YouTube Doubles Up on Pre-Roll Ads for Long-Form Content

As video length has expanded on YouTube, the platform has been challenged to find an effective ad display solution that doesn’t mimic the inconvenience of commercial interruptions. This week’s announcement—doubling up on pre-roll advertising spots—sounds like more ad content, but the results appear promising so far. Brands and agencies who host long-form content on their YouTube channels stand to see benefits from this latest change; however, a need to be compelling and attention-grabbing from the start will be all the more necessary.

In the coming weeks, desktop YouTube viewing will afford viewers the option to skip ads (which won’t preclude ads from appearing later in their viewing experience) or to watch two ads at the start of a video. Free and ad-supported Hulu subscriptions presently do something similar; Mashable rightfully calls it a “TV-inspired solution.” Otherwise known at YouTube as “ad pods,” a brief explanation will come up as they decide: “choose when you see ads; watch two ads now for fewer interruptions later.” The option will then gradually deploy for mobile viewers, and then those watching on smart TV sets.

Khushbu Rathi, YouTube’s product manager for video ads, noted on the company blog that the early tests on the feature had increased staying power on long-form content. “Fewer interruptions is correlated with better user metrics, including less abandonment of content and higher rates of ad viewing,” Rathi wrote. Users who opt to watch both ads ahead of a video will see up to 40% fewer ad interruptions, and tested videos saw an 8-11% increase in unique user reach. For advertisers, there will be a 5-10% increase in ad frequency.

In some ways, this seems like the evolution of an announced introduction of non-skippable ads for creators this past August. At that time, YouTube announced, “any channel that can monetize its videos will soon be able to implement non-skippable ads” of 15-20 seconds in length. Previously, only a select number of creative accounts could deploy ads in this fashion. But a number of creators quickly voiced a prospective challenge: audiences might click away from unskippable ads altogether, therefore preventing any ad revenue from coming in. By offering more ads but presenting the details for users to make informed decisions about their viewing experience, YouTube seems to be retaining more viewers on longer videos.

While a few questions remain as this strategy rolls out—the timeline for deployment, if creators can select ad categories, and most notably: what runtime constitutes a “long video”?—Rathi and his team seem committed to evolving the ad experience for advertisers and viewers alike: “we’ll continue working to build the ideal video viewing experience, and keep thinking up ways to deliver value for our advertiser partners.”

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How Facebook Improves Communities and Drives Business Growth

For a platform that has gathered 2.6 real people online, what impact is it making, and what responsibilities come with that power?

It all comes down to having an attitude and an ambition that asks how do we maximize the good while minimizing the bad, according to Ian Edwards, Facebook’s Planning Director.

At Social Media Week London 2018, Edwards reflected on the challenges and opportunities technological innovations brings to our industry and discussed Facebook’s and Instagram’s role in enabling communities and driving business growth.

The power and belief in building a community

Birthday Fundraiser, a recently launched new Facebook feature, together with Facebook Group, continue to be tools that Facebook takes pride in. According to Edwards, these are the tools that can help community drive huge value at a broad level.

Take Birthday Fundraiser as an example. This year, Facebook launched this tool so that users can, on their birthdays, ask friends and family to donate to a charity or a course that matter to them. So far, the tool has raised more than 250 million pounds for various charities, according to Edwards.

He also cited research showing that interacting with your community, either online or offline, in a meaningful way, has many benefits, and Facebook Groups has made that a core mission since its founding days.

“You can find a group in pretty much every single interest you can imagine,” said Edwards.

A year of making technological progress

Edwards also highlighted in this session the progress that Facebook has made in four areas.

Brand safety

Facebook is now working closely with brand safety management partners, like DoubleVerify, to provide transparency in the area.

Minimizing bad content

“Removing content that does not meet our community standard has been a huge focus for 2018,” said Edwards. In May, Facebook published their enforcement number for the very first time.

In Q1 alone they took down 837 million pieces of spam, and nearly 100 percent of that was identified by themselves before they were flagged by users, according to Edwards.

Increasing accountability and transparency in advertising

In August, Facebook announced that they were giving users more information about every business that runs an ad on the platform. Now, when users click on “Why am I seeing this ad,” they will see the reason why they were being targeted for a specific ad and how Facebook was using their data.

