Manufacturing Intent on Facebook

By February 12, 2014Social Media

It’s no secret that Google AdWords is a direct marketers dream. A system where “intent” to purchase is signaled quite clearly through the keywords you (as the consumer) string together and push out to marketers for bid. Within seconds, you have numerous vendors competing for your click with the highest bidders jumping to the top of your screen. Consumers are in a buying state-of-mind when they are hopping around Google, almost as if their credit card is sitting atop the keyboard.

This does not hold true for Facebook—on the average. Users on Facebook are there first to socialize, promote, and lurk, typically not anywhere close to a buying state-of-mind. Does that mean Facebook advertising is worthless when it comes to driving a transaction from a user? Absolutely not! Facebook can be a great place to drive sales, but your tactics need to be modified based on the attitude of the average Facebook user—and the cost of inducing a specific action from that user.

Let me use a Vacation Travel site as an example. Optimally, the site would like to evaluate their ad’s return on investment (ROI) based on purchases driven. Unlike Google where you have explicit intent (ex: “Cheap tickets to Cabo San Lucas”), Facebook is devoid of such expressed in-the-moment intent. But what Facebook does have is pockets of people who have expressed interest (“liked”) very specific and relevant things, for example, #CheapTravel #MexicoVacationAdventures #LastMinuteTravelDeals. Facebook allows you to target pockets of users based on these ‘precise interests’—and in a way—manufacture intent.

In this example, this is still a very weak form of intent, as the user is not likely to be in-the-moment for a travel purchase. Then, the optimal strategy on Facebook would not be to drive a direct purchase from the ad—where the cost will far exceed the return due to weak intent. Instead, the goal should be to cheaply capture the email address (registration) of users who signal future intent for travel and let the travel site’s re-marketing program (email list or other) convert that user to a sale.

In this case, buying “emails” on Facebook can be quite cheap, and if tracked properly through to purchase, can yield a very high return on ad dollars spent!

Strategies like this must be applied when attempting Facebook advertising. Funnels that work on Google will likely outright fail on Facebook. But on the flipside, there are huge opportunities to be had if you can design your ad funnel around the Facebook state-of-mind.

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