Wargaming Tradecraft: Facebook and Advertisements

Facebook and Advertisements

via Bill Hall
So, we're all somewhat aware that there's this thing out there called MySpace Facebook that allows us to play a game called "Who's got the most friends?" while redefining what we used to refer to as "acquaintance" as "friend" and probably devaluing the term when referring to those most important to us....

No matter the stereotypes that exist around Facebook, the fact is that it's quickly changing many internet, communication, social, personal and business landscapes. Any sarcasm aside, it's a prominent social medium in today's world and it's time you got involved.

This post is directed at both blogs and hobby stores as I've used / seen used both aspects and have a few observations to share and hopefully improve your communication, followers and social awareness. I'll start out by explaining some of the benefits to Facebook, briefly talk about pages and some features, show how to setup ads and finally how to interpret the information afterward.


Why?

Facebook is changing how we interact over Internet

Facebook is THE social medium these days and not being a part of it is one less way for people to find you.

Facebook has replaced EMAIL and is the new MESSENGER for many people. For those who use it, it's HUGE and the number of people adopting it is rapidly growing. I prefer messenger to Facebook, but I'm forced to use Facebook because that's where a lot of people I know have migrated, which in turn increases how much I'm using it.

Adoption has become so great that there are issues in the news at the moment where states are passing laws to prevent the "inappropriateness" of teachers and students connecting through social media, while teachers are saying that Facebook has become the only way to get a hold of their students or for students to reach out to them now that email goes unchecked.

Facebook is facilitating communication in new ways

It's a huge benefit that as people browse through their friends updates every day, they'll also see posts from blogs / businesses that they . That means that every new post, new product, vacation/sick days, updates, events, etc... can be easily advertised FOR FREE to anyone who involves themselves in your product. To go beyond this, every one of their friends can be shown your content with the quick click of a  button.

I've talked about RSS Feeds before - how great it is to aggregate all the sites that interest you in one place - well think of Facebook as the RSS for the new internet generations. It's a single place for them to see everything going on in the lives of not only their friends, but also their interests.

Some businesses have moved to a fully social media platform. When I tried citing to the Codemasters Overlord page the other day, I discovered they were now only on Facebook here. While interesting, and a huge savings in overhead, their games only have tiny Facebook pages and old games weren't transferred at all. For a while Skittles only website was a bar at the top of your browser with links to their social media sites. While I don't think it's time to fully subscribe to social media and get rid of the rest of your online presence, there's definitely a benefit to being able to get stronger feedback from your customers

Am I seeing much benefit?

Yes, but not directly. When I check my stats in Blogger, I don't see many referrals from facebook.com, but during my advertising adventure, I saw a significant increase in both RSS and direct browsing. That tells me that in our hobby, people haven't embraced Facebook as a replacement to conventional browsing methods, (typing in an address and using RSS) but that it's still a strong way for people to find you.

In the short time I've joined the local store's Facebook, I've received all sorts of helpful news. Tournament times, rescheduling of game days and even sick days when the store will be closed - all helpful things. It brings the store to light because otherwise I wouldn't be going to their webpage. It's a way to aggregate information that otherwise you wouldn't be seeking.

Automation

I'll mention it lower, but thanks to Apps, you can actually be as hands on or hands off as you'd like to be in Facebook. This allows you to try and get really interactive with your followers there, or just have a presence to try and link people over to your blog and share your updates.


Creating a Facebook Page

If you don't already, then head to http://www.facebook.com and create a personal account. You have to have one before you can create a page to link to it.

When you're ready, you can create a page here: http://www.facebook.com/pages/create.php

There's a few different styles, depending on how you want to target this page. The differences don't make a ton of sense unfortunately... and they've since changed how it's handled since I've have my page created. (Apparently Facebook reorganizes a bunch) From what I've read, search engines may index the store and business pages differently.

The steps to create the pages are pretty straight forward. All I'll warn you about is that if you lie because you want some obscurity online, you might not be able to change the details later.

