Understanding and Mastering Facebook Marketing

Learn about the various types of Facebook marketing, a summary of Facebook development tools and a real life advertising example.

Recently some friends, family and acquaintances have made complaints about recent Facebook changes, most notably the timeline.  We adapted to the changes easily, although we did resist at first, but we were more curious as to the new functionality and capability. 

Our curiosity begged the following questions:

#1 - What was the business strategy that prompted Facebook to make these changes?  - The answer may easily be summarized by stating, "To enhance their platform and provide more access for marketers to reach their audience." After all, Facebook is for-profit.  Despite not having it directly from the horse's mouth, Mark Zuckerberg or anyone else at Facebook, here are some of our conclusions:

  • Dedicate more screen real estate to a dynamic and omni-present newsfeed, hence providing the opportunity for more dynamic exchange of information (i.e. Newsfeed in chat bar).  An ever present newsfeed allows more access to consumers for longer durations of time.
  • Unobtrusively dedicate more screen real estate for sponsors to market their offerings.  The Sponsored Ads section is more dynamic and has a more integrated presence within the timeline format.  Some other more subtle changes are also implemented.  (see post from Jingheo Yan, Facebook engineer and Facebook Data Use Policy).  * NOTE:  I have personally witnessed advertisements integrated on our timeline on occasion over the past 3-6 months, it appears that Facebook is still working on ways to integrate advertising within timelines since timeline advertising is inconsistently present in our timeline.
  • Provide more robust tools for programmers (both Facebook and 3rd party) to more rapidly develop the platform.  By working in partnership to build the platform with 3rd parties, Facebook has increased the number of programmers and engineers working to better the Facebook experience without having to pay these 3rd parties!

#2 - What were the technical changes and how did they implement those changes to support that business strategy? 

  • A new set of open source, or semi-open source, tools for developers to build socially captivating applications.
  • Fully integrating Facebook with the Internet, drive more traffic with longer retention times to the site.  The new set of tools enables any web page or web site to be fully integrated with Facebook.  
    • Web pages are now being coded with Facebook metatags (see Open Graph or just og) - will this become a standard?  What percentage of web pages in 5 years will be infested with Facebook og tags?

Types of Facebook Marketing

Onto the real discussion - Facebook Marketing.  What types of marketing can be supported on Facebook?  What types of Facebook marketing have the greatest reach?  What types of Facebook marketing have the greatest bottom line impact?  How do we best implement a marketing campaign?  

We at 3V Business Solutions divide Facebook into three types of marketing:

  1. PPC Marketing (niche or mass marketing) - Organizations pay for sponsored advertising space within a consumer's screen during that consumer's Facebook session.
  2. Mass "Like" Marketing - Organizations which encourage, either themselves or through a paid marketing firm, to acquire "likes" in scale.
  3. Social Marketing - Organizations that encourage their consumer, or followers, to promote their product to friends of that consumer through a social action - social word-of-mouth.

#1 - PPC Marketing - This is Facebook's turf, and we at 3V Business Solutions do not bite the hand that feeds us!  Facebook marketing serves an overall purpose, much like advertising during the Super Bowl.  This mode of advertising comes, in general, with what we consider to be a potential for great reward on investment assuming a proper implementation.  The robust set of reporting tools for measuring impressions, clicks, conversion rates and retention times are invaluable.  Exposure will be very high, many people will view these advertisements, hence an organization must have a sound strategy, quality implentation and a well thought out support system to monitor and manage responses to these advertisement.

#2 - Mass "Like" Marketing - At the onset of the social web, conventional wisdom was for an organization (fan page at the time) to acquire as many "likes" as possible.  I have personally read a couple articles where some highly educated marketing professional with impeccable credentials tried to quantify the net worth of a Facebook "fan" or "like".  There is obviously merit to this type of mass marketing, i.e. capturing a large following or audience but we at 3V have yet to find a study that has made a direct connection between "likes" and sales conversions.

#3 - Social Marketing - Social marketing is an evolution and extension of #2 utilizing social actions and not a "like".  Examples of social actions could be;  "John Doe purchased a vehicle at Smith Dealership", "Jane Doe purchased a pizza at Bob's Pizza", etc.  This is an evolution of the "like" in that it is referral based marketing, but now it is more personal and with more detail.  It is now truly "word-of-mouth at scale", not just that John Doe likes something, but John Does likes something enough to purchase it and socially announce that he purchased!

Social Design and Facebook Technical Changes

For those interested in the technical details of the changes, this section describes in summary the technical components within Facebook and/or buzzwords.

1) Social Design - The design of an experience (virtual or physical) in which a entity curates an identity through a conversation within a community.

Facebook Social Design - Empowering people within a community through conversation.

2) Objects - Objects are entities that an app can act upon, in simpler terms they are NOUNS (people, places or things) - example - pizza, quote

3) Actions - Actions are the high level interactions users can perform in an app, in simpler terms they are VERBS (actions upon an object) - example - eat, complete

4) Aggregations - Combinations or Objects and Actions (nouns and verbs) to describe social actions - examples - "Bob ate a pizza at [Pizzeria]", "Susie completed a quote at [Dealership]"

5) Open Graph - A set of data tags that may be implemented on ANY web page which will allow Facebook to 'see' that webpage as a Facebook page or entity, turning web pages into Facebook objects.  Open Graph / Graph API - Integration of the Internet and Facebook.

