It is hard for any marketer to
ignore the hype that surrounds social media. Facebook, Twitter, performance
display and ad exchanges are bringing opportunities for retailers to generate
demand within these massive new channels.

Facebook is probably the most
accessible and it’s understandable that retailers are getting excited about its
possibilities. We’re looking at a site with more than 400m active users,
all of whom can be individually targeted and engaged through Facebook Ads.

However, paid advertising on Facebook has
only just begun, and still has a long way to go. Since Facebook opened up its
API and allowed text and image advertisements to appear on the right hand side
of most pages, few organisations who have figured out how to make the most out
of the opportunity – and, in many cases, they still do not have access to
resources and budgets to tap into the channel.

Now, for smart retailers, this uncertainty around Facebook Ads
represents a fantastic opportunity
. Just as advertising on content networks
required a shift from intent-based to contextual advertising, Facebook Ads
represent a similar shift. 

It’s true
that advertising on Facebook is driven by targeting users based on their likes
and interests, as opposed to user queries,  but most of the search marketing skills and techniques developed by successful
brands can be translated into the skills required to build winning campaigns on
Facebook.

This is because Facebook and paid search advertising share a common
bond:  their ad platforms fundamentally rely on targeting specific segments of
users. 

With a large set of potential
keywords to explore, Facebook marketers have the challenge of expanding their
audience, whilst refining their traffic quality at the same time. They also
need to make sure they are doing this with factors such as creative and landing
pages and the affect they have on conversion in mind. 

Doing these things is all part of a search
marketer’s skill-set: analysing conversion rates and ROI down to the creative
level, building out multiple similar campaigns with varying targeting
parameters, sub-segmenting campaigns based on quantitative results to refine
traffic, testing ad copy and landing page effectiveness, bidding to business
goals on ads with little history or data, and managing ad quality. 

But how to take the first
steps? As a retailer, there are lots of
ways to use your existing search programs to give yourself a head start on
Facebook. And more importantly, there
are some unique best-practices on Facebook that you should know about.

Below are
three tips that I’ve put together after working with merchants using Facebook
Ads:

Carefully consider
how to repurpose your top keywords to generate likes and interests

Just as in paid search, you will
likely use keywords (called Likes and Interests) to target your ads to
potential customers on Facebook. Identifying your highest performing paid search terms can give you a
head start in determining relevant keywords for use as likes and interests. 

But you have to be thoughtful about how you
use these keywords. Similar to
advertising on the content network, focus on topics and themes rather than
individual terms in order to translate from search keywords to keywords
representing likes and interests. 

You
should be creative about generating likes and interests by including related
themes. For example, if you sell tents,
consider likes and interests like “camping”, “backpacking”, “trail running”,
“rock climbing” and other related activities. Also, you need to be weary of keywords that are too general. These terms can cast a wide a net in terms of
audience and end up diluting traffic quality and performance. Use Facebook’s advertising tools to estimate
the reach of targeting parameters, including candidate likes and
interests. 
   

Test images before copy

On search engines, ads are typically
limited to a 25 character headline and 75 character description, making testing
and tweaking copy easy. On Facebook, you have a little more copy to play with,
but more importantly you have the option to use an image in your ads.

With a
wide variety of engaging social content on Facebook pages, you need to ensure
your ads stand out and can grab the user’s attention. While relevant value propositions, differentiation,
and calls to action, in copy are vital, using the right image can have a much
larger impact on whether or not your ad warrants a second glance or a
click. 

Most successful ads include colourful,
engaging images
.  Adding borders to your
photos in colours like orange or yellow, which contrast with the blue and white
Facebook interface, is a simple way to pull the users’ eyes your way. The most
successful images tend not to be the most aesthetically pleasing, but are
instead the ones that grab the most attention. 

Keep your ads fresh

With users spending an average of
over seven hours a month on Facebook, they will be presented with your ads much
more often than paid search ads. Because
an ad can be served to the same users multiple times, it doesn’t take long for
Facebook users to become “blind” to an advertisement. 

Additionally, if your ad has low
click-through rates, Facebook may look to serve the ad less than newer ads
without performance history. Rotating
images and ad copy is important to keep ads fresh and quality scores
high.

Even Facebook suggests that you move around images and copy every couple of days to make sure your ads
remain fresh to the viewers and encourage clicks. Serving a variety of ads to the same target
group can also help you hone in on the messaging and images that make an impact
on particular segments.