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  • Spying On Competitor Targeting To Determine Their Facebook Marketing Strategy

    Wednesday, May 27, 2015 by
    HostGator Facebook Ad Help If you're advertising on Facebook, you've probably hit a road block at least once when it comes to targeting. You can play with audience insights all day long, but sometimes you just can't locate that exact sweet spot that would be best for your specific business. So, why not use what your competitors are using? Whatever niche you're in, you've probably done your research. You've visited some of the top sites in the game, Liked some of the highest performing Facebook pages, and maybe even bought an array of products. Doing all of this online has most likely made Facebook think you're interested in the industry. Therefore, if your competitors are targeting properly, you'll start seeing their ads appear. For example, I'm in the Internet marketing game and I see a lot of ads for Internet marketing products, ebooks, and webinars. But I also help my girlfriend with her makeup blog. So I also see a lot of ads for makeup and beauty products even though I don't actually use these products and certainly am not their target demographic. This can apply to almost any niche provided that you've done your research into the given industry.  

    Spying On Your Competitor's Facebook Marketing Strategy

    Of course, you can't get gain access into your competitor's business / ad manager. Therefore, we will have to use a little reverse engineering to make this strategy work. This is something that I love to do when trying to kill time, and to see what my own competitors are doing as well. We're going to do that here with some real-life facebook ad examples from my own news feed. There are 3 main placements for Facebook advertising. You have your native ads on desktop and mobile, and you have your right rail ads. Each of them will show you information about the ad you are seeing. We'll begin with the right rail:  

    Right Side Ad Targeting

    How To Spy On Your Facebook Ad Competitors As mentioned, the ads currently targeted at me include both makeup/beauty ads, as well as some for Internet marketing. Given the above 3 ads, how do I find out what they're doing? The answer is easy enough. Hover on the image to see a little X. How To Find Your Competitors Facebook Strategy Click on the X and you'll be presented with several options. Click the option "Why am I seeing this? Why Am I Seeing This Facebook Ad? From here, you'll be given a lightbox popup with information about the ad. Sometimes this is very vague, as we'll see momentarily, but sometimes it will give you some interesting ideas. Let's see how Mr. Brown targeted me. How To Reverse Engineer A Facebook Ad For the Liberty Mutual ad, it's one of the vague descriptions since they're using an agency called TheTradeDesk. Ad using An Facebook Advertising Company The Nordstrom ad? They're using TellApart to target people. So unfortunately it doesn't reveal exactly how they targeted me. It's possibly a retargeting ad.  

    Newsfeed Ad Targeting

    Let's take a look at a few Newsfeed ads. This first ad I saw was from a competitor. Which is funny because this is exactly what I would look for when doing my research. To find what they're doing, let's click on the chevron that points down on the top right. Digital Ocean Facebook Ad You'll receive a similar box of options as the right rail. Click the same "Why am I seeing this" to see more information. You'll see that our competitor is using a dark post that's targeting me based on my interest in Linux. Interesting, because I was briefly targeting this not too long ago. Maybe they did a little reverse engineering as well? How To Target A Niche On Facebook Here's another example of a Newsfeed ad. They're selling SEO services and the targeting they are using is interesting. Facebook ad for SEOFacebook Ad Targeting Moz Marketing Software They're targeting Moz Marketing Software, something that Glen at Viperchill wrote about a few months ago. This is interesting to me because they've been targeting this for awhile and so did Glen before he wrote his article. I am only aware of this due to a mutual friend of mine and Glen's. As such, either this advertiser has a relation to Glen or they've been doing some reverse engineering themselves. Although we're only scratching the surface, you are beginning to see how deep the rabbit hole can go. In a matter of coincidence, Viperchill showed up when I continued scrolling down my page. Let's see how Glen is targeting these days.

    Viperchill Facebook Ad How Does Viperchill Target on Facebook He's targeting those interested in Darren Rowse, the founder of ProBlogger. This is actually the 4th person that I've seen this month targeting Darren. I really like this targeting because it shows you that you don't have to just target brands and hobbies, you can find some of the biggest names in the industry to target as well. Which, if you're doing it, there's a chance your ad costs might be slightly less expensive because most advertisers would go after recognizable brands rather than individuals.  

