Passion Panel – Facebook Advertising

Our May 2019 Passion Panel event focused on Facebook Advertising, the pros and cons of the platform compared to its competitors, ad copy and creative, bidding and optimisations, as well as targeting best practice and a funneled approach.

What do you use Facebook Advertising for?

Beth - We boosting organic posts more than dark posts, and we focus on the end of the funnel rather than brand awareness. However, the brand is starting to look at the top of the funnel as well, as although we get new subscribers all the time we would like to broaden this audience.

Melissa - We boost organic posts internally, taking what works well on the organic front and then putting spend behind this. Our main target audience are male blood donors, as females seem to have lower iron stores, and black donors who are harder to reach using Facebook advertising targeting. We also have a big education awareness piece about the change to ‘opt-out’ of organ donation, and as a government body we have a duty to inform and educate the public on what this change means and what their options are.

Ben - We periodically create research products for a specific passion point, for example students, sports and gaming. We need 1,500 to 2,000 survey respondents for these projects and Facebook advertising offers the cheapest way to find respondents by far. We also managed to vastly reduce how much we’re spending to get a click-through and survey complete by offering the chance to win £100 of Nandos vouchers - we split test different voucher such as Amazon and Adidas but Nandos won by far.

Afonso - We do a mix of promoting organic posts and dark posts. We run apprenticeship campaigns for new starters as well as some recruitment posts, but it’s sometimes tricky to figure out where to best spend the media budget as some of the apprenticeship positions are in remote areas in Scotland, for example, so we have to work closely with our agency on this.

Ben- It’s fascinating that recruitment is becoming marketing and that the hiring responsibility can fall into the lap of a social team.

Afonso - Yes and it’s hard to create a narrative and a funnel for every single role given time pressure and budget restrictions.

Do you find Facebook is the cheapest social advertising platform?

Melissa - We’ve seen a massive shift and Instagram is actually becoming the best performing platform for us for 17-34 year olds, which is great because a younger audience can donate blood for a longer period of time. We’re also putting a lot of effort into Instagram Stories and find that Instagram is much cheaper than Facebook than it has been in the past for this younger audience, as well as black donors too.

Afonso - We don’t have an Instagram channel but we find Instagram Stories performing better than the Instagram feed, but Facebook still performs better than Instagram for us.

Sean - We still find that Facebook is the best for us as our main demographic is females aged 35+. We’ve experimented with Twitter but haven’t found it that successful unless you’re working with a campaign manager. Instagram still isn’t doing a huge amount for us but we’re trying to run different campaigns for our younger audiences.

Do you think that Facebook has limitations compared to other social advertising platforms?

Ben - Instagram ecommerce has just launched and we’re excited as we work with a lot of fast-fashion brands and so being in that industry is very exciting at the moment. Why hasn’t Facebook done it? It’s interesting seeing what features they take across between Facebook and Instagram, but functionality wise, Facebook is still king.

Afonso - I was very excited for the Facebook Jobs Board and we’ve run a few tests but when we promote posts, engagement is the only objective we can choose which might not be right for job offers but hopefully this will change in the future.

Max: How much difference do you notice between organic posts and paid posts and what’s the difference from an ROI perspective?

Melissa - We’ve significantly reduced our spend and used to be the largest spending public sector organisation on Facebook. We’ve seen that if we boost our organic posts strategically, our cost per registration went down massively so much of our spend is focused on this.

Ben - Everyone says that organic’s dead but that’s rubbish, it’s just that the rules have changed. It’s now purely based on creative and the amount of people optimising bad creative is crazy - I don’t think the industry has quite digested this yet.

Melissa - We’ll make sure that if we’re running paid advertising to run really kickass organic content alongside this just to give it a push so that there’s that synergy and consistent tone of voice. What’s good for us is that we were ahead of the game in terms of story-telling and we were therefore in a good position when the algorithm changed. Surprise! Letting people tell their story is a good thing!

Ben - We’re telling everyone to get on groups as soon as possible. We’re creating groups associated with our pages and trying to move our followers onto those pages. Reach and engagement are better, they’re self-governing, people are talking to each other again as opposed to the page. Starbucks created a pumpkin spiced latte group because they knew there was a hardcore following for this drink, and they didn’t even promote that they’d done this so it felt organic, and they had one of the fastest-growing groups for a period of time last year. You won’t ever replace your page with groups but certain functionality is now achievable on groups which is no longer as possible on pages.

Tara - I saw that Debenhams have created this for a beauty community and they launched a tester group but they found that the engagement on the page went down as most users wouldn’t comment twice and so they closed the Facebook group and then created it on the website instead.

Ben - We’ve found generally it works but there’s no black and white for these things.

Tara - Yes they made it like a private members club where you had to be invited and it was super VIP. They were targeting a very engaged user group of beauty fanatics.

Ben - I think it’s really important that both the page and the group offer a purpose and you can manage that purpose, that isn’t in addition to the page so you end up doubling up your content.

Afonso - I feel like a group has to be a different channel and you can’t do what some brands do which is post the same content on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Ben - Facebook’s new goal this year is ‘community’ and they see groups as that, which is why the reach is great compared to pages.

Do you use any external Facebook advertising tools?

General consensus - Rules don’t give you the same insights as manual optimisations on ads and there aren’t any tools which offer something more to the table.

Have you run any more interesting targeting approaches?

Tara - We use lots of lookalike audiences to find new interests which we wouldn’t necessarily target.

Ben - Yes it’s easy to forget that audiences aren’t defined by one characteristic or interest, so that someone who likes fast-fashion might also be vegan.

Sean - We ran a Facebook ad educating users on how chickens from KFC live for only a year, and we targeted vegans and KFC fans to start conversations, and that’s exactly what we got.

How do you write consistent ad copy?

Emily - We find it essential to have an in depth tone of voice document and then having a key takeaways document to hand for when you’re writing ad copy.

Beth - We often look at competitors’ ‘Info & Ads’ section on Facebook and see how their tone of voice differs between organic and paid.

Do you think that the general public understand how Facebook advertising works?

Tara - I know many people who don’t even know a Pixel is in place on websites, let alone how it works.

Emily - Facebook will tell you why you are now seeing an ad but I think it would be useful to run an education piece on how users are targeted and explain how users can hide irrelevant ads, which is beneficial to both the advertiser and user.

Digital Marketing Agency London +Mike Grindy