Sparking Ideas

Facebook’s New App Paper & Their Grab at Content Marketing

Content marketing is key to a sustained audience cultivation effort. After all, once you’ve brought in members, supporters, etc it’s what you provide and the stories you tell that will keep them engaged and help drive them through a cultivation process. To achieve a strong lifetime value people must continue caring about an organization so they will continue to invest in its future. Put plainly, content marketing is the art of crafting content that your target audience will find compelling, engaging, and valuable.

Paper, Facebook’s new mobile app, not only gives the site a fresh look;
it helps Facebook position itself as a content marketing platform.

New sections within the app segment news feed posts by content subject. For example, those interested in technology can see content on Facebook related to that interest, and so on through nineteen preset sections, in addition to the user’s news feed.

This tailored deliver of content should bolster response rates for newsfeed content that fit into one of the following subjects: technology, news, business, art, pop-culture, sports, food, photography, ideas, nature, urban-living, culture, family, cute pictures, humor, beauty, interior design, equality, and the GLBTQ community.

Simply adding Facebook into your content marketing mix won’t suffice to secure prime placement within sections either… Paper’s algorithm to generate these sections, weights content that is original to Facebook. This means that if you post the same thing on other social media sites, your eligible news feed post will display further down in the section; whereas varied “Facebook-only” content will be rewarded with higher placement within the app.

Even the method Paper uses to display posts is geared toward promoting content and a “newspaper” feel – where the name for the app comes from. Standard text and link posts are designed to resemble paper while clicking on a link within a post, unfolds a link like a newspaper. Photo posts appear as thumbnail images that fill its post region.

Posts with images will be promoted via an image rotator that occupies over 50% of your smartphone’s screen, while all posts can scroll right to left along the bottom of your screen.

So what’s the best way to add Facebook into your Content Marketing mix?

  • Update your content marketing plan to include original messaging to be used only on Facebook
  • To drive action, utilize posts with links and a custom image (600px wide by 315px tall). Note: These posts will get promoted in the image rotator and retain the image in the post, while still allowing traffic to your site.
  • Use photo posts to keep your organization “front-of-mind” on Facebook. These will also get promoted in the image rotator, but make reading text and clicking a link more difficult.

Kristopher Morris is a Digital Strategist at The Lukens Company, a direct-response marketing Agency in Arlington, VA, specializing in integrated multi-channel digital and direct mail campaigns for political and non-profit clients. He specializes in digital advertising and audience analysis to bolster community development, fundraising, and election efforts; with a focus on performance-based ROI. A veteran political strategist, Kristopher has a background in Congressional, state, and national operations. Contact Kristopher at 703.845.8484 or

This article appeared in Marketing AdVents, May, 2014.

Peering Into The Ether-Net

Change through technological advancement is the mainstay of digital advertising; and as such, you lead the charge, adapt, or find your strategies outdated and ineffective. The technological landscape advances rapidly so digital marketers must become early-adopters to test and develop tools we can use to communicate with an increasingly interconnected audience.

In 2008, integrating social media messaging emerged. In 2010, we began to aggressively advertise to consumers and supporters online. Likewise in 2012, retargeting through Internet-cookies and the ability to leverage consumer data online became the hallmarks to advanced digital campaigns. And by 2014, better audience and content analysis tools will allow us to finely target likely consumers/supporters and deliver messaging when they are interested in buying a product or taking an action.

Location Profiling

The advertising future promised to us in futuristic sci-fi movies is drawing closer, as mobile phones allow us to target and identify audiences based on an individual’s GPS location.

Recently advertisers began using a mobile phone’s GPS to serve ads relevant to their location. For example a person could receive a text message coupon for 25% discount on coffee, as they near a local coffee shop. The counter-point to this strategy is whether the promotion is bringing in people who would have walked by the shop; or if it’s simply allowing people who would have paid full price to get a discount, therefore decreasing revenue.

This technology is developing into a more mature strategy. By developing profiles from this location information we can tell the difference between regular customers and those who would add revenue. Therefore only these people would receive a discount as they near the shop.

Another strategy that will become more common, is reaching out to regulars of competitors and serving them promotions before they’ve made their decision to grab coffee. In this case a regular customer of Shop A, could receive a promotion for Shop B an hour before they normally head off to Shop A. This allows us to reach an audience before they’ve made a purchasing decision and grow business. Furthermore, these profiles would measure duration at a location, so we could remove likely employees from any marketing audience.

