Answering 11 Hard-Hitting Questions About Organic and Paid Facebook: An Interview with Dennis Yu
We love you.
We hate you.
But most importantly, we need you.
You’ve become an integral part of our lives as marketers, so why can’t you just tell us how you work?
All jokes aside, there is no denying that Facebook has grown to be a major aspect of our marketing strategies. But with all of the secrecy behind “The Algorithm,” many of us are left with so many unanswered questions, particularly surrounding the topic of how to effectively use the platform for paid and organic efforts.
In an effort to get some of these heavy-hitting questions answered, we invited Dennis Yu, Chief Technology Officer of BlitzMetrics, to DigitalMarketer headquarters to pick his brain on the topic of what’s working now in the world of Facebook marketing. And damn it, he delivered.
If you’re more of a video person like myself, go ahead and watch the video below to see what Dennis has to say. If reading is more your thing, skip the video and hop straight to the transcript below!
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Garrett: Is there a connection between your organic Facebook efforts and your paid Facebook efforts or are they completely independent of one another?
Dennis: Your paid and organic efforts go together because the algorithm is almost the same between the two when it comes to page engagement. The objective of the organic news feed algorithm is to determine what should be shown of what you’re posting to other fans or friends of fans. And when you do things that work well in organic like vertical video that takes up the whole screen instead of a third, captioning, things that work, sound off, getting people’s attention, high average watch time, high engagement those are things that you can then reuse, for example, taking that page post I.D. and ads manager and using it for website conversions or driving it for leads or using portions of it that you have inside instant experiences. A lot of people even though this is not what Facebook recommends, they will boost posts that are working well organically.
Dennis: Boosting posts works well if you’re a public figure and if you’re a small business but if your objective is driving leads, driving ecomm sales for ROAS, driving in-store visits then that is a different optimization objective. Whatever you select on the ad site is your objective, Facebook will sub-target against your chosen audience and try to get you the lowest cost per result. We find that when you put stuff out there on the page that’s more at the very top of the funnel, when you find certain things that are working, maybe they’re high authority especially videos you can boost those, use those remarketing audiences and then drive ads against it. Our favorite thing to do is take 10 second remarketing audiences against video view posts and then use that to drive chatbot leads, landing page views, sales, it’s a basic two-step funnel. They’re very similar. Organic tells you what people are engaging with and then you can use the business objective that you choose in the ad site to drive that eventual conversion.
(RELATED: Developing a Content Marketing Strategy)
Garrett: What should marketers really be focusing on when it comes to their organic Facebook efforts?
Dennis: With organic Facebook efforts you have to look like you are a friend. So what are your friends posting? Lightweight videos, they’re not using hashtags, they are being engaging and telling stories, they’re showing that they are human instead of only selling, they’re educating, interviewing other people. When you do that on your public figure page, because some people want to keep their profile separate, their user profile’s not the same as their public figure page then you’re able to build your brand and boost the content you’re putting out there to show that people can know, like, and trust you.
Dennis: Yesterday we were in Las Vegas and we ate at the Caesar’s Bacchanal Buffet, I was there with Mitch Miller, we had a great time and we got to take some pictures together and share some knowledge while we were chowing down on things like lobster. A fantastic experience and you want to make it feel like other people are there with you at the buffet having a good time even though we’ve got crème brûlée all over the place and it’s a mess with the buffet, but you want to show that you are human and real. Not just because you’re trying to be authentic but because people can see you as a human. We know that people buy from other people. So especially on organic, your public figure page, maybe you’re Jeff J. Hunter as a person and then you create that business page that’s called Jeff J. Hunter but it’s a public figure page, a subset of a business page, and you’re putting a bunch of stuff out there that shows that Jeff J. Hunter is a human and is hanging out with Ryan Deiss at Traffic & Conversion Summit or whoever your audience is.
Dennis: That’s demonstrating that you are part of that community so that the people that you want to buy from you see that you’re one of them first and then from your company page you’re able to sell. That’s when you talk about your products and your services, what things cost but you got to bridge that gap to be social. Most people miss that on Facebook.
Garrett: We touched a little bit on this already but when it comes to boosting posts versus traditional Facebook ads, which is better? Or maybe the better question is, when should you really use both of them?
