Dennis Yu answers your toughest Facebook questions

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How do I get started on Facebook?

Your WHY drives you to get out of bed, why you work so hard, why others participate gladly in your mission.

When you have your WHY clarified, then the matter of success in social media is about mechanical implementation of various Facebook tips.

In other words, 3 things:

  • Getting your “plumbing” in gear– website with necessary javascripts, Facebook page, YouTube channel, LinkedIn page, G+ page, Google Analytics, Google Webmaster Tools, Google Tag Manager, Facebook Ads account, and so forth.
  • Rounding up your content— ideally, high credibility third partyendorsements from people in your industry and customers. Their word carries more weight than yours, especially on video. Set up your content sequences to guide people on a journey from being unaware of your cause to being a full-on supporter. Use personas in your marketing automation (email tools) before you attempt to scale it to social.
  • Amplify— when you have your various channels working, you can usesocial media to amplify this content in the right sequence to the right users.  You can influence the influencers, largely through ad platforms like Facebook and elbow grease on twitter.

Understood properly, social is an amplifier of what you already have, not a random project you give to a “social media expert”.  Without the vision and supporting content in place, no amount of social tech mastery will get you where you need to go. In summary, you need GCT (goals, content, targeting), in that order.


[Tweet “Understood properly, social is an amplifier of what you already have, not a random project for a “social media expert”  @dennisyu”]

What social media marketing channel are you going to focus on the most?

Focus on whatever is driving the most ROI, of course.  For certain B2B companies, that might be LinkedIn. For entertainment and fashion, perhaps Instagram, Pinterest, and YouTube.  For everyone, definitely do Facebook, as long as you’re not in Russia or China.

Who cares which social networks are cool or have X traffic?  Like a smart hedge fund manager, allocate your money and time to where you get the best return.  Go into your Google Analytics to see what’s already converting.  Then throw fuel on the fire. Double up on what’s working already.

For us, we like to at least have Facebook and Google retargeting on, since you’re catching the people who’ve come to your site, but didn’t convert. This is a structural no-brainer that has nothing to do with social media, Facebook pages, or whatever.  It’s increasing the yield of people who you already have.  Beyond that, you can do lookalike audiences on a few of the social networks, but clearly, Facebook has the most powerful (and easy to use) platform out there.

The good news is that you don’t need any third party tools to do

this, nor any external consultants. Facebook and Google have simplified thing in 2015 to allow even a busy small business owner to do this.

What content is most appropriate for ads and what works best for pages.

Some people believe in the “sprinkle everywhere” approach, while I believe in the “throw gasoline on the fire” approach.

In other words, find what’s working and then put some power (ad dollars) behind it.

If it’s not fit to live on the page organically, then it doesn’t deserve to be promoted with ads. The idea of “diversification” or spreading content around may be appealing from a “mutual fund” view. But unlike in financial markets, you can test to see what’s working on Facebook and then put more behind it.

Warren Buffett said “put all your eggs in one basket and watch that basket!”

[Tweet “Warren Buffett said “put all your eggs in one basket and watch that basket!” via @dennisyu”]

What this means on Facebook is that you should be posting content at each of the three parts of the funnel: audience, engagement, and conversion.

When you find a post that does well against its respective business objective, then you can boost that post or tie a custom audience to it.

The fact that paid is an extension of organic, as opposed to content created only for advertising purposes, will confuse search engine marketers.

How does Facebook’s EdgeRank or negative feedback affect your marketing efforts?

We’re not supposed to say “EdgeRank” any more– it’s the name that must not be mentioned.

Facebook says we should call it the “algorithm“.

That said, their systems are getting smarter and smarter at detecting spam.
I’ll define spam as an attempt to manipulate the algorithm at the expense of the user’s experience.

From a search engine standpoint, that’s tricking the engines to rank better or to cloak in some way. From a social standpoint, it means doing silly things to drive interactions, even though you’d frown upon it as a user yourself.

Just because a tactic to trick Facebook may currently work, don’t assume the loophole will stay open. Just like Google says, do what’s in the users’ best interest and you won’t get nailed by the algorithm.

