There are generally two schools of thought when it comes to marketing on Facebook - paid media and earned media. Although organic (earned) media is inherently valuable for any brand, that reach only goes so far, according to new study from Facebook and comScore. Among the top 100 brand pages on Facebook, those using paid advertising reach an audience that is 5.3 times larger on average, the study found.
comScore looked at how three major brands -- a retailer, Samsung Mobile and a financial services company - used paid media to extend their audience five times over their organic audience in one week. Some brands were able to extend the reach of a single post or other piece of content by more than 100 times with paid media, according to comScore.
"There is a big opportunity to amplify the great content that brands are already putting on Facebook," said Sean Bruich, head of measurement platforms and standards at Facebook. Amplification in the form of sponsored stories, for example, are increasing brands' reach by about five times on average, he added.
"Brands love word of mouth," Bruich said. "The challenge is that it's really hard to have that happen without scale."
For brands considering Facebook's paid advertising products as a vehicle to reach a wider audience, there is also the question of the value and demographic distribution of consumers they might catch with a wider net. Facebook ads, or paid media, will reach "slightly lighter" Facebook users than organic content, comScore concluded. "Paid messages were 30 to 60 percent more likely to reach users that have liked 100 or fewer pages. Similarly, paid messages were 17 to 32 percent more likely to reach users who hadn't posted a status update in the past 28 days," the firm noted.
"With media planning, whether its TV or print or Facebook, it's always desirable to reach those lightweight users," Bruich said. "It is true you reach more lightweight users when you're paying because putting those ads in front of them is ensuring you get in front of those users. I think it's a good strategy for reaching lightweight users.
comScore also drew some interesting conclusions about the shopping and buying behavior of the lighter users that are reached by paid media. "Paid audiences reached on Facebook are generally similar demographically to those reached using earned media, and are often more likely than the average user to be engaged with the brand and its category," it noted.
Compared to the average Internet user, Facebook users reached by paid media from a major retailer were 66 percent more likely to buy from that store online and 45 percent more likely to buy in store. comScore also found that users exposed to paid media from Samsung were 24 percent more likely to shop online than the average Internet user.
"Ad campaigns that are focused on reach, reaching a large number of people, were more successful than ones that didn't," Bruich said. "I think it helps to dispel the idea that you're not reaching a good set of customers."
"These are valuable impressions," he added. "Making sure that you're getting that second and first impression in front of the users is a really important part of having a stronger return on investment. With that you're not just increasing revenue, you're increasing your ROI... The amplification allows you to ramp up that reach with controlled frequency."
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Matt Kapko has been writing about mobile since 2006, before it became cool. Based in Long Beach, CA, he has covered mobile entertainment, digital media, marketing, and advertising for several business media outlets. A former editor and reporter for RCR Wireless News, paidContent, and iMedia Connection, Matt is a regular freelance reporter for ClickZ. You can follow Matt on Twitter at @MattKapko or drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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