OK. I’ll be the first one to admit: this headline taken out of context may appear somewhat odd. After all, “fishy” implies shady. But the recent New York Times article, How Facebook Sold You Krill Oil has nothing to do with questionable marketing tactics. Instead, it portrays a larger than life world of Facebook that has become powerful enough to compel users to notice something as mundane as krill oil pills.
Let’s face it, krill oil, fish oil, snake oil – or whatever you want to call it – is not an easy sell. And while diehard health enthusiasts understand the heart-healthy benefits of Omega-3, most consumers can’t make the real distinction between brands. But one krill oil company had the courage to make a strategic move to get consumers on the hook.
MegaRed, which calls itself a premium alternative to fish oil pills, wanted to reach mass consumers, but wasn’t completely sold on the idea of using Facebook. According to the Times, “Ever since it began selling ads 10 years ago, Facebook has been combatting doubts about its value to marketers. Search engines like Google offer advertisers a direct link to people seeking out particular products, while television remains the dominant way to reach a mass audience. Now, Facebook claims, it can provide the best of both.”
The trend is clear: marketers are shifting budgets away from print, direct mail – and even television – to social media engagement. But the secret to success lies in what Facebook calls a “thumbstopper.” It’s the art of getting users to stop scrolling and pay attention to the content being served. It’s not a simple task, particularly for niche brands like MegaRed.
Logic would suggest that thumbstoppers are much easier to accomplish with big consumer brands like Oreos, McDonalds, and Wendy’s because there’s a wider audience of cookie and hamburger lovers than there are krill oil aficionados. But Facebook is pushing the idea that marketers can have the bets of both worlds – both a mass audience and precision targeting.
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So how did MegaRed reel in consumers on Facebook? Most of the efforts focused on messaging, with content focused on the benefit of oil that is more quickly absorbed by the body. It even got as granular as showing that their product comes from Antarctic krill, a tiny crustacean, instead of from larger fish that can accumulate toxins in their bodies. But the bait on the hook was a healthy heart – and if you really care about your heart, you’ll buy MegaRed.
To achieve maximum results, MegaRed marketers decided to focus on American woman 45 and older — a reach of about 32 million people on Facebook. At least 18.1 million of these woman viewed the content and the number of consumers who said they were now more likely to buy MegaRed rose by two percentage points.
Also, about one out of every 84 Facebook users who saw the content liked, commented on or shared them — this was triple the rate of engagement with MegaRed’s previous marketing efforts.
What was once considered a fishy marketing channel as a sole means of reaching mass consumers, is now the biggest alternative to the television. That’s huge. It’s a reminder of the incredible power of Facebook and the how great content can produce great results.