Social Service

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Facebook is your friend.

So is Google, just not a close friend that you share things with (aside from your GPS location if using an Android phone).

Recently we performed a pro-bono experiment in association with a book launch. Even though the author had a platform and a publicist who wrangled radio talking time, we deployed a little advertising using both Google and Facebook. The results show why social media makes a difference, and how to move from static to dynamic in social environments.

Over an 18-day period we pushed Google and Facebook ads, which had the same creative layouts. Viable keywords were selected with Google as were “interest” categories on Facebook.

For Google, the test was divided between taking clickers to a landing page on the author’s blog site or directly to Amazon.com after a few reader reviews had accumulated. In Facebook all clickers were taken to a fan page that described the book and offered purchase links.

When it came to the common metrics of impressions and click-through rates (CTR), Facebook and Google produced similar results for the same money.

 

Removing a few fudge factors (such as the Google change from blog site to Amazon landing pages), both delivery systems managed to maintain a steady rate of impressions and CTRs.

Social clicking is another matter.

Facebook reports the fan page click-throughs received both via advertisements and social clicks.

The latter, for example, is when someone clicks “like” or “share” based on the fan page link itself or from any wall posting they receive from the fan page administrator. Fan pages naturally have few fans in their early days, yet like the old shampoo commercial, they tell two friends, and they tell two friends, and so on.

In our experiment a mere 0.37% of clickers came from social links in the first day of the experiment. By the end of two weeks that was up to 4.75%. As part of the experiment the author pasted an amusing snippet from his book every other day, and the reports show definite referral spikes on each day he did so. However, the cumulative effect was obvious over a mere two weeks – that sharing slices from the book caused people to click their “like” buttons, which exposed the book to new Facebook users and based on their association to this friend, ended up clicking into the fan page.

 

None of this is news. Facebook was designed with sharing as its mission. The point is that leveraging the exponential potential of friends-of-friends beats Google ads in terms of short- and long-term growth, long-tail effects and total overall activity around a product or brand. The combination of using ads to seed a fan page to start accumulating brand awareness is cost-effective and relatively easy if you have a little something of your own to share over time.

What this means to marketers is that older notions of advertising are changing … again. People are building resistance to banner ads, but not to their friends (though I have had to unfriend a few folks due to their digital diarrhea). Banner ads are not going away, but they must be validated through people. Banners will devolve to being the seeds of larger and more social campaigns.

Guy Smith is the chief consultant for Silicon Strategies Marketing. Guy has led marketing strategy for a variety of technology companies vending high-availability backup software, wireless middleware, enterprise software, infrastructure software, mobile applications, server virtualization, secure remote access, risk management applications, application development tools and several open source ventures. Before turning to marketing, Guy was a technologist for NASA, McDonnell Douglas, Circuit City Corporate Headquarters and other organizations.

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