April 12, 2011

How to run an effective Facebook campaign for $5

jess3 ad

How to take advantage of microtargeting on Facebook — at a crazy cheap price

Editor’s note: Dennis Yu and his BlitzLocal team helped retool and optimize the Socialmedia.biz website two years ago. We met up again with Dennis at last month’s Web 2.0 Expo, where he gave a preview of this Facebook microtargeting strategy. Today he’s revealing its specifics for the first time. This is the first of a series about strategic use of Facebook.

Guest post by Dennis Yu
CEO, BlitzLocal

dennis-yuLast week there was a buzz in the CEO, Webtrends and CEO, BlitzLocal offices. One of our employees was trying to get my attention. He did so by creating a Facebook ad targeting anyone who lived in Portland, was between 30 and 40 years old and worked at either Webtrends or BlitzLocal. Of the nearly 600 million users on Facebook, only 80 people met that criteria.

It cost him only 6 cents to do it. And for that price, he was able to bombard our people with ads. The cost of that inventory is a 30 cent CPM, which means it costs 30 cents to show a thousand ads. So he was able to send 200 highly targeted messages, as he details in this post on the Facebook Microtargeting trick.

Sounds less like advertising and more like super-targeted email marketing, doesn’t it?

And, in fact, it is, except for this:

• You can send these messages without needing someone’s email address.
• You pay only when someone clicks it (yes, it’s cost per click advertising).
• An impression is guaranteed when the person next opens Facebook (whereas in sending an email, you can only hope that someone will open it).

jess3 campaign

Click to enlarge

Now imagine that you’re a software company like Webtrends, building relationships with other agencies that resell your social analytics software. The founders of the data visualization agency JESS3 come to visit and you’d like to strengthen that bond. Maybe you spend $5 on a micro-targeted campaign like the one above, but slice it up to put the ad image more compactly next to the stats. You absolutely bombard anyone who works at that firm with your message almost 3,000 times. If they have 50 people, that’s 60 ads per person. Who cares that we got only 9 clicks (of which 4 happened to become fans)? The goal is not the click, but the awareness.

Total cost: $5.67 in Facebook ads

Create a specialty video with a customized message

But you could take it a step further, since those folks who do click through on the ad can come to your landing page. So imagine that we send all employees of the email marketing company ExactTarget to this Facebook landing page (warning: there is sound). And how much did this landing page cost? Only $5. We have a network of dozens of freelancers that will do voiceovers, take photos, sing songs or do whatever for a few dollars. More examples of specialty videos here.

Social media success is about pinpoint precision targets — we’re simulating the one-on-one conversations that friends have among themselves

While each of these examples might be clever or interesting, the question becomes: How do you scale this? Social media success is about pinpoint precision targets — ultimately, because we’re simulating the one-on-one conversations that friends have among themselves. But if you want to have 1,000 conversations, you need 1,000 different ads and 1,000 different landing pages. Who has the infrastructure, staff, or the budget to do that?

This is where smart automation comes in. Here’s an example of our scoring platform at work:

Webtrends sells analytics software to the big boys who don’t mind paying $100,000 per year for analytics software. Trouble is that every website needs some form of analytics. Maybe they’ll use Google Analytics — it’s free and pretty good. But we want to talk to only those customers who have the money and need for enterprise analytics software. It would be suicide to buy the keyword “web analytics” on PPC because of all the players that offer web analytics for free or super cheap.

So we took the Fortune 1000 and ran a script that collected a wide range of data — market cap, their industry, annual revenue, P/E ratio, website url, homepage pagerank, pages indexed, Facebook page, number of fans, company logo from Google images and so forth — dozens of metrics. See the detail from our spreadsheet/CSV file below.

Click to enlarge

And then we ran this data through our scoring algorithm to calculate their Social Score — how well they did versus peers in their industry. We might say, “Shell, you got a 56 and rank 7 out of 9 in Oil and Gas.” Or we might say, “Shell, why do you have only 53,548 fans while others in oil and gas have 184k on average?” Then we target people who work at Shell — not just everyone, but those people who have titles of VP of Marketing, Chief Financial Officer, Public Relations and so forth.

