Tag : engagement

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220: How I Optimize Facebook Ads to Get the Results I Do

Most marketers understand that Facebook is unmatched in its ability to connect advertiser content with consumers’ unique concoctions of interests. Almost every conversation I’ve had with clients and prospects about Facebook targeting revolves around finding the right prospects by demographic and interest categories. That’s surely valuable information, and those conversations should happen with every auction. (With niche assets, those conversations should precede signing the auction contract.)

Marrying the right text and visual content with this targeting is the next biggest challenge. Thankfully, with A/B testing or Facebook’s new “Dynamic Content” tool, we can test and adapt the bait on our hooks as we fish amongst those prospect groups. For years, though, Facebook has offered another way to get more bites on our lines. Maybe only one or two clients have asked about it in the past five years.


Facebook knows more than just our likes & dislikes, demographics & interests. It also knows how we’re likely to engage with paid advertising. To continue with the fishing analogy, Facebook’s artificial intelligence engine doesn’t just get us to the right lake; it knows which fish are likely to bite and even which are likely to steal the bait and swim off. For every ad or promoted post I’ve created for a client, I’ve been required to choose how I wanted the content to be optimized—how we want Facebook to cast our line and reel it. It’s required. You can’t run an ad or promoted post without selecting one of the options below. I choose different optimizations for different situations. Here is a list of when I use each of those options.

Landing Page Views

A landing page view is usually my primary objective. Auctioneers pay me to get potential bidders to their websites. A landing page view means someone left Facebook, Instagram, Messenger, WhatsApp, or a site on the Audience Network and then stayed on the auctioneer’s website long enough for the first page they visit to completely load. The algorithms know which slice of our target audience is likely to visit your site for at least that length of time. It stands to reason that these prospects are also the most likely to bid online or to investigate details regarding bidding at an offline event. 

Link Clicks

This is the objective I choose the second most often. Candidly, I use it only because landing page views require a Facebook pixel to be installed on my client’s site. Almost half of my clients have no pixel—theirs or mine—on their sites. So, I have to resort to the next best thing: link clicks. This is a definite step down from landing page views, though, because a lot of people who click on links immediately click right back to the Facebook platform without letting the page load. I’ve seen campaigns where this happened for more than 30% of the clicks.

Daily Unique Reach

Most of my campaigns have a reminder ad that starts three to ten days prior to the auction. It targets those who either visited the website (if my clients have installed a Facebook pixel) or interacted with their Facebook content during the marketing period (if they don’t have a pixel). This might be a slideshow, video, or promoted photo album. I want to show these proven prospects the auction in a different way than they saw it the first time. I usually switch up the text, too. For these folks, I set the optimization to daily unique reach so that they see this reminder every day on whichever part of the Facebook platform they use.


This selection means “show this ad to this audience as many times as possible.” I’ve seen this result in viewers seeing the ads at an average of more than 20 times. As you could imagine, that makes the response rates highly inefficient. It also makes the ads feel obtrusive, which can annoy your prospects. I use this option for what I call “poaching”—when we target attendees at a home, car, or farm show or bidders at a competitor’s on-site auction of similar assets. (I’ve also used this for my ads to auctioneers at NAA conventions.) Outside of those instances, this is only an “in case of emergency, break glass” option.

Post Engagements

This is another “last resort” option. Believe it or not: I still have clients who don’t have auction information on their website. There’s nowhere for me to link an ad, and Facebook requires links in ads. So, my only option is to post a notice on the business’ Facebook page, promote it, and optimize it for engagements. What that means is that Facebook will serve the ads to those most apt to like, comment, or share the post. A couple weeks ago, this worked really well for a rural horse auction, where more than 1,000 people shared the post and we had more than 20,000 engagements with the content. I’d still prefer to have 20,000 people come to my website than interact with a Facebook post, but it’s a good option when the infrastructure isn’t there to move leads through a sales funnel.

