Tag : social-media

post image

203: Two (Misguided) Questions Auctioneers Ask About Facebook Advertising

At the end of July, a Wall Street selloff knocked $119,400,000 off Facebook’s market capitalization. Over two days, the Silicon Valley giant lost almost 20% of its estimated value (though only back to its stock price as of April). Hunted by European litigators and questioned by the United States senate, the company has spent the summer rebuilding its brand.

Facebook stock price

With the largest social media platform in the news almost every day this summer, I’ve seen auctioneers asking two questions:
• What are you doing to ensure you don’t have all your eggs in the Facebook basket?
• Where will you advertise if/when Facebook goes away?

Facebook Market Cap

As someone who spends hundreds of thousands of dollars a year on Facebook advertising and makes a third of my income from Facebook marketing services, you’d think I’d be asking these questions, too. I’m not. Here’s why.

Facebook isn’t going away any time soon.

Even with the big drop, Facebook is still one of the wealthiest, most profitable companies on the planet. This isn’t a MySpace situation. For one thing, even a fraction of Facebook’s market share would make it the most robust platform on which to pursue clients. LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest, Reddit, and Twitter combined have only as many users as Instagram, Facebook’s secondary platform. 1 Almost one out of every three people on Earth have a Facebook account. That’s amazing by itself but even moreso when you consider that only 54% of the world’s population uses the Internet. 2 In the United States, more adults check Facebook each day than read all American newspapers—combined—during the course of a week.

Facebook comparison

The next thing will be easy to spot.

There’s a case to be made that social media as a media category might decline someday when people grow tired of the comparison game it represents. Facebook, being the biggest player, would probably take the biggest hit. Nothing happens in a vacuum, though. If you remove social media from daily practice, something new will grow to fill that space. What won’t occupy that space is traditional media. It definitely won’t be newspaper, as the American attention span continues to shrink. Nobody confidently knows what’s next or when it will get here, but it will require at least as much adaptation and intuition to operate there as Facebook demands now. Whatever moves into that space will approach with lots of buzz and probably fanfare much like Facebook did more than a decade ago.

Facebook isn’t monolithic.

Facebook isn’t just Facebook. It’s not just Instagram and WhatsApp and Messenger, either. Facebook’s Audience Network spans scores of the prominent news and entertainment sites on the Internet. Like Google’s display ad network, Facebook ads appear all over the web to visitors with Facebook accounts. So, even if someone deletes the Facebook and Instagram apps from their phone or just never uses them, they can still be targeted by Facebook’s ads. In fact, on a per-ad basis, Facebook daily analyzes from which of its platforms people are most efficiently coming to your website and adjusts your daily spend proportionally. If you’re eggs are all in one Facebook basket, it’s a lot bigger basket than you might realize.

Facebook isn’t the only go-to pitch now, anyway.

There are some rare auctions where I advise a campaign to have at least 90% of the budget allocated to Facebook, but those represent the exception and not the rule. What you’re selling, where you’re selling it, and how you’re selling it influence the media mix. This is also true of the resources available to you like (1) email subscribers and (2) past bidder registrations for the same asset category being advertised. Sometimes, a public relations campaign does your heavy lifting on a truly unique auction. Sometimes, a purchased mailing list is the most targeted tool available. There are even a handful of newsprint outlets I still recommend. Often, media choices aren’t based on efficiency or efficacy but on assumptions and perceptions the seller has to feel like you covered all of your bases. If you are avidly tracking all media individually in Google Analytics for every auction, you’ll know what media you use for buyers & sellers and which ones you use for branding or showmanship. You’ll also be able to see trends as they happen.

When I look at the Facebook accounts of the auctioneers asking these questions, I typically find people who aren’t well-versed in Facebook advertising. I wonder if they are hoping for the seemingly-complicated reality of Facebook’s paid advertising to go away so they can get back to the set-it-and-forget-it nature of traditional media. If they got the efficient results my clients do on Facebook, I’m not sure they’d wish for this strike-out pitch to disappear. Even if their wish came true, though, it would be a long, slow decline.

The more important questions to ask are:
• How am I adapting to the changing buying culture?
• What have my experimentation and analytics shown me recently?