There might be only a couple dozen people and not everyone puts their information on Facebook, but it’s enough. And you can bet it gets their attention! They come to a landing page that has their social scoring report, which shows a portion of the metrics that we’ve gathered. But they have to click Like to see the rest of the report, which is grayed out.

Now what happens when that person clicks “Like”? Of course, some of their friends and co-workers see it. And as all curious co-workers will do, they want to check out what you found to be so interesting. And then when these people see our ad, it shows that their friend liked it, which makes our offer of a report that much more credible (image at right).

A move to quality targeting over mass media blasts

Now do you see how this works? It’s quality over quantity, folks. Think about who you want to target as precisely as possible. Where do they work? Where do they live? What kind of car do they drive? What TV shows do they watch? What industry conferences do they attend?

Can’t afford $15,000 to exhibit at your favorite conference, plus the $3k to ship the booth out, the cost of the people to have to man the booth during Expo Hall hours, the schwag you have to give out and so forth? Then run an ad for the three weeks leading up to the conference targeting fans of the conference.

Bingo, you’ve now spent $5 to target this audience with your message and you have plenty of time to set up in-person meetings with those folks who are worth talking to, as opposed to any random people who might wander up to visit you at the show. And then you can thank them later.

miva_thank_you

Click to enlarge

Need some PR help, but can’t afford a New York PR agency for $10,000 a month? Then let Facebook do the work for you, running ads that target journalists who write for the Wall Street Journal, Mashable, Forrester, VentureBeat, the New York Times or whoever. What would you like to say to them?

Can’t afford to hire a big sales staff to cold call people who don’t want to talk to you? Easy. Just run ads targeting the competitors of your existing customers. Let’s say that Marriott is your client and you’ve got a great case study there. Run ads targeting the folks who work at Hilton, Starwood, Motel 6 or whoever. You can bet they want to know what their competitors are doing. Inquiring minds want to know!

Making waves with 5 bucks in your pocket

Let Facebook do the work for you, running ads that target journalists who write for the Wall Street Journal, Mashable, Forrester, VentureBeat, the New York Times

By now, I hope to have shown you that with some ingenuity and $5 in your pocket, you can make some serious waves on Facebook. If you’re a small business or start-up, learn how to master some of the techniques mentioned here. If you’re a big brand and looking to scale, then you’ll need some process and software automation to make this happen across thousands of conversations.

Know of any companies that offer software that will do mass personalization of ad and landing page content? Ad agencies are good at throwing bodies at client accounts — great service, but no scale. Software companies are good at building code based on a predefined set of rules that can be repeated. But success for your company can’t be solved by either a pure agency or a pure software company. The agency can’t throw enough people at the problem and the software company can’t offer a one-size fits all solution to everyone.

Only you can work the magic at your company. As much as we’d like to sell you some software, vendors like us can only assist you in coming up with the creative strategy that resonates best with your customers, the PR strategy that gets the press talking about you, a unique way to position how you solve your client’s pain. Ultimately, these $5 campaigns, whether you run just one of them or 10,000 of them, boil down to a marketing strategy — a unique, compelling message — that we can multiply out to your customers and get those customers to spread on your behalf. (Again, if you’re a smaller company targeting just a few potential or existing clients or partners, go for it yourself!)

In our next segment, we’ll explore that topic in more detail — how to get your fans to do your marketing for you. The techniques that work are probably not what you’d expect, since the world of Facebook relies upon the game dynamics of News Feed Optimization, advertising, applications and Open Graph widgets. We’ll show you how the harder you make it for customers to convert, in certain instances, the more likely they will take action. Stay tuned to learn why.

Dennis Yu is Managing Principal of Webtrends, a provider of social analytics software, as well as CEO of BlitzLocal, which does local online advertising. His team of 40 analysts have run 1,100 Facebook campaigns for global brands over the last four years. He studied finance at Southern Methodist University and economics at the London School of Economics. If you have any questions, please email him at [email protected] or visit him on Facebook, Twitter or his blog.
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