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164: Q4: What’s Working This Year Versus Last Year on FB & IG

Posted by Austin Brawner on September 25, 2018

Today, we’re continuing our theme of “things you should do right now to prepare for Q4”.

I’m not going to let you get to the end of October without a plan for the holidays. Not this year. We’re going to start early so you can avoid that annual freakout.

In this episode, Andrew and I share the key differences between Facebook and Instagram advertising this year and last year. There are a lot of similarities (creating good offers, creative, etc) but we’ve noticed some big changes and in this episode we’ll help you approach Q4 with your Facebook and Instagram ads the right way. Enjoy!

Episode Highlights

  • 5:17 The big differences between this year and last year when it comes to marketing with Facebook & Instagram.
  • 13:11 Why you should be separating out ad placement and setting up ads that only run on Instagram in Q4.
  • 14:35 How to social proof your ads and why this process is so valuable.
  • 17:45 The changes in how Facebook lets you bid in the auction and the approach you should take during Q4.
  • 21:10 Andrew’s 3 phases of Q4 and how you should approach your ad objective through each phase.
  • 24:34 Facebook inventory in the Newsfeed will max out during the holidays. Here are a few other placements you should be considering.

Links and Resources

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Austin Brawner: In all seriousness, we're excited about this episode. We are continuing our multi-part. I don't know. It's not multi-part. It's just a theme. It's getting closer to Q4. We want to talk about Q4. We want to get you guys ready. We want to talk about the things you should be doing right now as you prepare for Q4. We don't want you to get to the end of October, with no plan. You don't want to have that annual freak out. We're going to start early. So that's what we're doing. So that's one of the episodes we're going to talk about today.

Andrew Foxwell: Yeah, exactly. Today we're going to talk about basically the differences, and the key differences, between Facebook and Instagram advertising this year in Q4 from what we know thus far. And last year. And there are a lot of similarities but there are also some key differences that are going to really help. Which I think is important to point out. So that's really what we're talking about today, is understanding these key differences and how you can approach Q4 with your Facebook and Instagram ads the right way.

Austin Brawner: So, it's going to be good. It's going to be a little bit tactical. Right? We're going to dive into the weeds a little bit today because we wanted to share the specific things you should be aware of for this year. Because it is every year. Every year the one thing I think about is that every year, a lot of stuff is the same, and a lot of stuff is different. Creating good offers, being creative, always going to be the same. Every year, the way you deliver your advertising, the way you deliver stuff, is going to be different. So, that's kind of the goal is to pull the things that are different and explain it. So, Andrew, when we're talking about creativity, and creative, what is the big difference this year versus last year in terms of what you're going to be able to deliver to your audience?

Andrew Foxwell: Yeah, so I mean I think in terms of creative the biggest one that I see- And when I say creative, really what we're talking about in many cases is ad type, and the type of thing we're looking at first is one I would say messenger ads. Messenger ads were something that was a part of Q4 last year, but they are now a very critical part of Q4 I think for people. And a critical part of people's strategy. They are very similar to an email list. And so in terms of creatives, your messenger ads are something that you should be using in Q4 and that will probably play a bigger role going into the holiday season than it did last year. And particularly in reference to building lists or building a VIP list that you're able to broadcast to when your sale is live and when the deals are really happening. That's the big difference I see happening in Q4 this year.

Austin Brawner: And to be clear, starting, like we talked about a couple of weeks ago, starting the advertising in Q3 for Q4. So staring the messenger ads in Q3 so then you could do broadcast messages in Q4.

Andrew Foxwell: Exactly. Exactly. I think the second one under creatives is something that we've seen do really well this year which is an option that we frankly didn't have last year. Is tall photo posts. As a vehicle for conversion. So tall photo posts being the 715 by 476 sizing. Which is very product centric. It takes over the majority of the Facebook newsfeed on mobile and it takes over the majority of the Instagram newsfeed on the Instagram feed as well. They just became available recently, I think, in the last couple months really, to people on Instagram. So that sizing, of really the 2:3 aspect ratio of having it be taller and longer, in a photo post style, is something that is an upgrade from the previously, you know, really good performing, square 1:1 photo post.