Marketers who don’t continually ask themselves those questions will eventually be replaced by those in companies who do. That should worry every auctioneer far more than the future of Facebook.

1 “Top 15 Most Popular Social Media Sites and Apps [August 2018]” by Priit Kallas, Dreamgrow.com, August 2018.

2 “Internet Users in the World by Regions” by Internet World Stats.com, December 21, 2017.

Stock image purchased from iStockPhoto.com. All other images linked to their respective sources.

post image

189: Are You Gambling With Your Future Commissions?

Last Monday morning, I released a controversial take on the firearms portion of Facebook’s advertising guidelines. Several in the auction industry wrote it off as a Chicken Little screech, a tinfoil-hat projection. Others wrote to tell me how they had found my assessment true for them.

The potential of that post didn’t wait any longer than the following Tuesday night. I arrived home around 10:30 to find my Ads Manager on lockdown. My advertising account had been shuttered without warning and with no explanation. All of my clients’ ads had been paused.

Facebook shutdown

This was bigger than an ad not being approved. This was a total inability to advertise on Facebook without creating a new user account, getting all of my clients to update their access permissions, and re-creating all of the custom audiences I’ve made. From what I read online by others who had suffered this fate, even those steps were sometimes not enough to get back up and running, as Facebook has measures in place to protect against serial offenders.

One Facebook advertising vendor wrote a detailed article specifically on this situation, noting that even the appeals process was a long shot. Apparently, many advertisers don’t even get specific explanations of what caused their account closure. The appeals process could take days just to get a response, let alone resolution.

The worst case scenarios would’ve cost me significant time and money. I was looking at losing the fastest-growing segment of my business, the only cost-effective tool I have for some auctions. I stood to lose confidence from my clients, prospects, and the professionals in my continuing education classes.

The exceptions from the horror stories I was reading came to those with a long track record with Facebook advertising, large Facebook spends, and a humble appeal. Thankfully, all of those criteria applied to me. My appeal email also explained how I had recently written a blog post to exhort others to comply with their advertising guidelines.

I went to bed at 1:30 Wednesday morning, anticipating tough conversations and difficult work when I returned to the office. Five hours later, I awoke for some urgent pro bono work before breakfast. Before I got out of bed I checked my Facebook Ads app on my phone to discover that—miraculously—not only had my account been reinstated, but my clients’ ads had all resumed.

I jogged upstairs to my office. My inbox held two emails from Facebook: one welcoming me back to good standing and the other explaining why my account had been shuttered. I kid you not: firearms violations.

Ironic, right? I still don’t know what post or ad triggered the closure. It might have even been my unpromoted post of last Monday’s article. Apparently, the situation struck Facebook’s evaluators as bigger than just an unapproved ad, which I’ve encountered multiple times for clients. My activity was unacceptable behavior.

So, hear me again. Putting firearms in your farm, estate, and liquidation auction catalogs has the very real potential of hijacking your Facebook advertising for your non-firearm assets.

If you believe in Facebook as a marketing tool, consider playing by their rules. If you acknowledge that culture is moving away from newsprint to digital media, understand that adaptation is more than just a format issue. If you want to keep cost-efficient mass promotion in the tool box, consider how you use your tools.

While my company will gladly still design direct mail, newsprint ads, and banner ads for auctions with firearms, I will no longer create Facebook advertising for auctions with guns in the catalog. The stakes are too high for me. Take time to evaluate whether they are for you, too.

post image

171: The 5 Ways to Outsource Your Facebook Advertising

Over the past two years, I’ve become an editor or administrator of more than 40 different Facebook pages for businesses across the country. Recently, that quantity has been changing almost weekly, as more and more auction companies are hiring me to manage at least a portion of their Facebook advertising.

As a vendor, I’ve learned the advantages and disadvantages of the five different ways you can outsource your Facebook marketing. I’ve assembled a brief overview of each here, in case you’re wondering which option is right for your business.

Business Manager Editor Access

Using the Business Manager interface, companies can assign different levels of access to both employees and vendors contributing to their social media. In business manager, the Facebook pixel and billing are tied to the page’s account rather than to the personal account of each individual who places ads.

