For Facebook, a few changes can mean a lot especially if those changes relate to advertising and marketing.
Most of the time, updates to Facebook are designed for the everyday user, such as the addition of the graph search, which just went public and the switch from the wall to a timeline. But as Facebook hit 1 million advertisers last month, there are a variety of tools that can be useful to businesses and improve the marketing experience.
Making a Connection
In the past, marketers and advertisers have been limited in what they can do on Facebook; they could either market through a fan page or create an ad.
With a fan page, companies can engage, connect and interact with customers and fans through continually updated statuses and shared content like photos, coupons and contests.
The second option is advertising, which includes sidebar ads, suggested posts and sponsored stories. Unlike the page idea, these have had varied degrees of success.
An example of a suggested post and sidebar ads
The small sidebar ads that appear to the right of a person’s screen are supposed to lure users to specific pages or websites by showing ads related to their social activity. Even they are meant to be effective, many users tend to ignore the ads, remove them from their feed or don’t even notice them. Promoted ads and stories are ads that appear directly in the news feed and tend to be more successful because of their placement.
Sidebar ads performed poorly, with only a 0.04 percent click-through rate ” said an article by Brafton. "However, the CTR for promotions published directly to newsfeeds are 46 times higher [at] 1.87 percent."
A Few Updates Can Go a Long Way
The newest collection of Facebook advertising updates aim to improve the impact and reach of these ads.
Social context ads have been added because Facebook wanted to limit how many ad units it offered, a decision that resulted in sponsored stories being dropped. By having more information in an ad, visitors will be more educated on a company or its product because the ads will show why exactly a person should click on the ad, instead of just saying "buy this product," which could improve conversion rates. Also, businesses won't have to market through both a sponsored story and ad, as all of the information needed is in one place.
Right now the images used in sidebar ads are quite small and sometimes it’s hard to tell what exactly they're of, but it was reported that these images will be made bigger making them more attractive and eye-catching, which can help click-through rates. The same report also noted that businesses will have more control over ad display and can choose whether or not they want an ad in the newsfeed or not.
On the mobile side, Mobile App Installs are easier to use, as a company can now paste the link to its app into the Ads Create Tool instead of having to register the app with Facebook first, which improves the overall ad development process.
There have also been a few analytics focused updates so that trends are easier to follow. Reported data from Facebook Insights is now broken down into more specific categories, while with the Facebook Ads Manager, businesses will have more control over what kind of data is reported.
Not a Marketing Tool? That Doesn't Matter
Not all of Facebook’s tools are initially designated for advertising and marketing, but some can be used for this purpose, such as the new page verification feature and hashtags.
While the page verification feature might be considered a minor tool, it can help draw fans to a page. This allows brands to show fans they are who they say they are, but it can also be used in advertising. A brand could create an ad that says “I’ve been verified, 50 percent of all stock in our online store" or something similar.
Hashtags are designed to help all of Facebook’s users be more social and connected, but they can also be used by businesses. As with Twitter, these hashtags have to be pointed or they could hurt a business’ chances of gaining and keeping fans.
The hashtag is the parsley, the text and image are the steak” wrote Sarah Bradley. “Too much parsley and you're going to have a very unhappy customer on your hand.”
By being smart about hashtags brands can not only direct fans to their page or content, but be part of a ‘user marketing’ movement in that the business puts the content, or hashtag, out there and the potential fan or customer finds it.
What’s the Verdict?
Each of the individual tools mentioned will be able to improve some aspect of Facebook marketing or advertising because businesses aren’t using the same, tired methods to engage with fans; they now have a variety of tools at their disposal.
That’s [the more concise platform] a win for social marketers,” said a Tumblr post from Offerpop. “The process of creating ads will become simpler, and consumers will be less confused.”
Whether it's a higher engagement level or a better click-through rate these updates will help businesses better utilize Facebook and connect with more fans and customers than ever before, which shows that the infamous "Social Network" is now becoming more of a business to consumer network.