Dennis: We’ve argued over this for the last five or six years on when do you boost a post, is Ads Manager and what used to be Power Editor a better tool for people that are pro. Think of it this way, if you want to use the right tool for the right job sometimes you need a chainsaw because you’re going to cut down a forest and sometimes you just need a butter knife because you’re trying to dig up one weed. When you’re building lightweight engagement, when you’re testing the kind of content that people are going to resonate with against different topics you’re going to fine tune using sandpaper and that’s what … Sandpaper’s maybe not the right analogy because it seems like it’s rubbing against you. You want to see, through a dollar a day, $7.00 seven days, dollar a day budget what people want to engage with and that helps you build your topic wheel on the outside.
Dennis: On the outside here you’re putting out one-minute videos sharing different pieces of knowledge, sharing stories. You might 10 or 15 stories out there, you’re not going to know in advance which ones are going to win. So, the dollar a day strategy is really a way of extending your ability to build community. You’re not doing it just because you’re trying to drive sales, you’re doing it because you want to listen and understand because you’re not getting enough organic reach. Based on what you learn there you can put it into your 3 X 3 grid and be able to drive conversion, obviously, you want to drive sales, Ads Manager is your chainsaw, it’s your heavy-duty thing to drive sales down here. Clearly, when you’re boosting posts and you’re going to drive more likes, comments, and shares because that’s what the algorithm’s going to go for, those aren’t necessarily going to drive to your lowest cost per conversion.
Dennis: But off of a remarketing audience here, you can drive to the what? To the conversion. You’re going to use them in conjunction. It’s not that a knife is better than a chainsaw, it’s that you use both of them and you have multiple tools in your toolbox to be able to listen to the community, engage with them. People that engage with you multiple times are more likely to buy. We did this analysis for an electronics company that you definitely know, and we found it took seven touches before people eventually bought here and it’s when they went to the website that they bought. But all these other touches occurred in other areas and a lot of them we couldn’t even track because they were at Starbucks talking with their friend. Think about the journey of when people are buying and how much people need to know, and the influence, the social proof from their friends not because you’re trying to get a thousand likes on a post but because you’re trying to drive influence among your existing customers that are influencing their friends.
Dennis: It’s word of mouth, it’s always been there, it’s not an algorithm thing. You’re just using Facebook as a way to expose that to then re-market to these particular people again, say a 10-second video view or landing page view to drive to a sale.
Garrett: You’ve talked about this dollar a day Facebook strategy. Could you kind of give us an overview of what this strategy is and why it’s such a successful strategy for your marketing efforts on Facebook?
Dennis: The dollar a day strategy is the ultimate lightweight testing tool. We’ve seen big brands say, “We’ve got a huge budget, a dollar a day we never really get there.” You certainly want to test, don’t you? And the more money you have, the more tests you can run. A dollar a day in the United States will give you reach usually between 50 and 300 people per day. That means that you’re not going to reach your entire audience, but it gives you a window to be able to see for a very low budget what’s going to work. We know that 90% of the content you put out there is going to fail. Even us, even for like the Golden State Warriors, 90% of their content’s going to fail. Babe Ruth, 1% of the time, did he hit a home run, 8% of the time, the greatest slugger in the history of baseball?
Dennis: So, if you know that’s the case, and you know that testing is key, and a lot of people give lip service, “Oh, I need to AB test and split test and lift test. I’m always testing.” Well, are you doing that with your content? Are you putting out lots of little one-minute videos? Lots of articles. Now it’s about 15-second vertical videos in stories, the new format stories will eventually overtake the news feed at its current rate of growth. Can you imagine that? More volume there, that’s where consumers are spending the time not just because Facebook’s trying to kill Snapchat by using Instagram to copy those particular features. A dollar a day allows you to find out what actually is working in the middle and bottom of the funnel. In the middle of the funnel where you’re boosting posts and then at the bottom of the funnel you’re trying to see against really small audiences like people that have abandoned a particular landing page in a 24-hour window.
Dennis: That’s a small audience unless you’re a huge brand, maybe it is only a couple hundred people. You want to see what’s going to convert there, allows you to then take that next step. And if you put out a hundred pieces of content organized by your topic wheel over the last couple months or what have you, you’ll probably find 10 pieces of content that work well. Then you’ll put those 10 pieces of content into your greatest hits. Your greatest hits allow you to sequence the best three items for why, how, and what, your top, middle, and bottom of the funnel. You can test and fine tune with sandpaper to take the rough edges off of any one of these particular items to find more winners.