PRO: This is the most secure way of the five for bringing in additional marketers. You keep Facebook pixel stability, regardless of turnover. Billing is direct to your company credit card (especially beneficial if you collect credit card points). All admins and editors can see analytics.

CON: A bit more work to set up (more steps and more technical prowess required).

Additional Admin or Editor Access

This is the solution most of my clients choose. After you create your page, you can add employees or vendors as admins or editors under Page Roles, which is under Settings on your business’ Facebook page. Using Ads Manager, anyone on the team can place ads, use a Facebook pixel, create a custom or lookalike audience, etc.

PRO: It’s literally only four clicks to add a marketer to your Facebook team. You have all of the same advertising options as Business Manager. There’s still some control/access differentiation between admins and editors.

CON: All admins and editors need to install their Facebook pixels on your website for ubiquitous use.

Primary Admin Access

Some of my clients didn’t have a Facebook business page before hiring my services. They outsourced creation of their Facebook business page and asked me to add them as admins, so that they would get notifications on page activity and could answer inquiries via Facebook Messenger. Once everything is up and running, the back end works and looks the same as the previous option. Some gymnastics need to be done for the person who founded the page to demote themselves to editor and give you the only admin access, but it’s not difficult.

PRO: You don’t have to set up your Facebook page. You get notifications of page and advertising activity without needing to place the ads or even know how to navigate Ads Manager. You have all of the same advertising options as Business Manager.

CON: You are giving someone else complete control of your brand on the platform with more daily users than any other on the planet. All admins and editors need to install their Facebook pixel on your website for ubiquitous use. Billing is tied to individual users. Only the person who scheduled the ads can see the analytics natively (without screen capture or similar sharing)

Third Party Branding

I don’t offer this as a service, but a bunch of companies inside and outside the auction industry do. Instead of creating a Facebook page for your business and tying your advertising to it, another company places the ads through their page.

PRO: You don’t have to set up a Facebook page or handle your own Facebook advertising.

CON: Your sellers’ assets are being sold by another brand, which builds their interface—instead of your website—as a marketplace. Sometimes the ads are linked to your website; often, though, they are linked to your listing on that vendor’s website instead. To use any Facebook pixel advertising (if even offered), you have to give another company access to your web traffic.

Account Takeover

This is stupid—nothing short of unwise. I mention this option only because I’ve had three different entrepreneurs request this over the past year. This is where you give a vendor your personal Facebook login information to create a business page in your name, make you the admin, and then place ads on behalf of your brand.

PRO: You don’t have to set up your Facebook page. You get to see notifications and analytics in your Ads Manager without placing your ads.

CON: Your vendor could ruin your reputation and put your brand in hot water. They could commandeer not only your Facebook business page but also your personal Facebook profile. They can post as you, message as you, comment as you. They could change your password and lock you out of your own account.

Right now, Facebook offers the most targeted marketing to the largest audiences in the world. Your brand, your assets, and your services need to be there. Outsourcing isn’t always the best option. (In fact, some of my clients only outsource a portion of their Facebook advertising.) When an outside vendor can add value or ease your workload, though, now you’ll know how best to engage them.

Stock image purchased from iStockPhoto.com

post image

170: The Oddest Objection I Get When Consulting

I get a really odd response when I recommend that Facebook receive a sizable chunk of a marketing budget.

“Not everyone’s on Facebook, though.”

I’ve never heard a client declare, “Not everyone gets the newspaper, though.”

I’ve never heard an auctioneer say, “But not everybody opens their mail.”

The irony in my clients’ rebuttals is that Facebook is the most dominant channel in any medium in our country. As of August of 2015, 62% of the adult population and 72% of adults in the country who use the Internet are on Facebook.1 Two thirds of those Facebook users visit the site every day.2

By contrast, the most watched show on TV last year (Sunday Night Football) garnered 6.6% of the nation’s population.3 That’s 10% of Facebook’s daily reach, and it’s available only 17 nights a year. Plus, advertising to that small fraction of people would cost you just short of a firstborn child.

“But older folks aren’t on Facebook.”