So again, very tactical if you've not done these before, square 1:1 photo posts or a photo post in general is a vehicle that gets a lot of engagement, it gets a lot of conversions, and even though it's a shortened link the description of that photo post, it's a good vehicle for driving sales. So, I think a big difference this year, to take over mobile screens, is really going to be utilizing that 715 by 476 size in photo posts.

Austin Brawner: Yeah, makes sense. I mean, we're getting closer and closer to the movie Wall-E, where people are just wandering around staring at their phones. Every year, as we get closer, the format is more related to mobile, so it makes a lot more sense.

Andrew Foxwell: Yeah, that was a good joke Austin. You know what you might deserve with that joke? Hey.

Austin Brawner: Hey.

Andrew Foxwell: Joke time.

Austin Brawner: Joke time. So next up, is something that's ... I'm not sure. I was around last year, but not anywhere near where it is this year, which is Instagram stories.

Andrew Foxwell: Yeah, Instagram stories didn't really become commercially available for people in terms of anybody that's advertising until really August. July or August of 2018. So, now that we're here towards the end of September, Instagram stories are a vehicle that I have ... I hope you have tried. I hope you have seen the daily active users rise there. And I hope that you have seen increasingly stable performance there. We've been talking about them a little bit on this podcast of what they do and why they work. But with the big shift of a lot of people's ... Specifically in the U.S. and the UK a lot, shifting their usage on Facebook a little bit more over to Instagram.

The numbers on Instagram look really phenomenal and Instagram stories are a really, really nice ad unit that you can utilize. Now, you can do these as regular photos. You can do them as video. And some of you may even have the availability to do these in multi-panel story ads. I have it in some accounts and I don't have it in others. So, it depends on what you're doing probably by the time the holiday comes around, Instagram story panels ... So you can create multiple different panels just like a carousel, is something that will be around.

The other thing that's probably going to be prevalent in Q4, and again, this is not widely available, but it will be available to you probably right around the holiday time is dynamic product ads in your Instagram stories. So generally that's a big difference. Getting yourself familiar not only with the Instagram story ad unit, that sizing, again it's a tall sizing. It's 1920 by 1080. So it's a tall one. It's not as short as the tall photo post, but similar. And so, you know, that's kind of that vertical shot is what you need to be thinking about. And you can do everything from, "Hey, it's me Andrew Foxwell, here are my products that we are offering x number of dollars off on," to having a designer help you create some of these. And maybe you want to just animate them. Do an animated GIF type of thing and animate some of your jewelry or some of your product being worn. Right?

So the more that you can blend that in and make it feel like a native user experience, although still with a focus on direct response, the better off you're going to be. And one more thing I'll say on Instagram stories is that you may not want to use these in the prospecting side. And since we're talking about Q4, you're probably not going to be doing a lot of prospecting as time goes on. And that's going to wane. These work really well on remarketing. They work really well on that. Custom audience remarketing because there's really a lot of good data there and there's a lot of people, especially if you have an Instagram forward audience, that you may be untapped. That maybe be untapped basically by not going to Instagram stories.

Austin Brawner: This is one of the things, our commitment to helping you in Q4. If you do have products you want videos created of, you can send them directly to Andrew and he will take a video of himself saying, "This is Andrew Foxwell, these are the products, you can display those right in Instagram stories." Right?

Andrew Foxwell: That's exactly right.

Austin Brawner: No please don't send products to Andrew for Instagram stories.

Andrew Foxwell: That's exactly right. That's exactly right. You know, to me, first of all, my product endorsement means a lot to people right?

Austin Brawner: Especially the mommy blogging niches.

