon, and Datalogix. For perspective, Acxiom alone has information on more than 500 million consumers - averaging around 1,500 data points per person. This only enhanced Facebook's insights and further solidified it as the top consumer database in the world.
Unlock The Power of Facebook With These 5 Targeting Tips
So, unless the idea of maximizing your time and effectively targeting customers to acquire more leads and increase sales sounds unappealing to you, it only makes sense that you would invest time and energy into learning how to make the most out of Facebook advertising. Specifically, you should hone in on ways to better sift through the massive amounts of data and create highly targeted audiences. Otherwise, you're developing ads and hoping they're displayed in front of someone who's interested in what you're selling. Here are some of the best tips to keep in mind:
Start with Geography
For businesses that thrive in specific geographical markets, the most obvious place to start is with location. Facebook lets you narrow your search to individual zip codes and neighborhoods, meaning you don't have to waste ad reach on people outside of your market.
For example, let's say you own a business in Miami that sells baby clothes. Facebook knows that there are 184,000 households in Miami, 40 percent of which feature married couples. Not only can you narrow your target to include only Miami households, but you can focus solely on Miami households with couples that got married within the last five years. The options are virtually endless.
Don't Underestimate Purchase Behaviors
One of the most overlooked, yet helpful pieces of data Facebook collects is related to purchase behavior. This data is collected from both Facebook activity and offline activity (taken from companies like Datalogix). Using this information, you can serve your ads to users you know are interested in your product.
For example, let's say you run a sporting goods store and are looking to advertise new baseball cleats. You could target users who have recently purchased things like aluminum bats, baseball pants, batting gloves, and other related products. Chances are, they'd be interested in at least learning more about the latest, greatest pair of cleats.
Create Custom Audiences
Facebook has a really neat tool that allows you to create what are known as "Custom Audiences." These are essentially customer profiles that allow you to serve various ads to the same group over extended periods of time. The best way to use custom audiences is to create a handful of different groups and serve the same ad to each of these groups. Based on the conversion rate of each group, you can quickly identify where your money is best spent and where it's being wasted.
Once you've run a few different campaigns and garnered a certain amount of positive results, you can try what Facebook calls "remarketing." Remarketing simply allows you to display ads to groups of users who have previously clicked on one of your ads or followed through with a conversion goal. This is a great way to reengage previous customers and maximize your ROI.
Smaller is Sometimes Better
It may sound strange at first, but smaller audiences are almost always better when it comes to Facebook advertising. Why you may ask? Because the smaller an audience is, the more focused the target users are.
While a target reach of 2 million users means your ad will be displayed in front of a large group, what are the chances that you'll actually reach anyone within that group that's legitimately interested in what you have to offer? However, if you apply a number of different filters and narrow that group of 2 million users down to 20,000 users, your chances of serving the ad to users who will actually take action is exponentially greater.
Look at it like this: Would you prefer to serve your ad to 2 million people, get 300 clicks, and only five conversions? Or would your ROI be higher if you served the same ad to 20,000 users, got only 20 clicks, but ended up with 15 conversions? It's your business, but most people would choose the latter.
Never Sleep on Facebook Advertising
If you're serious about moving your business forward and investing in progressive marketing and advertising techniques, you can't ignore Facebook as the premiere advertising platform; to do so would be a major oversight.
In the end, even if you do choose to include Facebook in your advertising strategy, you have to understand how to efficiently and effectively sort through the massive amounts of data you have access to. By using these ad targeting tips as the foundation for your efforts, you should experience positive results.
"This is the first time the world has seen this scale and quality of data about human communication," says Cameron Marlow, the founder of Facebook's Data Science team. But the only thing that really matters is how you interact with that data. So, what's your plan?