“I think this is right at the forefront of ad transparency,” said Edwards.

Election integrity

This is a time when tech giants like Facebook are taking up the responsibility they share in political integrity. According to Edwards, Facebook is sharing with users information of each and every campaign ad and who is paying for that. They’ve also created an online archive for all the ads that’s been run.

“The majority of ad works at a glance”

Mr. Edwards brought forward the idea of “two-second advertising” during the session.

“As an industry, I believe we are often found guilty of making a fundamental mistake — we kind of intuitively believe that advertising works at a much deeper level than it really is,” said Edwards. “But this is not how advertising works. The majority of ad works at a glance.”

However, he thinks that this short attention length shouldn’t be preventing businesses from having ambitious ideas. One of the examples that he brought up was NIKE’s Just Do It campaign ad with Colin Kaepernick, with a short line, “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.” This ad has attracted anger alongside cheers on social media, but following that was a huge marketing success — NIKE’s sales went up to the highest level it has ever been, according to Edwards.

“When you have a big idea, it can be delivered quickly. It will travel and it will have impact,” said Edwards.

At the end of the session, Edwards encouraged social media professionals to stay motivated and believe in what they do.

“I want people to be proud of working in social media,” said Edwards. “It is and it continues to be a force of our time, and will continue to be a place to build meaningful connection with customers.”

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Why Social Media Analytics Aren’t Just for the Top of Funnel

Know your audience.” It’s something drilled into most marketers’ heads from the first day of work. Understanding your audience is key to knowing what your target customers want, like, and think at every stage of the buyer’s journey. And that’s how you convert people into customers, rather than simply collecting a large audience of social media fans.

But most marketers also don’t have the necessary insights and data to understand their audiences well enough for marketing campaigns to reach their full conversion potential. It’s easy to track followers or sales, the start and end of the funnel, but there’s often not much measurement going on in between. And even the final numbers you do measure might not have proper attribution set up to fully grasp your result.

Only tracking sign-ups or sales conversions will never give you the information you need.

What you need is quantitative data and answers about your target customer at every stage of the sales funnel. Instead of just tracking when someone becomes a customer, follow them on the path to getting there. Once you can follow engagement patterns from touchpoint to touchpoint, you can learn specifically where to improve, down to the specific asset or call-to-action.

And you can get all of this information from measuring your social media marketing more effectively. Here’s why you might want to ensure your analytics program is set up as well as it can be to optimize your marketing.

Optimize and improve active campaigns

As the customer journey continues to get less and less linear, and your audience increasingly interacts with you in multiple places at once, social will become more closely integrated with other channels in marketing promotions and campaigns.

In the past, social media was viewed as a brand awareness and top-of-funnel strategy for building an audience to be moved elsewhere for conversion. But now, as customer touchpoints spread to more and more platforms and formats, social media plays a larger role further down the sales funnel in multichannel marketing.

Take the three questions Single Grain’s Eric Siu recommends asking for each stage of your marketing funnel, particularly the ones around how customers find you and what they need from you to move to the next stage. Increasingly, that answer will be found on social media, whether it being how someone found you, or interaction and connection helping guide them to the next stage.

As social media continues to seep throughout the marketing funnel, not measuring it will create wider and wider gaps in your understanding of your effectiveness.

Find focus in your messaging

Social media analytics can help you hone in on your marketing messaging to better appeal to your target audience. You can do this in multiple ways with multiple types of data.

For example, when creating a new marketing campaign or promotion for any channel (or more likely, multiple channels), you can create different content topics and versions of copy based on what social content tends to perform well and what you learn from social media insights. But that’s the least of what you can do.

For messaging targeted at a warmer, familiar audience, you might want to test content with your company’s social audience. But with a colder campaign, you can leverage employee advocacy and your team’s personal networks. Smarp has found the average employee advocate can reach at least 300 people per social channel and drive nearly 13 clicks per Facebook share, so this can be a powerful, low friction way to put test ideas in front of cold audiences.

Social media marketing and measurement also lets you quickly test different marketing and messaging ideas, see how they engage different audiences, then optimize and iterate on them for a full funnel or campaign. You can even customize this process based on what type of audience you would like to test.

