The future of Facebook is forensic

Jack SmythMarketers should stop using Facebook as a mass reach tool and start thinking about conversions not conversations argues  Jack Smyth. 

Forget conversations – the future of Facebook is forensic By now you’re probably sick of the same articles recycling the same Facebook statistics. Over 12 million Australian users, spending on average 8.5 hours every week and so on. We all know Facebook offers massive reach.

But judging by the poorly targeted ads I see in my feed few Australian brands have mastered the massive amounts of data Facebook generates every day.

And when I say massive, I mean it.

Take the New York Stock Exchange for example. It generates roughly one terabyte of structured trading data every day of trading. One terabyte is the equivalent of 10 billion emails. That’s a mind-numbing figure and you’d expect that from one of the world’s leading stock exchanges.

But here’s where it gets interesting – Facebook generates at least 500 times that amount every day. That’s five trillion emails. In one day. An enormous treasure trove of data is being created right in front of our eyes and Facebook wants to make it easier for brands to share in the spoils.

Their latest tool is Audience Insights and if you’re not using it you’re missing the true potential of Facebook.

Audience insights

The Audience Insights (AI) tool was announced in May. I already use it at least once a day to dig deeper into Facebook’s data stream.

AI gives you a glimpse of the future of Facebook. It pulls together much of the information that was already available through existing tools like Ad Manager or Power Editor in one place. With added behavioural data though it allows you make your media more effective.

AI allows you to break down your audience – whether it’s your fan base, custom audience or potential customers – and save out certain segments to target.

I’ve found AI works best in tandem with Facebook’s other targeting tools, such as Custom Audience.

We recently ran a coffee promotion that attracted close to 40,000 unique entries. We created a Custom Audience based on their coffee order so we could re-target them with more relevant offers.

With AI I can see how frequently our flat white drinkers comment on posts, their interests, professions, device behaviour and more.

All of this extra data helps develop more relevant ads. We don’t talk to coffee drinkers anymore – we talk to working mums in NSW who love lattes.

If you’re still blasting your audience with basic targeting you’re missing the true potential of Facebook.

And you better get up to speed quick – because you can be certain the best has yet to come.

Forensic Facebook

AI shows you the future of Facebook. In the US you can layer purchase behaviour and brand affinity from third party providers like Personicx on top of Facebook data.

Richer data on household income, lifestyle and even political disposition is not yet available in Australia but points to a far more forensic approach to Facebook data.

Pumping in age, location and a few interests won’t cut it anymore.

Smarter brands are already coupling Facebook data with their own CRM and undercutting generic targeting.

The implications on brands

We’ve all read the articles about the ‘new’ pay to play model for Facebook. We’ve heard the outrage about organic reach. Let’s be clear – Facebook is a media channel. It gives you the data you need to place the most relevant ad in front of the most relevant consumer at the most relevant time.

Stop thinking in terms of conversations – think conversions.

Your data will give you an edge. Take the time to look at the assets you have on hand: database, sales history, web traffic and more.

Now you need a strategy on how to combine them with Facebook’s tools for real results.

As Facebook seeks to pull more money away from traditional channels these tools will only evolve and become more effective.

Brands need to get to grip with them now and put their data to use, before a competitor scores a conversion first.

Jack Smyth is social strategist at Slingshot.


Get the latest media and marketing industry news (and views) direct to your inbox.

Sign up to the free Mumbrella newsletter now.



Sign up to our free daily update to get the latest in media and marketing.