Last month, comScore released its â€œU.S. Digital Year in Review 2010: A Recap of the Year in Digital Media.â€ We noticed several interesting trends (some that weâ€™ll mention in later posts), but one in particular caught our attention: Facebook captured the #1 ranking of time spent online.
Facebook Takes the Lead on Engagement
Though Google and Yahoo! Sites remain approximately 180 million visitors a month, Facebook is attracting an ever-increasing share of total time spent online. In the past year, Facebook has surpassed each of the top three largest web properties, capturing the #1 ranking by time spent in August 2010. Facebook now accounts for 12.3 percent of time spent online in the U.S., up from 7.2 percent just a year ago.
â€œTime spent onlineâ€ probably comes up second to demographics in our discussions with clients about online marketing strategy. We want to (a) ensure that the â€œrightâ€ eyes view the ad with demographic targeting and (b) increase the likelihood that the ad will be seen and clicked on.
Why Facebook? Social networking has outpaced most other online leisure activities, including entertainment. With the growth of Facebook, the advent of Facebook Groups, Location-Based pages, Business pages, and Fan pages, the shift seems to indicate that a growing share of the online community is getting most of its information via social media channelsâ€”and Facebook tops that list.
But how does Facebook advertising rate when it comes to actual conversions? By tracking conversions through a program like Google Analytics or our ad server, weâ€™re able to assess results based on what the clientâ€™s advertising goals are. For example, on a recent campaign for a client with a small budget for Facebook (its primary budget went to traditional online display ads), we were able to place a small PPC (pay per click) buy on Facebook. The result was 20x the spend in new qualified leads for the client. The ROI for that spend was superior to just about any other advertising channel included in the buy.
And thatâ€™s just the advertising side. When recommending social media strategy to our partners, engagement is the first item on the agenda. If a company wants to make use of social media channels, they cannot simply create a Facebook and Twitter account, post a few times, and sit back and wait for the users to flock to their pages. The online community expects much, much more from brands and businesses: Information, tips, deals, coupons, andâ€”most importantlyâ€”engagement. The consumer wants to know that by pressing your â€œLikeâ€ button, it means they matter to your company.
The most recent Facebook upgrade for its Business pages not only emphasizes engagement, but allows you to measure those results through Insights: statistics by date not only on your number of users, but also interactions with those users. How many of your monthly active users â€œlikedâ€ a post on your page? How many shared that post with their Facebook friends? How many commented on a post, or commented on a post once that post is shared? You can even export the data into report formats. Itâ€™s a great tool for measuring ROI and for making tweaks to your social media strategy.
What you want to see (example below from a fairly new Business page) in your Insights: Green arrows pointing up. We love the green arrows, and theyâ€™re what we want to see when it comes to engagement with social media. Not just for the number of new users, but for the number of existing users in your Facebook fan base commenting, sharing, and liking your posts. Red arrows on your Insights page? Time to start making a change in content and strategy. Offer Facebook-only deals for users that â€œcheck-inâ€ to your location (very easy to train staff; as long as theyâ€™re admins of your Business page, they donâ€™t need a printed coupon or any other proofâ€”they simply view your Facebook wall to see who has checked in).
Look at the content youâ€™re offering. If you read your own posts and ask, â€œso what,â€ your users are probably skimming right over your content as it streams on their wall. Worse, they might even take the time to find the dreaded â€œunlikeâ€ button. When someone comments on a post, do you take the time to respond? If not, youâ€™re not engaging your customers. Social media can also be a great customer service tool (as can Twitter). Are you offering your online consumers something they canâ€™t get just by calling your office or walking into your retail establishment? Users expect something in return for hitting that â€œlikeâ€ button. Decide what that thing is going to be before launching your social media strategy.
Our advice when it comes to an online strategy, particularly with a multi-faceted approach that includes online display ads and social media boils down to two things: Where people are spending time online and what sites those people are engaging with. Facebook isnâ€™t necessarily a magic marketing bullet for all campaigns or all types of businesses, but we see plenty that could benefit and donâ€™t. And thatâ€™s â€œWhy Facebook!â€