Add insights and context to the bottom of your funnel

In addition to measuring your organic and paid activity performance, you can use data available from social media to better understand the bottom of your funnel, even when social media isn’t directly involved. Thanks to the information made available from social platforms on your target audience and people engaging with you already, you can get the information you otherwise wouldn’t have access to with your own numbers.

For example, think about how your strategy and funnel can benefit from Facebook Audience Insights and custom audiences based on what stage of the sales funnel someone is in.

You can use your pixels to track activity on different pages, building ad targeting audiences of new leads, warm prospects at the bottom of the funnel, those who found you through a certain source, and more. There are tons of segmentation possibilities.

The background data you can get from things like that are completely different from what you might get from measuring email or sales page clicks and conversions. So when you track everything from social profiles to email behavior and look at it all together, you can add more context and understanding to the stages of the buyer’s journey that are lacking in demographic insights.

Convert with social

As social media becomes even more closely integrated with the rest of conversion marketing, incomplete measurement will become even more detrimental to your other marketing channels like paid ads and email.

Improve your tracking today to not only prevent that gap but also add new strength to your entire marketing strategy.

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5 Facebook Ad Tools That Will Make Your Content Stand Out

The rumors of Facebook’s death have been greatly exaggerated.

Nearly every year someone predicts that Facebook is dying, soon to be replaced by the next shiny new social media platform, yet it continues to grow and thrive with over 2.2 billion monthly active users as of January 2018. However, with Facebook’s recent emphasis shift from page-to-person to person-to-person interactions, many businesses are struggling to adjust.

Under this new system, posts have less reach than before and many businesses have responded by posting more content, hoping something will get through to their target audience. Unfortunately, recent studies have found that the additional posts have actually resulted in lower engagement but this doesn’t mean that Facebook is not a great marketing and sales platform. Instead, stand out from the crowd and find sales success using these great Facebook tools.

Facebook Ads Manager

If you’re new to the platform, Facebook ads manager is a great place to start because it’s free and easy to set up and you can establish your marketing budget for any amount you choose. To get started go to the Ads page and follow the instructions which will walk you through setting up and activating your campaign

You can skim the surface of this tool or drill deeper to improve your reach by tailoring who views these ads by location, gender, age, and more. For some businesses, this tool is all they need to increase sales and for others, it’s a piece of a larger campaign, but every company advertising on Facebook should take advantage of this resource.

Hootsuite Ads

Hootsuite began as a free scheduling platform that allowed you could create posts and schedule them to be uploaded on to your social media platforms on a specified date and time. They still offer this service, which makes managing your content calendar a breeze, but now offer Hootsuite Ads service that brings more traffic to your website so you can generate additional leads and sales.

This tool comes with traffic and analytics reports, ad filters to narrow the reach and increase the effectiveness of your ads, and Facebook ad support. If you’re nervous about wading into Facebook ads alone, this is a great solution. There are two program levels for this service, $9.99 per month and $14.99 per month.

AdEspresso by Hootsuite

In February of 2017, Hootsuite acquired AdEspresso, a full-service ad creation, and management program.  AdEspresso is a Facebook Marketing Partner that removes the learning curve many businesses experience with Facebook ads so they can achieve a faster ROI. It is also Instagram and Google Partners, which allows you to create and manage all of these campaigns from one location. This system integrates with Canva, a popular graphics program, and allows you to upload images and videos, create carousel ads, and add headlines.

With AdEspresso you can broadly or narrowly define your target engagements and track the success of your campaigns with ease. This allows for great A/B testing so you to try new approaches on different groups and tweak the best ones to achieve better outcomes. Costs for this service range from $49/month for the base plan and up to $499/month for their Diamond plan, with others in between.


If you have experience advertising on Facebook, you may want to up your game by using services such as Buzzmo. Beyond simply running ads, influencer marketing is important to engage certain market segments, especially millennials, and this program helps you identify and utilize the right influencers for your products and services.

This service helps you identify industry trends, tracks competitor content and identify appropriate influencers based on data that determines the range of their reach. Buzzmo also identifies which topics are of interest to your target audience so you can create content that engages this key demographic and delivers the analytics you need to track your success. This service takes the guesswork out of knowing what everyone is talking about and who is influencing them, so you can use this information to promote your products and service. Plans start at $79/month.