A political organization might use this strategy to reach members and staffers on Capitol Hill with messaging on how to vote on upcoming legislation. A museum could develop a local audience of people who frequent other museums and send them promotional materials to become a member or attend an exhibit.

Video-Content Advancements

In addition to new audience selection tools, our ability to target content will be enhanced by 2014; and with the continuing trend of video consumption migrating from broadcast to the digital space, video advertising will become more prevalent in persuasion/branding campaigns. To target video advertising, marketers rely on producer-generated descriptions and tags. These tags allow marketers to tailor video ads to content relevant to our goals; but what if the producer doesn’t accurately tag their content, to increase their ad revenue?

New content-verification technology allows ad networks and demand-side platforms (DSPs) to scan video content on the Internet to develop transcripts of the video’s audio. From these transcripts, advertising platforms will be able to accurately identify and target relevant content to marketers using video advertising.

Today’s emerging technology may become tomorrow’s standards. Our goal must be to ascertain which new prospects make the most sense, so we can test and adopt them early on, to continue pioneering digital marketing.

Expect to see these emerging technologies used to drive audience analysis and refinement in the next stage of digital advertising. Allowing us to shrink the digital space into highly targeted audiences using well-informed data and profiling technologies, to maximize campaign ROI.

Kristopher Morris is a Digital Account Manager at The Lukens Company, a direct-response marketing Agency in Arlington, VA, specializing in integrated multi-channel digital and direct mail campaigns for political and non-profit clients. He specializes in digital advertising and audience analysis to bolster community development, fundraising, and election efforts; with a focus on performance-based ROI. A veteran political strategist, Kristopher has a background in Congressional, state, and national operations. Contact Kristopher at 703.845.8484 or

Using all the Gear in your Digital Toolbox

Tori Bundy, Digital Account Manager at TLC, had an article published in the June issue of the Direct Marketing Association of Washington's Marketing AdVents. The topic was how to put social media strategies like Facebook's Custom Audiences to use for your organization's fundraising campaign. Read the article below and access the complete issue of DMAW's Marketing Advents here.  

As direct marketers, we are all well-versed in the direct ask, but traditional methods don’t always work in the social space. At The Lukens Company, we are innovating ways in which traditional direct marketing methods can work – the key is combining these methods with new digital marketing tools, targeted social media strategy, and device-specific user experiences.

In October of 2012, Facebook released a new tool called Custom Audiences that allows digital marketers to serve Facebook advertisements to a specific list of customers or prospects. With this tool, marketers can upload an asset file to Facebook and run a match against Facebook profiles based on Facebook ID, email address, or phone number.  After a match is completed, Facebook reports the number of records they were able to match and allows you to create advertising campaigns targeted to this audience. In the past 5 months, we have tested this new advertising tool in several ways with great success.

Our first campaign tested this advertising with a non-audience specific ask to purchase tickets to a museum exhibition. The advertisements were served to the museums housefile, lapsed members, and ticket buyers. Over the course of four weeks, we were able to increase engagement on the museum’s social media page by 60%. This type of engagement can quickly reach a viral level on Facebook. Once users begin engaging with a particular social media page, it shows up on their timeline for all of their friends to see, quickly creating a buzz about the topic which can serve to increase performance of other marketing efforts.

We also used Custom Audiences in coordination with a direct mail package this January to encourage current and previous high dollar members of a museum to upgrade their membership or rejoin. For this particular campaign we segmented the audience into current members and lapsed members then tailored the advertising to speak directly to the audience we were addressing. Although Facebook only returned a 52% match rate on the file we uploaded, we were able to generate a $14.05 return on ad spend over the course of three months.  Just think about the opportunity to use this in renewal campaigns and even as a package reminder in acquisition.

Another area where we are utilizing social media for direct marketing is with our Cyber Monday and Giving Tuesday campaigns. For Cyber Monday, we worked with several of our clients to promote gift membership deals on the popular online shopping holiday. Giving Tuesday was a new movement this year to encourage charitable giving during the holiday season. 

The digital strategy behind these campaigns was similar. We worked with our clients to promote each holiday on their website with a pop-up form that featured the ask, sent emails leading up to both days creating anticipation, and promoted both days with social media posts. We also integrated the purchase and donation processes within Facebook with the use of Facebook Applications. The applications were featured on the clients Facebook pages and allowed users to complete a purchase or donation without leaving Facebook. Our highest grossing Cyber Monday campaign generated 327 memberships for over $23,000 in gross revenue. On Giving Tuesday, we were able to generate over $2,000 in donations for one of our small nonprofit clients. For both of these campaigns we saw large spikes in donations and purchases after the promotions were posted to client’s social media pages.