Dennis: So, imagine for your company you have Garrett Holmes’ Greatest Hits. He plays the guitar, let’s say. What are those best songs? Maybe he records a new song every couple days, maybe one of them will make it into his nine, his greatest hits at the top, middle, and bottom of the funnel. A dollar a day is a testing strategy. It is not about something magic about a dollar or necessarily about boosting posts.
Garrett: When looking at the different types of content that you can put out there on Facebook, what types of content have you seen perform the best? Organically and on the paid side or is it more about the quality of the content that you create?
Dennis: So, quality of the content is a loaded term because it’s subjective and it’s hard to measure. In the same way a lot of people say, “Oh we should put good content out there,” “Oh, thanks, Sherlock.” It’s just like Warren Buffett says, “The key to making a lot of money is you need to buy the stocks that are undervalued.” Yeah, but how do I do that? To be specific, you have to look at what your cost per is at different stages of the funnel. If I’m trying to drive awareness, I want to know what my cost per is for reach. If I’m driving engagement, I want to know my cost per for likes, comments, and shares. Driving leads, cost per lead, cost per chatbot, new message, cost per sale, ROAS.
Dennis: In general, if I’m trying to drive mid-funnel engagement content, which is where most content needs to be because we’re building relationships. There’s the first touch, there are all these middle touches, and then at the bottom I’m trying to sell. But most of your content’s going to be in the middle of the funnel, it’s going to be in vertical video because 80% of that Facebook traffic is on the phone and of that 80% to 90% of it is going to be sound off. If that’s the case, I need to make sure that people when they’re just standing in line when they’re at the gas station they have an extra minute and a half while they’re waiting for their car to fill up and they’re on their phone they’re scrolling through the news feed.
Dennis: They’re scrolling through the news feed in the context of seeing what their other friends are doing. So, your content needs to fit and be as social as those people. That means you got to create video and that video can’t open with a bumper. You have to have captions or some way where you’re using different tools where you have text that’s coming across and they can understand what’s going on. You can have things like the Apple Clips app, or Adobe Express, or other tools that are within Facebook Mobile Studio that are free. Facebook is building in video creation tools inside Ads Manager because they know the importance of video and people like us that aren’t necessarily professional video makers need to produce video. They will convert your static images into a video slideshow.
Dennis: They’re constantly pushing for video, maybe you don’t want to be on video, maybe you think you need to have a fancy camera, you don’t. You just need your iPhone, point it at you, or you point it at your customers, you interview other people, and you figure out how to be social. How do you tell stories instead of only talking about your product?
Garrett: So, on the topic of video, we’ve heard you talk a lot about the power of one-minute videos, could you kind of expand on the importance of one-minute videos in terms of your Facebook strategy and provide some tips for someone who’s looking to create their first one?
Dennis: The one-minute video is a way to get straight to the point to talk about one thing. Think about the power of having an elevator pitch, you have to get right to the point. A lot of people they’ll start by saying, “This is my name, and this is my company and I want to talk to you about this and that,” it’s actually much harder to produce a one-minute video than it is to talk for 30 minutes because you’ve got to have a point. We like to structure our one-minute video with three components in order to tell the story because you understand stories are what engage people. People don’t think of great content as content. When you see a great movie, Garrett, do you think about that two-hour movie, that was really great content? No, that was a great concert, that was Tom Cruise jumped off another building, Mission Impossible 15, or however many he’s going to make.
Dennis: Think about in a storyteller format you’re going to start with the hook and in the beginning of that one-minute video that might be 30 seconds to 45 seconds and you start with, “When I was 18 I dropped out of high school. I wanted to be a professional athlete and run for Nike.” That’s a hook, it’s interesting. I didn’t say, “Well, you know, I want to be a runner and I work really hard and I got good grades in school. I thought maybe I’d tell you about something.” No, you talk about a specific thing that happened in time. One time I was attacked by two pit bulls and I narrowly escaped with my life because I jumped over a fence as they were coming after me and one of them even bit me on the leg. I can see it in my mind that particular story that happened.
Dennis: I start with, “When I was,” you literally have to start with those three words, “When I was,” because then you jump straight into the story otherwise you lose them in the news feed. So, when I was this whole thing happened and there’s some kind of moment of vulnerability, of challenge, of fear, of something that you had to overcome where they can identify with you and because of that “I believe.” Part two, I believe that everyone should have a mentor and that education should bridge the real world with what you get with a college education. I believe that we should help 10 thousand businesses double in the next 5 years. I believe. What do you believe? What is your mission? Because of that story and how it impacted you emotionally, I believe that and that I believe statement can be two sentences, it only takes five seconds.
