Facebook to Marketers, It’s Time for a Click to Action

Editor’s note: Brian Solis is principal at Altimeter Group, a research-based advisory firm, and the author of “The End of Business As Usual.” You can follow him on Twitter @briansolis.

You Like me…you really Like me. Wait. Maybe you don’t really Like me after all. According to our Facebook engagement metrics, only 1% of you actually react when we post. So, to keep the numbers up, our team posts more often, asks questions, runs polls, curates content, introduces more and more contests, and asks for your help to submit your pics and videos as part of our “user-generated” content campaigns. We measure success by the Likes, comments, shares, the number of conversations, and reach. While the Likes are rising, we’re starting to recognize the pattern…I guess we never really defined why you should “Like” us beyond the initial click. We just took for granted that a Like equated to an opt-in.

This general scenario is more common than you may think. That’s all about to change however. Marketers must now rethink their Facebook strategy to define click paths and results. As Josh Constine recently reported, Facebook is now giving advertisers access to its API to improve post-click actions. In his post, Constine walks through a series of various scenarios for brands, developers and also local businesses to take advantage of the new Ads API. Here, we’ll talk more about how to start with strategy.

With the updated Ads API, advertisers must now think beyond the “Like.” Facebook’s Ads API will allow advertisers to present ads most likely to take specific post-click action such as content sharing, in-app purchases, Facebook Offers, among a list of other actions (see below). In the great pursuit of ROI, Facebook is also taking a lot of the guesswork out of ad campaign development and deployment to enhance desired performance. The new improvements give Facebook advertisers an unprecedented opportunity to connect with specific market segments based on intelligence to introduce more informed campaigns that trigger relevant clicks, conversions, and return.

What does “more informed” actually mean? Facebook is studying the behavior of its consumer population and as it does, it will provide deeper insights to brands seeking specific actions, such as those who are more likely to be a virtual good buyer, someone who actively shares content, who attends events, individuals who appreciate deals and offers. Over time, ads can be optimized for audiences based on this behavior as well. As such, brands must not only compete for attention and clicks, but also context and relevance based on behavior and preferences.

For brands and agencies, advertising based on keywords is no longer good enough. Now that you have a better shot at reaching the right people based on behavior, advertisers must now also become architects of experiences and outcomes.

Now advertisers can specifically optimize for…

1. People talking about this page
2. Page likes
3. Page post likes
4. Page post comments
5. Page post shares
6. @ mentions
7. Check-ins
8. Photo tags
9. Offers shared
10. Offers claimed
11. App installs
12. App used
13. Credit spend events (number of times someone uses credits in the app)
14. Credit spend amount (value of credits that were spent in the app)
15. Number of RSVPs

This is a click to action…

Designing campaigns now require brands and advertisers to think about the “click to action” they want to encourage. I refer to this as the A.R.T. of Engagement, where brands intentionally design campaigns to provoke relevant actions, reactions, and transactions. To take advantage of Facebook’s API, brands must now employ sophisticated advertising approaches that combine segment and contextual research, segment-specific strategies, app and channel development for each approach, UX, creative design, and real-time conversion metrics, review and optimization.

It’s more than Likes or forcing people through Like-gated apps or campaigns. Now it’s about performance and conversion science where…

1) Contextually relevant content appears in front of qualified and desirable audiences that…

2) Triggers a defined, useful action that…

3) Leads to optimized click paths that result in material content or activity, which then…

4) Motivates conversions to preferred outcomes and…

5) Delivers a more integrated, consistent, and efficient experience.

To engage more effectively through Facebook’s social advertising platform requires that all strategies and campaigns commence with a stated purpose. I believe that the best way to outline these scenarios is to begin with the end in mind and work backwards from there. By starting with the end in mind, the ability to research desired behavior and who to reach as a result becomes incredibly clear…and also inspiring.

The dimensions of engagement you’ll need to define are 1) what are you trying to accomplish, 2) what the experience looks/feels like, 3) what benefits you’ll offer and what they mean to the people you’re trying to reach, 4) the desirable outcomes you wish to measure, 5) How people feel as a result of the A.R.T. experiences you evoke, and 6) What the experience will look like in the most prominent channels of your connected customers.

This is why you’re now an architect of experiences and outcomes. It takes vision. It takes design. It takes measurement and optimization. The A.R.T. of Engagement is realized through a Social Experience Framework that starts with intentions and ends with resulting sentiment…not just the outcome.

There’s an old saying, “it’s not the gift that counts, it’s the thought behind it.” The same is true for social advertising, marketing and well, business overall. Intentions count for everything. Therefore your intentions must be realized as experiences where technology serves as the enabler to creatively and contextually engage to create experiences that meet or exceed expectations and ultimately inspire desirable outcomes.