by Cameron Conaway of Klipfolio
Small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) are, perhaps more than ever before, both excited and scared to make Facebook a serious component of their marketing strategy.
Excited because Facebook has increasingly improved its ability to let advertisers drill down to find their exact target market. For example, if you want to only show your ads to women in San Jose, California who are over 25-years-old, have visited your website, like The Daily Show’s Facebook page, and have made a purchase in the last 30 days… you can.
And you can even create Lookalike Audiences who, based on similar criteria, are most similar to the profile of your average customer.
However, there’s fear because everyone from Adweek and Marketing Land to major media companies are citing dramatic decreases in organic reach on Facebook. This leaves many SMB marketers asking themselves questions like:
(1) “Is Facebook increasingly becoming pay to play?”
(2) “If major publishers are struggling, what hope does my small business have?”
I’ve experienced similar challenges on my own page. Years ago, Facebook showed my posts to the majority of those who liked my page. Now I’m lucky if a few hundred of the 3,500+ people who like and follow my page see what I post.
To unravel all of this and learn about how SMB marketers can best navigate the world’s largest and certainly most powerful social media platform, I caught up with two of the smartest people I know in this regard.
Mari Smith is the world’s foremost thought leader on Facebook marketing, and Brad Jefferson is the CEO and co-founder of Animoto, a popular online video builder service that specializes in helping SMBs create more engaging social media videos.
Here’s our conversation:
CC: Mari, let’s start with you and take it from the top. What has changed the most for marketers using Facebook today as compared to when the platform launched about ten years ago?
Mari: The four biggest changes in the past ten years are business pages, ads, mobile, and video, in that order.
Ten years ago, on November 7th, 2007, Facebook launched business pages and ads. News feed had just shipped the year prior (2006). Since then, Facebook has continued to roll out a significant number of upgrades and improvements around pages and ads to help businesses. However, one of the biggest changes for marketers in the past ten years is that organic reach has plummeted from roughly 100% or more, to an average of 1-6%.
Today, Facebook’s biggest emphasis is video - both recorded and live.
And, given over 90% of users access predominantly on mobile devices, video needs to be mobile-optimized. The company is on a mission to be a destination for digital streaming television, as there is massive ad revenue potential here. It’s a big race right now between Twitter, Snapchat and Facebook. Not to mention YouTube, Netflix and Amazon, all of which already have a good foothold on digital streaming video.
CC: Brad, how has the market changed in the ten years you’ve been stewarding video tools? What do you see for the next year or so?
Brad: It’s always been clear to us that video is the most effective and emotionally-charged way for consumers to share what matters most to them. We love that videos can evoke an entire range of emotions. I think what we didn’t realize 10 years ago was how quickly businesses would need to adopt video. Over the last decade, we’ve seen businesses of all sizes from around the globe regularly communicate with customers and prospects using video. Ten years ago, that ability was only possible for businesses with TV advertising budgets.
Video enhances other marketing channels too, including social, email, and, of course, websites and landing pages. With social media platforms like Facebook becoming video-first, you’ll see that, in the very near future, marketing content that doesn’t move in some manner will become ignored and, therefore, obsolete. In the next 3-5 years, static marketing content may as well be dead.
CC: Mari, back to you. What do you think will change in the next year? In other words, is there anything you expect Facebook to launch in the next year that SMB marketers should pay attention to?
Mari: SMB marketers should pay close attention to everything video. Facebook just rolled out two-person Live video (via iOS mobile app for now), and is expanding 360 video. The keyword Mark Zuckerberg loves to use is immersive. It’s all about drawing a user in through video and giving them an engaging experience that holds their interest for longer periods of time. This, of course, is a boon to advertisers. More time on site equals more potential for ads.
I read a fascinating article last year on TechCrunch declaring that the Information Age is over and we are now in the Experience Age. The article was very eye-opening in explaining why Snapchat users love the app. I’m not really a Snapchat user but I sure keep an eye on their developments. SMB marketers would do well to keep an eye on Snapchat (just peek in now and then to get a feel for it, as that’ll give you an insight as to Facebook’s copycat features!), and also China’s WeChat.
Facebook is iterating Messenger as fast as possible to be more like a mobile operating system, similar to WeChat. WeChat is light years ahead of the Western World, and the only two apps poised to compete are Messenger and WhatsApp. To quote from this excellent video post by The New York Times, “If you want to know how the Internet will develop, China has actually become a guide to the future.”