Dennis: And the last part is I am. I am Garrett Holmes and I work here at Digital Marketer producing amazing content. I am Jeff J. Hunter and I’m creating a million jobs in the Philippines for Filipino Digital Marketing Experts. I am Dennis Yu and I believe in creating a million jobs for young adults to become certified digital marketers because of working with folks like Digital Marketer and Social Media Examiner. What do you believe in? You can say that because of this story when I was, I believe, I am so I am the founder of Blitz Metrics. I am whatever your title is. You don’t have to go into this whole resume thing, you literally say it as one sentence. I am the CEO of Blitz Metrics and this is what I do. That’s it, those three parts. One-minute video, practice it over and over and over again, try different stories. It’s awkward at first, it’s hard to remember the different components, you have um’s and ah’s, your first version might take three minutes. Start to pull out the key parts.
Garrett: Facebook is always changing as we all know. Are there any current Facebook ad updates or changes on the horizon that marketers need to know about?
Dennis: Man, there are changes that happen every single day. If you’re an engineer then you know that on the API side they’re pulling away a lot of our targeting options because of Cambridge Analytica, because of privacy, because of all this PR stuff. That’s caused a lot of people, as we’ve talked about over the last few months, to freak out. What you really need to know is that Facebook is making ads dynamic and easier to create. This is different than product feeds that you’re uploading in the same way you have Google shopping feeds. I’m talking about dynamic creative ads. Dynamic creative means that you can inject different combinations of copy, and quantities, and dates, and images so that Facebook can start to do that optimization for you.
Dennis: Another megatrend, which you’ll see rolled out over the course of next year, is that Facebook is making things frictionless. That means the re-release of what used to be called Facebook Canvas and instant articles into instant experiences. That means any landing pages that you have on your website you can rebuild them inside Facebook using the templates that they have. That also means including forms that you can insert in there that work in a mobile experience that automatically populate with name, email, phone number, open survey fields that they can fill out. Friction also means making it so that people can purchase right away so inside WhatsApp or inside Facebook Messenger being able to summon that Uber, being able to pay that friend back $15.00 for having baby back ribs at Chili’s, all these different ways where you can live inside Facebook without having to leave.
Dennis: We were in Las Vegas yesterday staying at Caesar’s and I just realized I was there four days and I never left the casino because it was so big because they have restaurants, and speaking at the conference, and the buffet, and the shows like I never actually left the building to go outside and breathe the air. I think Facebook is kind of like that casino where they make it hard to leave because you don’t know where the exit … You ever been in a big casino? It’s kind of hard to figure out where the exit is. And if you know that’s how Facebook wants to play and that’s how Google wants to play because in the search result you can book flights now on Google. They’re making it easy, so you don’t have to go to Yelp to read the reviews or see the sports scores because they’re right there inside the search results.
Dennis: Google and Facebook are both trying to make things frictionless. If we know that’s the case and there are lots of little things along the way that are coming, what can we do, from a business standpoint, to make sure that we’re not caught off guard? That means we need lightweight content and little tidbits that we can feed inside the machine. The machine can then optimize for us. It means that we have to be able to repurpose any of our assets. Our best blog post, for example, let’s convert those to instant articles. I can use the word press plug and they do that instantly. Take my best landing pages, convert that. Take my payment platforms, maybe I’m selling through Infusionsoft, maybe I can use the direct stripe integration, maybe I can use the Shopify integrations where I can sell right there as collections inside Facebook.
Dennis: All the things that I can do to give an immediate user experience reduce the time that people wait so they don’t have to wait eight seconds. That’s the average amount of time it takes from when someone clicks on a Facebook ad to go to a website and everything loads, eight seconds. Are you going to wait eight seconds? Do you think Facebook thinks that’s a good thing? Are they going to prefer content that loads immediately because of instant experiences? Just like Google is preferring Google Accelerated Mobile Pages, Google AMP results, serve instantly. When you do a search on your phone you see that gray lightning bolt, that’s immediate, you click on that it loads immediately. It’s pre-cached.
