8 lessons from Facebook for your digital marketing future
Whether you have or work with or in a B2C or B2B business, there are several lessons from Facebook that you can use to improve your digital marketing strategy.
Lesson #1: Turbocharge social interactions.
Relationships are important. This is as true in business today as it was 20 or even 30 years ago. New technologies have enabled more companies to connect and interact with customers, employees, suppliers and vendors. Facebook is the world-leading social media platform that enables people to connect and share opinions, ideas, photos and video. Marketers, business leaders and business owners can also turbocharge social interactions with their constituents. Create and regularly monitor customer service accounts on Twitter. Encourage customer reviews on Yelp. Develop content that fosters dialogue. Consider social strategies that support and advance your business and marketing goals.
Lesson #2: Exploit the ubiquitous smartphone.
More than one in seven people on the planet are active daily on Facebook. And, of Facebook’s 1.79 billion monthly active users, 1.66 billion connect through its mobile app. The average person in the U.S. has seven active apps on their smartphone and chances are good that Facebook is one of them. The company has done a tremendous job of ensuring users download the app, activate it and regularly engage.
Consider how often you check your own smartphone during the day. How do the apps that you use make your life better? I love walking into Starbucks and bypassing long lines to pick up my mobile order from my barista. Starbucks "loves" me back by helping me come in more often, through their Star Rewards program and by giving me in-app offers on the items I buy. How can you create similar win-win scenarios for your customers?
Lesson #3: Collect and protect data.
Facebook capitalizes on the user data it collects to allow marketers to reach people based on age, gender, location, interests and behaviors. The company derives 95% of its revenue from the advertising dollars marketers spend on its do-it-yourself platform. Its treasure trove of data is a competitive advantage over many other social media sites. As such, it is in the company’s best interest to protect the data it collects. Data protection and security measures have the additional benefit of building trust among users, who, in turn, share more data.
The collection and protection of data is essential to optimizing digital marketing. In fact, it is a key competitive advantage over many other forms of marketing. It allows marketers to identify target markets, to understand marketing performance and to recalibrate as needed.
Lesson #4: Engage with your audience.
Facebook has not only connected with users through its desktop platform and mobile app, but it also encourages users to invite others to connect, which grows its audience. In fact, while I am not a Messenger user, that does not stop Facebook from having my friends send me requests to join Messenger. So the company enables users to be advocates for its products. It does this by:
- Sending notifications that encourage engagement (like birthday reminders),
- Suggesting relevant content in users’ newsfeeds (including ads),
- Allowing advertisers to target users based on interests and other key attributes, and
- Making product features intuitive and easy to use.
Lesson #5: Measure whatever moves.
Facebook measures user engagement and shares its findings with its advertising customers and page owners. Statistics are available on a daily, monthly, lifetime or custom basis. Many are available at an organic and paid level (e.g., "free" posts versus "boosted" posts). They include new likes, page engaged users, reach, impressions, logged-in page views, paid reach of paid posts, negative feedback, check-ins, cost per click, video views and more.
To get optimal analytics, it is important to first implement Lesson #3 above. Then, you can use data to create dashboards and better understand the health of your business.
Lesson #6: Identify and know your KPIs.
While Facebook offers a plethora of measurements to customers, its key performance indicators (KPIs) are daily and monthly active users (DAUs and MAUs). These metrics are reported on in every company financial report. They measure size and engagement and, over time, growth and retention. It is easy to be overwhelmed by analytics, so having KPIs can help you focus on what matters most.
Lesson #7: Protect your assets.
Facebook protects its user base, data, content and business model to keep its competitive advantage. While Google is the king of search on the Internet, it has controlled access to Facebook’s information. Facebook’s company pages show up in Google search so that potential and current advertisers can find information to help with its DIY ad platform, but user and partner-developed content is not searchable via Google. Given that Facebook derives 95% of its revenue from advertising, when Adblock Plus announced that it had a solution for blocking ads on Facebook, the company responded with a solution to bypass the ad-blocking. When Adblock Plus created a workaround to the bypass, Facebook responded with yet another solution.
Lesson #8: Stay nimble and current.
Facebook’s competition includes other social media platforms, display advertising alternatives and development platforms for app developers. The company keeps its product development flexible enough to respond to rapid changes in these competitive areas. For instance, Snapchat-like geofilters were quickly integrated into Facebook and Instagram so that users did not need to defect to try something different. Staying nimble will allow your business to swiftly introduce the changes needed to keep your product up-to-date.
Using lessons from Facebook’s data-driven, mobile-powered strategy can help improve your digital marketing performance. Use them reassess your strategy and prepare for your digital marketing future.
Katherine Hunter-Blyden is the founder of KHB Marketing, a strategic business and marketing consultancy. Katherine has 22 years experience in marketing, including traditional and digital media. You can follow her on Twitter.