A great way to engage your audience is through direct Facebook interactions such as contests, giveaways, quizzes and coupons, and Heyo makes it easy. If you can click, drag and drop, you can create mobile-optimized Facebook campaigns, complete with a countdown, and track your results.

With this service, your campaigns can run on a minimum of three and up to 50 Facebook brand pages so you don’t need to worry about coordinating the process over multiple pages. There are three plan levels, from $25/month to $199/month, and all are Facebook-focused with other social media and third-party integrations included.

Bottom Line

Facebook is alive and well and offers multiple opportunities for businesses to engage their consumer base. Whether you are a newbie or experienced Facebook advertiser, these tools can help take your campaigns to new levels.

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Facebook Portal Use May Affect Your Ads After All

As Facebook announced its entry to the smart speaker market, The Facebook Portal, last week, questions quickly and rightfully arose about the device’s privacy measures. Among the safeguards cited: a camera that wouldn’t record unless engaged, an Amazon-powered Alexa assistant that wouldn’t listen unless summoned, a manual shut-off option for each feature of the device, and the promise that calls made wouldn’t affect ad targeting on any of Facebook platforms.

Now, after clarification by spokespeople from the company, it would seem some of that information is incorrect. Specifically, the Portal’s connection to ad targeting are less airtight than first reported. According to an email sent to press after initial announcements, “Portal voice calling is built on the Messenger infrastructure, so when you make a video call on Portal, we collect the same types of information (i.e. usage data such as length of calls, frequency of calls) that we collect on other Messenger-enabled devices. We may use this information to inform the ads we show you across our platforms.”

Evidently, some of the confusion arose because of questions about if Portal would run or display ads; it will not. But now, it has the potential to impact that revenue stream with the information it collects.

The word “potential” is used intentionally here; Rafa Camargo, the product VP overseeing Portal, went on to say while this means Facebook could “potentially” use that information, there ultimately has been no final decision on the topic—it has not yet been determined whether they will. But this ambiguity, combined with other seeming ambiguity in the realm of privacy (shifting privacy settings, adjustments of affected parties in their recent breach), further legitimizes the worries that have been presented by consumers wary to invest in Facebook hardware.

This rollout misstep feels careless and tone-deaf to legitimate privacy concerns of Facebook’s users and the industry alike. Put another way, Engadget notes, “when you’re already under the microscope for being careless with people’s data, as Facebook is, you simply can’t afford to launch a product with this much confusion.”

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How Apple Dominated Twitter Without Tweeting

This past week, Apple has conducted a master class in how to take over Twitter—and they did it without a single organic tweet.

If you visit @Apple on Twitter, you’ll notice that despite over 2.2 million followers, the company has not tweeted even once.

And yet during the #AppleEvent, when the company unveiled their new line of products, including the iPhone XS and Apple Watch 4, not only were people’s timelines packed with updates from journalists and thought leaders dishing and delving into the devices, but the company spent what some call “a significant amount” on ads.

Why would a company that doesn’t deign to tweet from its own account spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on paid posts?

Well, they’re trillion-dollar Apple—they can do whatever they want. But there’s more to it than that.

Here’s how Apple dominated Twitter for the #AppleEvent

Digiday had a rundown of the prices Apple likely paid for all their advertising on Sept. 12, including:

  • A promoted trend: $200,000/day
  • A custom “like for reminder” build: $250,000 for several days
  • Promoted tweets in 12+ languages (ranging from $0.50 to $8)
  • A “hashflag” (custom Twitter emoji) and a livestream of the event (likely free)

And indeed, no matter where you went on Twitter on Sept. 12, you couldn’t avoid the #AppleEvent hashtag and hashflag. The feed was flooded with tweets about what Apple was unveiling, which was the product of both Apple’s paid efforts and tweets from writers and journalists (more on that in a second).

Apple wasn’t running any ads on Facebook. Why is that? Isn’t Facebook the biggest social media platform, with the most reach? How could Apple avoid it on Apple Event day?

Twitter is where conversations start

Perhaps the biggest draw of Twitter is that it’s built to get conversations started. Journalists, early adopters, and other people who make a living covering and have a passion for Apple products know that Twitter is better for breaking news than Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, or any other major platform.

