Posted by: In: Social Media 17 Jun 2013 Comments: 0 Tags: , , ,

By: Amanda Lehner

Facebook Ads

When I first started using Facebook for nonprofits in 2007, I had a big selling point. “It’s practically free,” I would declare, standing in front of my big projected slide entitled “Why Facebook?” “And you can get an intern to manage it, as they are young and understand social media.”

Oh how things have changed. Yet some nonprofits still subscribe to this theory (mostly out of necessity), we’re learning fast that if you want to truly use the power of social to achieve big goals, the days of the scrimpy social media budgets are behind us.

I attribute this shift to the need for an ad buy and skilled content production. Facebook has taken many of the old tactics off the table — giveaways, tagging partners to show up on their page — to name a few. Facebook is designed to sell ads.

It’s also designed to favor good content. The most liked/shared content is flagged by the Facebook algorithm which then gives it better placement in the newsfeed. But if you want to build a base in months, instead of a glacial rise in likes over several years, you have no choice but to buy ads – a lot of them.

Some say likes aren’t everything and that the relationship building lies in the engagement. Firstly, if you’re one of those people, please call HelpGood because we want to work with you. Secondly, because the likes are the number that everyone can see, this has many implications:

  • This is the number an outcome-focused organization will include in their KPIs.

  • This number signals a relevance to the consumer. One is more likely to join the party that is in full swing.

  • The more likes, the larger the reach, the higher the engagement. Period.

  • There is a like tipping point (around 10,000) that once you reach, the rate of growth moves along faster. Those first 1,000 likes are the hardest to get, and you will have to work for them.

Now that it’s 2013, everyone’s on Facebook and “Why Facebook?” is no longer a slide in my road show. It’s been replaced by “Why Facebook Ads?” and an old adage that I’m not happy to reinforce — you get nothing in this world for free.

Another Super Bowl and another list of meaningless Twitter hashtags on the ads. Look at these hashtags to see if you have any idea what brands they belong to: #gethappy #braverywins #nodrama #yourbigidea #wishgranted.

Some hashtags made more sense: #cookiethis #clydesdales and #calvinklein. According to, the more specific hashtags fared better with tens of thousands in use. While the vague hashtags, like #nodrama, got around 350 tweets. What is the conversion rate from the total amount of viewers (over 100 million) to 350 tweets?

Stats like this lead me to the theory that Super Bowl ad hashtags are not meant to be used. I mean if they are, great, but if they aren’t, who cares. It’s more important for hashtags to be on the ad so the agency and brand look like they are in the social TV game. In advertising, perception may be more than half the battle.

If the main goal for the ad hashtag is not use, it takes on a new meaning as part of the branding rather than a throw to your smartphone. They act as a sub tagline stamped with a pop-culture punctuation. In this context, I quite like them.

Here’s why hashtags on ads are not widely used by viewers — ads are conceptual and hashtags are very specific. From what I gather, ads raise awareness, invoke emotions and create desire. Then, the endframe subtly attaches this feeling to a brand. If this job is done well, the conversation will flow. Yes, it’s not all neatly tagged for marketers to track but that is ok. Twitter keyword searches work too.

Social media is chaotic. It’s fragmented, lightening-fast and uncontrollable. Better to watch and listen so that you can contribute great real-time content (for example, the Oreo “dunk in the dark,” image). This was a good reaction rather than a prescribed path, and that is social.

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