None of these options are inherently right or wrong. Your situation will dictate which one you use and when you use it. For many of my campaigns, I use more than one—because I’m not always fishing in the same lake for the same fish.

Stock images purchased from iStockPhoto.com

70: Getting Engaged on Your Birthday

InboxToday’s my birthday.

Apparently, it’s public knowledge.  This week, I got an email from Panera telling me that they put a surprise on the MyPanera card in my wallet.  I got another birthday email from NFL.com, showing my last name on a Ravens jersey—a nice touch.  I would be more impressed, if these actions and emails weren’t generated by a database sitting on a server in Nebraska somewhere; but I’ve got to tip my hat to these companies for putting something other than solicitations in my inbox.

It’s not just mail-merged birthday greetings I noticed this week.  Staples sent me advance notice coupons in Wednesday’s email.  (In the past, they’ve snail-mailed me invitations for Rewards-member-only store hours and sales.)  As they regularly do, American Express sent me an email with links to four articles for entrepreneurs; and Ink by Chase sent me an invitation to an upcoming small business conference.  The makers of MapMyRun, one of the few paid apps on my iPhone, emailed me articles related to health and wellness.

Birthday Emails
What these companies know is that our culture craves autonomy.  We want corporations to treat us like people, not numbers.  We’ve been burned by Enron and BP, Congress and Wall Street.  We want our voices and purchases to count.  We don’t want to be told by Madison Avenue mad men what to want.

That’s why Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and other social media sites have seen unprecedented growth.  It probably explains why shows like “Dancing with the Stars” and “American Idol”—shows to which we can contribute—trump the ratings of scripted shows.  Beyond self-expression and acceptance, we crave more personal interactions with people, not conglomerates.

So, the entities that engage relationally gain advantage over their peers.  It’s not just that they have a Facebook account, a Twitter feed, or a birthday list.  It’s what they do with them.  They invite conversation, respond to expressed concerns or praise, and give away products, services, and/or information for free.  Instead of a broadcast mentality, where emails and status updates are all sales pitches, they’ve found the social in social marketing, the 2 [way street] in Web 2.0.  They know the difference between radios and walkie talkies—and choose the latter.

So, how do you engage the individual in your marketing?  What special offers do you give your prospects or clients?  I’ve heard of auction companies offering MVP parking or seating, permanent bidder numbers, and bidder receptions.  What intellectual property or advice do you send their way?  Some auctioneers conduct free bidder seminars; others offer FAQ documents or how-to videos on their Web sites.  Do you have a blog or newsletter?  If so, is it solely horn-tooting; or does it contain practical content?

You don’t have to be the birthday fairy to build an interactive brand.  But if you want what you have to go viral, you have to get close enough to people—where they are—for them to catch your contagions.  Go to the events and environments where they congregate (both online and offline); authentically join the conversation.  Listen to needs, themes, trends.  And say something more than, “I’ve got something I want to sell you.”

I’ve been in a Tuesday night study of the New Testament book of Acts, seeing things I never saw in a whole semester of Acts during college.  One of the truths that has jumped out of the narrative is how evangelism was conducted outside of the synagogue.  The apostles and disciples started with where each respective unbeliever was at that moment.  Peter and John told the lame beggar, “We don’t have money, but we have Jesus’ name to heal you.”  Philip asked the curious Ethiopian Eunuch, “Do you understand what you’re reading?”  Jesus asked a murderous Saul, “Why are you persecuting me?”

Few people want to be converts, stars on a performance chart, or numbers at a “bring a guest” Sunday.  At a core level, we want to be known and understood, loved and respected.  If someone were to change your mind on faith—a deeply personal asset—what approach would most likely woo and convince you?  What would that process look like?

Knowing this, is that the approach you take to share the faith you hold dear?

[footer]Stock image used by permission through purchase from iStockPhoto.com ©2010.[/footer]

58: Are You Perpetrating Antisocial Media?