You can see Insights on how people are interacting with your Facebook Pages and Websites.
For websites/blogs, to prevent other people from pulling up your site's stats, Facebook provides code you can place on your website or blog which gives your Facebook account permission to view Facebook's stats on your site. You won't actually see names of people sharing links with their friends, but you will see demographic information. (male / female / location / age range)


Facebook Tips

Use Facebook as Page

Under the "Account" drop-down, you'll see a link that says "Use Facebook as Page".

By clicking this, it'll show you a list of any page you're an admin for.

Here, you can actually log in as any page. This allows you to browse Facebook and "Like" things as the Page, instead of as yourself. Status updates, messages and comments will also appear to come from the page instead of you.


RSS Graffiti

By installing this App, you can point it at an RSS feed and have updates automatically sent to your Facebook. This gives bloggers a nice "hands off" method of running their Facebook page.

http://www.facebook.com/RSS.Graffiti

*Note, you have to install the App for yourself. It won't post updates to your profile unless you tell it to, but it can't be installed while you're logged in as your page.


Privacy Settings

Facebook has some pretty extreme ideas about sharing information and privacy. I haven't had to setup a Facebook account recently, but your privacy settings used to be REALLY open by default.

Personal Privacy Settings

In the same drop-down above, you'll see a link "Privacy Settings" that takes you to this page:


Make sure everything is set to "Friends only" because otherwise there's no telling who's looking at your private information. Email, pictures, phone number, address... all things that can end up shared with the whole internet. Spam bots LOVE Facebook. Every app you install also has access to all this information. Without customizing the "Contact information" section, so will your Friends' apps. Of course it's against Facebook terms of service for an app maker to use or sell your personal information... but try proving it.

Page Privacy Settings

As for the page itself, you can restrict how much access users have under the page settings. It's up to you whether you allow anyone to post to your page, or if they're only allowed to comment, or not at all. At a minimum, I'd say allow comments since that's the point of this endeavour, but as long as you keep an eye on your page and moderate, then you might as well let anyone leave feedback too.




Advertising your Facebook Page

Facebook's advertising structure is... funny. That is to say you don't actually get a set rate for the cost of advertising with them, and you won't know how much you're paying for ads until AFTER you've spent the money. This (rightfully) throws a lot of people and businesses off. However, after making the Wargaming Tradecraft Page, Facebook emailed me a $50 coupon. So I figured, "Why not?"

It proved extremely successful with probably reasonable costs. They charge you per click - not per view.

To get started, there's a bunch of places you can click. You really can't miss them. They'll be on the side when you login as the page and in the settings when you edit them. There's even little samples it'll show you to give an example of what it'll look like.

Some extra links:


The setup process is very easy and there are numerous help and FAQ links to provide you with assistance along the way.

First you design the ad.
Destination for what you're advertising, (Personal, page, etc) Destination tab if you want to send them to the Wall, Info, Pictures, etc... A brief description, an image and even a little preview of what the ad will look like.


Next you have to design who'll see the ad.
Start by entering demographics, then fill in their interests. Note that these are "OR" statements - meaning you're targeting anyone who matches ANY of this criteria, not people who match ALL of these things.

Under "Connections", you might as well select "Only people who are not fans of" because why waste money advertising your site to people who already have found you?

You'll notice as you fill all this out, that a box on the side will show you roughly how many people could see this ad. Pretty handy.


When you're filling out the Interests section, you can actually bring up broader categories that Facebook has collected, rather than entering your own.


Even the language section can be very specific... so the Ninjas among us could list all but Pirate if they wanted to.


When you setup the campaign, you can change currency information so you're reading everything in a value you're used to. I used the "Lifetime budget" option so I wouldn't go over my coupon amount. If you choose per-day, make sure you stay on top of the campaign so that you can cancel it after you've spent what you want to. Then choose when the campaign should start and end.