    Mobile Newsfeed Targeting Examples

    My first example was the first ad to show in my feed, and it is actually our good friends Bluehost. How about we take a look at what they're doing. How To Spy On Your Facebook Competitor Facebook Ads Help I'm glad this one showed up because of the targeting they're doing here. In this example, they're targeting a lookalike audience from an existing audience. A lookalike audience is an audience that Facebook will generate for you based on an audience you've added into their system. So this could either be their customers, a retargeting list, or a couple of other options. They're trying to find people that are similar to people who have bought their services previously, so there's a good chance that they may be interested as well. Our next ad is one of those ads that doesn't give you much information. Why is that? Because they've incorporated several layers within their ad. Age, location, interest, and many other options can be used to target. Using multiple targeting options will make it more difficult to see exactly what is being done. How to tell how your competition is targeting on facebook This is basically how you can tell what your competitors are doing on Facebook in order to give you some ideas for targeting. These were just a few examples, certainly not all-inclusive. One particular ad message to be aware of will say something similar to "ABC advertiser is trying to reach people based on their current customers" which means they uploaded your information as a custom audience. When I see this from an advertiser that I know that I haven't given them my information, I block and report them since it probably means they bought my email from somewhere or scraped it somehow. Neither of which should be done.  

    How Can You Edit Your Facebook Interests?

    This can be a little complicated as Facebook takes a lot of factors into consideration when matching you with interests. Some of these can be what pages you like, what websites you visit, and what products you buy. To remove specific interests, you just need to manage your ad preferences.  From the "why am I see this" popup, you can remove the exact interest (for example, the Moz Marketing Software) or you can click to go to all of your preferences. There, you can pick and choose what to remove or add. Hopefully this has shed some light on how to use your competitors' Facebook ads to find new targeting options. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask in the comments!
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  • Fighting Spam On Your Social Ads

    Friday, December 5, 2014 by
    The world of social media is supposed to be just that - social. It's a place where people can freely speak their mind about a product, brand, or their favorite cat (we're looking at you Grumpy cat). This can be amazingly wonderful for some advertisers, but then it can also be their worst enemy. This post will cover the negative effects of social on social (Twitter and Facebook) ads and how you can fight them. Fighting Comment Spam  


    The most common type of spam on Twitter originate from fake accounts posting affiliate links or links to their products. These users are essentially riding the curtails of legitimate advertisers in order to get some visibility for free. How effective is this for them? We don't know.
    Another type of spam comes from upset users. Although we all try our best to provide the absolute best products available, there will always be someone that is unsatisfied for some reason. These users can be very vocal about their opinions on social channels, even attempting to hijack otherwise civil threads with hate comments.
    Fortunately with Twitter, you'll be able to see comments on any of your posts coming through your notifications. So if you're watching your notifications, you'll be able to quickly identify spam. The downside is that you can't delete any of these comments, deserved or not. You can mark them as spam, but the chance of them being removed is very slim.
    For Twitter, you really have two options.
    • Leave the tweet alone and hope the spam doesn't get noticed
    • Delete the tweet and recreate it in the campaign

    The second option is one of the worst options because, as many advertisers will know, Twitter rewards engagement. So if you have a tweet that has a lot of favorites and retweets, the tweet will tend to show more often. Although, Twitter does reward freshness, so it is overall a balancing act and a judgement call.  


    If you're using Facebook's "Boost Post" option, your ads are your posts on your page and you can easily filter through the posts with comments. However, if you're using dark posts, then this is a much more involved process.
    Similar to Twitter, the most comment type of spam is affiliate links, product links, and even profile or page links. On Facebook, these can be deleted and abusive users easily banned.
    The next type of spam essentially consists of generally nonsensical, but positive comments. Mostly these are emojis and smiley faces. There are rumors that some fake accounts are created for specific purposes and these users click / comment in order to appear active. While we can't verify this information, we aren't going to usually delete the positive messages.
    Currently, Facebook doesn't notify page administrators of comments on ads. However, they do notify for likes, which seems slightly backwards. However, here are 3 methods of finding your comments on newsfeed and mobile ads.
    1. Manually Go Through Each Campaign I generally separate ad sets by display type. This makes it easier to go through all ads in these ads set in the campaign manager. The process is listed below:
    • Click ad name so a view of the ad will drop down
    • Look at view of ad to see if there are any comments
    • If there are comments, click "Ad Preview"
    • If this has a newsfeed element, you can click "View in Newsfeed"
    • This will open the demo in your newsfeed and you can click comments
    • Remove spam as needed
      2. Manually Save Links To Add in Spreadsheets This is a tedious process, especially for those that create a lot of ads. To start, you'll need to complete the steps in number 1 above. Then follow these:
    • In the demo view, hit the arrow on the top right of the post
    • Click save post
    • Go to your saved posts (you can get there by clicking this link)
    • Click the post
    • Copy URL and put in spreadsheet
    • Delete saved post

