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Expert Column: Facebook Insights That Will Make Your Jaw Drop


By Bill Carmody, CEO of Trepoint

It’s really hard to keep up with the continuous changes happening in digital media -- especially when it comes to social media marketing. Facebook in particular continues to drop billions of dollars on companies like What’s App ($19 billion) to ensure it stays ahead in the marketplace. It makes sense. Last year, Facebook dropped $1.5 billion to the bottom line and continues to refine its advertising strategy to secure its profits with advertisers while balancing the content, communications and overall engagement needs of its loyal and extremely active users.

With so many announcements coming out, it’s hard to know what changes are the most impactful to manufactures and retailers alike. So, I thought I’d write this article to identify some of the amazing things I’ve “re-discovered” on Facebook. Sure, you may have already seen something in the news about these Facebook features, but I’m looking to explore the insights and direct implications to the readers of Progressive Grocer. With that said, if you think I’ve missed anything here, I encourage you to share the things that made your jaw drop recently and we can continue the discussion online.

1. Graph Search. If you haven’t been paying attention to what Facebook has been doing with Graph Search, this one is guaranteed to make your jaw drop. Once you’re logged in to Facebook, go to the search bar and type, “Restaurants in San Francisco my friends have been to.” What comes back should scare the hell out of Yelp: A customized list of only the restaurants that your Facebook friends have visited. The implication here is that Facebook can use the data it collects from all of your Facebook friends to create a highly relevant, highly personalized results – not based exclusively on cold hard algorithms, but rather the insights of your friends who you likely trust a lot more than ratings from strangers you’ve never met.

Now try the same thing with your grocery store or even consumer packaged good products. “Grocery Stores visited by my friends who live nearby” or “Foods that are products liked by my friends.” Social search is still relatively new, but as more consumers catch on to the power at their fingertips, there are several implications for CPG companies and retailers alike. The most important implication is understanding the impact of social search will ultimately have on what people buy (or at least consider buying) in the future using tools like Facebook’s Graph Search.

2. Follow vs. Like. Remember how you spent all that time and money encouraging Facebook “Likes?” Perhaps you even ran a few promotions using a “like gate” strategy where you required interested customers to “Like” your page in order to access your content or enter a sweepstakes. Then Facebook decided it wanted to generate more advertising revenue and so it throttled back what its users would see from your corporate and brand pages. Now, it turns out, when you post to your brand’s Facebook page, only a small fraction of the people who liked your page will actually see that post – unless you buy some advertising to ensure your message is seen by all the people who liked your page.

That’s where the “Follow” button comes in. At least at the time this article was written, if your Facebook customers “Follow” your brand’s pages, they should get most if not all of your posts. Without clicking the “Follow” button, your most engaged customers who “Like” or “Comment” on your posts will still see your content as you post it. However, those who are more passive (like most of your customers) will stop seeing your posts until they proactively go back to your page and either click the “Follow” button or “Like” or “Comment” on one of your recent posts.

3. PTAT Score. On each company or brand’s Facebook page, you’ll notice a number that shows up immediately following the number of likes on your page with the words, “talking about this.” This is a new publically available metric called “People Talking About This” or PTAT score. It is a way to measure how engaged your fans are. For example, for Coca Cola, you might see “79,704,118 likes – 526,718 talking about this.” At that particular moment in time, Coca Cola would have a PTAT score of 0.6 percent. The larger your pool of likes, the more challenging it will be to maintain a high PTAT score. That said, the higher your PTAT score, the more engaged your Facebook customers are, and the more likely they are to buy from you. Part of this challenge will be if you have a ton of “Likes,” but not many “Followers” (as discussed in #2 above), a large portion of your audience isn’t even seeing your messages (unless you are running paid advertising to support it). If they can’t see your content, how can they engage with it or your brand?

4. Radio’s Impact. Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve been spending a fair amount of my time thinking about integrated media (in general) and terrestrial radio advertising in particular. What I’ve recently discovered is just how engaged some radio listeners are with their station’s Facebook page. In the Los Angeles market, for example, 100.3 The Sound has about 50,000 Facebook followers and a PTAT score ranging from 75 to over 100 percent. At first, I thought that was a mistake. How can you have more engagement than Likes? Then I realized that those core listeners were commenting on The Sound’s Facebook content and getting pick-up from “Friends of Followers” (i.e. people who had not Liked The Sound’s Facebook page, but were adding their own comments and lifting an already high level of engagement even higher).