Dennis: Facebook’s doing the same thing. That is good for us because us as marketers we’re able to make more money because we don’t drop out 60% of our traffic which is what happens now, 60% we see that. The average drop out of traffic from someone who clicks on an ad on Facebook to when the landing page view occurs is 60%, you’re losing 60% of those people. I’m not talking about a 60% bounce rate. I’m talking about 60% of the people never even getting to the landing page loading. That’s bad. I would fix that before I even work on trying to tune landing pages or better copy or better targeting. I’m just pissing away 60% of my money just like that. Certainly, Facebook is working on fixes for that which is why loading immediately is so key. That’s why this instant experience you see where they’re generating landing pages for you based on templates, that’s why they’re pushing that so hard.
Garrett: I want to throw a curve ball at you and jump over to Instagram for a second. So, with Instagram’s founders now out of the picture, what changes do you really anticipate for marketers on an Instagram as we move into 2019?
Dennis: I don’t know Kevin very well at Instagram, but I can tell you I know folks like Brian and Jan who founded WhatsApp. We used to be good friends, played Frisbee two or three times a week, and the general theme is that these founders believe in their particular product and they don’t really want to be a part of the Facebook monetization engine if you will. With these folks out of the picture, same thing with Oculus, same thing where Google kicked out the folks from Boston Dynamic, the robot dogs, the founders believe in the purity of the vision of their product. But Facebook, as a publicly traded company, wants to be able to make money so now with the founders out of the way they can integrate Facebook as a placement. So, Instagram, for most people who don’t know, is part of Facebook. It shares the same back-end in terms of tracking, in terms of targeting, in terms of the ad system.
Dennis: Yes, you can boost posts directly in Instagram but that’s eventually going to be rolled back over into Facebook where it’ll automatically go across all the other placements that are there on Facebook. It could be audience network, mobile news feed, desktop news feed, right-hand column, all these different placements that are there. From the first day of Instagram’s acquisition by Facebook, we looked at the code and we saw that Instagram was a placement not a separate network, but a placement is another place you can run ads. That was designed from the very beginning, so I expect as … And there’s nothing wrong with this. Whenever marketers come in they eventually ruin things for everybody else. Instagram was a cool place to hang out and then all of a sudden, they were ads. But the first ads were by Volkswagen, and Ben & Jerry’s and they were cool. Then pretty soon there were other ads from folks like us that weren’t as highly produced. And now Instagram is an automatic placement.
Dennis: When you run ads on Facebook, by default, they choose automatic placements which means going across everything, so the system can optimize for the lowest cost per objective that you have. So, expect Instagram to be more and more like Facebook. On the user side, it still has this reputation as a place to go be inspired. To be inspired by awesome photos and videos but the average age on Instagram is going up. It’s not just 20 something’s anymore. Facebook was the same thing 10 years ago. There’s going to be, in a few years, something else where kids are spending their time that’s cool before the parents get there. That’s sort of like the knock of death is when your parents are there and now you need to go to the other place, it’s not cool anymore. Guess what? Facebook’s going to buy them. They’ve got the money to do that and they’ll ride that for a few more years until it becomes uncool, but it’ll be absorbed into the overall platform. They’ll keep buying other things.
Dennis: So, everyone understands Budweiser, AB InBev, which is a Dutch company and a lot of people want to drink their microbrews. So, what does Budweiser do? There are some people that want to drink Bud and Bud Light … I don’t drink at all, it’s funny that I’m giving an alcohol analogy. Then there are these microbrews that are really cool, Blue Moon or whatever, actually, it’s not a microbrew but that’s Budweiser. It’s owned by Budweiser just look on the side of the can, you’ll see who actually owns it. That makes sense too when you think Frito-Lay. Frito-Lay has lots of different brands of chips, Sun chips, and Fritos, and Cheetos which are my favorite, and Tostitos, and Doritos, Lays there are all these different brands of chips but it’s Frito-Lay. So, Frito-Lay’s not cool but maybe you really like the habanero Cheetos whatever kind, that’s a really hard one to get and in the vending machines you won’t find it.
Dennis: So, you get these little communities that really like this particular kind of thing, and that’s true in social networks. We have to distinguish between what’s the user experience versus us as marketers on the back end. How do we leverage the fact that there’s a conglomerate? Like Procter & Gamble has Tide and Duracell and Old Spice, all these different brands and that’s the way I think about Facebook is managing themselves as a house of brands and we as marketers trying to drive sales are tapping into that underlying infrastructure of data and users.
Garrett: So, with the way that Instagram has prioritized stories and with users actually opting to go into stories more often than the standard feed, do you foresee this as a change that’s coming to Facebook? Or do you think this is independent or do you think this is something that only exists on Instagram?
