Facebook segmentation and engagement

This week’s blog article is based upon the Hodis et al. (2015) article “Interact with me on my terms: a four segment Facebook engagement framework for marketers”.

The paper covers off some great research about why segmentation is so important for Facebook engagement and identifies four clear segments for consideration.

Facebook segmentation matrix (Hodis et al. 2015)
  • Attention seekers – users looking for admiration and appreciation (low levels of consumption and high levels of creation)
  • Entertainment chasers -people trying to escape boredom (consuming small bursts of entertaining content)
  • Devotees – addicted to Facebook users (high level of consumption and creation)
  • Connection seekers – Connecting with friends / family is their primary reason for using Facebook (High level of consumption  and low level of creation)

The essence of the article is around breaking down the audience to specific audience types, tailoring the content accordingly and then to consider using paid advertising to support your Social Media activity on Facebook. This  allows you to get much higher engagement than a fit-for-all-approach as the relevancy of the message increases and in-turn the organic reach increases (the amount of times the message is distributed).

But is this enough?

In fact, research from Sashittal et al. (2012) suggests paid targeted advertising can actually work against you to the point that really well targeted advertising on Facebook was often viewed by the audience as creepy, and the more targeted and specific the advert, the more uncomfortable the audience potentially viewed it.

Segmentation as a way to increase engagement isn’t exactly breaking news, so is there more we can add to the mix if we really want to maximise engagement?

Get your employees behind your Social Media activity

For example, empowering your business; such as your employees, volunteers and stakeholders (as well as your existing audience) to extend engagement through Social Media interaction rather than just using organic reach and Facebook paid advertising to achieve this. (If all of your staff liked and shared your posts, overall engagement would increase as a result as would the organic reach).

Here is a great article from Ryan Holmes at Fast Company on this topic which talks about the success Companies such as Starbucks, Zappos and Southwest Airlines in the US have had with their employee advocacy programs.

Either way, Social Media interaction is critical for driving engagement and maintaining an active brand presence, so getting it right and engaging with your audience becomes a high priority and by doing so, you have a real opportunity to influence your audience’s behaviour.

There are a couple of good blog articles from Deluca (2011) and Goad (2011) that note that a user’s shopping behaviour becomes increasingly influenced by their social media interactions and social media consumer to consumer communication can make a big difference in how your message is picked up by your audience.

This is supported by Li and Bernhoff in the book Groundswell, who note there has been a shift in how consumers now use technology to get from each other what they would traditionally get from corporations, and de Valck et al. (2009) extends this further noting that “word-of-mouse” is just as powerful in impacting consumer decision making as face to face influence.

Source MSL Group on Employee advocacy

So, if engagement is the key to success; empowering the people in the business to get behind your Social Media activity, encouraging them to engage with your audience and to interact with them (and each other) would certainly be a strategy worth considering.


11 thoughts on “Facebook segmentation and engagement

  1. “paid targeted advertising can actually work against you to the point that really well targeted advertising on Facebook was often viewed by the audience as creepy, and the more targeted and specific the advert, the more uncomfortable the audience potentially viewed it.”

    ouch! We marketers might think that “it is always good to have an ad targeted specifically to a certain person” especially in social media. Sadly, i do agree (from user’s perspective) that getting “too targeted” ads can be bit creepy.

    As this post is using Facebook for an example, here’s an article on how Facebook collects data for advertising >> http://lifehacker.com/5994380/how-facebook-uses-your-data-to-target-ads-even-offline

    and here’s another read (using “Data Mining” technique to “mine” your browsing data) >> http://bgr.com/2016/02/11/why-facebook-and-google-mine-your-data-and-why-theres-nothing-you-can-do-to-stop-it/

    We all want our ads to “hit” that specific mark / customer. Why? Because we are paying good money in advertising! Facebook Boost Post feature requires you to allocate specific money to certain post. It’s going to be VERY EXPENSIVE in the beginning especially when your page has low like count, but as your “fanbase” grow, it’s easier for Facebook data mining algorithm to get your data, and from that data, knowledge about that each “fan” is made, automatically! Joel Stein from TIME wrote a great article about Data Mining here >> http://content.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,2058205,00.html

    If a company wants to use targeted ads, personally, i would recommend them to not use a “very direct” message. at least it would be not as creepy as someone who’s stalking you around and finally said to you “Hey, we saw that you really like this Phone, now will you buy it from us?”

  2. Hi Ryan

    Thanks for the links to the information on data mining, very useful. I think it’s a fine line we tread and as marketers we need to take some responsibility for balancing user’s needs against technology that allows us to do things that from a marketing perspective are seen as innovative. I recall a conversation with a tech developer some time back who was promoting SMS technology where stores could send a text to someone walking past their retail store with an offer. From a marketing perspective the idea was awesome. How cool would that be to be able to target your audience that precisely. From a user perspective that would be annoying as hell. Imagine walking down Bourke Street Mall and getting a text every 5m as you walk past a heap of stores all texting you offers enticing you in to their stores.