64% of Internet users ages 55 to 64 use Facebook.1 Only 44% of Americans ages 55-64 read a newspaper.4 It’s safe to assume the percentage of adults who look through the classifieds of those newspapers would be significantly smaller still.

Not only is the quantity of newspaper subscribers shrinking (7% for daily papers and 4% for Sunday papers—last year alone), so is the quantity of newspapers themselves. A net of 118 U.S. newspapers closed their doors between 2004 and 2014.5 Multiple times in the past couple years, I’ve had to email a client to let them know that a newspaper they requested is no longer in print.

In contrast, the number of mailboxes in America isn’t shrinking; and neither is Facebook’s user base.

“Well, professionals and investors [rich people] aren’t on Facebook.”

2015 Facebook Users78% of on Internet users with household incomes above $75,000 are on Facebook.1 That happens to be the highest percentage of any income bracket.

Facebook will let you filter audiences by income, by net worth, by liquid assets, and by number of lines of credit. I regularly target lists of millionaires and multimillionaires on Facebook and get tons of traffic to my clients’ websites—for both commercial and luxury residential properties.

One of my clients auctioned a medical office building earlier this year. We had a direct mail campaign and ads deployed in local and business newspapers. At the first open house, every single prospect touring the property came from Facebook. They weren’t teenagers or minimum wage workers.

Am I saying advertising budgets should be almost all Facebook?

Absolutely not. No media saturates 100% of your prospect base. It’s good to cover as many bases as you can afford.

What this data should determine, though, is the priority order in your advertising budget. Actually, that hierarchy should be determined more by your internal data than by user statistics and audience size. If you’re polling your bidders at every auction and then tracking your offline & online media in Google Analytics, you’ll be able to tell which media work best for specific asset types in specific geographical locations.

I recently bet a client that, if their winning bidder came from one of a selection of out-of-state newspapers, I’d rebate all of my design fees. I wasn’t promising a bidder from Facebook. I just knew we could reach far more people and a much more targeted audience on the same spend, and I prefer efficient advertising over hail Mary throws. (They agreed.)

Most of the small business folks who object to my bullish stance on Facebook don’t have data to refute my assertions. They’re working off assumptions, anecdotal recollections, and their personal habits. (“I never get on my Facebook.”) Auctioneers who do test and measure and analyze have been moving more money to Facebook, Google, direct mail, and signs—away from newsprint.

I’m not telling you how or where to spend your money. I’m just letting you know that neither you nor I can trust our assumptions.

Stock image purchased from iStockPhoto.com
Chart linked to source.

1 “The Demographics of Social Media Users
Maeve Duggan, Pew Research Center. August 19, 2015.

2. “Facebook Passes 1.65 Billion Monthly Active Users, 54% Access the Service Only on Mobile
Emil Protalinski, Venture Beat.April 27, 2016.

3 “Here’s How Much Ad Time in NFL Games Costs Marketers This Season
Anthony Crupii, AdAge. September 15, 2015.

4 “Newspapers: Sunday Readership by Age
Pew Research Center

5 “Newspaper Fact Sheet
Michael Barthel, Pew Research Center, June, 2016.

post image

169: 2 Adaptive Advertising Technologies Auctioneers Can Afford

In my lifetime, the change in advertising technology has been incredible.

• Desktop publishing allowed auction companies to design their own advertising, and it pushed newspaper deadlines back a day or two.

• Digital printing shortened direct mail production by literally a week.

• The Internet afforded auction marketers the ability to update advertising information on their website with far less lead time than was needed for signs, newsprint, and direct mail.

• Email added the ability to quickly alert subscribers of news or changes.

• LED billboards made outdoor advertising faster to implement and less expensive to use.

• Social media offered the most targeted advertising in the history of the planet.

And now, advertising can literally change itself to adapt to its viewer. Two of these adaptive technologies are very approachable, and my auctioneer clients are regularly using both.

Facebook Ads (Not Boosted Posts)

One of the options for Facebook sponsored content is an ad that shows a single image to the viewer. The advertiser can actually load up to six different images into that photo’s spot. Facebook displays all of the photo iterations of the ad pretty much evenly to viewers the first day and measures which ones got the most interactions. The next day, it adapts how the images show to the public and weights how it serves them accordingly. On day three, it adapts again after considering how the public interacted with the previous days’ mix of images. This process continues until the end of your campaign.