Antisocial MediaI still wag my head when I hear people touting social media as a shiny, new concept or as a marketing giant to slay all other media. Facebook and Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube may all be younger than Justin Bieber (and that’s saying something); but they are just online venues to do what you’ve been doing offline for decades. Many of the same rules that apply to offline networking and personal conversations apply to online interactions—just tweaked a bit for privacy or the lack thereof.

As businesses and entrepreneurs flock to these sites, some are chucking social graces and common sense in search of some marketing El Dorado or advertising Fountain of Youth. Hopefully, you’re not being anti-social like them with your online networking in these ways:

Parking on the Shoulder
If you haven’t tweeted in months or updated your Facebook page in weeks, you might be doing more harm than good. In our culture, we understand people who have intentionally chosen not to add social media to their plates. But when a business professional or company sets up an account then doesn’t contribute to the community or update their followers, they demonstrate either a lack of desire to interact or an incompetence to manage the simple technology. It’s like parking on the shoulder. Technically, you’re on the road; but everybody passing you knows you’re not going anywhere. So, if you’re going to do this online social gig, purposefully comment on status updates; share links; retweet; and hit that like button on pictures.

Invading Personal Space
You’d think that, with the openness of online social sites, there isn’t a lot of personal space on them. But that’s why Facebook has such a robust range of security settings and why even Twitter has levels of interaction. If you’re a firm posting company news, post it as a status update, an event, or a note on Facebook and as a tweet on Twitter. Do not send them via personal messages. You will get recipients’ hopes up—especially mobile users—that there’s a personal message for them. If you have a personal (not mass-broadcasted) message, then proceed in the more personal message space. [Example: my chiropractor’s support staff sends me appointment reminders via private Facebok messages.] Otherwise, you’ll be the entrepreneur that cried, “friend!”

Unloading Your Camera
Whether it stems from a lack of technical skills or a lack of discernment, people dump scores of images into our streams. And we’re tired of it. No captions, no tagging, no selective choice—no self control. Nobody wants to see 15 shots of the same tee ball at-bat or birthday candle puff or surprise snow around your house. If it’s not worth your time to label and weed your pictures, why would you assume it’d be worth our time to sort through them—let alone leave a pithy or complimentary comment? Look at your content as shares of stock or printed money, the more you create (at one time or from one event), the less each picture is worth. It’s supply and demand. Make more indelible impressions by making fewer, more intentional ones.

Singing Like a Wall-mounted Bass
It grabbed our attention the first time: that battery-powered frog that croaked by the sidewalk or the singing fish on the wall. But then it got annoying. Friends and family found your first and maybe second status updates about what you’re selling to be interesting—to let them in on your career scene. But then, when most or all of your (rare) status updates were “If you’re looking to buy a 3BR, 2BA house, check out our auction tonight!” or something similar, they checked out and now just speed scroll past such announcements. Some even find the habit to be annoying. Even for your company’s Facebook fan page or separate company Twitter feed, if all you do is cry auction or assets for sale, you turn the communication from a conversation to a broadcast. This is a social setting, not a sales environment! It’s okay to post such things from time to time on your personal areas; but make it the exception that brings attention to it. On your company’s social pages, mix in helpful tips/articles, entertaining anecdotes, sales results, conversation starters, and links to engaging content. Pretend you’re at a social gathering—because you are.

Megaphoning on the Corner
Do not use ALL CAPS in your posts. It’s the typing equivalent of shouting. (And studies have shown, that humans—unlike computer scanners—have a harder time reading ALL CAPS than sentence or title case.) So, just as you wouldn’t walk into a chamber of commerce mixer shouting, make sure you type with your inside voice.