Dennis: My guess is that Facebook hasn’t decided what they’re going to do here. Let me explain why. A lot of the changes that occurred on Instagram … You’ll never hear Facebook admit to this because there’d be lawsuits, have been because they were not able to acquire Snapchat. So, what did they do? They copied stories, they copied a lot of lenses and filters because they knew that Snapchat was the fastest way to be able to share visual content because you just open up, you snap that picture, you take that quick video and it expires right away which is the whole idea of stories. Fifteen-second sort of expiring now it automatically saves to your archives so it goes back to like the kinds of things that we want but Facebook has discovered something that Snapchat didn’t know. So, think about how Skype was 10 years ago. How is that different than sort of like a crappier version of Snapchat? You can share video, and audio, and experiences, and text, and whatever it might be, you can draw on pictures, and have these different camera effects.
Dennis: That is where people spend a lot of time engaging, sending messages between each other as user to user like ICQ if you remember back in the day, with these different chat tools. There’s no monetization. People are spending a lot of time in there, but Snapchat has discovered it’s very hard to monetize with ads that are inside person to person communication. The feed is where Facebook makes all the money in the same way that Google’s keyword search results are where they make all the money and not so much on Display Network or YouTube. And so, because Instagram stories is growing so fast to the point where maybe within a year it could surpass the regular feed and the same is true on Facebook where stories are growing so fast, they could replace the feed. Do you want to give users what they want which is that user to user experience of sharing messages that don’t make any money? Or do you allow a feed where you can insert messages there?
Dennis: The reason why Snapchat can’t make any money and they’re losing users is they’re not able to monetize the very thing that made them cool. So, in order for Snapchat to survive, they have to become more like Facebook. In order for Facebook to be able to keep growing their traffic, they have to do things that don’t make money. And Zuckerberg admitted that in the last earning’s call that they don’t see a clear path to being able to monetize stories, but they need to do it to keep the users.
Garrett: So, going broad a little bit here, what do you think the biggest mistake entrepreneurs and small business owners are making with their Facebook marketing?
Dennis: The number one mistake small business owners are making is they are not creating one-minute videos. They are afraid of the camera, they don’t like how they sound. I don’t even want to be in front of the camera, heck, I’m sitting in front of this thing in front of the camera I’d rather be over there eating food. And all the different reasons which you and I know are bogus, cop-out reasons, “I don’t have a LUMIX camera and a Sennheiser Avx microphone setup. I don’t have a professional videographer. I don’t have time. My website’s not ready,” all those different excuses. If you want to sell, you need to develop personal relationships and your essence of who you are as an entrepreneur, as a store owner, as an agency freelancer, author, speaker, coach, whoever you are that needs to come across and they need to be able to look you in the eyes and see what you stand for and see you at moments where you don’t have your hair all that good. That’s how people connect with you.
Dennis: The most honest kinds of videos that I have made where I’m super jet-lagged, I’ve slept only a couple of hours are the ones that have driven us the most sales because people can see that it’s being real. I’m not Gary Vaynerchuk. I’m in the Uber trying to take a selfie of myself talking about I’m hustling all the time, I’m not talking about that. I’m not talking about trying to be Tony Robbins and I’m the keynote speaker speaking in front of thousands of people, no, you’re just connecting. Here’s the way I think about it to overcome that block. You know, let’s say that you’re a doctor and if you get people into your office or lawyer whatever, and you’re able to sell them at some point you have to talk to somebody and convince them to give you money, don’t you? And you know that you can close them, you know that if you can get them on the phone, you know that if you can get them to sit down with you, you can …
Dennis: What’s your close rate, 70%, 80%? That’s what people tell me if you can get them on the phone. Why wouldn’t you, instead of looking inside that scary lens where it kind of stares back at you and says, “Aha, you’re an idiot,” imagine that’s a person and that’s someone that wants to learn from you or it’s a good friend. You’re not trying to sell in to the camera, you’re talking to Garrett Holmes and you’re explaining friend to friend how something works. You’re sharing your knowledge, you’re telling a story about something that happened, “Oh, when I was at the airport yesterday, my flight got delayed and here’s something,” whatever that happened. That’s how you need to think about it to overcome that videophobia. What is it? Agoraphobia is like fear of heights. There must be like videophobia, like not being willing to make their one minute video.
