“People influence people... A trusted referral is the Holy Grail of advertising." - Mark Zuckerberg, 2007
However, some large brands and SMBs with a presence on Facebook are not yet sold on the platform's value, particularly when they have to pay for advertising. As Facebook ad rates rise and companies like GM go public with their skepticism, Facebook has to deliver more value to marketers than ever before and it needs to do so without alienating its users.
Here are 10 things Facebook can do to become more attractive for marketers and advertisers:
1) Enhanced targeting
In addition to mobile ads, what about ad units in other areas of Facebook (like within videos and the new App Center)? And what about ads all over the web? Will Open Graph finally get a marketing driver beyond plug-ins and like buttons? An AdSense-like product might just be the big surprise Facebook has stored for us now that it is public, but we can only speculate at this point.
Finally, Facebook's EdgeRank keeps 84% of page fans from seeing posts. EdgeRank can allegedly be improved by doing things like using photos, finding optimal times to post, and being consistent, but 4 out of 5 fans might still not ever get a reminder that your page exists. Reach Generator can be used to increase fan reach from 16% to 70%. As some brands like GM and small businesses with low budgets focus on the "owned" part, Facebook may need to think of more flexible ways to drive fan reach.
Facebook's mobile app doesn't allow us to share posts. Facebook sponsored posts cannot be shared either. Even though the Open Graph has made sharing from any web site incredibly easy to do, it's not always easy to share content from within Facebook itself. Some would disagree, but I find it easier to share content on Twitter and Google+ than on Facebook. A quick look at the "ripples" on popular Google+ posts helps prove my point. And what about discovery? What about a place on Facebook that displays content, including branded content, that is relevant and/or trending? I know I know, Facebook does not want to be seen as a media company, but curating the way LinkedIn, Google+ and most recently Twitter have been doing, could prove to also be a new way to generate traction for brands.
7) Ad optimization tools
There are many ad optimization vendors that will automate the process of delivering the right type of creative to the right kind of people at the right time to maximize success. However, many advertisers don't even know this is possible. Some ad vendors are avoiding Facebook Marketplace altogether, resorting to shady affiliate links and all kinds of strange tactics to drive LIKES for Facebook pages. Facebook might not benefit from higher revenues because optimization usually means lower costs, but what if Facebook applied its razor focus to this? What if Facebook ads were the most efficient ads on the web? And what if anyone who advertised on Facebook could get the benefits that only the savviest marketers obtain today? Some advertisers already have access to the Ads API to optimize ads with specific goals like increasing "People Talking About This," app installs, and past post shares. Let's hope this trend continues.
Savvy social media marketers would say that CTRs are not the goal. Activity, engagement, and long-term connections (and even relationships) are what Facebook is for. Some might say "You're doing it wrong," "Use CPC dummy," "Work with the right agency," and "Measure engagement," but the bottom line is that higher CTRs would demonstrate that Facebook's ads are as relevant as promised.
Relevance is what marketers want and relevance is not exactly easy to measure. It's also not easy to achieve without leveraging data and Facebook can't afford another "Beacon" so it's pursuits when it comes to working with brands needs to be extremely calculated. As a marketer who focuses on social media, I constantly remind myself that consumers don't want to be annoyed or bothered; they just want relevant content.
An abilitiy to consistently deliver such relevant content in an innovative and flexible manner will get advertisers not only interested, but also happy and eager for more. Post-IPO, Facebook needs to see itself as a partner that can help brands get there, wherever "there" is.