Facebook social data gives advertisers more insight into campaign performance.by Lisa Peyton, VP Bonfire Social Media

Last week Facebook began reporting on some interesting data within their ad platform. They are now including ‘Social %’ within the campaign data table (highlighted below) and ‘Social Impressions’, ‘Social CTR’ and ‘Social Clicks’ within exported reports. (Use the highlighted button to export a report and access the new social data.)

Facebook ad platform adds Social % data  including Social Impressions, Social Clicks and Social CTR.

Facebook defines ‘Social %’ as:

The percentage of your ad’s impressions where the viewer saw at least one friend who likes your page, event, application or ad.

Targeting friends of Facebook page ‘likers’ has been around for several months and savvy marketers have been touting the power of such targeting. Until now, we had to guess at just how successful endorsements from friends were at boosting campaign results. I have to admit that this technique has coaxed me into liking some items on Facebook that I may have otherwise overlooked.
However, can social impressions make a significant impact on ad campaigns? Facebook is now reporting on data that can help marketers make this determination.

Targeting friends of page fans or ‘likers’ is as simple as ensuring that you have added the relevant page to the ad settings when creating a new ad. Within the ‘Targeting’ section of the ad creation or editing platform there’s a box where you can ‘Target users whose friends are connected to’ your page. If you are running Facebook ads, I would recommend checking to ensure this feature has been added to all of your campaigns. This will provide you with additional ‘social’ data and allow you to make more informed management decisions.

Facebook ad targeting feature allowing advertisers to target friends of page 'likers'.

After taking a closer look at the new social data, I was a bit dissapointed with my findings. I didn’t see a clear relationship between campaign performance and Social %. Here are my key findings:

  • Highest CTR for the month, 1.15% occurred on a day with NO social impressions. The same day also had the highest Action rate, again with zero social impressions.
  • Social CTR trended towards being SLIGHTLY higher than overall CTR.
  • Data fluctuated greatly depending on the client, leading me to believe that the ad image, copy and industry were more influential than social endorsements.

For example the lifetime stats of two B2C clients compared side by side pointed to little or no correlation between increased CTR and Social Impressions:

Client 1 – Impressions: 1,864,982 Social %: 78.6% CTR: 0.041%
Client 2 – Impressions: 1,451,355 Social %: 2.9% CTR: 0.046%

  • Actions didn’t appear to get a boost from social impressions either. Using the same example as above, the client that had the highest percentage of social impressions had the lower action rate. If social impressions were successfully sending more targeted and qualified users, it would follow that the action rate would be higher for accounts running a higher percentage of social impressions. When comparing all our client accounts this wasn’t the case.
  • When comparing data there seemed to be little to no correlation between Social % and a lowered CPC. There was an apparent relationship between campaign CTR and CPC. Our clients running the lowest average CPC also had the highest CTR. But these same clients DIDN’T have the highest Social %, in fact our client with the lowest CPC ranked in the bottom when it came to social impressions with only 2.4% of all impressions being served to friends of page ‘likers’.

Overall, I feel this analysis points to other campaign factors as influencing campaign success more than endorsements from Facebook friends. I have seen the most drastic improvements coupled with compelling promotions and strong ad creative. With all the hoopla and hype over social endorsements, it’s easy for some marketers to overlook the basics. It’s still important to build a strong foundation focusing on the tried and true principles of ‘The 4 P’s: Product, Price, Place and promotion.

When creating Facebook Ads the foundation of the Marketing Mix and the 4 P's are still in play.

I’m eager to discover if other Facebook advertisers are making similar conclusions or if they are seeing more of a lift from the elusive ‘Social Impression’. Comment below with your own campaign results, trends or tips.