CC: Following up on that: What have you seen smaller organizations struggle the most with when it comes to their digital marketing initiatives?
Mari: Across the board, the top area I see small businesses struggle with is approaching their digital marketing with an end-to-end, holistic strategy. So many businesses dabble with a bit of this and a bit of that, testing out new apps, tools, and platforms. But they don’t have a proper, cohesive strategy in place.
In fact, in the work I do, I often see this as a fundamental business development issue.
Marketers throw good money at Facebook ads and other media buys, or other digital efforts. And yet, they are not clear on their goals and KPIs, what to track and measure, how to install the Facebook pixel, how to do retargeting, how to optimize the sales process, how to create a compelling offer, and the list goes on.
This leads to frustration and low or no ROI. However, in all fairness, in today’s world SMB owners have to learn—or hire out—savvy digital marketing methodologies.
CC: Brad, it’s clear that Facebook has changed marketing, but can you speak a bit to how it has changed marketing for small businesses in particular?
Brad: Facebook is where the audience is and small businesses can promote their company or service right next to the largest brands in the world. They can also do so in a targeted way, which makes reaching potential customers all the more cost effective for small businesses.
Facebook has made it possible for small brands to place video ads next to Super Bowl TV advertisers, for only a few dollars. Facebook’s platform enables any brand or business to have a voice.
Before today, small businesses didn’t have access to easy tools for the creation of video marketing content or a platform to get these videos seen by the right audiences. Animoto is committed to democratizing the ability to communicate in the language of video because we know video works. It’s an exciting opportunity for small businesses to seize.
CC: Why would you say Facebook has placed such an emphasis on small businesses?
Brad: Facebook currently has 5M small businesses advertising on their platform. So, first off, there’s a huge financial opportunity to drive their other 65M active small businesses into advertisers.
But, beyond that, Facebook’s nearly 2 billion frequent users go to Facebook to feel more connected to what matters most to them. Facebook knows that creating real, authentic connections with prospects and customers works in a brand’s favor. And, for the first time ever, small brands are now afforded the opportunity to forge those connections on the same platform as large brands.
Facebook has disrupted advertising by opening up possibilities for small businesses where previously there were limited options. Smaller brands without large budgets can target audiences who care about what that small business stands for. To top it off, small businesses are often fueled by entrepreneurs whose passion for making a dent in the world reads as authentic in the news feed.
Animoto’s role is to empower these businesses to stand out in the feed as effectively as possible, by communicating in the language of video. Companies of all sizes around the world can benefit from video. We want to unlock small businesses’ ability to tell their stories and showcase who they are with professional, yet attainable, marketing videos.
CC: Mari, with Brad’s words in mind, what are the top three things marketers should be doing to amplify their Facebook marketing efforts?
Mari: 1) Craft a cohesive digital marketing strategy, where Facebook marketing is a component of that, 2) Create compelling video content that is relevant and focuses on the storytelling aspects of your business, and 3) Deploy a strategic amplification program that includes Facebook ads, influencer marketing, and what I call my “Mari Method” that really helps optimize ad dollars.
CC: Brad, can you speak to that from the perspective of SMBs? As there are many studies showing how marketers on Facebook are seeing a decline in reach, how can marketers, especially scrappy small businesses, become more efficient in their Facebook marketing efforts?
Brad: For the past year, Mark Zuckerberg has been very clear that Facebook is moving to become a video-first social network. This means video will be at the heart of all of their apps and services. As that transition materializes, small businesses will quickly realize that if they don’t communicate their message in a video format, they won’t have a voice at all.
My advice for small businesses, and any marketer for that matter, is to be an early adopter of video on Facebook. It’s already proven to be the most effective way to communicate on Facebook, and early adopters will benefit from the fact that Facebook wants businesses to be successful with video on their platform.
I think some small businesses might find it daunting to start incorporating video into their Facebook strategy. However, it really doesn’t have to be as challenging as you would think. You can certainly create effective videos for Facebook without even needing to appear on camera yourself, and oftentimes, without even having to pick up a camera.