Garrett: Definitely. So, rounding this all out, I want to go back to when we sat down and talked together on the Digital Marketer podcast, you said something that really stuck out and it was that we shouldn’t work against the algorithm, but we should work with it and let Facebook do the heavy lifting for us. Can you kind of dive into that and kind of explain what you mean by that?
Dennis: The machines are getting smarter. They can beat us at chess and even at Warcraft. It used to be that you could fool the machine because it wasn’t very smart, it’s like the robot dog that you just kick because it’s not very smart. It falls down and you laugh at it. Then a couple of years later it comes back and it’s so smart that it’s like one of those sci-fi movies where the robots take over. There is an element of Minority Report, Brave New World, Skynet, 1984, whatever you want to call it, where the machines are getting smarter. You know Facebook couldn’t operate without the AI. What determines what shows up in your news feed is driven by that AI where that AI is pre-loading content. Did you know that? There are 10 things that you can see for example and then there’s another 10 that while you are scrolling it is loading and Facebook is predicting what you’re more likely to click on.
Dennis: When Facebook first started with their ad system, we could trick it. For example, we would load up ads that we had bid really high, like $5.00 a click, and then three seconds later we would put that bid down or a second later we’d put the bid down to a penny. Then the auction, because it would price you every minute, would notice it was a penny and then give us a credit back so we got a million dollars of Facebook ad traffic at penny clicks because we knew how their algorithm worked. Or for example, what used to work was … I’m telling you all the things that don’t work anymore. There’s a lot of things that still do work, I’m not going to tell you. But for example, you could take an ad and you could duplicate it a thousand times and because the system would give it about two thousand impressions to determine whether it was good or not, because even a new ad it’s got to stick into the auction, see what the CTR is, see what the negative feedback is.
Dennis: You could get tons and tons of traffic by just duplicating an ad over and over again. Of course, the system doesn’t do that, the system’s too smart for that now on Facebook. On Twitter, you still can. Their system isn’t smart enough. It’s been years, we told their team, they still haven’t fixed this loophole. It’s the same thing with Google. I used to run analytics at Yahoo! and people would try to trick us by gaining the search engine results by doing cloaking, or hiding the text, or jamming keywords, all the different things to try to trick the engine by giving a bad user experience but just sort of sneaking around and giving the engine what it wants. On Facebook, you can’t do that anymore because the system is using user feedback to determine whether your content’s legit or not. So, things like click baits, you won’t believe what happens next, 13 ways on how to whatever, they see through that kind of stuff now.
Dennis: We see a lot of people get their ads disapproved because the ad might look okay and the landing page might be okay and actually fit within the terms of service but then their spider goes and clicks to the next links or clicks to the homepage or clicks to another sub-domain and then shuts down your ad account for doing something where you’re making promises or have before and after pictures or you have this website or page that’s talking about the benefits of weed but you’re actually selling weed and then you sell it through another sequence. They’re getting smart about that kind of stuff. The reason why I say let the algorithm do the work for you is it’s so smart I would rather just take what’s inside my topic [inaudible 00:34:25] rather organize my content properly here in the topic wheel, feed those items into Facebook with the right objectives that are set up and allow the system to create dynamic ads. If I actually choose my business objective, not clicks, don’t choose clicks because then they don’t convert then you have people that are called clicky users.
Dennis: But I say I want conversions and I’m willing to pay this much per conversion or I want to optimize to ROAS, I want a 550% ROAS, or I’m using Facebook by uploading my custom audience of my best purchasers and now I’m creating lookalike audiences. I can do value-based lookalike audiences. Maybe I’m a sass company and I want to increase the number of premium paying users that are spending the most money to buy virtual credits. Facebook now does that optimization. I can actually put in my true cost per result, my true value per lead and they will optimize that if you trust Facebook. I trust Facebook on that side. I don’t trust Facebook as much with like having a Facebook camera or a microphone in my living room listening all the time. I’d probably trust Amazon more for that. I’d sort of trust Google with that, but I trust Facebook on the optimization side on how they do ad optimization.
Garrett: Awesome. Well, thank you so much for answering all these questions, Dennis. Last thing, where can people find out more about you and what you’ve got going on?
Dennis: If you want to find out more about me, connect with me on LinkedIn. I’m at five thousand friends on Facebook so I can’t accept any more friend requests unless I delete people. Get me on LinkedIn, happy to connect, answer questions, hang out.
Garrett: Thank you, Dennis!
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