Facebook holds its title as the most used social platform in the entire world, with many of its 3 billion users spending up to one hour cruising the site every day, consuming content from friend, family and businesses alike. The reach on Facebook is incomparable, but the competition is getting tougher.
Facebook also opted to put extra focus on serving users the content that they really, really love. This means the algorithm focuses on serving content from individuals rather than entities – forcing the latter to both create ads with major “wow” factor and promote them with expert precision to really get the most out of their budget.
A tall order indeed. These changes have made experts like Stephanie Asrymbetov more important than ever. She spends her days working hard to understand the intricate workings of Facebook – so her clients don’t have to.
We met with Stephanie to talk about how Facebook’s changes have tangibly impacted advertisers’ reach and, more importantly, ROI.
It has been a big year for Facebook in many ways – including developing many features for businesses looking to market to their local communities. In your view, which of the most recent Facebook updates is the most impactful for SMBs and business owners?
Stephanie Asrymbetov: It’s hard to pinpoint just one! Facebook is always rolling out something new, and we continuously assess what will be most valuable for our clients.
I think most marketers would agree that the biggest change in the world of Facebook this year was the algorithm shift to prioritize posts from friends and family over content from businesses. Equally, after Cambridge Analytica was exposed, that impacted the ability for advertisers to use 3rd party data for targeting. Both new developments have forced businesses to rethink their strategy… and challenged technology innovators like us to develop smart products.
What’s the most common misconception business hold about Facebook as a tool to grow their business?
SA: Some think Facebook is just for growing your brand awareness, others think it’s for fielding complaints or getting likes; but Facebook can be a great site to drive your local customers to call you, visit your site, or even fill out a form.
There are also many businesses who believe that they can put the same budget into their Google PPC and Facebook campaigns and get the same number of leads from each platform. The reality is that Facebook is a discovery product, and your leads might need more nurturing than a PPC ad or a local listing since they address an immediate need. Having a multi-prong strategy where different sites are used for different goals and objectives is key with today’s complicated customer journey. And, at the end of the day, businesses need to keep in mind one thing: people’s eyes are on Facebook… so you need to be present! Stay in front of the right people, and they will convert over time.
One key solution that has launched this year at ReachLocal is the Facebook Smart Optimization offer. Can you describe what makes this solution “smart”?
SA: We built our product to drive performance toward each client’s specific goal. Clients can choose to optimize for contact generation, increased reach, or creating engagement. In other words, the ads that are getting the best results in accordance to your goals are rewarded with the most budget to get greater performance. Smart optimization kicks in after day one – and runs throughout the entire campaign duration.
Does this mean that people don’t factor into the equation? What do the Facebook experts do?
SA: Our in-house Facebook experts play a huge role in consulting on content development and keeping a close watch on what makes campaigns successful. They keep a close watch on all campaign activity and manage your relationship with Facebook if any ad content is disapproved. They’re your go-to team to ensure everything is flowing smoothly! Getting a great Facebook campaign out the door isn’t as easy as flipping the switch – we’re there to help.
Much like Facebook, ReachLocal’s proprietary Facebook technology has evolved. How would you describe how our technology has changed within the past year?
SA: There are a lot of options to advertise on Facebook…they don’t all work effectively. We find that most advertisers select only a single business objective, but we discovered that after running thousands of campaigns, the highest performance was from those who ran more than one business objective. We also found that the business objective was often an educated guess, and the tactics make or break the return on marketing dollars spent.
We decided to apply our award-winning optimization to socials ads. This would allow Advertisers to take advantage of many business objectives using a single budget. Just like our search product, we have designed our technology to modify bids and budgets programmatically – removing all guesswork and delivering unparalleled results, based on a goal that our clients can select.
Your clients that have seen a huge spike in leads from Facebook, how have they managed leads to ensure potential revenue doesn’t slip through the cracks?
SA: We deliver our leads in real-time via email or smart devices. This ensures that, as the business owner (or community manager, or marketing manager), you can respond immediately to inquiries. If you don’t respond, one of your competitors will.
We also have solutions that build auto-responses as well. Through our unique technology, you can funnel leads from Facebook into a drip campaign that tells your business’ story. This feature has proven to be very useful for clients looking to ensure that information-seekers get the answers they’re looking for quickly.
One of the biggest values is the immediate delivery of leads – if you wait a full day to respond to a lead, they might not even remember they submitted their information to you! Without our dashboard, you’re forced to log in to the Facebook platform to see if you have messages or form fills. That takes a ton of time, and most business owners are scraping the barrel to find time as it is. Businesses who act fast on leads will get more return on their investment, it’s as simple as that.
Where do you see the role of Facebook for local businesses in 2 years?
SA: Today, Facebook is super focused on ensuring their content is relevant for the user. I see that remaining as a top priority for them as they continue to regain consumer trust. They’re very, very focused on community building, which could have a big impact on local businesses, whether that’s zeroing in on recommendations and reviews or crowdsourced content. In short, we are likely to see Facebook focus on anything that drives meaningful connections with people. We’re constantly iterating our social solutions enhance performance based off of the trends and results we’re seeing – and to ensure businesses are connecting with the right customers in a cost-efficient way.