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Facebook FTW: Leveraging Earned Media at Scale

Written on
Sep 6, 2012 
Author
Rob Jewell  |

As many of us in the online advertising industry now know, Facebook is not about advertising; rather, it’s about stories and earned media. The fact is, Facebook controls one third of all online page views, so brands need to embrace Facebook, since that is where their audience is spending time online. But brands need to understand Facebook’s best practices of BUILD (pages and fan base), ENGAGE (fans with page posts) and then AMPLIFY (amplifying these pages posts with paid media) to embrace the true power of word-of-mouth marketing at scale.

The biggest challenge to date is that these best practices have not been well integrated within the marketing funnel.

Brands have typically relied on Page Management companies, like Buddy Media and Vitrue, to help manage their presence on Facebook, and Ads API companies, like Spruce Media, TBG, and Adaptly, to acquire fans. Brands will soon switch gears and want to focus on boosting engagement of their fan base through “Amplifying” page posts.   The holy grail of Facebook is word-of-mouth marketing at scale, and the key to success is a deep understanding of what constitutes an effective page posts and amplifying the top performing page posts through paid media.  As brands become ready to take this next step in Facebook marketing, third-party tool vendors will need to offer next generation platforms and services to help them achieve success at boosting engagement and PTAT.

To win on Facebook, you need to start with your Page. Your Facebook Page is mission control, and your page content will now serve as your ad creative, so engaging and relevant page content is critical to your success on Facebook as a brand. Maybe General Motors did not understand how to leverage Facebook effectively as it is such a new channel, or didn’t understand the metrics of success on Facebook. What could they have done better or differently to leverage the power of word-of-mouth marketing at scale?

First of all, any Facebook strategy needs to properly and holistically balance paid and earned media. It’s not about buying likes. As a brand, you need an integrated approach for buying (likes), earned media (viral sharing), and amplifying your earned media through sponsored stories and ads.

It is proven to work well when both paid and earned media feed off each other. In order for this to be successful, good page content is essential.

Here are some important factors to keep in mind if you want to win with Facebook:

  • Paid Media. The key to paid media is the correct balance of your paid media budget between growing your fan base and engaging your fan base. Look at competitor benchmarks to see which area you need to work on the most and divide your budget accordingly.
  • Earned Media. Create page posts that trigger fans to share your brands message with their friends.   Community managers should be improving the overall viral sharing that’s happening month over month as they test and learn what is resonating with your fan base.
  • Interaction between Paid & Earned Media.  On average only 16 percent of your fan base will see your page posts.  The key to reaching more than 75 percent of your fan base is “Amplifying” these posts through paid media.  Successful amplification is fully reliant on the type of page content and posts your community manager is making.   By having your media buyers work closely with your community managers, they will develop strategies to drive down your paid media costs and drive up your engagement and PTAT levels.
  • Quality over Quantity. An initial measure of “paid media effectiveness” is cost per fan, but that doesn’t tell you the whole picture, nor represent all of the value that you’re getting.  You need to look at overall engagement and PTAT of the new fans you are acquiring.  You don’t just need to know that you got a new fan; you need to know that the people you are targeting with ads are liking your page posts, commenting on your page posts, sharing your page posts, watching your videos, viewing your pictures and more!  New fans + Engagement with Content + Stories Generated (word-of-mouth media) = Social ROI.

The key in all of this is an integrated Facebook marketing strategy leveraging page post and ads, and measuring fan growth, engagement, and PTAT through Facebook’s insights.  By following these guidelines, brands can see the page content that fans are engaging with the most, target those messages as ads to the right people at the right time, and get users to share more and more branded content with their friends.





Rob Jewell is known as one of the early pioneers of the incentive marketing industry. The first company he founded in 2000 reached #18 on the Inc 500. In early 2008 Rob shifted focus to monetization of social networks and launched an ad network for Facebook apps called SocialCash. After becoming one of the largest ad networks on Facebook Apps, Rob sold off the SocialCash line of business, re-branded and re-launched the company as Spruce Media.

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