IMPORTANT - After creating this campaign, I checked on the price settings to be safe... It hadn't saved my lifetime budget and had instead switched it to daily limit. Make sure you check everything afterward.


A quick review:

notice that it does say"Lifetime budget" and not "Daily limit"

Then a congratulations.


As you browse through the ad settings, you can go under funding sources and add a coupon.


The billing summary shows how your campaign is coming along... see how it defaulted to "Daily spending limit" instead of what you can clearly see above under my review that it's set to "Lifetime budget"? Don't get caught with that mistake!

It does require you to create a facebook ad account


Here's a quick shot of the navigation bar:


This lets you navigate through your campaigns, reports, etc.

It's worth noting that you can make multiple campaigns to run at the same time. Each can have different budgets, but all take their money out of one account. (or gift card) The benefit here is that if you have different creative ideas, you can see which ones users respond to better.

When you click on the campaign for more information, it shows you the stats. At the beginning there won't be any obviously.




Interpreting the Results

I had some really cool stuff to show you, but I was waiting until the campaign was done and I'd have full stats. Unfortunately the "Audience" and "Response" sections pictured above are only available for the last 7 days, so graphically, the data's gone, but you can always enter in a custom date range and see it for yourself:

Cost

You'll notice that while "Bid" says $1.89, the actual "Price" ends up showing $0.24. Where do those numbers come from? Who knows. The "Price" gets cheaper as the campaign rolls and more people interact with your ads though... so basically Facebook gets paid no matter what, even if your campaign isn't successful.

You just get more out of your money if your ads do well so target a lot of people. Maybe that's the difference... a very specific campaign won't get many clicks but will target a precise group... which is worth more money.

Reach

To break down the numbers:

  • Targeted
    • 39,520
    • This was determined while making the ad and choosing what demographics and interests to target.
  • Campaign Reach
    • 14,832
    • Of all the people targeted, this is how many people actually saw the ad. (Or were on a page with the ad and might not have actually paid attention to it)
  • Clicks
    • 171
    • Out of everyone who saw it, (campaign reach) 171 people clicked on the ad.
    • That's tiiiiiiiiny compared to the number of people who theoretically saw the ad, but speaks volumes on what you can expect from advertising.
  • Connections
    • 98
    • Of the people who clicked on the ad, 98 people "Liked" my page within 24 hours.
  • Social Reach
    • 74
    • Of the people who clicked on the ad, 74 people had a friend who already "Liked" my page.
    • When Facebook shows ads, it'll actually show if any of your friends already like it - this makes people more likely to follow an advertisement.

Word of Mouth

There are also indirect benefits to advertising - people share cool stuff. So as you get an influx of new readers, a percentage of them are going to link you to their friends, and a percentage of them are going to like you and do the same. It's kind of a ripple effect.

  • 21
    • The number of likes I had before the campaign
  • 98
    • People who "Liked" my page from seeing ads.
  • 145
    • The number of likes I had after the campaign.
  • 26
    • 145 - 98 - 21
    • The number of people who "Liked" my page during the campaign but not from an ad.
    • This would be the number of people who were either told by a friend to check it out, or a friend "Shared" one of my posts and they found the page through that.


Increased Readership

By watching statistics in Blogger and Feedburner, you can see if you get a traffic spike during the campaign or increasing referrals from facebook.com. This is really important because while it's easy for someone in Facebook to click "Like" and then forget about you, the important thing is whether they take the next step and actually read your blog!

During this period I saw 20+ new people following via RSS, and between an increase of 20-50 in Bloggers "Pageviews yesterday" stat. Both these also continued to increase after the campaign was over, a little more sharply than it normally rises.

Interaction

Direct results where people are actually posting to your page and commenting are the ideal results of all this. That sharing of knowledge. This allows you to start communicating with your new readers, but as all us bloggers find out quickly, the percentage of your readers that will comment is quite small.

For a store using this, hopefully you get some feedback on products - hates, likes, requests, etc. Maybe even a way for people to leave suggestions and comments on how you do business.

