When it comes to Facebook marketing, an overly narrow definition of engagement can mask the value of earned media, according to a report released recently by Wildfire Interactive.
Engagement in the form of clicks is great, of course, according to Wildfire's analysis. But the best performance comes from earned media. The study divides Facebook media into three types: Owned media are fan pages, and brands use paid media to drive traffic to them. Earned media include mentions, recommendations and shares generated by users.
The study found that earned media can create a 12 percent increase in all engagement rates, and it also converts new users.
More important, the study showed that the campaign types that generated the most earned media in the form of shares also resulted in significant conversion of new users. For example, 82 percent of users who clicked on a friend's post about a quiz then took the quiz themselves.
For the analysis, Wildfire, a provider of social media marketing software, randomly sampled 10,000 Facebook campaigns that had run on its platform and analyzed them in order to see which types generated the most earned media.
Wildfire found that high engagement rates for campaigns such as contests don't translate into the most earned media. Coupons, giveaways and sweepstakes got the greatest amount of entries on average, while other posts featuring quizzes and trivia questions were most often shared. People seem to love to share media that let them reveal their personal preferences, opinions or smarts to their Facebook friends, Wildfire said.
For example, Tapout, an online retailer of clothing and gear for mixed martial arts, ran a trivia contest that let people post their scores to their Facebook profiles. Wildfire could not share specific campaign results, but the company posits that people enjoyed sharing their scores because they reflect their personalities.
Pick-your-favorite campaigns that appeared in the News Feed were clicked on 27 percent of the time. Surveys were clicked on 15 percent of the time, and quizzes, 13 percent.
A 2010 study by Nielsen and Facebook found that earned media bettered the recall, click-throughs, and purchase intent of paid media.
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Susan Kuchinskas has covered interactive advertising since its invention. The former staff writer for Adweek, Business 2.0, and M-Business covers technology, business and culture from Berkeley, CA.
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