Facebook Getting Marketers To Be Much More Targeted?

Facebook Getting Marketers To Be Much More Targeted?

29th August 2012

Our good friend Al Carlton had a pleasant find this morning. On his Facebook page he spotted the first signs of a new Facebook roll out: targeted posts.

Facebook announced the new feature late last month calling it the “Page Post Targeting Enhanced” feature”. It is meant for brands specifically to not ‘just’ update to all their fans anymore, but to be much more targeted in who sees what message. It is a sign of Facebook being much more targeted and offering targeting opportunities with it. The question is whether or not it will help marketers take the next step. That remains to be seen, but it’s a start.

Targeting your updates

Until now the most targeted you could get with your brand was specifying on country and language. Now the following options are there as well:

  • age new
  • gender new
  • interested in new
  • relationship status new
  • language
  • education new
  • workplace new
  • location (country, state, city)

Facebook started rolling this out a month ago, but many brands are only just seeing this. If you have a Facebook page as a brand you will see the a special target button show up in your update box:

Clicking that will give you different options of targeting:

(images thanks to Al Carlton)

This feature is just for brands on pages, not people themselves. If as a person you want to do this you need to make different groups of your friends and target them there. I for example have a separate “Family” group but also have groups for specifically Dutch people, which means those who do not understand Dutch won’t see those updates.

Advertising: GRP

This change to pages is in line with another thing Facebook is working on: GRP: Gross Rating Points. This is specifically meant for advertising. The measurement team at Facebook is trying to get a grip on impressions. GRP’s are supposed to help with that. What Facebook is trying to do is put a number on impressions combined with reach.

So a message has been sent out, to an x-amount of followers and has been shared x-amount of time to another x-amount of people, based on percentages. Nielsen launched a service for this last year and Facebook is now working on similar things themselves.

The goal of these GRPs is to make marketers get a better understanding of the audience they are targeting. When it comes to advertising this is off course meant to give advertisers much more insight in what they are actually doing, who they are targeting and how these targeted groups respond.

Big changes to Facebook or babysteps?

It might seem like a few nice little features being added to Facebook, but this is can actually be quite a big change, if used in the right way.

Facebook until now has been about the big numbers, both from Facebook’s side as from the side of the marketer trying to use Facebook to target their audience. Get as many followers and likes as possible and start shouting out your message, hoping your audience will pick it up and, if you are lucky, spread the word themselves. That is what Facebook Marketing in simple words actually is (was?).

It actually is a form of ‘old skool marketing’ but with a Social Media sauce added to it. The most you got out of it was an indication of people talking about it and reach. Especially reach.

Until now Facebook Marketing was a form of ‘old skool marketing’ but with a Social Media sauce added to it

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Now this is changing somewhat. Or at least, there is a chance of change. If marketers use these metrics wisely and if Facebook will take a few more steps in the direction they have chosen.

The options which let you target your audience more than ever before might (should) make marketers think about their updates much more. “Who exactly is going to see this update and what will they do with it?” should be a constantly asked question. And if the right audience is indeed targeted the effect of the message will be much stronger. After all the people you are targeting should be interested in what you have to say, making it more likely they will act on it.

That is what Facebook is hoping for according to Facebook’s head of measurement and insights Brad Smallwood who told Adage:

“We’re still trying to figure out how to measure (experiences) in silos, and the more media consumption disperses across channels, it’s going to become an increasingly big problem for advertisers,”

Will it work?

The new metrics should make things clearer and the new post functionality should help marketers act on it. The question is whether or not it will work.

As said the ‘problem’ with Facebook until now is that it has mainly been about targeting the big numbers. If that will change remains to be seen for two reasons:

a. marketers, and especially their managers, are still very much focussed on ‘reach’ because it is the only metric they think they have a grip on. Every board meeting when it comes to numbers and Social it still is about reach, which it shouldn’t be, it should be about conversion. And even though this will take us a step closer, chances are it will be more about how many single men or women were reached than about conversion.

b. Facebook is actually not really giving the right metrics. What Facebook should be giving is metrics about conversion: who clicked, who shared, who saw, who acted. But they are not giving that away. Why not? Because then companies wouldn’t want to pay for reach anymore, but for conversion and all of a sudden Facebook wouldn’t be making that much money anymore, not a very good idea for with the IPO in mind.

So the ‘moves’ Facebook is making here are nice steps, but baby steps. It is up to the marketers to use the targeting options wisely. If they do that, this change can have its impact.


Written By
Bas van den Beld is an award winning Digital Marketing consultant, trainer and speaker. He is the founder of State of Digital and helps companies develop solid marketing strategies.
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