Demographics

In your Campaign's Details or your Page Insights, you can view the numbers broken down by fe/male, age range, country/province/state and see just who you're targeting. This might show that you're missing out on certain groups that you'd like following your blog. Knowing this, you can adjust your site's content with some research if you'd like to try to shift this around... or take cues that if you have a younger following, maybe you shouldn't be using harder language.

Unfortunately, this only applies to Facebook. Unless you get a bunch of response from polls, you can't really know the demos of who's actually reading your blog.

6 comments:

  1. Great job. You put a ton, I mean a ton, of work into your walk-throughs and I applaud you for it.

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  2. I definitely appreciate this write up. It answers a lot of the questions I had when considering FB ads, and I had a ton.

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  3. Thanks :-) I hope it's advice that most bloggers and sites can use.
    Hopefully the coupon is a normal thing they do because i'd've never tried it otherwise, especially with their vague pricing model.

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  4. No offense Dave, but you nailed it in your first sentence; facebook replaced myspace (the stalker-central, teeny bopper, clunky armpit of the Internet bloated with adverts aiming to force feed opinion with an ugly as sin UI). While I agree that facebook may have a better appearance than myspace, all that reminds me of is the saying "you can put lipstick on a pig".

    And I'm sorry, but the notion that facebook has replaced email is laughable. Maybe among the population that just upgraded from dial-up or recently ran out of free hours from the stack of AoL trial CDs they got in the mail.

    Your experiment with paid ads on facebook is interesting, and I appreciate you sharing that information. But all it really says is the more $$ you're willing to spend the more "friends" you could possibly attain ("friends" as defined by facebook; "friends" as you aptly point out may only be mere acquaintances, or even less, corporate avatars whose sole aim is to rack up as many "friends" as possible). I truly hope that facebook isn't or ever becomes "THE social medium". Call me old fashioned, but I still prefer the physical social medium of actual human interaction with real life connections.

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  5. I apologize for the rant, Dave. I didn't mean to single you out or hijack your comment section. I realized I failed to properly articulate my point, which is this: much like my first comment, a lot of meaning and intention is lost in the absence of actual human interaction & conversation. It's what I value and cherish most about this hobby/game; that it brings people together, unplugged from the electronic distractions that continually try to dominate our time; that we use physical games pieces and roll physical dice to determine the outcomes (no random # generators here). It's what I find so nostalgic and fascinating about the game and why I view it as more impressive and engrossing than even the latest & greatest 3D video games.

    Sorry for coming off like a jerk. I really do enjoy your blog.

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  6. I don't mind criticism :) and I invite you to do so publicly rather than anonymously.

    I too prefer the REAL social aspect of the hobby - getting together with friends, rolling dice instead of using computers, making a fun day of it, etc. But as a website/blog who's trying to reach people to help, like any blog, I have to realize that a percentage of my audience is shifting away from conventional browsing methods.


    Now, you can't advertise for your personal account to gain more friends. However, yes, there are a lot of companies that use their friends/followers on Facebook/Twitter as boasting rights - to the extent that there are services you can use to buy thousands of friends for your account. That just bumps numbers though - the point of this exercise, as with all advertising, is to gain awareness in your product, but only a small group of those you reach will actively get involved - but they find a use for what you're advertising. And yes, the more you advertise and the more people you want to reach, the more money it'll cost.

    As for Facebook replacing email, it's happening. I have a very diverse group of people on my Facebook, both technical and non-technical, between friends, family and friends of both. I've seen it, and they've also complained about it. Especially now that Facebook's integrated Skype, it's one more thing to allow people to build their lives around it. Stats for text messaging show how connected kids are now, and as their phones become smartphones, with Facebook apps, text messaging will go away.

    Again, I prefer the face to face socializing, and our hobby is certainly one that requires it. There's just a shift going on into the online world. As a content provider, it's better to be ready for it, (even if there isn't a full conversion) rather than ignore it and be behind if that's the way things go.

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