Yet another area where we have found success with social media is with the use of device-specific user experiences. We are currently living in an increasingly mobile world, so it is important that purchase processes are optimized for mobile. Forty-six percent of users are regularly accessing social media on mobile devices. With the integration of direct marketing methods on social media platforms it is more important than ever to ensure users are able to complete requested actions on their mobile device in an easy way.

Revenue generation on social media is possible, direct marketers just have to be clever in how they approach users in this space. Integrated marketing campaigns with the use of new social media tools, have a well-thought out social media strategy, and ensure action processes are optimized for mobile. There is no need to throw out traditional direct marketing methods; the key is translating these for use within the social space.    



New Social Media Advertising Tools: Twitter Advertising & Facebook News Feed Retargeting

According to Experian Marketing’s 2013 Digital Marketer Report, 27% of internet users’ time online is spent on social networking sites. And naturally where the consumers are, the marketers go. It’s no wonder that social advertising spending is on the rise and social networks are finding news ways to allow brands to interact with these consumers. There are two trending developments in social media advertising that the TLC digital team is following closely:

1. Twitter Advertising:

Twitter recently opened up self-service advertising, allowing marketers to create campaigns through the popular platform and engage with users across the Twitter-verse. Options for advertising on Twitter include Promoted Accounts and Promoted Tweets, both of which can then be strategically targeted by location, demographic, interest, and device.

Promoted Accounts (which appear in the “Who to Follow” tab and are marked as “Promoted”) are ideal for growing a social fan base and enhancing an organization’s Twitter presence. Whether your organization is gearing up for a big announcement, about to launch a major campaign, or just seeking more supporters to engage with online, Promoted Accounts can help get you noticed.

Promoted Tweets (which appear the Twitter feed and are marked as “Promoted” and can be “Dismissed” by users) boost your message’s visibility—and are a great way to promote an upcoming event, special deal, new exhibition, matching gift campaign, or timely advocacy message to existing and potential followers.

Stay tuned for more insight as we begin testing this new advertising platform with TLC clients this summer!

2. Facebook News Feed Targeting:

Recognizing an opportunity to connect brands with their users, Facebook has stepped up their advertising game recently, offering products like Custom Audiences and Partner Categories. And now they’re rolling out News Feed advertising, which will put your message front and center where people spend the most of their time on Facebook.

With Facebook News Feed advertising, visitors to your organization’s website can be tracked using anonymous cookie data, and these individuals are then served ads on Facebook. Preliminary data from Facebook is showing that these retargeted news feed ads are producing click through rates 20-40x higher than the standard Facebook ads that appear on the right side of the screen. We’ve observed in numerous TLC managed campaigns that remarketing ads also typically generate higher conversion and purchase rates than other targeting methods. This is definitely a trend worth testing.

New opportunities in social advertising allow organizations to reach a relevant new audience and target existing and prospective supporters that are more likely to be loyal to their cause. Interested in how social advertising can work best for your cause? Talk to your Account Manager or a digital services representative – we’re always happy to help navigate the ever-changing world of social media!

Outside the Walled-Garden: How Facebook Apps Make Use of Personal Information

Kristopher Morris, Digital Account Manager at TLC, recently had an article published in the Direct Marketing Association of Washington’s Marketing AdVents. The topic is how to use Facebook apps to create a community to support your cause - a big question for many nonprofits these days! Read the article below and access the complete issue of DMAW’s Marketing AdVents here.

Since the inception of Facebook, users have shared a treasure trove of personal information with others with remarkable ease; and likewise, marketers have been trying to obtain and leverage that information to reach select audiences. But it wasn’t until the Obama campaign pioneered its use as an electioneering tool in 2008 that the social media platform started to catch the attention of the political landscape.

The struggle at the time was how to utilize Facebook’s data, since there was no way to access it directly. How do you convert “likes” into something useful; and more importantly, can they translate into votes and/or money? Because of this, the online giant has often been referred to as a “walled-garden” by ad execs because you can’t get Facebook’s lush data out from behind its well-fortified walls

In 2010 we began to see small doors evolve so that advertisers could market brands more effectively, and by the end of 2012 there was a clear avenue for leveraging the data. We are still not able to pull data directly, but the ability to leverage Facebook is now an invaluable tool for developing your online community, driving engagement, and cultivating votes.

