Facebook Audience Insights

by Hareesh Tibrewala on August 1, 2014

As Facebook, to the great displeasure of its audience, moves towards becoming another commercialized platform, it’s paving its path very well by providing various new and incredible ways for brands to understand their marketing strategies and the audience that they are trying to reach. In this effect, Facebook released its latest feature known as the Audience Insights.

The tool is designed to help marketers learn more about their target audiences, including aggregate information about geography, demographics, purchase behavior and more. Audience Insights is different from Page Insights because it looks at trends about your current or potential customers across Facebook, whereas Page Insights looks at the interactions with your Page (i.e., likes, comments and shares).

Facebook targets 3 sets of people for its Audience Insights; people on Facebook (the general Facebook audience), people connected to your Page or event and people in Custom Audiences you’ve already created (an audience made up of your current customers)

Using Audience Insights, you can get aggregate and anonymous information such as:

  • Demographics — Age and gender, lifestyle, education, relationship status, job role and household size
  • Page likes — The top Pages people like in different categories, like women’s apparel or sports
  • Location and language — Where do people live, and what languages do they speak
  • Facebook usage — How frequently are people in your target audience logging onto Facebook and what device(s) they are using when they log on
  • Purchases activity — Past purchase behavior (i.e. heavy buyers of women’s apparel) and purchase methods (i.e., in-store, online)

Here’s what Facebook has got to say about their new Audience Insights, “We built Audience Insights with privacy in mind. It surfaces aggregated information people already express on Facebook, along with information from trusted third-party partners — like Axciom — through our partner categories targeting. Like Page Insights, Audience Insights shows information about groups of people without the need to share which individual people are in those groups.”

Facebook has been upgrading various features provided by them. This looks like a conscious effort by them to justify their cost to various marketers.

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So what is the most important change that digital has bought about in the lives of brands. If you think, it is the ability to create one more channel of communication with the consumer, you are wrong.

Let me tell you a story, actually a few small stories:

A few years back (about 25 or so), I was the reception of a hotel with a printed letter on the letterhead of my travel agent asking the hotel to provide with me a room. This is, what in those days, was called a ‘travel voucher’. The guy at the reception, looked at the voucher, then looked up his reservation register and calmly told me that they were holding no such reservation for me. However if I was willing to pay a higher amount, he could provide me a superior room which was the only available room. It was clear that he was taking me for a ride. But those were the days when there were no cell phones (so I could not call my agent) and no Internet and no nothing. I was the mercy of the hotelier so I had to give into the black mail.

10 years back a similar situation arose. Quickly I pulled out my cell-phone, got my travel agent to speak to the hotel reception guy. There was some argument between the two people, but the matter was finally settled.

Now comes the third and the most interesting part of the story. Just last week I was checking into a hotel.  We were a party of 3 and the guy at the reception says that as a hotel policy they don’t accommodate more than 2 people in a room. I thrust a printed copy of my reservation voucher in front of the reception clerk. The clerk stared at the paper, quickly went inside for a chat with his boss. Even while he was chatting, I thought to myself: If he does not honor the voucher document, well I am going to telling the whole world on Facebook and Twitter and TripAdvisor…what a shitty hotel this was. Before my thoughts could take shape, the clerk re-appeared and told me that his manager had decided to make an exception. And 3 of us would be accommodated in a room.

Now this story is not about the changing behavior of the hotel industry or about competition benefitting a consumer. This story is about the shift of power from the brand to the consumer. 25 years consumers were suckers, whom brands could take for a ride and get away with it. Now the power has shifted completely from brands to the consumer.  A ‘common man’ holding a Rs 5000 cell phone in his hand, with a single Tweet which can snowball into a crises, can rip apart billions of dollars of brand value in the blink of an eye. That really is the power of Digital.

Digital has empowered the consumer as never before. If consumers have got thus empowered, then how does a brand:

  • Create a superlative brand experience. (This has nothing to do necessarily with ‘digital’ but more with being true to the brand promise)
  • Address negative consumer experience and communication, promptly
  • Use digital touch points to create superlative brand experiences
  • Build brand advocacy which makes existing satisfied consumers advocate the brand, which creates more customers for the brand

The “Digital Conundrum” is not about what mobile app should one be investing in or about how many Facebook updates need to be put out every day.  It is about re-engineering the organization, which is able to respond to the needs and expectations of an empowered consumer.

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