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If you’re looking to boost your share of holiday customers at the last moment, Facebook and Instagram have a new feature that will be of interest to you.

The companies are rolling out a new ad-targeting segment aimed at helping brands focus in on shoppers who are engaged with content related to holiday shopping, including Black Friday and Cyber Monday. The ad segments, which will run from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day, act like any other ad format on their advertising networks.

Facebook says it will compile this audience by watching for holiday-related keywords in posts that people publish, like, comment on, and share. From there, the audience is aggregated and anonymized, like all Facebook ad-segments.

The holiday ad segment is available now within Facebook self-service ad dashboards, in the “Behaviors” section under the “Seasonal and Events” category.

This week, Facebook introduced a new mobile ‘Ads Manager’ app which claims to make it easier for the over 800,000 monthly advertisers on the site to manage ads on the go.

Facebook Ads Manager

The new Ads Manager app allows advertisers to create new ads, as well as tweak and monitor existing ads on the fly. It also includes budgeting and scheduling features.

This means increasing budgets for well-performing ads or drafting up new ads is as easy as pulling out your phone, no matter where you are.

The Ads Manager app is available now for American iOS users, and the company says Android users can expect the app later this year.

The timing of the new app is especially relevant as the company simultaneously announced reaching a milestone of two million unique businesses advertising on Facebook.

facbook-advertisingThe Super Bowl is quite possibly the biggest single day for advertisers. There aren’t many other times you’ll hear anyone proclaim they are watching something “just for the commercials.” But, it has always been difficult for online marketers to get into the mix. That all might be changing as Facebook has announced a new tool to help online advertisers target people interested in the “Big Game.”

The “Big Game” targeting segment allows advertisers to reach people specifically based on real-time online discussions related to the Super Bowl.

According to the announcement, the segment will go much further than simply targeting football fans. The “Big Game” segment will also include those liking, commenting, and sharing content related to party planning, recipes, or even flatscreen TV purchases in the days leading up to XLIX.

The targeting tool is also designed to be updated frequently, so that ads will be directed based on up-to-date information.

The new tool is a change of strategy for Facebook, who used interests and liked pages to target ads last year.

According to the social media platform, combining ads with live sporting events is a highly effective strategy for reaching specific targeted demographics. For example, it cites a cross-platform Nielsen study that analyzed at a Microsoft commercial that was shown during the 2014 Super Bowl and found Microsoft was able to reach 35% of persons 18 to 49 in the United States during a four-day run of the TV spot.

Using Facebook ads during this campaign allowed Microsoft to extend that reach to 57% of the national target of people 18-49. Among the younger 21 to 24-year-old audience, Microsoft more than doubled its reach, extending its TV reach of 24% to a combined TV-plus-Facebook reach of 53%.3.

The new targeting segment is available starting today for all advertisers. It can be found in the Facebook ads interface within the “Behaviors” section, under the “Seasonal and Events” category.

Facebook-for-Small-BusinessIf you believe everything you read online, you might believe Facebook is only a viable marketing platform if you’re already a big brand. But, a new report suggests small businesses across the country recognize the potential in advertising themselves across the site.

The study from advertising research firm BIA/Kelsey says small businesses are marketing on social media more than any other form of advertising. Specifically, their data suggests nearly three-fourths of all small and medium-size businesses are investing in some form of social media marketing, whether it be paid advertising or organic outreach.

For small businesses, Facebook was easily the most popular choice for social media marketing. More than 55 percent of the businesses surveyed reported having a dedicated business Facebook page, and another 20 percent have run a Facebook ad or promoted post.

Many businesses showed that social media marketing doesn’t have to be restricted to just one platform, as several businesses also cited using other sites including LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram, and Twitter. Notably, the researchers did say LinkedIn is likely not being used for promotion but for recruiting and general HR purposes.

“We were impressed with the strength of the whole social media category, not just Facebook,” Steve Marshall, director of research for BIA/Kelsey, said in a statement.

