Something is happening.
Facebook has been around for the internet’s version of forever, right? And yet, suddenly your inbox is cluttered with invitations to webinars on Facebook ads. You hear more and more about the changes and updates Facebook is making to its ad mechanism. And that guy at the chamber of commerce meeting that everyone hates keeps loud-laughing about how many leads he’s pulling in off of Facebook. What gives?
The hardcore digital marketers have known about Facebook for quite some time. I remember Ryan Deiss pushing Facebook ads two years ago, saying it’s where he got the vast majority of his qualified leads. Even then I remember thinking, “Yeah dude, you sell education. I sell high-level stuff. I’m not going to attract the type of leads my business needs on Facebook.”
Crow tastes bad.
Here I am, a few years later and a few years smarter, and we’re killing it on Facebook. In fact, we don’t have a client that hasn’t seen some level of return from Facebook. Very rarely does that mean direct response? You can’t throw up a Facebook ad saying “I sell widgets!” and expect a rush of widget buyers to beat down your door; however, the Facebook pixel and ability to retarget based upon behavior and segmentation makes Facebook as valuable a tool as Google’s remarketing.
Facebook’s Secret Weapon
In fact, Facebook has something that Google doesn’t: casual engagement. Yes, Google has a few properties that might lend themselves to the casual browser. Google Now, Google news and even Google shopping in certain contexts are capable of pulling a user into a casual engagement timewarp. However, nothing in Google’s arsenal has the same level of channel-surfing, drone-inducing, mind-numbing, thumb-friendly placation as Facebook.
This type of captive, mass audience hasn’t been available to marketers since the golden age of television advertisement. Remember when we couldn’t fast forward commercials, and TV shows came on at a specific time each day? Me neither, but I’m told it was awful. Anyway, Facebook has succeeded in building a massive (2 billion) and extremely well-segmented audience that is now completely at your disposal to market to. The implications are staggering.
Here’s what’s really interesting, Facebook marketing is not inbound marketing. That whole “be the answer,” value first, content driven paradigm that the HubSpot guys “invented” and every digital marketer on the planet has bought into (at least on some level)…yeah, that’s not this.
Where inbound marketing is a pull, Facebook is one of the very first effective pushes we have been allowed as digital marketers.
Think about it, SEO and PPC require a user-catalyzed action: search. Email marketing requires you to first earn the user’s email (unless you’re a spammer, in which case screw you for ruining it for the rest of us). Even banner advertisements are incumbent upon the prospect visiting whatever site your banner ads are placed on which is still earned traffic. Up until this point, we’ve really had to work very hard for our visibility. We can finally force our way into the hearts and minds of our target demographic again, beautiful right?
Relevance: It Still Matters
While this is an exciting prospect, we still need to earn the attention we can now demand. Yes, you have the opportunity to force yourself in front of your target avatar. However, Facebook isn’t going to let you kill their Golden Goose. That means relevance is going to become the new gold standard for Facebook advertising. While it’s important now, I would anticipate the impact of relevance and engagement being amplified on an almost exponential scale.
Facebook’s best interests are served by allowing relevant advertisers to pay less and have a broader reach. It’s important that Facebook continues to teach its user base to trust it as a tool. While it has the luxury of far reaching social integration, we’ve all seen network abandonment happen before. Remember when AOL was the internet? Facebook faces that same level of antiquity if they aren’t capable of policing their monetization strategy.
In fact, I would anticipate Facebook building out algorithmic scales that measure the efficacy of an advertiser just as much as an advertisement. Quality scores are often difficult to preemptively measure. Engagement is a human interaction that a computer is going to have a difficult time anticipating. However, as you begin to earn your Facebook stripes, it would make sense for Facebook to begin assigning values to their advertisers.
More trusted advertisers with higher levels of historical engagement are going to see far more reach and relevance than new advertisers will be afforded. And the guys that are running around pushing out crap and burning bridges? They won’t be allowed the time of day. While this is obviously speculative, I honestly can’t see Facebook not taking at least some very large steps in this direction.
What Does This Mean?
For independent advertisers, it means don’t be evil. Do your best to push relevant and valuable content and you’re going to yield the fruits of your labor.
However, for digital marketers, those of us running multiple ads on behalf of multiple businesses, it means you need to start getting picky with who you choose to take on as a client. If you begin earning a grade as an advertiser and that grade impacts your ability to deliver on behalf of all of your Clients, it becomes exceedingly important for you to ensure you’re only choosing Client projects that you feel are worthwhile and will provide the Facebook community with some level of value.