I absolutely love Facebook and Instagram as marketing platforms. I love them as a marketer, I love them as an agency lead and I freaking love them as a user to be marketed to! If used correctly, marketers have a real opportunity to serve content to very targeted users who want to see their ads. It just needs to be done correctly and sensibly, with the user in mind. All marketing channels should be treated in this way, and respecting this rule on social media channels is even more important, because these channels are unforgiving. Nobody is safe, even large brands. Especially large brands, in fact.
This isn’t a book designed to help marketers use social channels better, if it was, I’d go on for absolutely ages about targeting, messaging, permission marketing, etc. If it was, I’d have asked my colleague and friend Simon Jared to write this chapter and he’d probably have told you the same. But just know this: if you are aware and respectful of what users are trying to do on these channels, and adjust your activity, message and tone accordingly, you have strong chances of winning. If you don’t, you’ll become the Toys“R”Us of the advertising world.
For agencies wanting to use Facebook and Instagram to market themselves, there are a number of good steps to take to do it well and effectively.
The first one is to start doing real work on these platforms. What I see now is agencies being on social channels the way most others are – the way that’s vanilla, the way that’s safe. Fuck safe! Safe will not get you anywhere. Yes, maybe you won’t piss people off, but you won’t add value either, because guess what, almost everyone else does safe. There are some organisations that get it right, and they are winning. Who are they? You know this better than me. Look at your Facebook and Instagram accounts; which organisations do you follow and enjoy following, that many others do too, and that get loads of interaction? What do they do? These could be massive organisations or smaller ones. You are looking for those that get the results you want.
Find them and then be like them, but don’t try to be them. Be you. What I mean by “be like them” is be as bold, as creative, as active, as able to experiment and as good at being part of the ecosystem as they are, but with your own flair, your own personality. These are the Gino Di Campos, the Graham Nortons, the Gordon Ramsays of modern business – these that are able to be themselves fully, and bring fresh energy to their environment.
I think your agency should absolutely be represented on a Facebook page, but your personal brand should lead. The reason is very simple: Facebook is a people platform. This may change, but right now, people like to see people on Facebook, and that’s why I lead with my face. Can you have your company page push employees’ content? Of course. Will it work as well? No. If each team member pushes out content related to your business and industry but through their personal page, it will get noticed more and by more people.
Here’s how I’d do it: I would get every single employee to open a NAME @ AGENCY X page – Luisa @ Genie, for example. Then have Luisa, and every other employee, post at least once a day on their page. Some of the posts might be sharing useful or flattering content, tagging brands that you’d like to work with. For example, your employees might share the news when a brand wins an award, starts a relationship with a new brand ambassador, or gets a new CEO. From my personal page, I once shared a picture of me talking at Google with some amazing Gucinari shoes on and tagged the brand and Genie Goals. The brand shared the post on their timeline. All the Gucinari followers saw “Gucinari shared Luca Senatore’s post” which had Genie Goals tagged in. And you know who follows Gucinari’s page? Gucinari’s customers, yes, but also Guccinari’s employees, including the marketing manager in charge of selecting agencies. Watch this space :).
Imagine that was Luisa @ AGENCY X, and imagine it happened even just once a month with different brands. Imagine if every single one of Luisa’s colleagues did the same. Chances are that the brands would sooner or later check out what on earth AGENCY X was. Imagine that you organise a free event for organisations in your target market, where you and other speakers share great information from different angles to solve a common problem your potential customers might be facing. Add some networking and food. You advertise this on Facebook, invite people and one of your customers clicks the ‘Interested’ button. All this person’s friends will see: “Mike is interested in going to the Get Your Telecoms Site Ready For Q4 With Advanced SEO and Content Strategies. FREE Event’. There’s a very good chance that your customer Mike has friends in the same industry but who are not (yet) your customers. See where I am going with this?
Your employees will also share content you publish through your page and get your brand out a lot more than your marketing manager alone could ever do.
