It's Time to Refresh Your Facebook Marketing Strategy

With Sizable Fan Bases in Place, the Focus Expands to Grow Audience Loyalty

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As Facebook marketing matures, so should strategies and best practices for plotting investment. Winning strategies will look very different in 2013 from previous years. Now that many brands have acquired sizable "fan" bases, the focus is on leveraging Facebook's new ad products to grow loyalty and retention.

Spending must start with a focus on your most valuable consumers, followed by the network they influence and finally your more broadly targeted consumer base. Until now marketers briefed agencies to buy Facebook fans with no understanding or measure of their value or effect. Many spent big dollars on campaigns without investing adequately to maintain everyday reach and frequency against their most valuable consumers.

Different levels of reach and frequency should be delivered across each of the following targets:

Fans. The illusion that talking to fans is "free" hurts marketers. Driving the right level of frequency through advertising against this high-value audience should be a marketer's top priority. The right frequency depends on the interest level of the brand, quality and engagement level of the creative and the ability to make it happen through budget. Brands that don't have a high penetration of identified consumer connections, need to pay to play by using paid campaigns, promotions and friend referrals to find their base.

Friends of Fans. We've known for decades that social recommendations drive sales. Consistently delivering the right messages to the friends of your top consumers should be your second priority. These messages must be tailored and optimized based on a variety of factors, including interests, locations and segments. Messages should be consistently delivered all year long to drive maximum return.

Facebook Target Market. If your brand has any additional dollars left to invest, the third focus should be on investing in campaigns focused across your total target market on Facebook, those who are most likely to become your fans once they become familiar with you or you give them a compelling reason to do so.

In addition to the costs of finding fans in the first place, marketers should expect that their investment on social will increase as they strive to keep their fans and followers engaged over the long term. A more mature market has a larger base of active consumers who will require continual outreach.

Mapping 2013 paid marketing spend is not rocket science. You need to monitor several key measures of success, including:

Size and Focus of Target Market. Just as with traditional media, the larger the size of the market and focus/interest segments targeted, the larger the ad-spend allocation, weighted in accord with the audience's use of the Facebook platform.

Your Product. Your CFO will be unhappy if you spend more talking to consumers than they are worth. Margin, frequency of purchase, degree of consideration, quality of message and total ad spend should all be considered and weighted appropriately.

Planned Marketing Campaigns. Keep track of the number of campaigns and messages that are running on other media supported by paid social advertising. More campaigns equate to more spend.

Previous Investment and Success. Understanding the amount of direct connections that have been built up will affect how the model scales and where dollars are directed.

There is no question that a shift is required in thinking about the successful optimization of the Facebook platform. In the new world of Facebook, successful marketers not only need to shift their thinking, but also their available dollars and marketing processes.

Michael Scissons is president-CEO of Syncapse, a full-service social-technology company that helps advertisers build, manage and measure connections with consumers in the digital landscape. Find him online at @scissons
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