Creating An Advertising Presence On The Socnet Du Jour

The last month has witnessed a parade of big announcements from the major social media players. First, Google revealed the widget platform Open Social, and Android, a mobile OS; then MySpace unveiled Self Serve, a system that allows advertisers to easily create and manage profile-targeted ads; lastly, Facebook then launched Facebook Pages, the product with the most immediate impact to publishers.  Content owners now have an easy way to engage the 50+ million members of Facebook via a branded page.  Besides the reach, there are other advantages to creating a presence on the socnet du jour:


  • Extends the property onto a platform where your audience (by no means just college kids anymore) is spending time
  • Allows your readers to identify themselves with your brand in an extremely viral environment
  • Creates a forum for readers to interact with your brand within their community, increasing conversation
  • Provides valuable insights about your fans' interest, demographics, and behavior



Hanging the initial shingle in Facebook is easy -- just click the "Businesses" link in the footer, select Facebook Pages, add in the pertinent information and a logo, and then publish the page.  Developing an effective content strategy to not only promote, but also sustain the brand is much more complex.  The most straightforward approach is to repurpose content such as blog posts, videos, and article links and make them available to fans.  More involved is taking the steps to create network-specific content in the form of widgets, or committing personnel to engage in discussion board.  The New York Times (you have to be a Facebook member to check out the page) has done an excellent job establishing many of these features within a week of launch. 

The next step is the promotion of the page, which is much more hit-and-miss.  Facebook refers to its network as "The Social Graph," and our experience has shown that the curve is steep.  Whether widgets or groups, membership can grow slowly for a while, and then explode in a very short period of time.  As of this writing, the most popular brand page is the campaign for Kevin Rudd, an Australian politician who almost overnight gained over 20,000 fans (to put it in perspective, the Times has under 2,500).   Encouraging users to "fan" your page as a call to action is a great first step -- approaching groups already dedicated to your property is a good next one (via a message to the officers -- don't spam the wall). 

Facebook also launched SocialAds in conjunction with Pages, which delivers units based on user interest on a CPM or CPC basis.  The obvious application is to place them in front of users that share the focus of the property, ie. jazz, sci-fi, or travel.  But the real power of these is to create and manage micro-campaigns around specific pieces of content, as the filters can be broken down all the way to the specific artist or celebrity interviewed in a piece, a specific issue profiled, or a product review.  Taking it a step further, poaching readers of competitors is also a possibility.  The decision on whether it makes the most sense to drive to the site or the page depends on a variety of factors that are brand, content, and ad-model specific, so running low-cost tests is a good way to determine which destination best hooks the audience (ad budgets can be as low as $10 a day, so I really do mean "low cost"). 

The final piece to the value equation is the added information received about the audience once they add a page.  Beyond page view, the report also contains age and gender breakdowns of the fans, which can help tailor the content and features that are available.  Similarly, comparing micro-campaigns can be a powerful way to see what types of content are best for recruiting new users, which might be very different than what engages the base, which can lead to more robust conversion strategies.  This can help inform not only the presentation, but also the page's editorial calendar.

One of the strongest ways for adapting to a fragmenting audience is to make content as portable and ubiquitous as possible, and then following your readers and not herding them.  Tools such as RSS and widgets cover the portability, but effectively maintaining the brand across multiple platforms is what creates ubiquity.  There are certainly properties where this doesn't make sense, but it's also worth keeping in mind that 25+ is the fastest growing segment of new members, and the numbers of users over 35 is probably much higher than you might think. The recent $15 billion valuation makes it easy to write off many of these features as hype, but is usually followed by the realization that the barrier to entry is so low that the potential is hard to ignore.  Whether or not Facebook emerges on top of the pile is the subject of another article, but the knowledge gained about how to manage a brand and content across a social network will be invaluable.

Next story loading loading..