The golden age of Facebook for brands and why it won’t last much longer

The golden age of Facebook for brands (and why it won’t last much longer)You have to hand it to Facebook: despite ever more cunning attempts by social media newcomers, it continues to lead the field when it comes to reaching consumers online. Which is great news for any of us trying to get our clients in front of customers.

Facebook’s self-service tools, which include the Facebook Advertising System, mean it has created THE perfect model for getting to the right people – and for converting an audience to a buying consumer.

Compared to Google, Twitter and the rest, it’s far and away the leading social advertising platform, allowing a brand (or its PR agency) to target consumers via interests, age, geographic location, gender and even relationship status. But for how much longer?

At the risk of stating the hugely obvious, the key to targeting the right consumer online is to know your demographic. We manage Facebook and Twitter for Britain’s biggest Bakery brand – so if people are talking about, say, ‘breakfast’ on Facebook, we can target them with a sponsored story as part of a relevant campaign, as it stretches across social and traditional media.

Similarly, if they talk about ‘cooking’, we can target them on behalf of another food client with our ‘Quick & Tasty’ app; and if they load Facebook via their mobile or tablet, we target them with the latest iPhone and iPad accessories on behalf of our mobile accessory client.

This is an exciting and still relatively new way to reach consumers; I say ‘new’ because traditionally, ad agencies have always used a very static model, by which they identify the audience and their interests, and then create a single ad that will (hopefully) interest them. But with Facebook, it’s possible to customise messages to any sub-sector within the target audience AT NO EXTRA BUDGET.

Moreover, these ads are dynamic page posts, which means they evolve on a daily basis alongside our core PR-led narrative. And if you customise the message well, it can reach and convert the consumer much easier than other static forms of advertisements.

For instance, our work with our mobile accessories client, for instance, allows us to define the audience who use mobiles and tablets – and Facebook allows us to reach them with our message (for instance ‘here’s 50% off the new iPad cover from Client X’).

The difference to the traditional ad agency model is that it’s conversational, and not an ad. Better still, it costs an extremely small amount of money, as this type of dynamic social advertising is driven by the Social Media team and doesn’t involve ad or media buying agencies.

The downside

Is there a downside to all this? Well yes: it won’t last forever. In fact we are telling clients that while this is a relatively new phase in social media communications, it has perhaps another two years before consumers will start getting tired of being targeted so precisely.

Currently, many don’t even realise what’s going on – they soon will, and then they may not want to engage socially on platforms which have commercial motivations.

For anyone working with clients in the media who realises this now, this is truly the golden age of Facebook for brands.

Habib Amir is head of digital at Clarion Communications