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Hey Marketers – Stop Blaming Your Clubs

sometimes i golf.. by striatic on Flickr“It is a poor craftsman who blames his tools.” But that never stops golfers from upgrading their clubs every other year, right? They have a 20 handicap and think that adding 10 yards to their drives is going to make all of the difference.

In the carnage following the Facebook IPO, I’m hearing a lot of marketers who are complaining about thier clubs. You hear me, GM? There’s lots of talk about the efficacy of its advertising platform and marketers are taking sides. Let me be clear about something: This article is not about whether or not Facebook will be a successful company. That depends on way too many variables. This is about taking responsibility for trying to hammer a screw.

You’re Doing It Wrong

Lesson number one is that you’re doing it wrong. Marketers need to recognize the advertising on Facebook is different from traditional outbound advertising media. You can’t simply copy and paste an advertising campaign from television or magazine print into Facebook and expect it to work.

Why not? Because this is social media and there are different rules at play. Social norms rule, not economic norms. This means that you need to up your game and change your expectations. Perhaps more imporantly, you need to experiment. Here’s a look at a recent Facebook ad campaign I ran:

Facebook ads


The “boing” came in on the fourth ad campaign that I tried. It would have been easy to stop after the third ad and declare Facebook as useless. This particular campaign was for fan acquisition. The composite cost among all of the ads (including the craptastic ones) came out to $0.72 per fan. However, the fourth campaign came in at $0.65 per fan and the fifth settled in at $0.48 per fan. In case you’re unfamiliar with benchmarks for fan acquisition, $2 is the upper acceptable threshold and $1 is the average. Anything under $0.75 is good and under $0.50 is great.

But don’t take my word for it. Jon Steinberg, CEO of Buzzfeed, was interviewed on CNBC regarding Facebook’s potential, particularly in the mobile space. He predicted that brands will be “…moving to the sponsored stories. It will take more time for agencies and brands to come around to them.” He goes on to say that banners don’t work and the top brands are recognizing that social is where it’s at. However, they must “…put up content there that educates and provides interest to people. That’s the format that the sponsored story does.” Watch the full interview below:

You’re Looking At the Wrong Numbers

I recently read a blog article titled, “Why Facebook won’t survive the decade” and got into some blog comment banter about the value of Facebook. One anonymous commenter protested:

When I can see a direct correlation between “likes” and additional cash in the bottom line I will say Facebook works.

To which I responded:

That’s like saying, “When I can see a direct correlation between impressions and additional cash in the bottom line I will say Google Ads work.” Just because likes aren’t translating to the bottom line doesn’t mean it’s the platform’s fault. Just like lousy click-through rates on Google ads aren’t the platform’s fault.

Trying to correlate likes to customers is an exercise in futility, just like ad impressions are going to be meaningless. Rather, you need to give those fans reasons to visit your site and then convert them when they get there. Here is a table of conversion rates for the same business in the previous example:

Conversion rates

You can see that Facebook referrals are converting better than Google AdWords. I’ll take a 6.5% conversion rate all day long and I bet GM would too!

You’re Herding Cats

This concept is easier to illustrate than to explain, so here’s an example I just uncovered on Facebook from the British Beer Company:

British Beer Company Facebook Ad

Problem #1 with this ad: It doesn’t tell me what they want me to do. Should I like their page? Should I visit their website? Should I print a coupon? Should I attend a grand opening? Sigh. I guess I have to click on this boring, uncompelling ad to find out. And here’s my reward:

British Beer Company Facebook page

A Facebook page with no content, no offers, no information that’s of any use to me. Pfft. This, my friends, is what herding cats looks like. Creating an ad with no compelling message and no call to action and then sending people to a bland, ambiguous page that has zero payoff for them and for me. What’s their goal for this campaign? If it’s fans, they don’t even ask me to like their page. They probably just paid $1.50 for the privilege of my click and got nothing out of it.

Time for them to buy a new set of clubs, I suppose.

If you’ve seen some good Facebook advertising successes, let us know in the comments. Epic fails are also welcome.

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