What works on Facebook, a new marketing research with an Australian view – 4 important facts

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I have been using a Facebook page since MEL365.com was born in 2009. I always use it as a pure marketing tool. I have been posting images and news about what was happening in Australia with regards to photography and some  inspiring interviews to photographers.

I always asked myself how worthy is to keep updating Facebook and work with it. It takes a considerable amount of time. I started doing a bit of research and I arrived to few interesting reports. Here is few facts

Fact # 1 – Yes, people are contacting you through Facebook

Facebook helped me a lot to spread around my message however how much of the traffic arriving to my website is actually coming from Facebook. It is a merely low single digit. I was not really surprised. The Facebook page is more of a bulletin board to say I am alive, I am doing something I believe interesting, I hope you enjoy it and consider my business as an option.

In case of photography and art, Facebook spreads the name of the artist around as well as his work. If you have a bar/restaurant and you keep posting, there is a high possibility that your customers will consider you as an option in the next night out, just because they see that you either cook something interesting, you have lots of people around or you just post interesting photos connected to your business.

The important percentage to read is the conversion rate, how many people actually follow up from Facebook, either coming to your website, calling you or just email. During my research I ended up into this interesting report that not only answered this question but opened up more interesting subjects for conversation.

The average conversion rate is 4.4%, which is on pair with the best performing digital channels.

Considering the cost of Facebook, this is a pretty good percentage.

Learning lesson here:

  1. keep posting on Facebook, no matter what
  2. always remember to add a link back to your page in any post. Do use short links or generate one. Avoid the 200 characters ones, please
  3. optimize the integration between your website and facebook, make direct connections between the two, don’t work twice as much
  4. use tools to plan in advance like PostCron (others in the market). Read my review here

Fact # 2 – The world is going mobile, and Facebook users are too

The penetration of the mobile world is somehow outstanding. There are markets like US or Europe where we are getting closer and closer to the 100% border. In Australia the sudden acceleration in last 5 years was just unimaginable. Based on a research by BI Intelligence Australia, penetration is well over 80% and most probably going to 90% by early 2014

The massive implication is that every website needs to be mobile ready. I just migrated MEL365 to mobile few weeks ago and I have created an Android App as well, because, guess what, users tend to use more apps than actually going on the mobile web interface. But this is material for another article.

According to the 2013 Yellow Pages report, almost 60% of users are using the mobile to access Facebook, of course they use the App, not the mobile web.

As a fact, you should expect that people reading about you or your page are most probably doing that on a mobile and this possibility will only increase in the next years

Learning lesson here is that:

  1. photos on the Facebook App look great and there is an higher probability that a user will check an interesting photo, and therefore your comment, than just read your comment
  2. when you add a link back to your webpage, make sure your website is mobile ready. Having already your own app is a great bonus
  3. you should use the Facebook pinned post. This is a post that will stay on top for a week. This is the post that everybody will see on your page first and, considering the mobile screen size, it is like you business card. I personally use it when I need to highlight something important as an exhibition or a remarkable photo

Fact # 3 – Photo is king when is down to engaging

Mark Zuckerberg must have understood that a good way back when he decided to buy Instagram for $1B.

A photo can say a thousand things, it is immediate and it may engage quickly the user. Think about the difference between seeing an awesome photo with the link to where or how it was done, and just a link saying “I have done a great photo, see here how and where”. I guess it comes to no surprise to most of you.

Learning lesson here is that:

  1. the engagement factor in a paid post increases if there is a photo in it. In case of advertisement, accordingly to the study, using an image is a must. My personal experience is that on the posted images usually there is either a discount number, a reduced price, a 2-1 offer or something attracting you attention. This may explain why.
  2. offers are a great way to do advertisement, no surprise here, who does not want to get an offer :).
  3. never pay for just a link back to your website, not worthy.

I will finitely use this graph whenever engagement is my major task with a post.

Fact # 4 – Should I advertise on Facebook?

This is a common question I hear around? I asked myself if I should invest on this side as well.

Just to give few numbers here, whenever I post a photo this goes for free to around 20% of the people that actually liked my page. I guess there are many reasons why it does not reach 100% and mostly because Facebook would like me to pay to broadcast the post to a larger audience.

I can pay anything from $5 to $640 to reach a user base that goes from 530 people to 260,000 people. I have also the possibility to target just my friends, down to a second or third level, or unknown people based on age, country and gender. Is it worthy? It may be, but be careful on how you do it, accordingly with the study.

Learning lesson here is that:

  1. usually people get more engaged with pages that liked, you get better clickthrough for unpaid posts on a percentage basis
  2. your post will reach a much higher number of people of course. Use this opportunity to start an Offer or a Question test. These two kinds of posts statistically engage more.
  3. using the paid post for brand awareness works, and this is because it reaches a broad audience, as TV or radio do. The result is similar. Now is up to you to decided if Facebook can be more effective based on your audience.
  4. competitions help. This comes from a late personal experience. I submitted a video I made to a short video festival organised by a bike gear producer. In order to vote for it you had to like the company page first. Of course you try to spread the voice around asking your friend to watch these videos, and hopefully to vote for yours. The initiative was extremely successful for the company.

The social environments are very important for marketing. My experience is a bit of love and hate relationship. I love doing photography however I fully understand that marketing is part of it. I have started some time ago the Inspiring Interview Series with photographers and artists. One of my questions is about the usage of social environments. Guess what? The common answer is “very important”, although hard to keep up with it. I had a laugh when Ian Strange/Kid Zoom, great photographer/artist that just had a successful exhibition at the National Gallery of Victoria, said “I would have never left Perth if it wasn’t for the net”

Did anybody ever contact me through Facebook or other social environments? I have (or I hate) to say “yes”. What I am learning with the time is to minimize my time updating social environments. Connect more efficiently the likes of Facebook or Tumblr to my website. But this is material for a future post. Stay tuned and subscribe to the monthly email to avoid missing any upcoming article, great photos, interviews and much more.


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Stefano Ferro
Stefano is a cycling, movie and life style photographer with a big love for landscape & travel photography. When in Melbourne, his hometown, you will see him cycling around at sunset or sunrise looking for the best spot for a photo of this beautiful city. It is quite amazing how much photography gear he can pack on his bike :o

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