    The reason you have to delete the saved post is because you can only save one post per page.   3. Power Editor To The Rescue This is the most efficient method I have discovered thus far. If you haven't used the power editor before, don't worry; it's really pretty easy for mass edits. This helps grab all the posts you need (and the post IDs), and start viewing the posts. Here's the process you'll need.
    • Visit power editor (click here)
    • Download your ad account
    • Click the active section on the left for campaigns to grab just the active campaigns
    • Select all campaigns (if you filtered ad sets by display then you can select all those ad sets)
    • Click the export import button on the top. (Button has two arrows)
    • Choose Export Selected or Export All
    • Open the downloaded document
    • Play with the data until you have the "Ad ID" of your newsfeed and mobile ads
    • Ad ID looks similar to a:602000000000
    • Move these to a different document / spreadsheet / tab
    • Do a replace with CTRL + F to replace a: with

    Your results will look like a string of lines similar to
    If you notice in the spreadsheet, there's a "Preview Link" column. I have not yet been able to successfully see the newsfeed links by using this. That's why I suggest appending the Ad IDs to the URL above.
    This process makes it easier to run through the list in a few minutes to go through the comments. If you wish to have multiple people, you'll need to have them listed at least as an Analyzer on the Facebook account so that they can see the demo links.  


    Remember, not all of the comments and tweets on your ads are spam. Do keep an eye out for general support requests and other beneficial interactions as well.
    It is always important to be responsive and helpful via your social channels.

    Update 6/16/15

    Recently, Facebook made a change to make this a little easier. Maybe they saw this post? We'd like to think so. Facebook has done a better job of adding the notifications for comments on all posts. However, if you're running a lot of ads, you'll probably miss some of the notifications. So you can use the steps below to find the posts to modify their links. To see comments on your ads, it's still a manual process. You you (or the person going through the ads) will need to have access to the advertising account. To see the comments, you have a couple of options to find them: Campaign Manager or in Power Editor. The steps for both are listed below:   Campaign Management Dashboard From there, click the campaign, then the ad set, and you will be at the ad level. Click the specific ads that you want and you'll see a small preview of the ad. On the right, you'll see the following (check the screenshot 1 below). Click "View Post Permalink With Comments" (screenshot 2).   Screenshot 1 Find Facebook Ad Preview   Screenshot 2 View Facebook Ad With Comments   Power Editor There are two ways to find these in Power Editor. Both of which require you to be within the Ads tab. The first option is within the table for the ads. Just scroll all the way to the right and you'll see the "Preview Link" column (screenshot 3). The second option is to select the ad. Right below the ad preview, you'll see the options in screenshot 4 below.   Screenshot 3 Power Editor Preview Facebook Ad   Screenshot 4 Preview Facebook Ad Power Editor   This will take you to the ad where you can reply to the comments or delete them. If you have your own suggestions about fighting spam on your social ads, let us know the comments below!
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  • Twitter Email List Targeting

    Wednesday, September 24, 2014 by
    Target On Twitter With Email   For those of you who have been using social media advertising, you may know that Facebook has allowed for email list targeting for some time now. This feature is great because you can strictly target those users in your email list. Companies can even use their existing client lists to target them on Facebook for customer promotions and increasing customer value. Now, Twitter has entered the game with the option to upload lists to target with ads.  

    Why Email Targeting?

    With email targeting, you can direct ads straight to those who you believe are the best for your promotion. For example, you have a list of customers who bought Product A and you're having a sale on Product B that is a really good complementary item for Product A. Instead of emailing everyone on this list, you can run a campaign on Twitter to let them know about the sale. Or you can have an integrated campaign to email them and promote to them on Twitter.  

    Is It Just Email Targeting?

    No. You can create a targeted audience with different types of lists. Email is usually what most businesses have from their clients. Not all request phone numbers. You can create lists with the following information:
    • Email
    • Phone Numbers
    • Twitter User Names
    • Twitter User IDs
    • Mobile Advertising IDs

    How To Create A Targeted Audience

    Creating a targeted audience with Twitter is pretty simple. First you will need to have a list generated from your CRM or email software. Then you will just need to follow these steps.   1. Click Tools on your Twitter Ads navigation bar. Then select Audience Manager. twitter-audience-maker   2. Click "Create Audience" on the upper right side of the UI. Audience Manager on Twitter

    Here is a picture of the @HostGator audience manager. These are small lists for a specific purpose.


