Understanding Facebook [Fame House Whitepaper]
In this piece, digital marketing agency Fame House explains how Facebook can be utilized as a marketing tool to gain audience insight and how the data which the ever-adapting social network gathers allows for increasingly more precise targeting of fans.
Guest Post from Fame House
Each Fame House White Paper highlights new developments at the cross section of music and technology handpicked by the team as being the most relevant topics for clients. This quarter, the FH team dives deeper into Facebook to explore its audience, ways to effectively reach its users, the explosion of Facebook video, and where the platform fits into your broader digital strategy.
Introduction and Section I below – download the full white paper, “Understanding Facebook: From the People to the Bigger Picture” from FameHouse.net.
Eric Hahn, CMO
Five years ago, when Fame House first got its start as a digital marketing agency in the music industry, we were a bit of a hard sell. At the time, there was a sense that what digital people did was smoke and mirrors, like we had hidden knowledge of secret tactics to blow shit up for people. Except for a select few early adopters, the majority of sales conversations with prospective clients revolved around what stunts or “crazy shit” we could do for people to get them hockey stick viral growth overnight. But our vision as a company was to provide a much more practical, effective approach to digital that paralleled the same tried and true marketing fundamentals of telling great stories and connecting artists to fans.
Fortunately for our sanity (and the success of our business), we’ve seen firsthand a dramatic shift in the industry’s approach and perception of digital through the everyday conversations we have with managers, artists, record labels and many other key stakeholders in the music business that we are fortunate to call our clients and peers. In a world where the industry has now caught up to an ecosystem where discovery, consumption and engagement happens primarily online, our vision for how digital strategy should be approached is finally coming of age.
To explain this approach, it’s easiest to explain the two core prompts we align our work around:
- The first challenge is identifying how we transpose an artist, label, or event’s brand to a digital engagement strategy that allows for a holistic conversation with their fan base. Often times, the challenge we have is to identify ways our clients can expand the communications to go beyond promoting tours, albums, etc. So how do we build a brand-driven content strategy derived from the client's story? We believe in the need to drive fan relationships before consumer relationships. Furthermore, we see this approach as a necessary vehicle to drive year-round engagement, no matter if a client is on or off cycle.
- After we define these story threads, part of our expertise is tailoring the architecture of the content to work specifically for individual platforms. That is, how do we get the most out of the audience a client has on each platform by paying attention to the unique consumer behavior specific to a channel? For example, why and how people use Instagram is very different from Pinterest, etc. Ignoring this results in an ineffective method to reach and cultivate a relationship with fans.
These tactics all funnel up to one mission we have for our clients: To build and maintain connected audiences for them. This backbone is a driver for branding, exposure, monetization—everything that’s fundamental to an artist or music brand’s core business objectives.
Often times, clients ask us why we advise to focus on certain platforms. In this white paper, we wanted to take the time to explore Facebook. Our team does a tremendous amount of research and analysis that informs both overarching best practices and individual, client-specific insights. To give a better understanding of our methods, but also to open up the conversation to all of you, we had our team put together a collection of deep dives into varying topics related to the Facebook platform.
SECTION I: AUDIENCE
Despite industry rumors, Facebook remains strong with Millennials. Across our clients, we see that well over half of the users who we reach—and more importantly, who engage with our content—are under 25, and the great majority (usually over 80%) are under 35.
While this definitely has something to do with many of our clients attracting a younger, Millennial audience, it is also a clear indication of one very important trend on the platform. Although younger users may prefer platforms like Instagram and Snapchat for a truly “social” experience, they are very actively consuming and engaging with content from artists, brands, and other Pages on Facebook.
The volume of data that Facebook has on these users is unprecedented in the digital space. Increasingly, Facebook is sharing that data with marketers, enabling us to make better decisions than ever before about what will work best for each audience and objective. Here, we explore some of the ways Facebook is leveraging this vast volume of data— as well as how we, as marketers, can take advantage of that data.
Unlocking Psychographic Data Across Your Owned Audiences
Katonah Rafter, VP of Marketing
One of our favorite tools at Fame House is Facebook’s Audience Insights. While initially released to advertisers in 2014, the tool is one we find is still often overlooked by marketers. Yet it is arguably the most powerful method we have to understand who our audience is, what their interests are, and how they behave across Facebook’s vast universe.
Audience Insights sits within the Ads Manager section of Facebook. It goes beyond the standard insights you see in your Page admin view to show psychographic data about your audience, such as common job titles, relationship status, education level, income and home value, device usage, retail and online spending behavior, top interests (both categories and specific pages), and activity on Facebook (e.g. total Pages liked per user, frequency of comments, shares, ad clicks across Facebook in the last 30 days). Across most of these data points, Audience Insights will show you not just your audience’s data, but also how that compares to the broader Facebook user base.
You can drill down deeper to filter the data based on a broad range of factors, such as ethnicity, age, gender, education level, language, and even “behaviors” such as “Expats in Brazil” or “Engaged Gamers – Simulation.” This gives us an unparalleled ability to understand specific segments of our audiences, and how various groups behave differently.
Most exciting of all, however, is what this tool can do for your owned data—not just the data generated by your brand on Facebook. Audience Insights can be used to analyze any Custom Audience that lives within Facebook, enabling us to perform this same analysis on groups like your website visitors, app users, or email lists, and compare each group against each other. And because Facebook has user data on nearly 1.5 billion people across the world, the sample size we are looking at is significant.
