Notable brands such as Jim Beam, Yahoo, Baskin Robbins, Panda Express, and Universal Pictures have recently purchased Facebook ads primarily designed to lift their "liker" numbers.
One quick example before getting to a trio of detailed case studies below: Universal Pictures ran "Little Fockers" ads for a week in mid-September, even though the film doesn't premiere until Christmas. Similar to most Facebook advertisers, the studio's promos included the ability to "like" the brand within the ad unit. Universal wasn't available to comment, but the campaign appears to have worked as "Little Fockers" already has 86,000 "likers" to engage - nine weeks before movie tickets go on sale.
Do Facebook.com ads work for other brands? And if so, how much are companies paying for "likers" (or "fans" in the former parlance)? During the Social Ads Summit as part of Advertising Week last month, presenters seemed to agree that the cost per acquisition (CPA) in getting people to "like" a brand runs anywhere from $1 to $5. Generally speaking, marketers who buy the Palo Alto, CA-based site's national homepage placement - where all U.S. users at least see the ad for one day - likely pay the most for their audiences. Meanwhile, CPC and CPM bid advertisers who target demographics and users' interests should theoretically spend less per "liker." Each of the brands interviewed for this piece were mum in terms of disclosing their CPAs and testing methods.
"CPA can vary widely based on the brand itself, the nature of the product, size of the sub-segment and social acceptance of the brand," explained Michael Scissons, CEO of social technology firm Syncapse. "For example, the subset of fans who would 'fan' an oil company might be smaller than the subset who would fan a popular TV show or celebrity brand. This is part of the reason why we see lower vs. higher CPAs across different types of brands, and the reason why it’s not possible to come up with an average cost across industries."
Facebook ads (see "Little Fockers" example above) are not complicated to throw together if you are pitching a product. Grab an attractive image representing the offer, come up with a headline, and write a sentence or two for caption copy. Nearly all marketers - including the examples detailed below - use multiple creatives for their Facebook campaigns after testing different copy and images in inexpensive/small ad buys.
Further, ClickZ spoke with marketers for Jim Beam, Baskin Robbins, and Panda Express about their Facebook.com "liker" campaigns in order to evaluate their successes.
Jim Beam Gets 211,000 New 'Likers' In A Few Weeks
For the last six weeks, Jim Beam has been running simply designed ads intended to build its audience. Rob Mason, U.S. director of bourbons for Beam Global Spirits & Wine, said the ads have helped quadruple the brand's "liker" base - from 85,000 to 296,000 - in less than two months.
"Our current campaign ran for a couple of weeks in mid-August and resumed in early September," he said. "We're exercising a cost-effective system to acquire 'fans' and increase reach. By tapping into Facebook’s targeting capabilities and leveraging successful keyword groups, we have rapidly increased the fan base by [more than] 200K since the start of the campaign."
While Jim Beam has also offered a football tickets giveaway contest for people who "like" the brand, Mason said the Facebook.com ads have spearheaded the audience growth. "Prior to this most recent campaign, we primarily built the [Facebook] 'fan' base largely through organic efforts," he explained. "We now drive consumers to our 'fan' page through communication on all of our online properties. The most successful fan acquisition tactics for us have been acutely targeted ad campaigns."
The marketing director didn't go into detail on the user-profile-level targeting parameters used in the campaign. One example of the ad being served to ClickZ-based accounts included individuals if their friends had already "liked" the brand.
Baskin Robbins Grows Its Audience by 212,000 - Even as Weather Cools
In terms of sheer numbers for new "likers," Baskin Robbins is producing a slightly bigger success than Jim Beam. The Canton, MA-based ice cream brand is wrapping a month-long Facebook.com ads campaign that's garnered 212,000 "likers." The effort ends on Oct. 15.
Baskin Robbins' Facebook.com ads have been sought to entice viewers to form "Group Scoops." Viewers who click through are invited to "like" the brand and then invite three friends to join a Group Scoop. If the Facebook user successfully recruits a trio of friends - who can already be Baskin Robbins "likers" - to start a group, each of the four individuals will receive a coupon for a free scoop of ice cream.
So far, the ads have propelled its audience from 637,000 "likers" to 849,000, said Julianna Bowman, spokesperson for 22squared, the Atlanta-based agency behind the initiative. And with a few days left in the campaign, 8,600 Group Scoops have been formed, which equates to 34,400 coupons getting distributed.
If the campaign had been launched by mid-summer, it's reasonable to think it might have performed even better. Bowman explained the reasons behind the campaign's September run: "Group Scoop required adequate time for planning and Facebook application development. And its launch served as a way to maintain buzz generated by the fun- and flavors-focused animated summer TV campaign, while also refreshing the brand with a social media component."
Panda Express Picks Up 112,000 'Likers' in One Week
Panda Express ran a Facebook.com ad from Sept. 22 through Sept. 29, offering a freebie for its new "Kobari Beef" entrée to people who "liked" the brand. It lifted the company's Facebook audience by 112,000. And an AllFacebook.com report says the Chinese restaurant chain was the sixth-fastest-growing brand on the social site during that week.
"We used 10 different creatives in the campaign," said Glenn Lunde, CMO for the Rosemead, CA-based firm.
With a Facebook audience of nearly 700,000 (it had 117,000 "likers" just over a year ago), Panda Express appears to be situated to leverage the social site to drive foot traffic. Lunde suggested that engagement can help drive audience numbers and keep the brand top-of-mind.
"'Fan' feedback and comments are immediate, making this form of communication more gratifying and responsive," he said. "Recently, we conducted a poll to gauge guests’ feedback on Kobari Beef and received over 800 comments and 500 'likes.'"
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Christopher Heine was a senior writer for ClickZ through June 2012. He covered social media, sports/entertainment marketing, retail, and more. Heine's work has also appeared via Mashable, Brandweek, DM News, MarketingSherpa, and other tech- and ad-centric publications. USA Today, Bloomberg Radio, and The Los Angeles Times have cited him as an expert journalist.
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