That blew my mind. I’d never seen a PTAT score that high. Then I thought about just how powerful radio advertising can be to drive engagement in social media and other digital campaigns – especially when there’s a focused call to action.

5. Hash Tags. While attending the Media Insights and Engagement Conference, I had a chance to review a presentation by Jeffrey Graham, an ad research director at Twitter. In his presentation, he was reviewing key findings about how Twitter Hash Tags make television advertising more effective. How much so? Try a 36 percent decrease in cost per incremental acquisition from TV advertising when Twitter advertising is added to TV advertising (vs. TV ads alone). He also showed how advertisers running both TV commercials and Promoted Tweets have demonstrated 95 percent stronger message association, 58 percent higher purchase intent, 8-16 percent more sales, in addition to the 36 percent lower customer acquisition cost.

I realize this is an article focused on Facebook, but guess what? Facebook has hash tags now too. If Facebook has any similar research on their impact on TV advertising, I haven’t seen it in the public domain, but you can be sure similar research has been done and is available to “named” advertisers. If you’re lucky enough to have large enough television budgets to attract Facebook’s attention, you’ll most likely be able to get your hands on similar research reports.

6. Video Ads. Facebook has released information on its push to attract television dollars directly onto Facebook via its own video ad units. If you’re interested, The Wall Street Journal did a relatively recent blog post talking about the five things you need to know about video ads on Facebook. What was surprising to me is that the cost to play is $2 million per day (For now anyway). So, $2 million per day yields smallish ad units that auto play (without sound), but that you can click on to see the larger version with sound. My gut tells me that it won’t be long before they offer up video ad units based on CPM and CPC as they do for their current banner ad inventory. For now, you need a seven or eight figure ad budget to begin your experimentation.

7. Images & Infographics. You might have seen more engagement when you post pictures and video vs. text on your brand pages. According to Wishpond, when you use images and Infographics, you tend to get 53 percent more likes. I’m sure that number will continue to go up, and given the ridiculous growth of YouTube, it’s a safe bet that video posts can and will receive even higher engagement levels.

8. What’s App. How is Facebook going to monetize its $19 billion dollar investment in What’s App? For one, it will immediately help strengthen Facebook’s mobile strategy and, with it, Facebook’s ability to monetize its mobile platform offering for its advertisers. In addition to the 99-cent-per-user rate for What’s App, its half a billion user base is highly engaged with pictures, video, audio and even GPS location messaging. That is, users can send directions right along with content through What’s App making it a much more interesting alternative to traditional SMS text messaging on mobile devices.

If you’re not already spending a lot of time thinking about your own mobile strategy these days, Facebook’s $19 billion dollar investment should be all the incentive you need to consider ways to engage with your customers via mobile devices. It’s no longer “the future,” it’s presently the best way to engage with your customers.

9. Geotargeting. While I’m not seeing this directly out of Facebook just yet, there have been some crazy developments in the mobile space regarding Latitude and Longitude geo-targeting (as opposed to cell tower) that is currently being overlaid with third-party databases. This allows advertisers to geo-fence mobile advertising at a much more targeted level, say five to 25 miles from a specific grocery store, and will lead to a further push into mobile campaigns (even when they initially start as a social media engagement). Just as Facebook is pushing harder into the mobile space, new advancements in geotargeting will likely make its local advertising on mobile devices more relevant than ever. Watch this shift gradually take hold over the balance of 2014.

10. 7 Percent. While most people guess that the percentage of word-of-mouth marketing that happens online is between 50 percent and 75 percent, the actual number is 7 percent according to Keller, Ed and Brad Fay in their book, "The Face-to-Face Book: Why Real Relationships Rule in a Digital Marketplace." And I need to give props to Jonah Berger for pointing this out in his incredible book, "Contagious: Why Things Catch On."

Jonah Berger’s point after studying social influence for more than a decade is that there are principles of contagiousness (six of them which he details in his book), but relying on “influencers” (i.e. people in social media who have many fans and followers) to help shill your products and key messages so that they go viral is a dated concept that simply doesn’t work. Rather than relying on others to help tell your story via social media, it’s more important to identify your inner remarkability and leverage proven word-of-mouth tactics to go viral -– which happens more offline than online as it turns out. 

So that’s what’s been on my mind as of late. It seems the more we learn, the more we realize just how much we don’t even know we don’t know. I encourage you to share the things that made your jaw drop recently and we can continue the discussion online at See you there!

Bill Carmody is the CEO of Trepoint and a guest columnist for Progressive Grocer. He can be reached at [email protected].  

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