Apple recognizes this. By meeting users on Twitter—supplying them with a livestream (that’s where this writer watched the event), creating a rare “like for reminder” tweet that helped users remember when the event would take place, and tweeting in languages used all around the world—Apple was actively encouraging and helping those users to have more informed and productive conversations about their products.

For whatever reason, tweeting doesn’t fit Apple’s brand. Tweets from other people do, however. So by pouring money into the platform at the right moment, Apple found a way to boost those tweets, to make them more visible and engaging. Again, that’s without sending a single tweet from their own account.

While Apple has plenty of money, they’re not in the business of wasting it. This was a showcase in how to pick your spots on social media and use each platform—even platforms you don’t engage in yourself—to maximize value.

Images via Apple

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4 Incredible Image Hacks to Improve Your Facebook Ad Campaigns

Five years ago, a colleague of mine began promoting her e-commerce business on Facebook. After spending two years promoting it on AdWords, she believed that split-testing ad copy was the path to building successful Facebook campaigns. After a year of struggling, she started testing images instead. She soon discovered that testing images was the key to success. Today, she is one of the most successful Facebook e-commerce marketers I know. She told me that applying several image hacks increased her average ROI by over 400%!

Facebook Image Hacks Can Boost Your ROI by 400% or Higher

Facebook is the second most popular advertising platform after Google. Around 93% of marketers use Facebook to reach their audience, because it has such a vast base of users. While Facebook is a powerful advertising medium, it takes a tremendous amount of testing and a dedicated strategy to reach your target customers effectively.

My colleague, Jacob Erdei told me that Facebook advertising campaigns will go much more smoothly when you prioritize the right variables for your testing. He tells new Facebook marketers that 80% of the performance of a Facebook ad is attributed to its image.

Unfortunately, choosing the right image is easier said than done. Any campaign requires extensive testing to find the right marketing creative. However, there are a number of great image hacks that increase the probability of success and minimize the resources that you need to allocate to testing images. Here are some great image hacks to test with your Facebook ads.

Segment by age and find images that help users reminisce about their youth

Gabriel Ciordias, the CEO of BannerSnack, says that the biggest mistake that new Facebook advertisers make is testing the same images for every target segmented audience. This drastically limits the likelihood that you will find images that appeal to any of your target users. It takes a large budget and a lot of time to test more than four ads at a time. It is better to choose unique images that are likely to appeal to every segmented demographic.

One effective way to do this is by finding images that bring people back to their youth. In my own campaigns, I have found that people have a strange subconscious fixation with colors and themes that relate to the period of their life when they were in middle school to college.

For example, if you are promoting an offer to baby boomers, you may want to consider using the same colors from the most popular Beatles albums of that era.

Don’t rule out testing darker background colors

A surprising Number of marketers insist that you need flashy images with bright colors to run a successful campaign on any advertising platform. These guidelines don’t align with split tests conducted by Nadya Khoja.

Khoja found that images with darker backgrounds had a 136% higher click-through rate and 18% lower CPC. The conversion rate on this campaign was 87%.

What is the reason for this shocking difference in performance between images with brighter and darker colors? Khoja believes it is because darker colors demonstrate more power and authority.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that images with darker background colors will necessarily perform better for your specific campaign. However, it does show that it is definitely worth a test.

Use avatars that relate to your target audience

In the blog post that he shared with me, Jacob states that using avatars that appeal to your target audience is a great way to boost the performance of your campaigns.

“Really it’s all a matter of testing and segmenting out your groups by interests, age, and any other factors you can think of.  You need to uncover and create multiple customer Avatars.  From there you will be able to select images that closely align with the target group,” Jacob writes.

While this is good advice, I feel it is necessary to qualify it by saying that you should do more research about your target audience before choosing an avatar. The best performing avatar may not be someone that matches their exact demographic. For example, my own tests show that men between the ages of 35 and 48 tend to respond best to images of females that are 5 to 8 years younger than they are.

Try Using Instagram-like Filters

Instagram has changed the expectations of users on all social media sites. Facebook is no exception.