Andrew Foxwell: Exactly. And I mean for me, it's people ask how hard is it to have the weight of this podcast on your shoulders. And you know, it's hard, but you know once you wade through the fan mail, you know, it gets easier over time.

Austin Brawner: Once you wade through there's still time for recording random product videos.

Andrew Foxwell: Tons.

Austin Brawner: For any product for Instagram stories.

Andrew Foxwell: Yeah. Yeah exactly. In all seriousness I will say, actually around the holidays the last few years, a number of people want to send me product for the help that I've given them and I may or may not have regifted those to members of my family. So, I'm just saying. I'm not opposed to this if you do want to send me stuff.

Austin Brawner: Well back to Instagram and what's actually working here right now, this year. You talked a little bit about stories. Walk use through a little bit about the difference in carousels. You mentioned DPA's which are new in stories. But tell us, has anything changed in the carousel side this year?

Andrew Foxwell: Not really. I think carousels have been around for a while but there's been some change in terms of carousels have been around in terms of dynamic product ads, they're very prevalent. The thing that's important to understand the difference between this year Q4 versus last year, is, if you aren't utilizing and Instagram only, selecting Instagram only as a placement and you are spending north of $5,000 a month on your ads, which most of you that are listening to this probably are, that's something I would highly recommend.

Now there are different schools of thought on this. There's a lot of people that say, "Andrew, don't talk about splitting placements." But for me, even in remarketing, an Instagram carousel is different and I think deserves a different placement than having Instagram and Facebook together.

So separating these things out at the ad set level is going to help to make sure that you're kind of penetrating that Instagram audience as well as you possibly can. So, that's really how I see Instagram carousels being different. Instagram carousels are around in the game. But Instagram carousels specifically, are something that I would separate out.

Austin Brawner: So we've talked all year about social proofing. And what that means for your ads.

Andrew Foxwell: Exactly.

Austin Brawner: Even though it's something that I think Facebook is still technically denying it makes an impact. There's very ... there's a lot of proof that it actually makes a huge impact. So talk a little bit about social proofing, the importance, and what you're doing for your ads this year, versus last year.

Andrew Foxwell: Yeah, so I mean, social proofing is one of these concepts where you are taking an ad ID, mostly photo posts are used in this along with link posts, and then you're sending them to an audience utilizing the same post ID to get comments, likes, and shares on them. So then, there's a validation piece that's already happening there. And the challenge with social proofing is it takes a little bit of time to get things ramped up, right? So when you're talking about Q4, this makes it a little bit difficult because you're talking about tight time windows. TTW's is what I call those. I'm just kidding. I just like to abbreviate.

So, basically, on a TTW, it's hard to get social proofing to really be meaningful. So, my thing is the difference I see this year, is this is clearly going to be something you are going to want to use. So, when you're talking and thinking about how you're going to release these sales, release them first to your previous customers if you possibly can, right? And then built up social proof over a period of even 12 hours before you take them to your warmer audiences so that there is social validation on the ads that you're running that is being seen by people in the warmer part of the funnel but not yet in the super, super low funnel. So they're able to see that product validation from people being excited about the fact that there's a sale.

So kind of turning that ad into a landing page. And that's something that was not a core part of the strategy for me as much last year. And so this year, it has become a much bigger deal. Social proofing is something that does prove that is can give your ads the right kick start. And I think I would recommend utilizing that a lot more here in Q4. And maybe you want to even think about it past the holiday too, so, maybe past black Friday, but then you're getting in between that Thanksgiving to Christmas time frame.

When you're in that time frame, maybe social proofing is something you want to spend a lot more time doing from previous purchasers, taking care of those people, when you may be doing a little bit more prospecting. So that, to me, is something that I didn't do last year. I didn't know a lot of people that did that you think you want to do this year.
In particular reference to previous customers and email list et cetera. People really know you so you can show the validation, it's not just about the conversation that's taking place.

