New Facebook, Twitter Ad Targeting Options Offer Opportunities & Challenges

Both Facebook and Twitter recently announced plans for enhancing their marketing capabilities in an effort to allow for more user-specific targeting.

Facebook’s plan involves allowing companies to match Facebook users’ email addresses, phone numbers, and game or app user IDs to their own customer lists.

Twitter, meanwhile, will be allowing marketers to target users based on what they are tweeting about and whom they are following. While keyword targeting was previously available, Twitter plans to increase search specificity, which will allow businesses to hone in and reach a more targeted audience.

So what does this mean for strategic marketing plans?

Facebook: Finding Your Message

By allowing marketers to target via email, phone, or app user IDs, companies can reach Facebook users who may have already purchased products or services from them. Facebook users and a business’ customer base no longer need to be thought of as separate audiences. If you have signed up for newsletter updates via email or bought something online, your email address or phone number can be used to identify you within Facebook.

This type of audience crossover allows for some interesting possibilities, but also some challenges. For one, messaging could no longer have a one-size-fits-all approach – a single customer may now receive an e-newsletter as well as a targeted advertisement on Facebook, which is redundant and cost-ineffective. Therefore, if a customer were already getting an email every week, what would you use a Facebook ad to tell them? Perhaps the more important question is: would you even need to tell them anything?

Assuming the messaging is different, there are several purposes for which you could use multi-platform marketing to your current customers.

First and foremost: it’s a retention tool. Signing up for an email newsletter doesn’t automatically make someone a loyal customer. They may have filtered the newsletters out of their inboxes a long time ago. In cases like this, Facebook marketing tools would serve as a reminder that a certain company or product is out there and may be useful to them.

By separating the messaging even further, Facebook could be used purely for customer service. While this may be costly, using Facebook as a means for notifying customers of something (e.g., power or service outages) could be a way to reach people quickly and keep your customers happy.

Twitter: Finding Your Audience

Because Twitter’s new features function a little differently, marketers require a different type of strategy. While keyword targeting existed before, Twitter can now filter 350 specific interests in 25 broader categories. This allows for more specific targeting when using promoted tweets or promoted Twitter accounts.

Before the changes, ads could target tweets in more broadly defined groups such as “movies.” Now, however, a studio promoting a horror movie can go one step past that and target tweets and users categorized as “horror” related.

Perhaps an equally important benefit of this specific type of targeting is that it allows for excluding a certain segment that might pop up in a broader campaign. For example, an animated movie that is rated R can exclude children from the target groups. This would benefit smaller companies who don’t have the money to advertise to larger groups.

To Convert A Fan

The big question here is if these methods mean more success for advertisers.

By targeting a tweet to a more specific audience, marketers will lose the ability to reach those on the outskirts of the audience. Perhaps sensing this, Twitter lowered the cost of a bid for a campaign from 50 cents to 1 cent per promoted tweet.

While marketers can now bring customer data into Facebook, will they even need to advertise to a company’s current customers? Who would they be converting by targeting someone who is already a fan? Selling a product may be easier, but an advertiser runs the risk of only preaching to the choir.

Ultimately, these new tools can either be a hindrance or a great opportunity, depending how they are used.

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