Facebook Advertising — Customise, Connect, Change

Image Credit — https://unsplash.com/@carlheyerdahl

Love me, or hate me, but you can not ignore me — Sincerely Yours, Facebook!

Even if certain set of users won’t agree to this statement but considering Facebook & Instagram are still dominating the charts of most downloaded and most used apps, it would be better to accept that Facebook is one of those beasts which marketers can’t ignore if they’re going for a paid digital campaign especially for a consumer product category.

I know there are enough pro and anti Facebook advertising arguments all over the internet but this post is not about whether to go for Facebook advertising or not, it’s more about when you are doing it, do it right. No point in spending money without fixing the basics first.

It’s 2017 & why I am still talking of basics of Facebook advertising? I mean, even a school kid knows how to advertise on Facebook? What’s the big deal about it when it’s just so simple and easy to set up a Facebook campaign? Well, that’s the exact problem — it’s just so easy! And almost everyone is setting it up without much effort or thought put behind understanding the platform or learning the best practices.

And when something is very easy, it’s also easier to mess it up. Isn’t it?

In last 15 days I have met four startups who are spending big money on Facebook advertising and three of them have digital agencies managing their accounts. While we discuss CPA and efficacy of the medium, there is this general sigh that CPA is not coming down and the effectiveness of their campaign is decreasing with time. I got a chance to analyze their campaigns and surprisingly, I found the problems common across — ignoring the basics and one-size-fit-all campaigns.

And all it takes is 3 simple steps to fix the same.


So startup A, with whom I was interacting recently, is a food company with a potential target audience that could range in between any age group, i.e., teenagers to even 50+year old ones. Their agency was running a digital campaign for age bracket 18–45 years with same messaging and same creatives. Their logic — after all it’s a food category and anyone could potentially be a customer for this category. True, absolutely true. But what happened to the basics of marketing known as segmentation and customizing the campaigns according to each segment? The more granular we go with customization, the more effective the outputs are in digital medium. For e.g., in this case it took us a day’s exercise to go through each product variant and try to figure out the star appeal of each variant. The moment we were ready with product feature matrix, it was getting clearer to the founders that perhaps each variant needs to be targeted to a different segment, customized with a different messaging. And that’s what we did — instead of one master campaign showing different products in different units of carousel, we configured multiple campaigns with messages and visuals tailored to different audience type. Going granular and customization upto the last level was some task for sure but the results were obvious and in a week’s time the acquisition numbers were moving northward within the same budget.

Customization takes time and effort but it’s worth it. Just go for it. Go granular, go microscopic.


Are you targeting your ads to those who have liked your page as well? Of course, the logical brain tells you why do you need to especially when you have limited money? The ones who have liked your page are already getting to see your updates, so why not use the money to target new audience and acquire new customers? Start up A, B, C & D — all four had done the same. And earlier, even I used to do the same. But then after experiencing the diminishing organic reach of Facebook posts that perhaps is not even in the range of 2 to 5% these days, I had changed my targeting strategy. And I was surprised with the improvement in the conversion rate.

So, next time when you are trying to sell any new product or targeting your users for repurchase, connect with your existing base first, you’ll be surprised with your acquisition percentage and more importantly, your CPA. The rationale behind this is pretty simple — the ones who have liked your page are somewhat interested in you, the chances of them buying your product are much higher than the new ones.

When you have limited money, it’s all the more important that you prioritize it on targeting the interested ones first. Connect with your existing fan base, it works.


Startup D had spent some decent money in getting their products shot beautifully. The campaigns were doing well initially but with time, the CTR had reduced. On asking, when was the last time the images were changed, the answer was almost three months back. To add to that, all the good pictures were used in first burst itself. But then why do they need to plan for second or third bursts when the first one was doing so good? Well, simply because users get bored of seeing the same thing again and again. To add to that, this phone era has reduced our attention span to 8 seconds which is perhaps lesser than that of many living creatures. And the only method to grab attention these days is through striking visuals. Visuals attract attention and new images give a fresh perspective to your ads. Be it digital or any form of advertising, a good visual evokes emotions and enhances the consumer connect. This has been tried and tested since ages in all forms of advertising but is especially true in this digital era where we literally breathe and live our virtual life through images.

Change your ads frequently, especially the images. Even if you are advertising the same product or service, just change the visuals and see the impact on your CTR. In one of my last campaigns, it moved up by 3x.