Negative feedback occurs in many shapes and sizes:

  • You have 4 types of negative feedback at the post level: hide post, hide all posts,report page as spam, and unlike page.  The ratio of negative feedback to interactions is what matters, not the gross amount. However, you should keep it to under 0.1%.
  • You’ve got negative feedback on ads and groups, but unfortunately, Facebook won’t show this to you. So use common sense here and rarely will you be in trouble. Don’t let this happen to you.
  • There is negative feedback (though it goes by another name) when you make too manyfriend requests or your page tags too many other pages. Again, use common sense here in not spamming and you’ll be fine.

So don’t look for a magic elixir to get around the algorithms, unless you believe in the philosopher’s stone or rapid weight loss pills.

Create amazing content that people really want to share!

How do you make your content work for your business objectives, and not the other way around?

In the last few months, Facebook has already solved this for you if you use their default objective-based ad buying.

There are 9 primary types of ads you can run (ignoring the premium ad types and beta units that only special folks can get access to).

9 types

We cover the techniques in depth right here, in fact.

If you start with your business goals– admittedly, a plain thing to say, but one that 90% of businesses and consultants don’t do– you won’t get in trouble here.

But if you’re chasing shortcuts, you might be distracted into optimizing things like impressions, reach, click-through rate, and so forth.

I’m not saying these metrics don’t matter– just that they’re secondary diagnostics, at best.
If you have goals (at least one per funnel stage: audience, engagement, and conversion), then you have two metrics for each goal: cost per goal and goal occurrences.

So you might have cost per conversion and number of conversions. Or you’d have cost per registration and number of registrations. If you are driving engagement or can’t measure conversion easily, then perhaps go for cost per click or cost per view. If you have an app, you’re looking at cost per install and number of installs. In short, you’d not use a metrics that the CFO (which may be you) wouldn’t immediately understand.

With so much data, how do you know which metrics to look at versus which are a waste of time?

Some people take the approach of collecting as much data as they can (big companies, especially). These “big data” people hold false security in believing that if some data is good, a lot of data is excellent.

But gathering metrics is not the same as performing analysis– and analysis is less powerful than taking action on it.

It’s not efficient to fry a fish by boiling the ocean.

So use the MAA (metrics, analysis, action) framework to whittle this down.
Start with a list of the possible actions you can take (write new blog post, turn off ad, make new landing page, etc)

Map that back to the conditions under which you’d take such an action (email open rate low, conversion rate declines by 20% or more, etc)

And then figure out what data you’d need to determine if that condition is true.

So you start with the goals/actions and map it back to the data, instead of pouring through all the data trying to analyze the whole thing. It’s like driving around aimlessly thinking that you’ll know if you’re arrived when you see it.

How and when to use Custom Audiences, Lookalike Audiences, and 3rd party tools.

Simple– always use custom audiences first.

They convert better and help the system build enough history that you can generate decent lookalike audiences.

 For most people, there are two types of custom audiences– email and website.
The former is you upload an email list or connecting in your MailChimp account.
The latter (also known as WCA for website custom audiences) is you dropping a site-wide pixel, much like what you do with Google Analytics.

You’d create different audiences based on your segmentation and site structure, then split by time period.

One-day audiences perform the best, of course, but are small. If you don’t have a lot of traffic via email or web, then you’ll have to use interest targeting or other targets to build these up.

If you happen to spend more than $15,000 a month on Facebook ads, you might consider 3rd party retargeting networks and data providers.

Folks like Acxiom and InfoUSA will sell you lists of people by credit score, having just bought a car, or whatever event. But get the basics right before venturing into these complex, expensive things.

What’s the Value of a Like?

Of course, it depends– but that’s not a terribly helpful answer.

 By itself, a like is worth nothing, unless you can trace it

back to a conversion event or something that has monetary value to you.
Usually, this means that you have to get the email addresses of these fans so that you can then see if they converted.

Or you have to run ads against fans vs. against non-fans to see what the incremental impact is– knowing there is self-selection bias.

These biases are so tricky (correlation is not causation) that it’s usually a futile exercise.
In other words, people become fans of your brand on Facebook not because you merely asked them to, but because they’re already customers.

And why would anyone become a fan if they didn’t already know about you?

 Contest fans are usually garbage, especially if you’re giving away something that has nothing to do with your business.

That said, fans are somewhat valuable to measure your brand awareness, if you or your sneaky competitor hasn’t polluted your fan base.

