ROSEMONT, Ill. — Social media is playing a key role in consumers' lives, and just like them, retailers need to embrace the new normal.
According to a panel discussion at the 2016 Path to Purchase Expo, Facebook has unique potential as a marketing platform because of its ubiquity, scalability and ability to target specialized groups.
Path to Purchase Expo, hosted by Convenience Store News' parent company EnsembleIQ, took place Sept. 20-22 at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont.
"If you don't have a Facebook [marketing] strategy, you don't really have a mobile strategy, and vice-versa," said Karl Meinhardt, Idaho-based Albertsons' vice president of social and digital marketing.
Meinhardt noted that an estimated 1.7 billion people worldwide use Facebook, most often on mobile devices, and that much of the information they post on it is usable in one way or another in marketing. However, he cautioned that marketing on Facebook is like any other kind of marketing in that sales, not Facebook "likes," are the ultimate goal.
"One of the biggest disruptions for my team and my company is that 'likes' don't pay the bills," he noted.
Albertsons finds the localization capability of Facebook especially useful because the company is decentralized, with 14 divisions and 18 banners. The retailer recently did a test that tracked how many people walked into one of their supermarkets after seeing an Albertsons ad in their Facebook news feed — something that can usually be done if shoppers leave their Facebook apps on, as many do. The majority showed up within seven to 28 days.
The company tries to take advantage of the variety of ad configurations possible on Facebook, including videos, full-panel "canvas" ads, and "carousel" ads that swipe sideways.
"We're seeing the evolution of storytelling on Facebook on a mobile device," Meinhardt said. "Very, very powerful."
Brad Robertson, senior vice president of digital marketing services for Winooski, Vt.-based MyWebGrocer, stated that Facebook's potential goes beyond simply delivering a digital audience. Through integration with partners like Datalogix, it can bring in customer data, model it and show how effective a campaign is.
"It's just a constant iteration on, was this campaign successful, what would we do to look different next time, what's the right A-B test, what are ways to think about how to have a learning agenda so we can evolve this even further," Robertson said.
Gazmend Alushi, Facebook's industry leader for U.S. consumer packaged goods, explained proper content is the key to effective marketing on Facebook.
"It's not just throwing [content] out there, because if it's not good content, it won't matter who you put it in front of," Alushi commented. "The way we always position it is, we're Facebook. We know Facebook better than anyone. But you know your brands, you know your platforms, you know your systems better than anyone at our end. So that partnership is so important, so that we can build that vision so that we can achieve short-term and long-term results."