Adaptive Facebook samplesWith some extra elbow grease, Facebook will also do this with other content in an ad set—switching out types of ads (video, slide show, single image, etc.) for the type that’s best performing.

Best of all, this adaptive capability comes with no additional Facebook charge. It’s in Facebook’s best interest for ads to appeal to its users, and they want advertising to be as effective as possible—to keep getting advertising revenue from advertisers.

By the way, I’ve regularly been surprised by which image got the most traction. On campaigns where I’ve targeted different ads to different target audiences, it’s interesting to see how each audience gravitates to different images or content.

Variable Data Printing

I’ve blogged about this technology before, but few of my clients leverage this tool. Rather than using plates on a traditional printing press to imprint a static design for an entire print run, each piece is imprinted digitally and customized according to the address printed on the piece. There can be as few as two versions of the piece; or maybe there can be a multitude of variations, depending on the database setup.

The basic premise is that different people on your mailing list get different versions of the postcard or brochure—versions tied to their interests. So, if you have a multi-property auction, the property closest to them might be featured on the mail panel. If you’re selling real estate and personal property, people on your real estate list will get a different version than people on your personal property list. If you have an ag equipment list and a construction equipment list, the catalog mailed to both lists can have the same guts but a different cover and mailing panel.

Setup for this technology runs anywhere from $35 to $50 at the print shop and a little extra on the design end. Depending on the size of your mailing, the cost difference can be inconsequential. The value it adds, though—with people getting mail their more likely to read—is very much noticeable.

With each new technological capability, auctioneers have needed to fit more tools into their marketing tool boxes, but they’ve also gained more and better ways to find motivated buyers and sellers. Is your advertising updating itself after you cut it loose? Is it adapting to buyer interests? If not, how much of a head start are you willing to give your competition while their marketing is?

Stock image purchased from iStockPhoto.com

post image

165: 5 Reasons to be Wary of Automated Marketing

Most of the folks that attend my seminars represent sole proprietorships or family-size businesses. Based on the feedback I get before and after my talks, I sense that many auctioneers feel unable to keep up with the growing media landscape. In particular, they tell me they don’t have the time, energy, or expertise to manage their companies’ accounts for Facebook and other social media.

Auctioneers aren’t alone in this. Many small business folks struggle with this important part of the operation.

To capitalize on that great need, a bevy of startups and major corporations have created automated marketing tools and programs. Constant Contact will post your email content on Facebook. Hootsuite will publish free to up to five of your social streams with one click of the Autoschedule button. ZipRecruiter promises to reach hundreds of sites and post to social media for you—with one click.

These automated services deliver on their promise of ease but can’t and usually don’t promise efficacy. They’re wise not to promise that, too. The current social media landscape makes robo-posting incredibly less valuable than native interactions.

1. Organic reach is a thing of the past.

Most automation tools focus on posting on your behalf and assume that your followers will engage because they follow your brand. That assumption is optimistic at best, especially on Facebook where less than 5% of your Facebook fans see your unpromoted posts. Just posting isn’t enough anymore.

2. Each media has its own culture.

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat, YouTube, and email each operate in different ecosystems with different formats, different purposes, and different audiences. Savvy marketers leverage the unique characteristics of each medium and adapt their messages to each. They know that the same statement auto-translated in all languages at once will inevitably cause part of your message to get lost in translation.

3. Targeting and measurement is platform-dependent.

Automated posts can’t be targeted, tracked, or analyzed like native posts can. Almost every business needs to reach new customers—people who have not yet done business with them or engaged with their social media accounts. To reach those people and to more efficiently interact with more of your ideal customers, you need the native platform tools.

4. Authenticity is more attractive.

The best social media marketing is less about broadcasting and more about providing something for the viewer. That could be entertainment, a solution to a problem, or something for their wish list. Social media users can tell when a message is generated for multiple platforms at once, and that content looks less organic, less personal.