Customize, Connect & Change — that’s it. Focus on these and your basics will be in place. And if basics are in place, we all know rest can be managed, enhanced and improved 🙂

Quick Bytes: A “Don’t” in Social Media

Dear Brands,
It just does not make any sense to put an icon for Facebook or Twitter in print ad without giving your URLs or official page titles for readers to find you quickly. I saw this big ad in TOI today with one of the call for actions being “Follow us on Twitter and Facebook”, despite the space being available to mention the URLs or official handles, there was just no mention of the same. To add to that the name is common enough to generate enough pages if you go ahead and search for it.

I recently observed even a television commercial doing the same – a prominent chocolate company ad on television stated “participate in our contest on Facebook and win prizes”, well the screen with this message lasts for few seconds, but all it mentions about the location to participate in contest is a plain “F” icon for Facebook. No mention of the page URL at all. And if you go ahead and search for that brand on Facebook, there are enough pages with that brand name to get you confused about the identity of the official page.

Please remember it’s not a web or interactive digital ad in front of your customers where they can click the icons and land up on your page. Won’t harm (esp. when you have space to utilize) to mention something like @yourname or /yourname near those icons. Easier for your customers to reach the right location quicker!

Quit Facebook Day

Anything about Facebook has to become news. It upgrades its privacy policy and the news is all over global media, it downgrades it and lo media has another update to discuss for weeks.  Its user bases increase phenomenally, it becomes a talk of the town and now when few people have decided to quit Facebook, it’s yet again a hot topic for discussion! That’s the brand power which Facebook has which makes any update about it a piece of news globally!

May 31st 2010 is Quit Facebook Day. Fed up of Facebook’s privacy issues, a couple of users (@mmilan and @josephdee) founded a website called Quit Facebook Day and urging users to delete their Facebook accounts in mass on May 31.. The opening message on the website reads – “If you agree that Facebook does not respect you, your personal data, or the future of the web, you may want to join us”. As I’m writing this post, some 29,907 users on this website have taken the pledge to quit Facebook and this statistics was approximately 26,844 two-three hours back. Yes, it is increasing and today being the D-day the count has definitely grown faster but is it sufficient enough considering the overall population of Facebook users and the whole hoopla on the privacy issues raised in recent past? Facebook currently has more than 400 million active users. If we taken into account the approximate user base, it’ hardly 0.0075 per cent of active users who seem to be frustrated enough by the privacy policy to take this call.

Trust social media experts and e-marketers to come up with interesting terms like digital suicide, e-death or f-suicide but the fact remains that despite an uproar over privacy concerns, not many seem to have jumped on to join this memorial day! On contrary, Facebook is a hot topic of discussion across all social media platforms today and “quit facebook” is already a trending topic worldwide on twitter. And the best part is that even decision to quit Facebook is being discussed by most of the people on Facebook itself. Such is the addiction and involvement of users in this networking site. Would be interesting to see how many users actually quit Facebook today but from the current data, it definitely does not seem to be a number which will cause any dent to the social networking giant, rather all this negative PR only seem to be adding up to the buzz of this already buzzing brand.

Farmville Success – An evaluation


OK…It’s official now. I’m SERIOUSLY addicted to Farmville and there is no denying the fact now. Howmuchsoever I tried to resist this game by blocking all Farmville updates or ridiculing my friends who have been playing it during work hours, but ever since I went to this app with a thought to just have a casual glance on this thingy called Farmville, there has been no turning back. This game is really addictive and I think after a long time I’ve become crazy for any game like this. Yes, when I had opened my Facebook account, I definitely enjoyed few apps but beyond those initial ones, rest I just visited more from a purpose of checking those out. But Farmville is a different story all together, the devotion is so much so that every night when I come back from work the first thing which I do is check out on my crops and harvest the ready ones. And I think I am still not as compulsive user as some of my friends are, someone now dreams of gaining XPs whereas someone wakes up at midnight to harvest his crop, there is one who smsed me his Facebook password to harvest as he was stuck in a long meeting and one who called up and shared the password so that I can harvest his ready crops as he himself was travelling out. Such is the user-involvement in this game!

No wonder Farmville has got 58+ million active users (as on 14th Oct’09) and it has been topping the list of social games ever since its launch on 19th June’2009.


