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Today’s post is by , Product Manager at Wishpond.

For many more “traditional” online marketers, the issue with adopting Facebook advertising is that many of its most successful conversion types are relatively soft and hard to measure, ROI-wise.

While the ROI from AdWords is easy to determine because you can see the direct revenue generated from each click, Facebook marketing produces returns such as leads, traffic, and customer testimonials at fractions of a cost of a more traditional conversion.

Facebook is getting more and more efficient at direct response; that’s not to be undersold. But as Wall Street is just now catching on, there’s a whole lot of value in the softer conversion types (and others — mobile app installs, anyone?).

In this article, I’ll detail 3 unique types of Facebook marketing conversions, why they’re valuable, how you can get them, and how you can track them. Let’s begin.

#1 Fans Sharing with Friends

This occurs when one of your fans shares, comments on, or Likes of your Facebook Posts. These interactions show up in their friends News Feeds and not only introduce your business to them, but include social recommendations from their friends.

Here is an example from my own News Feed from one of my friends:

effective facebook ad

This is far more powerful than a simple ad. Why? Because people care about what their friends think and do, not what a business wants to sell them. If a person’s friend is talking about an experience that involves your business, it’s a story with personal interest.

Compare the above example to the ad below. Which do you think I’m more likely to click on?

facebook ad dull

Don’t beg for shares, though. In a recent article, The Five Most Common Facebook Posts Mistakes, I wrote that asking people to share your Facebook posts is a big no-no. This sounds like begging and will turn most people off. You need to provide some form of incentive or interest to compel people to engage with you. Liking and sharing can be the mechanisms that people are told to use to engage with you, but it has to be done in a way that is fun or useful.

Here are two Facebook posts, both from Walmart, showing both the right and wrong ways to drive Likes and shares from Facebook posts. The post on the left is asking people to share the Facebook post to tell their friends about a sale happening at Walmart. This can be taken as basically asking you to spam your friends. And it provides no interest or value for the person sharing. The post on the right is done correctly. It’s giving people a venue to express their opinion on how they like their steak cooked, which for some people is a part of who they are! As you can see, it’s getting much more engagement:

facebook ads walmart

How do you track shares by your Fans?

Facebook’s new Page Insights makes it super-easy to see how many shares each of your posts is getting and which are the most popular. Check out a piece from Wishpond’s Insights below. The orange bar represents “Reach”, the purple represents “Clicks”, and the red “Shares”:

fan shares facebook

#2 Customer Testimonials

According to a recent Forrester Research report, “70% of US online adults trust brand or product recommendations from friends and family”. That same report indicated that 46% trust online reviews written by customers, but only 10% trust online ads and company written text messages.

Authentic reviews can actually be a better marketing tool than tons of creative pushed out directly by a company itself. Real, authentic consumer reviews by family and friends can establish a trust and loyalty with your brand that all your one-way advertising cannot.

But, how do you get these testimonials? And, how can you get people to spread them to friends and family?

The best way to get customer testimonials is to provide an incentive, such as the chance to win a prize in a contest.

Photos of your products or service can be worth a thousand words. Generating positive, authentic photos of your products on Facebook can also be worth thousands of sales.

Photos on Facebook receive 53% more engagement than the average post. Getting your clients to submit favourable photos of your products shows real people enjoying your product in real situations. This is kind of a modern marketers’ dream come true – to have the ability to pull in a consumer so much that they are submitting genuine photos of themselves with your product to share on Facebook.

In a photo contest, you ask your Fans to upload a photo based on a theme you make for them. To get product-related photos, for example, you could ask your Fans to submit their best images of your product in a particular environment or scenario. If you sell women’s fashion, you could ask your Fans for their best photo of one of your clothing items at the beach.

If you are looking for more service-oriented testimonials, you could have customers take part by uploading their best photo of how happy they are when they deal with your services! You could even set up an in-store photo contest, where the prize is a product at your store. Contestants take a photo of themselves in-store of your product, to upload to your Facebook contest.

Photo contests are very popular on Facebook. You can use them to show your products and business in a positive light, and gain authentic customer images.

