This guest post is by Tommy Walker, Online Marketing Strategist and owner of Tommy.ismy.name.
Have you seen Inception yet? For those who haven’t, all you need to know is that it follows a team of thieves who access dreams in order to steal information for their clients. The term “inception” refers to the notion that information can be implanted in, rather than taken from, a person. An idea can be planted so that it feels organic to the dreamer, and when he or she wakes up, the person will take certain actions without questioning his own motives.
A similar concept can be used with the advertising that supports your blog. We’re all familiar with the 10,000 hour rule, but if you had a way to skip over it, and use advertising in a way that let you wake up a week or two from now with more devoted readers than you have today, would you be willing to make the effort?
Enter: social networks
“An elegant solution for keeping track of reality.” – Adriane
For a long time, the targeting process for advertisements was limited to basic parameters: age, gender, location, and context. Now, we have social networks. What used to be the outer limits of a consumer profile now constitute the baseline of information most people consider “safe” to share online.
And, thanks to social networks, many more will share specific likes and dislikes, their employment history, educational background, and more. All of this can be pieced together into a audience profile that has real dimension to it.
Gathering information from Facebook ads
“If we are gonna perform Inception then we need imagination.” – Eames
There’s something special about Facebook ads. Before you jump ship or question whether Facebook is appropriate for your blog, consider this fact:
There are over 500 million people on Facebook.
The total of the populations of the United States, Australia, Canada and Russia combined is only slightly above that figure. How many readers would you need to consider your blog successful? I’m pretty sure you could find at least a few thousand people who are interested in what you have to say—provided you’re willing to make the investment to locate them.
In order to use the Facebook ad platform to its full potential, you need to understand the differences between Facebook ads and search ads.
The most notable difference is the targeting techniques these ads use. The strength of Facebook’s ad platform comes from its ability to target users via the “Likes & Interests” section of a user profile. Search ads are targeted to the information a user is actively searching for in a given moment.
So, for example, I see Facebook ads for the Golden Girls box set because Facebook knows from my profile that I’m a fan of the Golden Girls. (Just … don’t tell anyone, ok?) Google or Bing will show me ads for the same thing—but only if I ask for them by performing a search on those terms.
The beauty of Facebook ads lies in the quality of the information you receive in the reporting data generated when someone clicks on your Facebook ad. Unlike a search ad’s reporting data, Facebook’s reports provide access to detailed demographic data plus a Responder Profile report, which details the nitty-gritty of the common interests of the people clicking on your ad.
The end result
“Dreams feel real while we’re in them. It’s only when we wake up that we realize something was actually strange.” – Cobb
Bloggers can create an Inception-like effect using Facebook advertising. We can use the ad reporting data to create the illusion that our blog or our website is, and always has been, beloved by its audience.
We start the process of inception by using the Responder Profile. This profile will vary from ad to ad but is typically similar to this:
The Responder Profile is your toolbox when it comes to learning how to approach your users. Review this data, learn to love it, and wring the life out of it by incorporating it into all the techniques you use on your blog.
For example, let’s imagine you have a blog about home improvement and hope to monetize it, but you need to build your readership. You have some basic audience demographic information to get you started, and you decide to target an ad that includes keywords like, “home improvement,” “decorating,” “construction,” and “home repairs.”
Your ads start running on Facebook, and two weeks later, your Responder Profile tells you that people who include those keywords in their profile, and clicked on your ad, also tend to share interests you never even thought of. Facebook’s report lets you know that 60% of the people who like “construction” also like “Uncle Fred’s Light Beer.”
Suddenly, Uncle Fred’s Light Beer has some power to it. Perhaps you can use that as a targeting parameter: if Uncle Fred’s is what connects Group A to Group B, then Group B may like your blog, too. You can study Uncle Fred’s marketing techniques and apply them to your own campaigns.
Furthermore, you might decide that Uncle Fred’s should probably be mentioned somewhere in your blog content—probably with the same level of humor, or using the same language, that your intended readership uses.
I used this technique recently on a page I was running for a client. After I saw my first Responder Profile, I realized that my initial approach to the target audience was likely bordering on offensive: it was a little too young-sounding. I also noticed that many of our users shared the Bible as their favorite book, and had a penchant for the Blue-Collar Comedy series.
As I interacted with the community over the next few days, I took on a more at-home tone. and made sure that the content I provided had a sense of humor (sometimes at the expense of usefulness). Our interaction rates went through the roof. The more I knew about these users, the easier it was to approach them on their own wavelength. This, in turn, helped me learn even more about what we needed to be offering our customer base.
Ultimately, you can use Facebook’s Responder Profiles to take on a virtual version of your own client’s personalities. The effect is that your blog’s visitors will feel at home communicating candidly with you, following your work, and buying from you, without ever questioning why they feel so comfortable.
And when people like you that much, they become brand advocates. It only takes a few of them to spread the word about your site among the people they know—and beyond.
“You mustn’t be afraid to dream a little bigger, darling.” – Eames
Tommy is an Online Marketing Strategist and owner of Tommy.ismy.name. He is about to release Hack The Social Network, the ultimate guide to Facebook Marketing, and is currently developing a “mind hacking” course.