Social media ushers in an era of contextual relevance that finally trumps content as king. Don’t get me wrong; content is important. After all, without it, what would people read, watch, interpret, remix, and share? But without context, content is simply a message or story trying to find a home. In social networks, people stitch together social networks based on their relationships, interests, and aspirations to personalize their online experience. Doing so creates a network where, in theory, information that’s shared and the connections that come and go are material to everyone involved.
If relationships form, in Facebook lingo “the social graph,” then the idea of connections based on relevance form the interest graph. And it is the interest graph where context serves as the future of marketing and customer engagement. Using traditional marketing lingo, it’s the difference between targeting customers through demographics (age, gender, education, etc.) and psychographics (interests and commonalities).
Demographic targeting is typically aligned with the marketing funnel into which advertising pours its hopes and ideas. Because of the contextual nature of relationships and conversations in social media, marketers need to rethink their approach. Why? Because the game is moving away from metrics that measure clicks and eyeballs to click paths that deliver intended experiences and outcomes.
It’s the move from eyeballs to lit-up foreheads or “screen face” as my friend Kare Anderson says.
Just in case I need to explain that one…digital marketers typically aim for eyeballs, stickiness, clicks, and conversions among other actions associated with guiding a successful consumer journey from engagement to desired outcome. With eyeballs focused incessantly on social streams, the goal is to reach people without forcing them out of the flow. And if you do pull them from the stream, there must be a sense of value associated with the experience. The lit-up forehead metaphor refers to basically everyone you see everywhere you go. You know, those people who are constantly heads down fixated on their mobile devices even in the company of friends and family. No matter where they’re at – whether it’s theaters, living rooms, trains, dinner tables, conferences, arenas, you name it – you can always tell who they are by their lit-up foreheads. But, I digress…
No longer does it make sense to just buy ads against keywords or locales alone. That’s the old way, and it simply won’t work in Facebook or any other social network for that matter. Facebook recognized that marketers make decisions based on targeted segments and consumer interests. Facebook is also sensitive to the reality of social marketers that present questions such as, “What’s the ROI?” These questions are now as common as asking someone “how are you?” To help, Facebook introduced Page Post Targeting Enhanced, which opens up a myriad of demographic and psychographic lenses to see and reach different customers differently.
Image Source: Techcrunch
New targeting characteristics include:
- Interested In
- Relationship Status
- College Status, Name, Major, Years
Techcrunch ran the following comment from a member of a closed Facebook Group for social marketers: “Today, we will start rolling out an enhanced version of Page Post Targeting to a small percentage of Page Admins. Over the next few weeks, this will become available to all pages. With this new feature, Pages can now target their posts to certain fans in the news feed who meet specific criteria, such as age, gender, location, language, etc. All content will still remain on the Page since this is the only way to allow friends of engaged fans who don’t meet the targeting criteria to see viral stories (i.e., David likes a post.)”
This service is no magic bullet, however. If you think about it for a moment, it further slices the overall reach of pushing ads at a general audiences, which to me, is like saying “social graph.” Instead, Facebook is pushing marketers toward interests combined with demographics to introduce contextual opportunities that are more relevant thus increasing the likelihood for engagement.
Now, advertisers will have to expand not only their approach, but also their portfolio of advertising vehicles. Reaching each group requires a unique series of keywords, headlines, and supporting imagery to have a shot at earning attention. To do so requires new skills in addition to traditional media buying and research. New capabilities include keyword anthropology, dynamic creative design, and the ability to revamp inventory to engage in real-time and at the right time, and rapid performance metrics (RPM) to measure and enhance initiatives throughout the campaign.
What’s your take on this news? How do you think advertisers can improve how ads engage your customers while also driving desirable outcomes or clicks to action?
Brian Solis is the author of the new book, The End of Business as Usual. He is also a principal analyst at Altimeter Group. AT&T has sponsored this blog post.