Organically, only fans will see your content, plus having a large fan base increases your chance of a social endorsement (Mike G likes this).

 Do you have tips for getting more Likes?

Well, you can buy them on sites like Fiverr for perhaps 300 for $5.
But don’t do that.

2015-01-13 02_09_11-Fiverr _ Search Results for 'facebook fans'

If you want real fans, engage them in other channels, such that they naturally become fans.  You wouldn’t ask random women to marry you on the spot, would you?

Woo people with amazing content and they’ll want to fan your page to learn more.

Ironically, the best way to get fans is to ignore your most loyal customers into sharing.
This is the equivalent of SEO– getting people to type in your brand name into Google.

What about Facebook Video / Video ads?

Facebook video ads are powerful if your content is strong and audiences are in

alignment. We see Facebook usually beat YouTube in CPV (cost per view), though the impact is not as strong when you strip out custom audiences.

2015-01-14 02_10_21-GSW_Article_Facebook Ads are a Slam Dunk for the Golden State Warriors_20141016_
Expect to pay a $25 to $30 CPM in the United States, which will work out to between 10 cents and a dollar per view, depending on your CTR (click-through rate).  We’ve seen funny videos, like Mommy Mobile from Direct Auto, get as low as a nickel.

All the same tips we have for organic video posts apply here– you’re just using ads to reach a larger audience: the rest of your fans, email list, best customers, and website visitors.  So you can expect your retargeting efforts to work even better in video.

One note of caution– video ads on an audience that’s not a custom audience isn’t likely to convert directly. We’ve run some tests with Facebook’s help and found that using video ads in conjunction with dark posts does create an overall lift.  But video ads by themselves (without accompanying support mid and low funnel) serve more to engage.

Even if you have shorter videos (since the call to action requires that you get to the end), you shouldn’t expect direct conversions except for impulse products. Facebook says that the impact of video is driven by the creative’s ability to influence a change in behavior, as opposed to enticing people to click.

But don’t take my word for it.  Run your YouTube and Facebook video campaigns side by side and let me know what’s working best for you.

How many people are listening in Facebook as opposed to Twitter?

Technically, Facebook and twitter both show impressions and interactionsthough the names of their metrics might be different.

Some people use audience size (number of fans and followers) as a proxy for power.
But better than easy gamed vanity metrics is engagement.

Look at the total number of interactions (likes, comments, tweets, shares, checkins, etc) to

know who is paying attention. Impressions are a passive metric– someone could have been “shown” a message, but they might not have “seen” it.

What tools are people using in Facebook?

Of course, you’d use TabSite to manage your apps. And if you’re a big brand, perhaps you can spring for an enterprise tool like Buddy (Salesforce) or Adobe Social, if you’ve got moderation and content calendars.

 But for 95% of folks we talk to, there’s no substitute for actually interacting on the platform.

Sure, you can use HootSuite to schedule/post or Canva to help make images, but you still need to be there interacting.

There’s no silver bullet for great content– you just have to make it and it has to flow from your mission.

[Tweet “There’s no silver bullet for great content– you just have to make it and it has to flow from your mission. via @dennisyu”]

Facebook Dashboards – who’s got one?

Let me rephrase this question.  A dashboard is nothing more than a place to view your business metrics: revenueleads, traffic, and so forth.

Ironically, the best way to view your Facebook performance is in whatever is capturing the sales– perhaps your CRM or Google Analytics.

If you’re not doing conversion tracking, then it doesn’t matter what technology you’re using, however fancy or the number of charts it can generate in real-time.

Don’t assume a tool, however powerful, can tell you what your conversions are worth or who your target custom is.

That said, if you want tools that generate charts of socialmetrics, use Facebook’s native insights or even the one built into Twitter’s ad platform.

We have a free one, too, at, which is in beta.

How much time do you need to devote to maintaining your Page?

 It’s hard to put a rule of thumb in place, since it depends on the relative size of your marketing efforts.  But in general, budget at least an hour a week total to manage social, mainly to amplify your existing content.

I’m not counting operations or community management, which should be proportionate to support you do in other channels.  Your time in social depends on:

  • How much content you producemore content means more promotion.
  • The scale of your other marketing efforts, which is a rough proxy for complexity intargeting and product mix.
  • Your relative ROI in Facebook– put your time where you get the most bang for thebuck.