Not Getting the Clue
I have people send me multiple invitations to join the same group I’ve declined (now multiple times). It reminds me of the MadTV clip that’s caught viral wildfire to almost 5 million views on YouTube. “Can I have your number? Can I have it? Can I have it?” In my case, I may not have past transactions with a company or know much about a particular entity. Maybe your invitee is trying to cut down on the number of updates in their stream. Whatever the reason they haven’t become a follower, if you have to inundate them with invitations to get them to relent, what do you think your brand image will be, when they see your updates pop up in their news feed? Don’t make me get Oprah. He’s just not that into you.

Flexing That Swastika Tattoo
This shouldn’t have to be said; but I’ve seen enough caustic, divisive, unbefitting posts to invite this warning. Racist, homophobic, and politically militant comments (1) should not be something you declare outside of professional counseling sessions and (2) should not be expressed in your online posts. These acidic statements and jokes and cartoons reflect on your professionalism. Make sure that you sift potentially-controversial political humor, double entendres, and religious declarations through the sieve of appropriateness. (I like the filter of “If I were to run for public office later in life, how would this reflect on that candidacy?”)

Raining on the Parade
We all know someone who, when they show up in a social setting, everybody else cringes inside. It’s going to be a long story, a tale that seems complicated to the teller, a sad spew that ends in a sigh, a collection of too much information. These people find their way into our news streams. And with an insecure desire to bait people into engaging, they’ll post ambiguous or uncomfortable status updates, like: “doesn’t need to answer to anyone,” or “will get through this,” or “has been really struggling lately.” We all have Murphy’s Law days, and social media can help us find the humor and irony in commiseration. But if your posts regularly trend negative, take a nap or a vacation. Find a hobby, a life coach, or a certified counselor. Your personal attitude reflects on your professional personae and your company’s brand.

Stealing from the Boss
Whether you work for a supervisor, or the client is your boss, both want to know you’re bringing your “A” game during business hours. When your Mafia Wars acquisitions, Farmville accomplishments, or Bejeweled scores hit the stream, everybody knows you’re not working on their project—at least not to an optimal extent. So, if you’re going to grab some personal distraction on company time, you might want to go back to mine sweeper and solitaire. Otherwise, it might be a good idea to do what your business card says you do.

If you want to succeed at online social media, play by the same rules that help you win offline. Listen to people; engage with them; add value to relationships.

For a group of people that is trying to finish what Jesus started, we Christians sure do make a mess of things. Denominational feuds, fundamentalist killings, genocidal crusades, uneducated hate speech . . . church people have instigated and/or participated in significant crimes against humanity. We have besmirched the reputation of a loving God who sacrificed a perfect Jesus, who left us a comforting Spirit. Hell must smile, as people who fill sanctuaries on Sundays often unleash the most havoc on the kingdom.

I regularly wonder why God allows us to ruin his reputation, why he has put up with the hang ups and sins I struggle to shake. I know the theology: that he is enduring rejection for the wealth of true acceptance. But I struggle to imagine the hurt multiplied by billions of lives through history. My mercy would have ended millennia ago; my indignation would have reached critical mass in the garden of Eden.

So, if God can look past all that, I sure hope those of you who won’t engage with him because of us Christians can, too. Just as you don’t blame Facebook or Twitter for the freak shows and ridiculous posts that show up on them, I hope you can look past our personal failures and the historic hijacking of Scripture by those who claim God as their father. You deserve a God without religion-mongers. You deserve the best of what God represents to be true, even when we’re not. You deserve something real and personal and enveloping—apart from how emoms and bishops and evangelists and priests have framed it.

I hope you give God a chance, even a conversation. He’s endured unfathomable blasphemy and blame while waiting for you.

[footer]Image(s) used by permission through purchase from iStockPhoto.com ©2010[/footer]

34: Facebook Tips for Entrepreneurs

Online NetworkingIf you read any number of the nation’s business magazines, you’d think that Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn could make your other marketing obsolete or at least archaic. As someone who has one of these open on my iPhone, laptop, and/or desktop about eight hours per typical day, I can tell you that you’ll need more than any or all of these silver bullets in your six shooter.

