13/06/11

By Simon Mansell, CEO, TBG Digital

Introduction

Goldman Sachs valuation of Facebook at $50 billion has intensified the spotlight that has been shining on social networks recently. Linkedin, the professional networking site, announced plans for an IPO and an enhancement of the advertising services it currently offers. Highly targeted advertising now represents a huge revenue opportunity for social network operators and for external companies it offers a new and highly personal communication channel with its customers and prospects. This view is reinforced by Deloitte’s 2011 market predictions report that claims 2011 will see social networks break the one billion user mark and deliver two trillion adverts. In light of these predictions, marketers will need to explore and pursue strategies and techniques that not only help reach a growing audience but hold their attention.

Tailored and personalised advertising remains the most effective way to reach a Facebook audience. With the explosive growth in the number of Facebook users, the challenge remains to keep one step ahead. March 2011 saw the number of active Facebook users in the UK pass the 30 million mark. That represents half the population of the UK. The significance of this lies not in the number, impressive though that is, but in the appreciation that as the number of users grows and matures in its outlook and expectations, gaining their attention becomes ever harder.

A Smarter Approach

Two techniques that we are pioneering in anticipation of this fact revolve around improving the user experience. Both draw on the versatility of ONE Media Manager, an automated social media advertising technology platform, to deliver relevant content within the Facebook environment.

The first initiative is a self serve page management system. SmartPages is a dynamic landing page optimisation tool that helps maximise conversion rates. Facebook users do not want to have to leave the site to visit another website simply to get further information about a service or offering or to make a purchase. So, we look to bring the relevant website content and information to them, directly within Facebook. SmartPages allows marketers to manually build landing pages in seconds; automatically split test 15,000 combinations to find best performing page and dynamically create pages that reflect their advertising. This ensures that when an individual clicks on a Facebook advertisement, they are presented with a series of website pages within Facebook that contain relevant information in an appealing format.

The second technique is geared towards highlighting a specific offer on a particular day but doing so in a way that is both subtle and compliments the brand image and positioning. Daily deals is an application that can be reskinned to a clients brand and sits in a custom tab on the clients Facebook channel. This allows for a less intrusive way of promoting a service or product but maintains the appeal of a time-limited special offer.

Conclusion

Back in July 2010, Mark Zuckerberg commented that Facebook was almost guaranteed to reach 1 billion users worldwide, provided Facebook continued to innovate and remain relevant. If the current growth rate is any measure, Facebook are certainly on track to achieve this goal. The fluid nature of Facebook and social networking generally requires marketing professionals to be constantly thinking ahead. Similarly, we recognise that we cannot rest on our laurels and that we need to innovate. For us, innovation is driven by anticipation; the anticipation of what might be and how we might best address it.