Austin Brawner: When you say email list, it's one of those things were you can select a small group of people and send an email to a Facebook post and gather social proofing on that Facebook post to kind of ramp up the social proof and turn it into more of a landing page, like he was talking about.

After creative, right, the next step when you're looking at preparing and going through the holiday's, you're going to be thinking about bidding. So what has changed on the bidding side this year versus last year? What's new and what are the things you're thinking about as you go through your strategy?

Andrew Foxwell: Sure. For me, bidding in Q4 has always centered ... Let's just talk specifically about Black Friday, has always centered on a CPC bid. Okay? So a cost per click bid. And utilizing the ability to understand that these are my people, these are really low funnel people that we're going to get in front of, and that we know, when they get to the site, that they're going to be interested and our site will convert at a decent rate.

If you know that that's the case and you have these audiences that are warm, you're still going to be utilizing, I think, a lot of CPC bidding. So this would be actually setting up an ad for conversions, and actually using, instead of a regular override bid, a cost per click bid and entering yourself into the auction that way. That ensures that you win the auction and ensures that it shows to the right people.

Now, there's other people that see this as a different way. And they see this as what I'll just term as a land grab. Which is spend as much as possible over a period of time. Okay? And not changing the bids. That's a challenging thing today unless you're someone that Facebook has a lot of historical performance on, so a CPC bid is a good way to go about it.

One way that I am thinking about a difference this year, though, is kind of bringing back one oldie but a goodie and then a new one. The oldie but a goodie is utilizing, of course, the manual override. So utilizing, as I used to call it, the over ride bid. And you're utilizing a conversion bid and then you're changing the lowest cost to a very high number. Many times three, four, five times your average order value. So if you're average order value is 100, you're going to bid 500 dollars. Which is another way, like a CPC bid, to win. Okay, a CPC bid is probably always going to win, especially if you're bidding very, very high. And then a manual over ride is another way to make sure that that ad shows.

And so, I'm going to be bringing that back, especially in those tight time windows. Those TTW's around the holiday. Now, I'm loving this catch phrase that I created. Around the holiday. But, as you go further, let's just talk about post Black Friday, post Cyber Monday, through the holiday, one that I wouldn't have not suggested, even in May of this year I wouldn't have probably have even said to use, is target cost bidding. And this is one that now I do endorse.

Target cost bidding is the ability for you to set that target cost and say, "Hey, this is what I want to pay for this conversion." And it is a price, or a CPA game, not a volume game. So you're not going to be able to get massive amounts of people through the door. But if you say, "Hey, look, I do want to prospect during this period of time, then potentially a target cost bid can be a really good way to get in front of that." So that's really the way that I'm starting to think about Q4 and the way that you want to bid.

Austin Brawner: That's great. I think a lot of new stuff going on, some changes. When we move down and we're thinking about the next section we should be in my mind, objective. What are you targeting from here til the holidays and how is that changed? What's changed on conversion, if anything, from last year? And what are some of the other objectives you're going to be selecting, working with, over the next three months?

Andrew Foxwell: Sure. So, I think there's a couple different things. I think there's, let's call it, pre-Black Friday, during Black Friday, and then there's the post-Black Friday. Okay? So let's call these phases one, two, and three. All right. So, in phase one.

So, in phase one, you're going to be thinking about building those audiences that are in things like we talked about in the earlier episode, we did a couple weeks ago, which is one, talking about engagement custom audiences, talking about video views potentially, talking about driving people to your site. Okay? So in those top two, those are really phase one tactics. Video views, engagement, potentially even traffic, to get people to your site. Okay? Those are the objectives you may use. You may also probably use a conversion objective, maybe? Optimizing for a page view to get more traffic on the site.