The study, originally published on Business News Daily, was based on surveys of 546 small businesses with less than 100 employees.

Derek MullerDo any reading about online marketing, and you will almost certainly be told how important social media is to your brand’s online presence. A great social media presence has repeatedly been shown to increase organic traffic and brand perception, but as the platforms have become more populated and competitive, there has been a large shift towards a pay-to-play business model.

Facebook is most notable for this, as they have been the largest social media platform a significant time and they have made the largest changes towards monetizing their service. Sure a business can put up a page and do the slow grind to gain followers one or two at a time through great content and engagement with their audience, but brands looking for significant visibility on the site only have a few options and they all cost money.

To get any exposure on the largest social media platform, brands have to acquire likes for their pages. There are two ways to do this. Despite being expressly against Facebook’s terms of conditions, there is still a market for people who are willing to outright pay for likes.

As Derek Muller explains, these paid likes come from “click farms” in developing countries, where people are paid to like pages by the thousands. But, they are fairly easily identifiable and can get profile owners in trouble.

Alternatively, Facebook offers advertising for your page specifically aimed at increasingly likes “organically”. The problem is, these likes don’t appear to be much different from the likes you would purchase from a click farm.

Derek Muller used his Veritasium YouTube channel to show that Facebook’s way of acquiring “legitimate” likes is actually almost identical to the click farm methods, and both are equally useless. But, paying Facebook for it might actually cost you more.

You see, Veritasium used a free Facebook advertising offer to see if it might expand their social media audience. Within hours, they had netted nearly three times the number of followers, but over time Muller noticed the engagement on Veritasium’s content hadn’t improved with the new likes. In fact, it seemed to go down.

After some research, Muller discovered the bulk of his new likes came from the same countries notorious for click farms. The “users” liking his page had also liked thousands of other pages with seemingly no logical pattern. But, there was no going back. There is no way to delete these empty likes in bulk.

If that was all the only issue, it would be a moderate annoyance and newsworthy hole in Facebook’s advertising method. But, it manages to get worse. These fake likers don’t just provide an inflated picture of how many people appreciate what you are putting out. They actually hold you back.

When you share something on Facebook, it is only shown to a small sample of your followers. Depending on how those viewers respond, Facebook might then distribute your content to even more people. But, if your content isn’t getting liked, shared, or commented on, it will usually sink out of visibility very quickly.

If you have a ton of empty likers, they make up a significant number of those seeing the initial distribution of your content. Since these profiles don’t actually engage in any meaningful way, they can actually prevent interested followers from seeing any of your content. You might as well be speaking to a comatose audience, while your actual fans wait just outside the door.

There is a solution, but of course that costs you even more. To get your content shown to the parts of your followers that are actually interested you have to pay to have your content targeted to them in ads. Facebook makes money twice off of you, and you gain very little in the long run.

Facebook has yet to comment on the issue, but these raise some big questions about the social media platform’s advertising methods as a whole. While social media can still be a great tool for those looking to grow their brands, you might look towards other sites such as Twitter. Until Facebook addresses these massive issues in their service, advertising on their platform may not be worth your resources.

Facebook is revamping its News Feeds ads as part of their continuous efforts to make advertisements on their site more relevant to users.

They released an announcement late last week stating, “When deciding which ad to show to which groups of people, we are placing more emphasis on feedback we receive from people about ads, including how often people report or hide an ad.”

Facebook did say they believe advertisers will ultimately benefit from the updates.

“If someone always hides ads for electronics, we will reduce the number of those types of ads that we show them. […] This is ultimately better for marketers, because it means their messages are reaching the people most interested in what they have to offer.”

That isn’t the only change Facebook is rolling out though. They also announced the ability to search your posts and status updates within graph search, stating, “Today Graph Search will include posts and status updates,” which which you “will be able to search for status updates, photo captions, check-ins and comments to find things shared with you.”

You might not have access to either feature yet, but you can expect to see them within the next few weeks as they are rolled out.