That said, you can use all of these for commercial purposes—each in a different role. Today, let’s look at Facebook and some pointers on how to get the most out of it.

Know why you use the ‘book.
If you’re looking to Facebook for free advertising, you’ll “get what you pay for.” Facebook can bring you clients and prospects, but you’ll find the greatest and most likely benefit to be the ability to build into the professional relationships you already have. You’ll get to know clients, vendors, and industry peers as people. When you show people you are interested in them for more than just the transaction, they are more likely to give the next transaction to you.

Facebook is one of several prime places to build a personal brand, maybe even the expert brand. Your character, personality, experience, and lifestyle reflect on your business. Environments like Facebook allow you to intentionally manage and broadcast your public personae.

Be “content generous.”
Just like in marriage, you’ll reap the greatest benefits when you give more than you take. If you want something out of Facebook, you need to add value to the environment. Post interesting articles and links—and tell people why you’re sharing. Show that you never stop learning, that you’re constantly trying to grow—and that you want others to join you on that journey. Subscribe to RSS feeds or magazines, so that you have a constant stream of ideas to share. You don’t have to know everything to be an expert; you just have to know where to get answers. If consumers see you as a source of good ideas and solutions, why wouldn’t they trust you with their professional challenges?

Share lots of encouraging, affirming, congratulatory comments on others’ content. Drop quick notes to tell folks you’re glad to know them, that you’re thinking of them, that they deserve the cool weekend or vacation they just lived. Let your professional contacts know that you think about them, even when you’re not working together.

Build Facebook fences.
Facebook includes a robust range of privacy settings. You can allow some people to see only your resumé-level information and others your most personal pictures (and several steps in between those extremes). You can determine the accessibility of specific photo albums or videos and who can see them. You can even choose specific people or groups of people you don’t want to see certain pictures. Your college days pictures are great fun with your frat brothers but probably not appropriate to show your largest client. Not everybody you invite or accept as a Facebook friend has to see everything you post. By setting audience boundaries, you can post with more freedom and personality—and be yourself—limiting only who can interact with specific content.

Predetermine your Facebook interaction.
Facebook is the new solitaire/mine sweeper, only guised in marketing clothes. You can easily tell yourself that you’re networking on Facebook, when you’re really just shirking work. So, just like any other social engagement, budget time for it. Then stick to that schedule. Facebook is only one networking environment; don’t let it infringe on other opportunities to build relationships. If you don’t want Facebook interrupting your productive hours, Facebook allows you to turn off some or all of the notifications it can send to your email box.

Many entrepreneurs check their Facebook feed in the morning after running through their email inbox and/or at the end of the day before they head home. My generation sifts through their RSS feeds and google notifications like our parents used to read the paper. Facebooking fits neatly into this segment of your day. Maybe it’s during breakfast or lunch for you, or maybe it’s a weekend appointment.

For me, Facebook is intrinsically woven throughout my day. Working in my basement cave, it’s a connection to the outside world, an environment for personal ministry, a break room with a water cooler, a year-long auctioneer convention without the suits and hotel room keys. I use it to enrich and secure the friendships I already have and to cultivate friendships from working relationships.

You can be successful without Facebook. Facebook just makes success a community benefit.

The more I buy into the journey of following Christ, the more I look to my interpersonal environments as ministry opportunities. I’ve even created environments or joined others in progress to add spiritual interactions in my life.

I’m not talking about church events. I mean white water and canoe trips, hiking and biking treks, hang gliding and caving adventures, breakfasts and dinners—even road trips. It’s sharing life, revealing where we are and where we’re going. When you bring Jesus with you and initiate spiritual conversations, you often have greater life impact than sitting in a church building.

Building into the lives of others brings life into your own. No surprise: that’s what Jesus said he came to do. “I came that they might have life and that more abundantly.”

[footer]Stock image used by permission through purchase from iStockPhoto.com ©2009[/footer]