So don’t sell on Facebook and Instagram, but post, be you, show your personality and get your staff to do the same. Flirt with brands you want to work with and use the company page as a portal rather than a content distributor. The content that works well on pages is company social events, recruitment, and announcements, including customer wins, awards, and so on. But the stuff that gets interaction, the interesting stuff where you can experiment and dare more, comes from you and the people in your organisation.
I’m not going to talk about this in detail because it’s pretty obvious. Advertising your agency on Facebook is a very good idea. Why?
You can target Joe Smith, Marketing Manager at Brand X in North London! The targeting capabilities of Facebook allow you to target by location, interest, page likes and more.
You could target people with an interest in digital marketing who work in the sector you are targeting.
You could target people with an interest in SEO, who are in a sector you’re targeting and who like the Google Analytics Facebook page.
The possibilities are almost endless, and, if the message is correct, you have a real opportunity to grow your brand awareness within your target market for next to nothing because (at least at the time of this writing) Facebook is dead cheap. You can buy video ads on Facebook for peanuts. I have reached 10,400 people with a video advert and spent £19, and received 12.5K impressions; that’s a £1.5 CPM on a platform where most of these would be on mobile, meaning my video would have taken up 80 percent, if not more, of their screen. That’s crazy, and it’s crazy not to do this.
£10 per day on Facebook can have a massive impact on your brand, but don’t make the mistake of rushing into ROI and measurement. Focus on soft metrics: engagement, following, visits to blog, poll uptakes, etc. Don’t get sucked in by obsessing about ROI. This will come. If you spend £300 per month on Facebook, even if it gives you one client every two years, you’ll be in positive ROI (assuming you are able to keep your clients for at least two years once you win them and charge decent fees – they don’t need to be boutique agency fees, just decent fees. More on fees later).
Get creative. Why not do a live stream when you or someone in your agency is talking at an event? Do a Facebook Live about a training you have going in-house. Or at a company social where you and your team are jumping crazily on a bouncy castle. Give your followers a tour of the office. Facebook Blueprint (https://www.facebook.com/blueprint) offers an incredible amount of information and training on how to use Facebook advertising products, including best practice, ad formats, strategist for tom, mid and bottom of the funnel and more.
Just like on Linkedin, be human. Follow the same advice you read in the Linkedin section. Be a person, it’s easy.
Instagram is pictures and videos right? Wrong. Instagram is everything that pictures and videos can say, and they can both say a lot. Instagram can be a better communication tool than Facebook because on Instagram you have to get your absolute best content in one picture or 60-second video. As I write this, Instagram is about to launch the functionality to post longer videos – IGTV has landed – but its effectiveness and uptake are still uncertain. We shall see, I guess. But for the short, one-minute video, there’s a lot that can be done. Those who nail this, those who are able to communicate inspiring and memorable messages through imagery and short videos, win. What this means is that creativity wins, not just large budgets. That’s exciting because it means smaller organisations can beat the shit out of larger ones.
Did you just sign up a client in the fashion sector? Do they have a brand ambassador? Are their clothes worn by celebrities? Did they make a catwalk? These are amazing pictures you can post on Instagram, and with the right tags, they’ll get you loads of eyeballs. If you’re clever with your strategy, your client will share this with their audience, and guess what? Their audience is made of customers but also current and, importantly, former employees who might now work at a different brand and might notice you. Different brand = potential new client. Your new client’s audience might also include their peers, similar brands in different sectors. Perhaps the picture you use is of a model who is wearing your client’s dress and another brand’s shoes. Tag the shoe brand too.
You see where I am going with this? Specific strategy… No! I am not going down the tactics route, I am not telling you to do exactly this and I am not telling you this will work for sure. This might not even be possible – perhaps your client doesn’t have brand ambassadors. Perhaps you can’t get permission. What I am talking about here, I guess, is the type of thinking we need to engage in. To be really strategic. To really think outside the box. Be creative, and be resourceful instead of waiting until you have the resources. Even if IGTV was to take off and kill YouTube, which it won’t, the same applies. It isn’t big budgets that win, at least not always. It’s creativity, strategy, and being, you guessed it, human. Look at what humans do online; what do you do? You are trying to talk to humans, so being human in your approach to marketing your business is a good idea.
