In April this year, Twitter unveiled its much-anticipated mobile advertising network, with Facebook following closely behind with its Audience Network. These two giants of the social media world are embarking on the next stage of their journey to lure advertisers by using data from their own networks to help marketers target adverts to users even when they’re not on social media apps.
For Twitter, this means that marketers are able to display the same adverts as a promoted tweet to people who don’t even use Twitter, on more than a thousand other apps in the new Twitter publisher network.
With both channels clearly focused on a future of enhanced advertising capabilities, it’s another indication that the end goal is fully paid-for platforms, a long way from the free social and promotional experiments that companies originally signed up for.
According to a recent study by Ogilvy, increased restrictions on building organic reach with free Facebook content has resulted in brand pages only now being seen by between two and six percent, depending on the number of Likes per page. This means that even if your brand page has a million Likes, only around 2% of your fans will see anything you post, unless you pay to promote those posts.
Brands are really left only with the choice to allocate more marketing funds for social or break up with Facebook as delivery service Eat24 did publicly not so long ago.
If you’ve accepted that organic social growth is no longer viable on the major social channels and, as a result, you’ve ring-fenced marketing budget for the future of Facebook or Twitter advertising, you then need to ask yourself two questions. Do you want branding or performance advertising, and who is your target audience?
Some reports would have us believe that teenagers are abandoning Facebook in droves due to increased advertising and the network’s mainstream appeal, which now includes their parents. According to a report from iStrategy Labs, more than three million teens have left Facebook since 2007, while the 55+ age-group has seen growth of 80.4%.
In truth however, with 1.2 billion users and around 27 million Brits, no other website can compete with Facebook’s net reach. Even if the 13-25 year olds now prefer to interact on Tumblr, Snapchat and Instagram, there’s a good chance that they’ll still have a Facebook profile, just be using it in a different, more passive way.
This younger generation is more open to dialogue with brands and having accepted the future of Facebook as an advertising platform, these users will choose which brands they ultimately interact with.
If you’re interested in brand building on Facebook, therefore, you should direct marketing funds into helping users make this choice by paying to promote content.
Sponsored ads in newsfeeds such as ‘like ad’ or ‘like page’ can also incorporate video, images, surveys and text and will ultimately grow brand advocacy. But if it’s data you’re after and the achievement of performance goals, then this is where Facebook in particular really comes into its own.
In the past few years, we’ve launched several campaigns and discovered that Facebook advertising can lead to a very high performance for certain sectors. When it comes to generating registrations for communities or taking part in competitions, the conversion rates are exceptionally good, with Facebook often achieving the best results of all other display options. This isn’t just the case for free offers but also for paid-for services such as tutoring. Next to lead generation, the social platform can also generate sales cost-effectively. The conversion rate of online shop ads are generally higher for Facebook than for any other display option.
So when Eat24 publicly states that it’s breaking up with Facebook because the network has changed, we would question whether it’s really because Eat24 hasn’t been willing to change enough. As Twitter’s launch of its mobile advertising network shows, the major social channels aren’t hiding their strategies to improve display. Brands just need to recognise that the times are a-changing. Don’t divorce yourself in haste from a future that promises enhanced performance marketing.