    3. Give your list a name, then choose the type of list you are uploading. Remember that it will need to be a .csv or .txt file.


    4. Select the type of audience you're uploading


    5. Upload your file


    Things To Consider

    Read the Twitter Ads Terms of Service. You don't want your account banned for doing something you shouldn't be doing.   Update your privacy policy about customer information being used for advertising if it isn't already in there.   Separate your lists. Perhaps I just like granularity, but I like to see that we have 10k emails and 5k phone numbers that converted to targeted Twitter users. It was interesting to see.   On that same note, use multiple lists! Sometimes the email your customer gives isn't the one they used for Twitter but the phone number is. You don't want to miss out on being able to target them. For our lists, cell phone numbers matched up more than home phone numbers.   Don't expect to launch a campaign immediately after uploading the list. It can take several hours for Twitter to match the contents on the list with users. I tend to upload my list before I go home for the day so that I can start the campaign the next day.   Match rate will be lower than Facebook custom audiences. With the same list, Facebook matched 4,400 users and Twitter only matched approximately 1,100.   Audience matches of less than 500 will be listed as too small and you will not be able to advertise to them.   That's it about Twitter email list and audience targeting. Please feel free to ask any questions or express concerns in the comments below!
  • What Is A Dark Post On Facebook?

    Friday, August 15, 2014 by

    The featured image on this article is not a post that you will find anywhere on the HostGator Facebook Page.  But yet many people have seen it. How? The answer: Dark Posts.


    Dark Post - What Is It?

    According to the definition from Google, a dark post is the following:

    An unpublished post is a status update, link share, video or photo that was never meant to be shared as an organic post. Staying true to its name, it’s never published but is only surfaced as an ad.

    Basically, it’s a Facebook post that you control exactly who sees it through ads. If you have seen the main image on this page on Facebook, then that means you have seen one of our dark posts targeting you.


    Why Dark Post?

    The purpose of these posts are to create a message for a specific goal without cluttering up the newsfeed for those who would see it as irrelevant. For example, if you’re trying to sell your services and all of your followers already use your services, then it wouldn’t make sense for them to see an ad on their newsfeed for your services. However, you still want to post a message for selling your services to drive sales. This is where dark posts come into play. You can create a dark post with a message to sell your services and use that to advertise to your target market.


    How To Create A Dark Post On Facebook

    Facebook has a video on creating dark posts and you can find it here. Unfortunately, this video is very outdated. The power editor no longer looks like it did in the video. This walkthrough will show you how to create a dark post so that you can put Facebook to work for your business. Please note, we will be using Google Chrome because the power editor doesn’t work in other browsers.


    1. Visit the Facebook Power Editor.



    2. Click “Download to Power Editor” and choose the choose the advertising account you wish to download. For many of you, there will only be one option. For those who manage accounts for multiple clients, make sure you select the correct account. You don’t want one client paying for the ads of another.


    3. Select the + sign under Campaigns.



    4. Determine the Campaign Name, Buying Type (I always choose auction), and the Objective. The Objective is what you’re trying to achieve with your ad (Generate leads, get website traffic, increase page likes, etc)



    5. Now that you’ve created your Campaign, click the Ads tabfacebook-ads


    6. Click the + sign again to create an ad


    7. Select the campaign you just created, create an ad set, and then name your ad. (You can also create your campaign from this point if you’d like) organize-facebook-campaign


    8. In the Creative tab, you can choose the Facebook Page that you wish to use for the ad and the post.


    9. Once you’ve selected the page, under Page Post, click the + at the right.



    10. From here you can choose the Post Type: Link, Photo, Video, Status, Offer. For this example, we’ll create a Link. I’ve set one up just for this article.



    11. Be sure to choose the option “This post will only be used as an ad”. It should already be selected but make sure it’s there.


    12. Review your post.



    Now that you’ve created your post, you can begin to use it for your ads. This article does not cover how to create ads and how to target customers but the opportunities are virtually endless. To get started, check out this article on basic Facebook ads. Be sure to come back to the blog as we will add more articles about more advanced Facebook methods such as targeting and optimization.


    Hopefully we have shed light on what a dark post is and you have found this information valuable. If you have any other questions about Facebook, please let us know in the comments. We will be more than happy to write about what you want to know.


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