Image Source: Gamasutra

Close to 60 million users in just 4 months??? That’s really some statistics in the history of social games! So, what could be the reason for this historical success of the game? Well, there are actually many but I think the key reasons which can be attributed towards the phenomenal success of this game are:

  • Engaging/Stickiness: Oh, this game is really sticky to its core and this is one of the biggest reasons for so much of repeat visits to this app. You buy crops with Farmville coins, sow them in your farm and if you do not return to your farm on time, your crops wither and die. That’s a loss of money and negative impact on your balance! So, one has to return to this game again & again if you want to make more or do not want to lose your money there. A lovely way to keep the users engaged.

  • Networking: With Farmville on Facebook, there is a possibility of networking within a networking site. You can ask your friends to be your neighbors in farm and there are different ways by which you can visit your neighbors and earn reward points in the game. So having neighbors is advantageous and within social networking arena of Facebook, it gives you another chance of farm networking by interacting and helping your friends. Now I do get actual messages like, “visit my farm as I’ve revamped it completely” or “check out the new tractor and decorations on my farm” 🙂

  • Viral: It spreads like crazy in your community and there are many interesting reasons for the same, be it free gifts which you send or receive from your friends and later can use those to make money, sharing the wealth of your success or helping stray animals, all have some rewards attached which motivates you to spread the word more and more. You automatically end up doing these making this game truly viral in every way.

  • Communication: Zynga content guys definitely know the art of communication, each action has a prompt for communication and most of it is in either such an interesting language or are encouraging announcements of your advancements that you actually end up publishing your updates to your friends. And these updates act nothing less than a trigger to your friend to go and do some more farming in their farms.

  • Design and innovation: I personally love the UI of this game, I mean the colors and graphics of those fully grown crops definitely give you joy of a different kind. To add to that, constant innovation by Zynga team in terms of new farm additions like those beautiful flowers, Indian flag etc. or themes like the Halloween ones are nice additions for the users.

  • Monetization: Farmville is not just another free social game, it has got a well planned monetization strategy in place too. And by money I don’t mean Farmville coins or cash, I definitely mean hard cash in terms of real $. Thanks to the addiction of this game that once players are hooked on to it, they actually end up spending “real” money in buying “virtual” goods. On any given day 500,000 tractors (which are $20 “virtual” Farmville tractors) are sold on Farmville. No wonder, Zynga the company behind Farmville is making good money and has been profitable every month since September 2007.

Last but not the least, I’m wondering if success of Farmville has some connection with users’ psychography too? The fact that quite many Farmville users are actually Indians, makes me think if it has something to do with roots of Indians being in farming and agriculture? Also in other countries too, amidst all hectic life and work stress people are heading towards peaceful farms in reality, so is setting up a virtual farm somewhere helping them relive the same experiences online too? Has Farmville’s growth got anything to do with user’s inclination towards pastoral lives and is it serving “this” intrinsic need in the virtual world?

Facebook URLs – Good for personal branding

Which one sounds better? http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#/profile.php?id=123456&ref=profile (dummy id) or http://www.facebook.com/kanupriyasindhu? Clearly 2nd one, isn’t it?

With 3 million URLs in first 14 hours itself, Facebook’s launch of its username URL is definitely outdated news now. I was also one of those who decided to grab my username URL immediately but before I got my personal one I actually decided to create it for the brand I work for. Now there are many pages for this brand already on Facebook, one created officially by me earlier, some created by employees, some by fans of this service & some by dissatisfied customers, so this immediate rush to grab the official URL was definitely to ensure that the organization only gets the actual name before anybody else. And now that I’ve got it, I think I definitely like this feature. Here are some of the reasons why I think it’s a cool feature esp. from branding perspective:

  • It’s a good feature for individual branding. We use our social media URLs on different communication platforms & a URL like http://www.facebook.com/company (dummy id) is easier to promote as compared to http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1122334455 (dummy id)
  • A branded URL will definitely help in climbing the ladder up in SEO. Just google your name / username & you can see the result.
  • A formal URL will now finally help in distinguishing an official page with others.  Earlier distinctions used to be just on the basis of some profile id numbers and there was hardly any individuality in those URLs.

Considering their huge popularity, it was one of the must-have functionalities which Facebook was lacking behind as compared to say a linkedin or twitter. Though late in its launch but still it’s a welcome change from Facebook. In case you’ve not set your username URL till now, go & grab one here.