    1. Technology is indeed changing the way marketer market things and technology providers actually provides that.

      Apple for example, develops a protocol that is based on bluetooth called “iBeacon”, basically, this allows marketers (or shop owners), to put “beacons” in certain places and when a user with compatible receiver (and that’s an iPhone) passes by the range of the beacon, they will get notification, say, a “50% off this item, this way!” .

      if SMS you might seems to be “less accurate” as it uses triangulated data from cell towers, these beacons are very precise and very limited as well when it comes to range (up to 70 meters LOS). SMS is annoying? how about multiple beacons in one store that sends you notifications constantly about an item, bye bye battery!

      1. And that’s the issue right there. From a technology standpoint that’s a great idea but from a user perspective, unless it is specifically opt in and the user wants that level of intrusion it could be really annoying and counter productive. I would be more inclined to leave the store than marvel at the technology. All people are different and there are a lot of shoppers that don’t want assistance or prompts on what to buy. Too much input can actually kill the decision making process and can lead to consumer paralysis. (Too much choice / decisions = no decision).

  3. Hi Keith,
    Great blog this week, I agree that a company’s employee base is an un-tapped resource. With Facebook users having between 200-300 ‘friends’ on average, encouraging your employees to post loud and proud about how good their workplace is, some positive things that are going on there or even just the mundane day-to-day is potentially a very powerful tactic. Particularly when we consider that consumers are more receptive to messages that come from their peers than from business.

    Starbucks seem to do this pretty well, they’ve set up a dedicated Twitter account for it’s staff (which it seems to refer to as partners) with the hashtag #100Kopportunities. They encourage their staff to use this account to tweet many of the little fun things that happen in cafes throughout the day – fun frothy images etc – that head office staff are often removed from. However, if your employee base is unsatisfied this could be a minefield and be a case of another social media campaign that worked for Starbucks, but backfired elsewhere!

  4. Loving this convo thread.
    Kelly, you took the words out of my mouth. As much as employee engagement and participation is an untapped opportunity, there is the issue of risk management. It opens up a whole new domain of control and regulation versus organic freedom of expression. I love the idea though and I’m sure there are ways to make this work.
    Keith, I completely agree that overly targeted ads can be creepy because that’s exactly what I think when one of those pops up. I think organisations need to be more subtle in their approach so that they are reaching their target market without the stalker vibe.

    1. Hi Anh, I think the important thing here is corporate culture. I can think of a few instances where this totally wouldn’t work but there are also many examples where companies with great corporate culture and employees that value the employer could benefit from this. Bodyshop in the UK for example and the US Airline that was in the example in the blog. The key to the success is that it should be natural rather than forced and the employees should want to do it.

      Not suggesting it’s a must do but certainly worth consideration

  5. Hi Keith, thanks for your great blog this week. I thought you encapsulated the key points perfectly. I’m really interested in involving employees in our Facebook community but was always nervous about this because of the risks involved (e.g. employees making inappropriate comments). I found your links to this topic very useful in bringing me up-to-date with best practices – and it gives me more confidence in encouraging our employees to give it a go.
    After reading the paper and your blog, I reflected on how I might use the FB segmentation in a practical sense. I work at http://www.twins.org.au, a medical research facility that connects twins with researchers for studies to benefit everyone’s health. We have around 10,000 followers on our Facebook page. I can see how I can identify our devotees (they’re the passionate followers always making comments on our page). I think the majority of our followers are connection seekers (connecting with their twin, other twins, and the broader multiple-birth community). We might even attract a few attention seekers – you know, the ones who love to look at funny twin videos, like twins speaking their own language.
    But I’m not sure how to identify and involve the attention seekers. The paper says “the attention seekers are generally not the consumers who will interact with the brand on FB on the brand’s pages”. So I’m assuming these are people whom I need to seek out myself through research e.g. high-profile twins on FB or in the media? Are there any other sources? As this is such an important group in improving your engagement on FB, I wanted to make sure I was understanding this correctly. Also there is the dilemma of balancing all these follower needs on the one FB page. Twins who are more interested in the science-y stuff can get turned off by the videos of cute twins. Any other ideas on how to best apply the matrix to my work FB would be much appreciated. Thanks again for a great blog.

    1. Hi Lynette. You could try teasing out the attention seekers with a call for some user submitted content. We have a LOT of success with user submitted content, in fact significantly better than corporate branded content. Maybe something along the lines of send us a picture of you and your twin doing something cool, or ask for stories on what they did with their twin which was funny / spooky / weird. Did you ever go on a date with your twins date without the date knowing, that sort of thing. That would really appeal to the attention seeker as it is all about them and the those that are looking for entertainment get some fun content too. On the issue of trying to appease all four segments at once on your page, I’m not sure you can really and unless you have a really dominant segment that will always be an issue. I think the better approach is to have a mix of engaging content that at least resonates with one or more of the key segments and subtly adjust the mix of content to include the other segments so over time everyone has some content that they relate to and can engage with (does that make sense?)

  6. Thanks for your thoughts. It really is an art to balance all the different needs – a work in progress – and part of the fun of it, I suppose. I like your ideas about attracting the attention seekers although I need to tread a fine line about how this reflects on our brand. We are a medical research organisation with the focus on evidence-based findings to inform, educate and improve health. If there is one thing the professors and academics that I work with dislike is the weird stories about twins, like ESP. But they’re the stories that engage the most. Ah there it is again – the challenge to achieve the right balance.

    1. But you know it’s about what the audience wants not what we want to give them, right? That’s the real challenge.

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