I get really frustrated when I consult with clients and I hear: “We don’t have the assets. We don’t have celebrities buying our stuff. We don’t have the budget the large guys do.” These are such bullshit excuses, and they’re emerging through laziness in looking outside of what’s already being done. Laziness in thinking outside the box, really outside the box, not just for the sake of it, but rather to find the best route to go from A to B. Lateral thinking. That’s all you’re trying to achieve. Stay focused on that and find clever ways to do stuff.
If we were face-to-face now, I’d dare you to give me any realistic situation that you perceive to be lacking resources and I’d bet you that I’d be able to launch a smart, low-cost campaign which would stand out and make sense. Would it work for sure? Would it drive loads of new customers? Maybe. But maybe not. The point here is that we would be launching something and we would capture the attention of your target audience. It would certainly give us a good indication of what to focus on, and how to change what we were doing to get closer to the winning formula.
That’s why I could dare you something like that, not because I think I’m great, but because I know it’s not about winning from the offset. It’s not about launching new creative campaigns that can win from day one. That’s an illusion. It’s all about being resourceful and trying stuff, testing in a control environment so you don’t go bankrupt before you find what works. It’s about taking calculated risks. If you give yourself permission to do this, permission to aim to launch rather than to always win, the pressure is lower and this allows you to launch stuff. If you take some risks, you might fail and you might find winning strategies. If you do nothing, you will only fail.
Sometimes the secret is to move away and stop looking at each platform from too close a standpoint. Step back and ask yourself: “How might we get the attention of my target audience on this platform? What do they look at? What to they follow? What are they interested in?”
There are plenty of books and courses on how to run Instagram campaigns; this book is not about strategies and tactics. These change all the time, and that’s why you should always seek fresh, up-to-date information. Better still, get an in-house team and become leaders, become the experts in social media marketing, even if you don’t sell it to your customers. Even if you are a creative agency or pure SEO or CRO, become social media experts and use this expertise to grow your business. It won’t be long before you realise that you’re good at it and therefore decide to offer it as a service, and that’s fine. But first become the expert for your own business.
We did exactly that when we hired Simon Jared, an incredibly talented social media advertising professional who joined Genie to help us manage our social accounts. Within a year, he had launched a very successful paid social media branch, which we included in our proposition. Clients love him and his team, they love his work. I love him and his work too. What Simon brings isn’t setting up the campaigns; my son Karlo, aged five, can learn that in a week. At 10 years old, my eldest, Maks, can do it already! Simon brings strategy, and real strategy is about creativity and lateral thinking.
The idea here is to be creative in your approach to business development and in your approach to everything. Explore all channels in an out-of-the-box manner, continuously asking yourself: “What can we do that nobody else is doing?” “How might we use this channel to add value for our target audience?” “How might we do the same thing in a different way?” These are the types of questions I think you should keep asking yourself. It is very likely that the principles in this book, the channels and the concepts will be valid for a very long time, maybe forever. What you need to adapt is your approach based on how these platforms evolve, how the users see them and use them, and how your business changes.
Test test test, experiment, and once you see something that resonates particularly well with your target audience, you can put some money behind it and use it as one of your bigger pieces – your hero content. The more you do this, the more hero content you’ll find. When posts plateau, it’s your sign to give them a break for a few weeks or months and then try them again, working on something new in the meantime. At times the old posts come back to life, and at other times they don’t, in which case you just won’t put money behind it but let them float.
- Work out who your target market is on Facebook and Instagram. Who do they follow? What are they interested in?
- Produce native content.
- Invest in Facebook and Instagram ads.
- Prepare a schedule for your posts using a tool like Hootsuite or similar.
- Explore Facebook Blueprint, a fantastic learning resource (https://www.facebook.com/blueprint).