What’s New at Facebook

By: Kyle Lacy

From: IGC Retailer, IGC Show Issue, 2012

What’s New at Facebook
If you are currently marketing your garden center business on Facebook, this article is a must-read. There are a number of key changes that could provide you with new opportunities to build your customer base and bottom line.

In an attempt to become soulmates with its marketing counterparts, Facebook held its first-ever Marketing Conference this February. I had the opportunity to track the changes happening to the platform. In order to explain all the changes, I would need to write a book, so let’s focus on the “real moneymakers” for your garden center - Facebook advertising and analytics.

Facebook ads are a great tool to drive leads to your store. If you’re familiar with Sponsored Stories or Facebook ads, you’ll notice that these will begin to appear in places other than just the desktop news feed and sidebar. There were five changes associated with the displaying and creation of ads: page post, news feed, right-side ad, logout page and mobile news feed. In my opinion, the mobile news feed is the most powerful change from an advertising point of view since Facebook boasts more than 425 million mobile users. The changes to the ad platform allow premium advertisers to reach fans connected to their page through the news feed without the fan’s friend generating a “sponsored story.”

Broadening Your Reach
The “reach generator” is now available through Facebook’s premium managed accounts, and uses a fixed fee price structure based on the page’s number of fans. It allows you to turn any post into a premium ad. Think of it as adrenaline-pumping, premium storytelling. Remember, any post at your Facebook page is only reaching around 16 percent of your overall fans; the reach generator allows you to reach your fans the other 84 percent of the time.

Facebook’s Marketing Director Mike Hoefflinger said the reach generator system let Ben & Jerry’s reach 98 percent of their fans with a post and get a 3-to-1 ROI, and other pages have reached 75 percent of their fans. Those are big numbers.

Once your post has been submitted to the reach generator, it has the potential to appear in four different places - right-sidebar, mobile news feed, web news feed and the logout page.

The Logout Experience
At this time, when users sign out of Facebook, a generic login page is displayed with information about joining Facebook. Pretty lame. Now, Facebook announced it will start displaying premium ads spanning the page, much like the new timeline.

Why is the logout experience so important to Facebook and advertising brands like your garden center? According to TechCrunch, 37 million people log out of Facebook each day - that’s 105 million people monthly! According to Insidefacebook.com, the addition of premium ads to the logout page will help Facebook generate enough impressions to reach the 75 percent of fans it guarantees through its “reach generator.”

Any premium page post ad is eligible to appear on the logout screen - this includes videos, photos, offers, events and questions. A user doesn’t have to be connected to a page in order to see its ad.

Real-Time Analytics
Google beat Facebook to the punch with the announcement of the real-time addition to Google Analytics late last year. Real-time data tracks the immediate impact of content to site traffic. For example, if I send an e-mail marketing my Facebook page, it will track the traffic generated from my e-mail in real time.

Most of you should be familiar with Facebook Insights, which allows admins to see how many users a post reaches and engages and how many people are “discussing” that post. According to ZDNet.com, the real-time feature for some Insights data - likes, comments and shares for page posts to the news feed - is now available to page admins. Others - impressions, reach, negative feedback, “people talking about this,” demographics of engagers - are delayed.

Administrators will have instant access to metrics, measuring the immediate impact of content and advertising, like engaged users; organic, paid and viral reach; “people talking about this;” and page post metrics.

Facebook has also introduced direct messaging for page admins.

Why Does It Matter?
With the changes, the content you create on Facebook is more important than ever because people are able to interact with your garden center in real time. We’ve already seen an increase in engagement with marketplace ads and sponsored stories, so interactive premium ads will only push your customers to interact with you even more.

This puts more emphasis on creating quality content. Throughout these changes, focus on creating content that drives consumers to engage. It’s not about your opinion of what’s good or bad - it’s now up to the community to decide. Listen, react and deliver.

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