5. Customer service can’t be automated.

While immediate responses can be set up with autoresponders, full problem resolution typically works only with communication between two humans. With Facebook’s immutable rating system and with hashtags making social media instantly searchable for negative reviews, it’s more important than ever to monitor and address the concerns from social media in person.

You have to go where your customers are.

When auctioneers and small business people used to tell me they don’t have time for social media, I told them to just skip it altogether. I can’t do that anymore. 78% of American adults are on social media. Infodocket claims that one out of every five page views on the Internet are on Facebook. With lookalike audiences and tracking pixels—both of which are free tools—small businesses can find new customers like no time in human history.

Statistic of Facebook Users

Take advantage of education.

So, the bad news is that you need humans running your social media. The good news is that there are fantastic resources to train you or your staff how to do it—not just to make sense of it but to thrive with it. You can find a lot of tutorials for free or cheap online. You can find education tailored to the auction industry in the Auction Marketing Management designation, too. I volunteer to teach in that environment (and pay my own travel expenses), because I strongly believe that targeted marketing and adapting to cultural trends is what will keep my clients and companies just like them in business—if not thriving in their marketplace for years to come.

post image

154: Are You Throwing Away Income on Facebook?

Football Player Lego MinifigureIn the National Football League, commentators use a term to describe why players don’t make specific plays that would significantly increase their risk of injury. The announcers usually say it with a bit of smirk in their voice.

“He made a business decision.”

The player in question could have attempted a tackle or dove for a first down, but the long-term ability to make plays wasn’t worth the short-term opportunity of a single play. I’ve rarely heard a football player criticized for making that split-second decision. In fact, usually quarterbacks are criticized for getting hurt because they didn’t process this kind of situation quickly and wisely.

During this heated political season and the social unrest of the past few years, auctioneers and entrepreneurs have been inadvertently making business decisions. They’ve taken risky shots on social media. They’ve not processed the long-term ramifications of short-term humor and rhetoric. They’ve invested their personal brand into memes and rants and extra exclamation marks.

Political Teams

Whether we root for team donkey, team elephant, team buffalo, team porcupine, or none of the above, a short scroll through our social connections will tell us that we aren’t all on the same team. That’s actually a good thing. At least it can be. Diversity of opinions widens culture’s horizons and sometimes even leads to idealogical dialogue. Well, it theoretically has the potential for that.

Those conversations have merit in proper forums, most of which are offline. In contrast, social media tends to oversimplify nuanced topics and polarize communities through antagonism. The stock photos are either grandiose or intentionally crass. Often, the statistics are fictional or out of context. Rarely do we check multiple sources to verify a post before it’s shared, liked, or referenced.

The risks for this kind of engagement looms larger than potential egg on the face or estrangement from social connections. As small business owners or sales reps, we can actually reduce future income. See, potential clients—including auction sellers—are going to type a vendor’s name into the Facebook search bar. Unless we’re very careful with your privacy settings, they’re going to see our posts. Those playing on different political teams or even just different sides of a specific issue will now mark a mental strike against us. The opposing position might even unconsciously predispose them to disagree with our business suggestions. It’s a risk that rises proportional to the level of acidity or distastefulness they find.

This doesn’t mean that we abandon unpopular opinions or that we avoid sharing them. It just means that we express them differently. Proselytizing or personal growth is more likely within the contexts of face-to-face conversations, book club discussions, thoughtful letters, careful essays, well-researched & sourced infographics, etc. Raise a hand if a Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram post has ever changed your political stance on anything. If they’ve never worked on us, what hubris or ignorance does it take to assume they’ll sway others?

For each of us, some issues might be worth losing business to defend. How and when we defend them, though, can determine the amount of personal credence and professional respect we lose in the process. It is possible to respectfully disagree.

Multiple writers have attributed a quote to Michael Jordan that he actually didn’t say, but the invented statement holds a lot of merit. The global sports icon has (after retirement) endorsed and financially supported Democratic Party candidates including President Barrack Obama. Initially, though, he chose brand building over political involvement. The reason was summarized in this famous fictional line:

“Republicans buy sneakers, too.”

Stock image purchased from iStockPhoto.com.

Get these articles delivered to you.

Don't set a reminder to check the site for new content. Have new content sent to you when it posts.
* = required field
×