How did I miss it? I’ve written fairly extensively about Facebook’s motivations for some time now, but somehow never realized one simple fact: Facebook’s marketing plan for advertisers is almost entirely focused on helping influence buyer purchase decision by facilitating MOFU, or middle-of-the-funnel marketing offers. Before you write me off as a nut-job, this idea isn’t mine- it comes straight from Gogul Rajaram, product director of Facebook Advertising.
Rajaram outlined his vision for Facebook advertisers in a recent interview with Ryan Tate of Wired. In the interview, Rajaram noted that in our technology-dependent world, commercial messages inundate our lives, especially on social media. To understand his point, take a few minutes to spin through Pinterest, Twitter, or Facebook, and see how many products and brand names are bandied about, whether by advertisers peddling their wares, or users commenting on them.
Recognizing this, Facebook’s approach to advertising is increasingly focused not on injecting commercial messages into the social stream, but rather on amplifying the discussions already happening there. As such, the objective is not to convert immediate purchases, but to influence future buying decision. Rajaram recognizes this as the “mid-funnel” stage of the buying cycle.
Rajaram identified three advertising channels that are ideal for targeting users in the “mid-funnel” stage: Facebook Offers, Promoted Posts, and Sponsored Stories.
In his article in Wired, Tate succinctly summarizes the significance of this disclosure: “to understand mid funnel is to understand the potential value of Facebook-style advertising. To be ignorant or dismissive of it is to be where Wall Street is right now.”¹
My sentiments exactly.
This explains why Facebook stock is tanking, even after slightly beating The Street’s expectations in their first earnings report as a publically-traded company.
According to Rarajam, (who incidentally helped manage Google’s AdSense for four years) as opposed to lower-funnel (aka BOFU, or bottom-of-the-funnel) purchase action, mid-funnel is where, “based on seeing a marketer’s message, you don’t do something immediately, but you do something that then compels you to take action.”
In online terms, mid-funnel is also the stage where users are very likely to socially-share information throughout their networks, whether through a like, re-tweet, or pin.
This brings us to a little-noticed tidbit of information mentioned by Zuckerberg on his first investor call. Apparently, over 1 billion pieces of content are shared every day on Facebook’s Open Graph. This refers to any content shared on a Facebook user’s Timeline or on their friends’ Ticker or News Feed. Since its launch in 2011, roughly 5,000 social apps have been created to facilitate Open Graph sharing.²
As Emil Protalinski of CNET News pointed out, a little over a year ago Zuckerberg announced that Facebook users were posting 4 billion things on the social network each day; he now says that users are sharing over twice the amount of content they did a year ago. This means that the total amount daily of content shares on Facebook is nearing the 10 billion mark.²
That’s a lot of content sharing.
So what does this all mean for marketers? Here’s my take. You’ve got the head of Facebook’s advertiser services telling us that Facebook is best utilized as a place to promote MOFU (mid-funnel) content that influences, or nurtures, buyers down the sales funnel.
Nurturing is a great word that is reflective of the correct approach: at this stage, buyers are looking for detailed information; not only about a brand’s product or service, but about other alternatives. They want objectivity and honesty. Remember, it’s all about influencing a purchases decision, not forcing one.
I also call this the evaluation stage, where buyers understand their wants/needs and are searching for a solution provider. Evaluation stage offers should clearly lay out how a company will resolve these wants/needs, and clearly express why prospective buyers should work with them to do so. Product Webinars, Case Studies, Data Sheets, FAQs, and Demo Videos are emblematic MOFU offers.
With the massive volume of social sharing on Facebook, marketers would be crazy to discount the site as ineffective. Marketers must develop a Facebook advertising strategy that goes beyond the cultivation of “likes.” They should experiment with Facebook Offers, Promoted Posts, and Sponsored Stories, understanding that these channels have been created for MOFU-type offers.
One more thing: I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: It’s the content, stupid. The ability of Facebook to continually increase content sharing should be the main focus of Wall Street; that is the critical metric that will define the social giant’s success or failure.
² CNET News, “Facebook: 1 billion ‘things’ shared via Open Graph daily”