Facebook's announcement that it was testing real-time ad targeting made waves across our industry. At this point, any major change in Facebook's advertising practices could lead more than a few marketers to rewrite their social media strategy, shift their assets and reshape their budgets.
What most people didn't know is that Facebook announces changes and updates to its ad platform on a nearly weekly basis. Granted, not all of these announcements are on par with real-time targeting; that one's a potential game changer. But smaller updates do impact how brands deliver their ads. For example, Facebook will soon roll out a feature that lets advertisers target their ads to specific tabs within its ecosystem. It's not exactly groundbreaking, but it affects targeting strategy and where ads are seen.
Facebook is still young compared to tried and true ad channels like search and banners, so evolution is still a given. With that in mind, it's in every marketer's best interest to keep up to date with the changes so you can take full advantage of every update and addition.
Stay in touch with your agency and vendor partners.
Trying to stay on top of everything Facebook related is a full-time gig. Luckily, the agency or vendor you use employs someone to do just this sort of job. Keep the lines of communication open and ask for periodic updates. The real-time targeting announcement likely led to more than a few frenzied brand marketers calling their "social media experts" asking about the implications.
You don't have to be one of them. Stay in close contact with the people running your social campaigns and ask if there's anything new that might affect your campaigns or strategy. Request biweekly or monthly email updates. Not every detail is life-changing information, but it's good to stay in the loop.
The Facebook ad team is making a concerted effort to release updates to its Ads API Tool Vendors first, so that this group of vendors can integrate new advetising capabilities and educate the market before the story appears in the press or becomes available in the Facebook advertising marketplace.
Facebook's ads API is still in beta, and as a result, access is limited to just 18 companies. But these companies are the true Facebook insiders with access that others don't have. If you want to stay up to date, it makes sense to turn to them.
Even if you're regularly discussing potential platform changes with your agency contact, you need to proactively learn about Facebook on your own. This doesn't mean scrolling through your friends' updates when you should be working. There are plenty of news outlets providing updates and analysis of the latest Facebook marketing tools on a daily basis.
Facebook itself has a Developers' Wiki that 's a great resource for anyone running an application within the social network, but it's very tech-specific and might be over the head of the average brand marketer.
In addition to Ad Age , there are blogs specializing solely in Facebook minutia. Inside Facebook covers the platform from a developer and advertiser perspective, while the similar All Facebook is a great resource on marketing news and the companies involved in Facebook marketing, complete with tutorials Mashable, a social media blog, offers breaking news and analysis on the latest happenings in Facebook and all other social media.
Test, test , test .
By now you know that Facebook is constantly updating its advertising capabilities, so you should build change into your strategy. Once you're up to speed on the latest Facebook updates, the only way to truly understand what makes sense for your campaign is to test .
You don't need to utilize every new feature to run successful campaigns, and trying to do so would stretch you thin. Instead, test , study the results and then apply them. That's basic marketing strategy, and it shouldn't be forgotten on a new platform. Real-time capabilities or targeting specific tabs within Facebook may not give your campaign any sort of boost. Instead, you may find more success targeting certain interest segments and demographics that are totally outside the box. We've seen some surprising correlations between people who buy specific products and the other interests they share. As you strategize about what works for your brand, don't leave out good old trial and error.