Now, phase two, during Black Friday, or really leading right into it around Cyber Monday, Black Friday. That period of time is a time when one, you're going to be using a lot of conversion objectives, right? And then you're going to be utilizing, potentially this is a big difference of this year, utilizing reach objective. Okay? So utilizing the ability for you to say, "Hey, I want to show this ad three times over four days to a certain group of people that might be low funnel." Reach might be a really good way to get int front of that. Another thing that you may be utilizing, messenger ads. You may be actually broadcasting to them, or you may be telling them about the sale, and getting them to converse with you in a way that you might be doing, versus in phase two, that you might not have been using last year.

And then in phase three, that post-Black Friday time, you may be probably mostly focusing on conversions. You're probably not going to be using any other objectives and I wouldn't recommend utilizing any other objectives. People try to get tricky and sneaky in my opinion in that period of time, of "Hey, you know, what if we did this, and this." And really, this is just a time to drive people that have been to your site, they've been prospecting in phase one, to bring them in and to remind them of the sales that are taking place. And maybe a little bit of prospecting.

So that's really the way that I see this. I think most people think Q4 is a purely conversion objective time, which is not wrong. And that's going to be the majority of your spend. But I'm pushing you to think about some of the things we've talked about before on this podcast, of horizontal scaling, what are other objectives that you can use and ways to get in front of people, in the different parts of the funnel.

So, I will tell you that in the phase one strategy, I'm really talking about here of driving those audiences in under engagement, video view, traffic. That's not something I did last year. And that's not something I've done before. Although, that's something I'm doing now to help build audiences in different ways. So those are some of the big differences as it relates to objectives.

Austin Brawner: It's really, if you were to think of it in two forms. It's like the educate and the engage time is now. The convert time is later. Closer to Black Friday, post-Black Friday, that's when really you're just focusing on conversion. Now your opportunity is to educate, engage, build your audiences, and go from there.

So, one of the things I'm thinking about is placements. Are there any viable placements this year that you're exploring, that was not available last year?

Andrew Foxwell: Yeah. Oh definitely. I think in placements there's a lot of opportunity. The big thing on placements that's important to understand is, you know, look. Your job is to get in front of these people, right? And so the more that you can expand that placement, I see a lot of people when I go on to accounts, I literally just audited my 170th account this year, or something. It's already September, it's crazy. Doing a lot of that. And see, very often, people only selecting Facebook feed and the Instagram feed, and that's it. And, I'm not saying that wrong. A lot of conversions come through those two channels, right?Those two placements.

But I think you want to think about one, Instagram stories as we discussed. You want to think about Facebook marketplace as another opportunity. You want to think about things, still, like instant articles. And if you haven't revisited messenger in a while, audience network in a while, it's probably worth doing it because you don't know where these people are going to be.

This is a time when people are online, they're shopping, and so, experimenting with those placements, especially in the really low funnel, is not going to be something that's going to hurt you. So that's really my message as it relates to placements. And that's not something I would have prescribed last year. Last year I think I would have been more pointed. And this year, the point is getting in front of people anywhere you can. So that's why you want to give those a shot.

Austin Brawner: Because where the most expensive conversions are going to come. Well, the feed is going to be the highest competition.

Andrew Foxwell: Exactly.

Austin Brawner: The most competition is going to be for the feed. Cool. Well, this has been great. I think ... Appreciate Andrew, walking through the differences, what's going on this year versus last year. I hope you guys enjoyed this episode. If you guys did enjoy this episode, we would love it if you headed over to iTunes and wrote us a lovely review. If you've been listening to this podcast for a while it would be very, very helpful to write us a review, let us know how you feel about it. That's how we've been growing. We've been growing like, 10, 20 percent a month. And, it's through people like you who are listening, writing reviews, sharing it with your friends. That sort of thing. So we appreciate you guys listening, and we'll talk to you guys soon on the next episode.

Austin Brawner: In all seriousness, we're excited about this episode. We are continuing our multi-part. I don't know. It's not multi-part. It's just a theme. It's getting closer to Q4. We want to talk about Q4. We want to get you guys ready. We want to talk about the things you should be doing right now as you prepare for Q4. We...

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