Facebook matches advertisers to users based on users’ interests, activities, favorites, their job titles, as well as the names of the groups they belong to and the pages they are fans of. That’s a lot of information, and Facebook is still a place where more often than not people are willing to share an unbelievable wealth of personal stuff with their Friends and the Facebook Corporation. From a marketer’s perspective, Facebook can offer profound insights into the personalities and circumstances of one’s target audience. As a gathering place on the Internet, Facebook’s communities and the community demographics developed therein can give marketers surgical precision as they find an arena for their ads.
To begin his talk at SES Toronto, Marty Weintraub identified three classes of Facebook targeting tactics that every Facebook marketer ought to have at their disposal. Literal, competitive and inferred targeting should all inform a Facebook ad strategy. Let’s take a look at these three and summarize Weintraub’s discussion of them in more detail:
These are the most obvious connections a marketer can make. Selling lacrosse sticks to people who like “playing lacrosse” on Facebook would be an obvious starting point. Literal targeting aims to match ads that are semantically related to the interests of users on Facebook. Often a keyword appears both in the interests listed by users and in the ad itself. Literal targeting allows marketers a way into Facebook that is parallel to SEM efforts on search engines. The downside is that these clear relationships sometimes don’t exist and that they unlock only a fraction of community demographics’ potential. As a marketer, Facebook allows you to go deeper into the lives your audience than ever before. The question according to Mr. Weintraub is “how deep are you willing to go?”
Competitive targeting focuses on both the positive and negative Facebook presence of a brand’s competitors on Facebook. A competing brand’s fans on Facebook might be an effective place to market your superior goods. Explain the added value of your product in your ad, offer a deal, try to win people over to your side. Fans of brands that are vulnerable, either because of an inferior product, negative press coverage, a recall of some sort, whatever the vulnerability may be, present fertile ground for converts. Essentially, marketers should try to find ways to leverage competitor investments in organizing their followers on Facebook both for their own Facebook presence and against the competitors themselves.
There are also plenty of opportunities to market to dissatisfied customers of competing brands. People who like “windows seven sucks” would be a good group to market the newest Apple products to. Take a look - there’s plenty of negative sentiment on Facebook to mine. Start by searching for groups with a word like “hate” or “sucks” or “awful” and see if you can find people with strong negative sentiment for something related to your product and write ads that present yours as a useful alternative.
Marty Weintraub sees inferred targeting as the place for a marketer to “go deeper.” Facebook can help marketers identify people who are insecure, people with violent tendencies, people with idealistic passions. Facebook is filled with users who "self-identify" at social extremes. Would somebody who likes “stopping genocide” also like to buy tee shirts where ten percent of the profits go to feed the hungry in Sub-Saharan Africa? Probably.
There are tons of opportunities to market to people based on their circumstance. Medical conditions are a goldmine. Someone who likes “i am pregnant” will soon be buying a predictable range of products. Family roles and occupations that people list can help marketers as well. Single dads are different from grandparents and so are the products they buy.
What do pot smokers buy (beyond illicit substances)? An incredible number of people will identify illegal activities as a part of their interests. Find these extreme individuals and offer them related discounts on cookies, ice-cream and slurpies. Offer them self-help guides or eye drops. Once you begin to think laterally, the end seemingly has no end.
It’s the golden age of marketing according to Mr. Weintraub, because we have newer and more precise insights into our audiences. Admittedly, to hear him talk about it, one can’t help but imagine Facebook marketing as a frontier -- one that is getting richer and deeper.
What do you think? What is the craziest association you've ever made between your product and a demographic with your Facebook ads?