During the 2012 election cycle, President Obama’s campaign staff made great use of so-called “targeted sharing” to message likely voters and direct peer engagement to expand the campaign’s efforts. By developing a Facebook App, they were able to serve online video to supporters. After viewing the video, the App asked them to share the video with four friends… Using their relationships to drive home the message and turning viewers into campaign surrogates.

To facilitate, the App provided them a list of their friends so they could easily share the video. The trick behind the App is that these friends weren’t randomly generated. They were specifically selected women in targeted swing states, so that supporters would be more likely to influence a targeted-demographic that Obama’s campaign needed to win. While holding great potential to direct marketers, these Apps often draw privacy concerns.

Did the campaign possess information about you or your friends; and what can they do with that information?

Due to the continuing nature of the walled-garden, the campaign never possessed exact information. They simply leveraged access with Facebook. Facebook ran the App that was developed and in turn makes money through advertising to promote the App. Facebook will provide the campaign with performance and demographic metrics for the App, but won’t give them your name, address, etc.

To safeguard your personal information, any Apps that require such information must first obtain your approval to leverage it. This is why all Apps initially pop-up a request to allow access to certain types of information. This confirmation is required for the App to access your personal information and therefore function properly to drive engagement.

In this sense, a marketer develops an App, which Facebook runs, to leverage its own data for the marketer, to drive engagement, so the marketer can spur data collection. Unless the goal is purely persuasion, all Apps and ads should drive engagement outside of Facebook.

Asking people to sign a petition, join a campaign, or vote are each great tools for pulling information from within the walled-garden into your own database for further direct marketing efforts. While you won’t have access to Facebook’s data, you can leverage it to drive efforts that allow you to build an online community around your campaign; whether it’s political, commercial, or nonprofit.

Facebook Custom Audiences

TLC’s Digital Services department recently held a “Brown Bag” lunch session for account teams about Facebook’s latest advertising tool – Custom Audiences. Facebook launched “Custom Audience” advertising in September and TLC just wrapped up its first digital advertising campaign utilizing the new targeting technology. The results were impressive and we look forward to implementing this into future campaigns, including a number of others that are launching this month! Here’s the scoop:

What is Facebook Custom Audiences?

  • Custom audiences allows advertisers to target their offline constituents on Facebook. Basically a list of email addresses or phone numbers from the organization’s database is matched against contact information available on Facebook, and then Facebook serves ads to those individuals.
  • We can also overlay additional targeting such as geographical location, gender and age to further target your message.

Example: Seattle Art Museum (SAM) pulled a list of their housefile contacts, lapsed members and ticket buyers for TLC to target ads for tickets to the exhibition Elles: Women Artists from the Centre Pompidou, Paris. We further targeted Facebook users in the Seattle area over the age of 35. 

How does it work?

  • All that’s needed is a file of email addresses or phone numbers. Through the brilliance of modern technology, Facebook never receives the actual list of contact information – the data is hashed and uploaded to our Facebook advertising “power editor” where it is matched against Facebook users.
  • Once a Facebook user in the organization’s custom audience clicks an ad, users are directed to a Facebook short form – very similar to our digital advertising forms, which are built to capture the most important information up front to ensure a smoother transaction and better results.
  • For maximum impact, we recommend timing Facebook ads in conjunction with the organization’s larger multi-channel strategy.

Example: SAM’s Facebook advertising campaign was focused on selling tickets to the Elles exhibit, so we timed the campaign around a ticket based email conversion series to a group that included the same constituents in our custom audience.

What can organizations expect?

  • We’ve found that custom audiences has about a 60-70% match rate, meaning that of the list pulled from an organization’s database, Facebook matches profiles for 60-70% of those contacts.
  • While traditional Facebook advertising campaigns are usually favored for their impressions reach as opposed to ad interaction, especially when compared to Google search & display campaigns, we’re finding that the Facebook custom audiences improves performance significantly.

Example: SAM’s Facebook custom audience campaign had a purchase rate of 7 percentage points higher than the next best performing track!

The bottom line is that Facebook custom audiences appears to be a bit of a game-changer in Facebook advertising. Rest assured that TLC’s digital services team will incorporate the strategies we’re learning into your next multi-channel campaign, but feel free to reach out to your account team if you’re interested in learning more.