Here at Animoto, we conduct an annual State of Social Video Marketing report, and it was really interesting this year to see that 92% of marketers using video for social media said they were repurposing content they already had for videos. You can very easily take images from blog posts or assets already posted onto social media and create a short video that stands out, grabs attention and, with the correct targeting, even drives new customers.
Animoto is here to help businesses of all sizes catch the video wave on Facebook. It’s been exciting to see all different types of businesses succeed on Facebook with videos they’ve created with our product. We’re very inspired when we see our customers grow their businesses using video.
That’s what motivates our team to create innovative solutions for time-and-resource-strapped small business owners who want to stand out on social media.
CC: What should they be doing to better map out their video marketing strategy?
Brad: Only three million of Facebook’s 70 million active small business users post videos on a monthly basis. So there’s obviously a hindrance small businesses are feeling in regards to communicating with video regularly and developing a video marketing strategy.
The biggest barrier we see with small businesses is simply getting started with the first video. Many businesses aren’t sure how to get started or are reluctant to spend time learning a video editing program. Many think that having a video strategy involves them appearing on camera themselves as well—something that the majority of people shy away from. That’s why we make it easy to create videos with assets you already have.
Once small businesses realize how easy it is to create a video, mapping out a video marketing strategy becomes the fun part. For every campaign your business has, there should be an accompanying video. You amplify your reach on social media meaningfully by incorporating video. If you post engaging content on social, start thinking about how you can make it into a video. Even a short 10-second video is proven to drive more reach and engagement than a photo alone.
CC: Mari, you’re as close to Facebook as anybody outside of Facebook can possibly be. What do you think they can do to become an even better partner to SMBs and brands?
Mari: Ah, this is a subject close to my heart! I would really love to see Facebook roll out two major initiatives:
1. Radically improved customer support for SMBs, especially any and all SMBs who choose to spend any amount of money on ads, where they can pick up the phone and talk to a real person, and;
2. More comprehensive, step-by-step training on how to utilize all that Facebook offers, particularly the ad products, customized for verticals and with hands-on support. Granted, Facebook has gotten better over the years with the free training portal called Blueprint, which is a good start. But I meet with businesses all the time who really need unique, customized support for their specific vertical and needs.
CC: Until that day comes, what tactics have you seen SMB video marketers employ on Facebook that have been successful? How can others learn from their success?
Mari: I love my good friend Larry Kim’s approach to finding your “Unicorn content” and going all in.
Unicorn content is outlier posts that do spectacularly well organically. Then you ramp up your ad spend. This approach is very much in alignment with my Mari Method.
I especially love the video ad created by Chatbooks, a company that makes print photobooks from your Facebook and Instagram photos. The video is beautifully produced and completely hilarious.
If you can find ways to ‘edutain’ (educate + entertain) your audience, your video stands a better chance of being a viral hit. And that’s what you want. Create thumb-stopping video content with your audience’s audience in mind. That is: create for maximum shares and you’ll optimize your exposure, which is essentially no/low cost marketing!
CC: Lastly, Brad, you know SMB marketers as well as anybody out there. Let’s say they’re using Animoto. Do you recommend any additional resources or tools to help them show the ROI of their video marketing efforts on Facebook?
Brad: Facebook provides straight-forward analytics on how organic and paid videos perform on their platform. I suggest starting there, measuring the performance of all posted videos. When a business is ready to expand the targeted reach of their videos it’s very easy to pay to boost videos and Facebook also provides more data on performance when doing that.
As small businesses mature, they should learn how to effectively use Facebook’s Ad Manager. Doing so will help them reach new, unique, and targeted audiences, while providing even more data on performance and results.
We’ve had customers who have had such great success with even a small amount of spend using Facebook Ad Manager. One of our customers, West Virginia Skydivers, spent just a little over $100 on a video ad to reach new audiences in their vicinity. They had 49 new customers attributed to this ad and a dramatic increase in website visits and phone call inquiries.
It’s been really remarkable seeing some of our customers thrive with modest advertising spend against their Animoto videos on Facebook’s platform.
A resource I love checking out for social media news is the Buffer blog. Buffer is a social media scheduling app, but they are also total social media geeks and their blog is a great resource for small businesses looking to spend their money and time effectively on social media. They are always running really interesting studies and tests and sharing their results. We recently partnered with them around what works better on social - landscape or square videos.
To learn more about Mari Smith, visit MariSmith.com.
To learn more about Animoto, visit Animoto.com.