Tips and Tricks
Written by Kyler Patterson
Wednesday, May 27th, 2015
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
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.
Click on the X and you’ll be presented with several options. Click the option “Why am I seeing this?
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.
For the Liberty Mutual ad, it’s one of the vague descriptions since they’re using an agency called TheTradeDesk.
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.
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?
Here’s another example of a Newsfeed ad. They’re selling SEO services and the targeting they are using is interesting.
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.
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.
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.
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!
Written by Kevin Wood
Monday, January 12th, 2015
Hashtags have slowly become a part of the popular culture, especially the digital culture. Over time they’ve grown to become a central part of an effective social media campaign. However, if you’re just getting started with using hashtags they can be overwhelming, and frankly a bit confusing.
Once you get the hang of using hashtags it will get much easier, but it’s important to know the basics so you have a better chance at running an effective campaign from the start.
What Is A Hashtag?
In a way, hashtags can be seen as keywords. They allow for the aggregation of information that’s all based around a certain topic. Originally, hashtags were used by Twitter as a way to categorize their messages. Since their inception hashtags have grown across other platforms as well, including Instagram, Flickr, Vine, and more recently Facebook.
For instance, if you’re posting a picture of a tasty cup of coffee on Instagram, you may tag that picture with the hashtag #coffeelove. Or, if you’re posting a picture of a beautiful sunset, you could use the hashtag #sunset. Of course, hashtags apply to more than just pictures.
In order to utilize the power of hashtags for your business it’s crucial you create your own. You may be able to reach new followers by hopping on existing hashtags, but to truly create the buzz you’re looking for you’ll want to get creative.
A successful hashtag campaign will help to build awareness for your brand or business, or even promote certain contests or giveaways you might be running.
Rules For An Effective Hashtag Campaign
The most effective hashtags are short, sweet and inspire action. To get to that point it’s going to take a little work, but it’ll be well worth it.
1. Be Unique, But Not Too Unique
When you’re creating your own hashtag you’ll want to make sure it’s unique and memorable. If you already have a company hashtag you’ll want to improvise on this to show association, but still have enough difference so it stands out.
When it comes to length try not to overcomplicate things. Face it, no one will remember a hashtag that’s a sentence long, but it will also be hard to differentiate from other tags if it’s only a few letters long. Finding the right balance is crucial.
Your hashtag also needs to be relevant to the campaign you’re trying to run. For example, if you’re trying to create a hashtag around an event make sure the hashtag alludes to what the event is actually about.
Once you’ve come up with a unique, catchy, easy to remember, and slightly descriptive hashtag, then it’s time to move on.
2. Use It Across Multiple Channels
As was mentioned earlier, hashtags are useful across multiple social media platforms. When you’re executing your campaign you’ll want to have a presence on the social media platforms your audience hangs out at.
People use different social media platforms for different purposes, but your hashtag can help weave a thread back to your business throughout all these seemingly disparate networks.
This will help your hashtag get more exposure across more social channels, which will increase the likelihood of your campaign catching fire. Secondly, this will help people remember your hashtag, as they’ll be exposed to it in multiple settings.
3. Always Research First
You’d hate to tweet your super unique, extremely creative hashtag only to realize that another person has been using the hashtag for an entirely different purpose. This would not only be detrimental to the success of your campaign, but could also result in serious customer backlash.
It’s always worth it to spend time researching potential hashtags to see what comes up. Make sure you check across multiple platforms as well. By doing this beforehand you could avoid a seriously embarrassing incident for your company.
Overall, an effective hashtag campaign is all about using a memorable hashtag at the right time, all in service of your customers. The steps above will get you going in the right direction.
Photo Credit: quinn.anya via compfight
Written by Kyler Patterson
Friday, December 5th, 2014
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.
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 https://www.facebook.com/?feed_demo_ad=
Your results will look like a string of lines similar to https://www.facebook.com/?feed_demo_ad=602000000000
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.
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).
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.
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!
Written by Kyler Patterson
Wednesday, September 24th, 2014
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:
- 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.
2. Click “Create Audience” on the upper right side of the UI.
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.
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!