Most of your customers will likely have cameras on their phones that make sharing photos super-easy. This makes a photo contest fairly easy to enter. It does take some creativity and action on the part of your entrants, so you do want to make sure you are giving a prize that will motivate the best entries. Give away a gift card, more products, a trip, or a brand-related experience.

Also, add a voting element to your photo contest. This encourages sharing to friends of your participants, which in turn shares images of your products. It truly is an amazing way to make a positive image of your brand go viral.

A photo contest is not hard to set up. On Facebook, you need to use a third-party app to legally run a contest. Use a simple contest app like Wishpond, and you can have your photo contest up and running live in just a few easy steps.

Check out an example below from Beautiful Photo Props:

facebook photo contest

Best Practices for Using Photo Contests to Get Customer Testimonials on Facebook

– Create a theme for your photo contests

– Choose products that are easy to photograph for your photo contest campaigns

– Include a voting element in your contest to get the images widely shared

#3 Referral Traffic to your Website

People are turning to sites like Facebook more and more to engage in “Social Shopping Sessions” — instead of going to comparison shopping sites.

Rich Revelance recently analyzed 15 billion shopping sessions between December 2012 and April 2013 to see how social media affects purchases. Although it is on a slight decline, Facebook still accounts for 69% of social shopping sessons.

Take a look at the infographic to see Facebook and Pinterest’s effect on ecommerce sales:

social shopping influence

How can you use Facebook to drive Referral Traffic to your Website?

The best way to do this is to create posts that tell a story about your products or how people can use them. If you just post about your new product line or what’s on sale, nobody will care. Those are not interesting posts. But if you give them some advice on how to solve a problem or how to improve their life, then they will listen.

Here are a couple types of Facebook Posts you can use to drive referral Traffic to your website:

Give a Preview with a “See the whole thing: [Link]” Call-to-action

This type of Facebook post is meant to tug on a person’s curiosity. It makes them want click a link to see or read something that are getting just a small preview of in the post itself.

This type of post includes two things:

1. A photo that shows a small piece of a larger, more intricate object. This can include a location, a product, an outfit, or even a piece of content.

2. A short description of what the photo shows and a call-to-action to see the rest of it.

Lowe’s Home Improvement does a great job using this formula to promote a bathroom makeover.

facebook ad lowes

Posts like these that provide real-world ideas for doing cool things are perfect. And people are always interested in seeing a makeover. Before-and-after photos have big impact on people’s minds because they show what is possible in a believable way. A photo of a beautiful kitchen is nice, but if you add a photo of how the kitchen looked before, it can spark new ideas in your Fans’ minds on how they can do a makeover of their own.

“Learn how to [Do Something]: [LINK]”

One of the reasons Pinterest is so popular is that it is an idea machine: It gives people tons of ideas and examples on new and interesting ways to do things. Making your Page a source for cool new activities and tips for things that are relevant to your target audience is the best way to create lasting engagement with your Fans.

Walmart made a killer post recently with a link to a guide on growing your own salsa. Many people in their target audience (families) have gardens at home, but probably never thought to grow the ingredients necessary to make their own salsa. This will provide them with a new activity they never thought of trying before.

Check out the post:

facebook ad walmart

One added ingredient to boost this formula is to tell people they can learn how to do something just like real-world examples. This builds a trust factor into your material that will drive a lot more clicks from skeptics. Etsy did this perfectly by showcasing a real person who successfully started an Etsy Store to drive clicks to a helpful article:

facebook ad etsy

How can you track Referral Traffic from Facebook to your Website?

Google Analytics makes it easy – and you don’t even need to use special parameters and Google Analytics tracks traffic from Facebook, Twitter and other social networking sites automatically via its Social Reports tool.

If you want to get more in-depth to see which posts are driving the most referral traffic, the easiest way is to use Facebook’s new Page Insights (which are awesome IMHO).

It allows you to see which posts are getting the most clicks:

facebook clicks

And then dig deeper to see how exactly people are interacting with your posts and clicking:

facebook post interactions

There’s tons of good stuff — and good value — to be had if you execute your Facebook advertising campaigns well.

Any tips or tricks to add? Leave a comment!

nick steeves wishpond– Nick Steeves is Director of Marketing at Wishpond. Businesses can use Wishpond to run contests and promotions on Facebook, Twitter, websites and mobile. Learn more