Using Instagram-like filters can be a good way to make your images more engaging. However, there is a caveat – you need to make sure they don’t come across as offensive or too bizarre. Otherwise, they may not get approved by the editorial team.

Try testing different filters and see what works. The simplest and most effective is to simply add a solid, red border to the outside of your image. Luke Kling did a case study on using these effects on PoF ads and found this can increase your click-through-rate by 600%. The same results wouldn’t be surprising on Facebook, especially with the right targeting.

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8 Ways To Use Facebook Engagement To Boost Sales

In 2008, Facebook was first ranked as the most used social network on a worldwide basis and still holds that position today in terms of active users. Still, its popularity is waning, especially among teens, but don’t count this social media giant out just yet. Facebook provides many opportunities to engage your target audience and boost sales.

Post the Right Information at the Right Time

Rather than share the same information across all platforms, understand which types of posts do best on each. Facebook is the best platform for blogs, curated content, videos and live chats. Also, posting between 1 pm to 3 pm results in optimal engagement.

Deliver High Engagement Content

Svetlana Ustinova created iGotOffer as a safe place for people to receive a fair price for their old phones, computers, and pads. To engage the target audience and drive business to the website, he delivers blog content that includes reviews of new phones, fixes for common tech problems, industry updates and more. “We found that by providing content about the latest phones and computers, then posting it on Facebook, we drew people to our site. Nearly everyone has old technology lying around and once the hook gets them to the site, it converts to a sale.”

Be Ready for Your Close-up

Go Live on Facebook to share specific experiences, demonstrations, discussions and more. This opportunity takes engagement to a new level. First, you step out from behind your logo and show yourself as the face of your brand. You can share how your products are made, used, and even recycled, or show the impact that your company’s philanthropic efforts have made on a specific community or area. Second, you should follow the live stream and answer questions, respond to comments, and further connect with your audience.

Boost Your Posts

Many Facebook ad experts pooh-pooh the “boost your post” option as being ineffective. The truth is that for small and/or local businesses, boosting your post results in more sales, and increases the number of page likes. For those on a tight budget, ignore the experts and boost the post. You can achieve a great ROI.

Share the Love

Or, more accurately, make it easy for others to share your content. Always include Facebook’s “like” plugin and share button on every blog, sales announcement, and other relevant content on your site. As you grow more followers, they become an extension of your sales team by sharing pieces about your products and services. Also, when posting information on Facebook, add a caption encouraging them to share it with someone who would be interested in what you have to say and/or sell.

Leverage Facebook Remarketing

This powerful tool has three specific aspects. First, customer lists which function like email marketing using personalized messages instead. Second, website traffic serves ads to people who meet specific filters you’ve established, including people who have visited your site during a specified timeframe. Third, app activity helps businesses with apps boost sales by reminding people to complete a purchase, offer special discount codes, and more.

Take Facebook Ads to a New Level

Facebook Ads have been around for a while so people think they have a pretty good handle on what to do, but let’s kick it up a notch. First, don’t settle for Facebook’s CPM model. Set your own CPM bids and switch to CPC pricing under the advance pricing model. Second, use a multi-product carousel and theme it to tell a story, outfit, or use. You can even use all of the panes to display one compelling image to really capture someone’s attention and imagination. Third, use a video advert because Facebook’s algorithm prioritizes video content. So not only is a video more engaging, it is more likely to be seen by others.

Incorporate Reviews

According to Search Engine Land, almost 90% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. When posting on Facebook, incorporate positive reviews in your ads to establish an element of trust. Also, when you’ve had a run of great reviews, shout-outs or other special acknowledgments, share a brief post such as, “Wow are we blushing about all of the great reviews our (name) product has recently received, including…” Don’t forget to link to the product page so readers can experience it for themselves.

Bottom Line

Facebook is still at the top of social media pyramid in terms of active users and provides significant marketing opportunities for the foreseeable future. Use this platform to post the right things at the right time, looking beyond the obvious opportunities to truly engage your target audience. Sales opportunities are alive and well on Facebook if you’re willing to make the effort.

Learn the latest trends, insights and best practices from the brightest minds in media and technology. Sign up for SMW Insider to watch full-length sessions from official Social Media Week conferences live and on-demand.

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Snapchat’s Two New Hires Will Help It Show Its True Value to Marketers

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