6) Facebook App - Any external application (web page, website, game, flash presentation) which can be configured and presented within the Facebook framework (examples range from games to business websites to government sites).  These applications provide a seamless experience between application and Facebook.  This means that not only will a website work within Facebook but Facebook will work within that site.

7) Authentication - An industry standard set of tools to authenticate (aka - user registration and login) functionality between sites, see oAuth 2.0.

8) Social Plugins - Open-source tools, code, widgets that enable entities to extend the Facebook experience beyond the Facebook platform - Examples: Like Button, Activity Feed, Live Streaming, etc.

9) Social Channels - The medium in which social actions may be captured, disseminated and advertised within the Facebook experience - Examples: News Feed, Messages, Notifications, Search, etc.

Facebook Marketing Example

Confused yet?  Now that we have reviewed the Open Graph from the previous section, real life examples of how Open Graph can be utilized for marketing purposes.

A pizzeria owner is feeling the pinch with rising food costs, escalating employee wages and out-of-control advertising costs.  He wishes to capitalize on a social media campaign such as to reduce his conventional marketing approach, local publication advertising and flyers.  The owner with consultation from a consulting firm, decides to develop a Facebook App utilizing social media word-of-mouth marketing.

The campaign consists of a Facebook app that customers interface with when picking up a pizza, either a mobile device or a device at the counter of the establishment.  The customer is sent an email and/or a text message with a link to a Facebook app enabling easy access via a mobile device OR the customer is able to login at a merchant provided machine.  Upon opening the app, the customer is prompted with 1)  An approval screen to authorize the app to gather basic information and 2) An additional approval screen for a one-time authorization for the app to post on behalf of the merchant.  After the customer approves the app, a screen appears in which the customer selects which pizza offering was purchased and publishes a message to all of his or her social followers that a discount was received (Example--Jim saved 10% on a cheese pizza at Bob's Pizzeria).  The advertisement is that the customer's friends are entitled to the same discount, under the same conditions if their friends order a pizza utilizing a code that is distributed with the timeline post.

1) Social Design:  A) Identities - Customer, Merchant, Pizza, B) Conversation - Ordering/Purchasing a Pizza, C) Community - Announce to social friends and followers to order a pizza from merchant and receive discount.

2) Noun/Object:  Bundle

3) Verb/Action:  Saved

4) Aggregation:  {Customer} saved a bundle at [Storename]

5) Open Graph:

  • url:  URL, web page, to pizza promotion
  • title: Order a Pizza from [Storename] and Save 10%
  • description:  I ordered a pizza from [Storename] and saved 10%.  This deal is extended to all my Facebook friends.  To receive your discount while ordering simply use the coupon code {coupon_code}
  • site_name:  Pizza Place
  • type: business
  • app_id:  {xxxx} (each Facebook App has a unique app ID)

6) Facebook App (Implementation):  An external web page owned by the pizzeria which represents the promotion is integrated (or connected) to Facebook with a Facebook App.  The Facebook App manages the linking of externally hosted pages and Facebook, display options, authentication and other technical details.

7) Authentication:  The Pizza App is configured to:

  • Request Basic Information from Consumer:  First Name, Last Name, Email Address, Profile Photo, etc.
  • Request Permission to {Publish Actions} and {Publish Stream}:  This permission will stream activity and actions from the app to the social friends and followers of the consumer.

8) Social Plugins:

  • Like Button:  Consumers are requested to "Like" the Pizzeria and the promotion, resulting in a post to the consumer's timeline
  • Activity Feed:  A stream of all app activity  (i.e. 38 people have ordered a pizza, etc.)

9) Social Channels (Marketing):

  • The social aggregation "{Customer} saved a bundle at [Storename]" message is displayed in the news feed of all social followers who allow public post
  • The social aggregation "{Customer} saved a bundle at [Storename]]" is displayed on the Activity section of the customer's page
  • The social aggregation "{Customer} saved a bundle at [Storename]" is displayed on the app timeline view of the customer
  • The social aggregation "{Customer} saved a bundle at [Storename]" is displayed on the app activity feed of the promotional web page
  • The link in which the "like" button was selected displays a custom post on the customers timeline for all of their friends to see
  • *Note:  There are privacy settings available for Facebook users that may modify some of the above channels.

Popular Social Marketing Example

With the support and resources of a large corporation, Quiznos has one of the most robust Open Graph social marketing apps available.  As we reviewed the app, it is apparent that Quiznos has dedicated alot of time and resources to become a leader with their social marketing campaign, researching and implementing a solution utilizing the latest Facebook and web technologies.

At 3V Business Solutions, we are dedicated to confronting the challenges of the new Facebook format and its capabilities (specifically Open Graph and Graph API) and to providing creative and innovative solutions for our customers.  Our objective is to be the Facebook marketing leader in the metro Detroit area with expertise implementing these solutions to drive traffic and business to our customers.  We invest the time and resources required to stay on the cutting edge of Facebook marketing.  3V Business Solutions is dedicated to understanding and developing the knowledge and tools necessary to optimize Facebook marketing strategies for our customers.

We welcome all comments and the opportunity to discuss any questions regarding social media, Facebook Marketing or the Open Graph. If we do not know the answer, we will do the research for you!  We have spent the last two months learning the Open Graph and preparing the knowledge required to implement creative marketing solutions for our customers and our community. Please check back frequently and review our social media and Facebook Marketing portfolio.

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