Of course, while providing enormous value to marketers at no cost, this tool plays right into Facebook’s own master plan. The more data we share with the platform to perfect our ad targeting, or to understand our audience, the more information Facebook has to feed its own business objectives. It’s only a matter of time—if they succeed—before Facebook is the Internet.
BRIDGING THE CONSTELLATION
How Facebook is Perfecting Audience Targeting
Matt Chylak, Digital Strategy Manager
At this point, it’s pretty much accepted that Facebook knows everything about us. Whether we’ve locked down our security settings or not, their database has detailed information about every user in its system, from simple biographical data to extensive behavioral data to geotagging features that essentially trace our every move. While this may be slightly alarming from a privacy standpoint, this consolidation of data is exciting for marketers, as it paints a clearer picture of who is—and who could be—engaging with our products.
Facebook is banking on finding the most effective ways to monetize these data clusters for continued growth, especially as it continues to drive non-paying brands away from the platform. Precise audience targeting is a constellation of stars; the picture is there for us to connect if we look at the spaces between the data points. To fill this space, the social behemoth is constantly rolling out new features, and nearly all of them are intended to improve their audience targeting capabilities.
“THE MORE DATA WE SHARE WITH THE PLATFORM TO PERFECT OUR AD TARGETING, OR TO UNDERSTAND OUR AUDIENCE, THE MORE INFORMATION FACEBOOK HAS TO FEED ITS OWN BUSINESS OBJECTIVES.”
FACEBOOK IS PERFECTING ITS VIEW OF USERS BY
- Timing messaging to historical data
- Increasing the relevance of interest targeting
- Refining its structure towards more of an app-in-app ecosystem
“FACEBOOK HAS NEVER BEEN SHY ABOUT THEIR DESIRE TO INCREASE THEIR SHARE OF THE $145 BILLION GLOBAL ADVERTISING MARKET.”
ENHANCED HISTORICAL DATA
Facebook has already done a great job orienting users to include YOY dates in their profiles. Their “On This Day,” “Birthday,” and “Milestone” features seamlessly integrate historical data into users’ news feeds, revealing that the social network’s algorithm is paying close attention to how users actually live their lives.
The next clear step here is to become more predictive, extrapolating future information from historical status data. Most people have a predictable yearly orbit, no different from a planet. Segmenting audiences by what they do during certain times of year is the next step toward more precise time-based ads targeting. For example, a festival can send nostalgic loyalty sales to fans leaving for their next year of college. Bars can advertise their drink specials to local college students who recently finished their midterms. This data is more efficient for marketers who want to tell a focused story, and delivers more timely and valuable offers to users.
IMPROVED INTEREST TARGETING
Interest targeting will always be the core of paid media advertising, but Facebook needs to continue iterating as users become less and less likely to follow a brand’s page. New updates to user profiles are Facebook’s attempt to solidify its position as the center of its users’ web presence, especially on mobile.
Building off widely adopted features from e-dating profiles, the newest platform updates include a new 100-character Bio field and an option to pin Featured Photos to the top of your profile. While these might seem like innocuous changes, this increased focus on biographical information has major paid media implications. Scraping this data will give the platform’s algorithm an even better idea of what users care about. A similar overhaul of web profiles in 2010 gave Facebook immense amounts of data on where people live, go to school, and work—data that has fueled the platform’s ad targeting functionality ever since.
INCREASED IN-APP ACTIVITY
The above updates are certainly interesting, but Facebook’s most exciting moves are the ways it is shifting to become more of an all-encompassing ecosystem, persuading users to spend more and more time within its mobile app.
At its F8 developer conference this March, Facebook’s Director of Product Adam Mosseri admitted that the company tracks which users we’re messaging via its Facebook mobile Messenger app. Other owned apps like Instagram and WhatsApp likely provide similar stats. Linking that cross-platform data together will be key to getting an even stronger picture of each of the nearly 1.5 billion people who inhabit the Facebook universe each month.
This complete picture extends more directly to payment information as well. A major rollout this year was the Messenger Payments function, which allows users to save credit card data with Facebook rather than using a dedicated payments app like Venmo. Complementing this service, Facebook announced in mid-October that they’ve begun testing a new feature that will let users shop directly within its app, as well as rolling out a ‘products page’ ad format that promises to help it become a major competitor in the sales space.
As technology tries to own larger and larger parts of the advertising spend, we’ll continue to see more moves towards the “app-in-app” model. Facebook has done an incredible job of monetizing its user base, and this value will only increase as it gets better at using predictive data. Right now Facebook is the star around which a large portion of the digital advertising world orbits. It won’t stop until it’s the center of the universe.
COOKIES VS. FACEBOOK AUDIENCE DATA
Adam Rappoport, Account Manager
Part of Facebook’s master plan centers around the concept of replacing the ‘cookie’ with audience data from their 1.5 billion active users. The flaws of cookie-based advertising, namely relying on third-party cookies, have long been documented; the inability to track the same person across devices, for example, is a major shortcoming. Cookies become even more difficult to track on mobile devices, and there will likely never be a consensus on their ability to accurately connect advertisers with interested parties.
Facebook has never been shy about their desire to increase their share of the $145 billion global advertising market. Their mission includes ensuring that the creative community starts to learn and understand the power of their data as it pertains to advertising. Within the Facebook ecosystem lives more data on more people than any other single platform in existence can offer. With the introduction of advertising to Instagram, new demographic segmentation capabilities, an ad-server (Atlas), and an audience network that allows brands to extend their Facebook campaigns to other mobile apps, they are well on their way to achieving their mission.