Pro tip– it’s not how much total time you spend in social as much as how many times you can iterate (experiment and test concepts).

Instead of spending 2-3 hours trying to do something amazing, a bunch of light touches (quick responses to engage the community and to amplify curated content) is usually enough. 60 little touches will make a bigger impact that “strategic” pondering for an hour– though most will disagree with me here.

We explained MAA (metrics, analysis, action) above, and it’s the key to improving in rapid testing cycles. If you have a process for creating and amplifying content, you can even delegate this to willing customers and students.

Maybe even hire a virtual assistant to manage the mundane bits. Many of us have VA’s as our productivity secret.

Facebook Ads – do they really work?

If you have a product that is ethical and have a customer base that loves you, then yes.

Why? Retargeting or marketing automation is the core of Facebook ads.
You’re messaging people who already like you, sending them to landing pages that already convert.

In other words, if email marketing and search marketing work for you, then social definitely will work.

If you don’t have a business that’s already working, Facebook is unlikely to be your salvation.

That’s what makes startups so hard to advise, since they’re fighting uphill with limited resources.

If you follow GCT (goals, content, targeting), then you’re nearly assured of success.
And most of these core elements have nothing to do with Facebook.

Facebook is just an amplifier of what you’re doing– helping you either amplify profits or losses.

[Tweet “Facebook is just an amplifier of what you’re doing– helping you either amplify profits or losses.”]

So that’s it.  That’s how Dennis Yu answers your toughest Facebook questions!


About Dennis Yu

Dennis Yu is the CTO of Blitzmetrics. He is an internationally recognized lecturer in Facebook marketing, having been featured in The Wall Street Journal, New York Times, LA Times, National Public Radio, TechCrunch, Fox News, and CBS Evening News. He is also a regular contributor for Adweek's SocialTimes column. Dennis has held leadership positions at Yahoo! and American Airlines. He studied Finance and Economics from Southern Methodist University and London School of Economics. Besides being a Facebook data and ad geek, you can find him eating chicken wings or playing Ultimate Frisbee in a city near you. You can contact him at, his blog, or on Facebook.

99 thoughts on “Dennis Yu answers your toughest Facebook questions

  1. Hi Mike and Dennis,

    Mike, thank you for asking me to read this article. There are many insightful and golden nuggets of information here and I agree with much of what you say Dennis. You are clearly very SMART! It seems this blog post is targeting other top social media marketers and not the small business. So here is my humble opinion coming from that perspective… 😉 I do think that small businesses need either a well trained staff that can run their social media marketing (which seems hard to do for many) or a they need to hire a highly skilled social media manager that REALLY understands business to collaborate with. Now that I’ve been working with smaller businesses going on 5 years that are doing anywhere from $50,000 a year to $2 million a year in revenue, they just don’t seem to ‘get’ social media or even know where to begin. Now that social media is on the scene, it’s almost as if it has thrown them for a HUGE curve ball on how to run many other aspects of their business. Of course, I think it is all for the better. However, what works for the big guys and gals just doesn’t always work for the smaller businesses and as marketers I feel a responsibility to really make that crystal clear. Thanks again for this information. It is very helpful. 😉 I have to reread it again to fully process all of it. Have a great day! Amanda

  2. Dennis and Mike,

    WOW – This is definitely a resource that anyone looking to amp up their Facebook Marketing should read – A few times – And bookmark! I read it a few times: There’s so much here!!

    Thank you for affirming that we should not purchase likes. Hard to believe the option is still available, let alone that it’s even still done.

    I especially like this: With so much data, how do you know which metrics to look at versus which are a waste of time? Many get stuck here, and you covered it beautifully.

    The information about video ads is also terrifically relevant right now. I’d be curious about best methods of combining video ads & TabSite apps for best results.

    Thanks to you both,


  3. Thanks so much Amanda for stopping by! Yes, lots to digest here and it doesn’t start from the beginning so a newcomer often needs help such as someone like yourself helping SMB’s!

  4. Not only is Dennis inspiring and highly experienced; it’s obvious that he has a serious bug for helping people! Love the work your doing, keep it coming!

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  36. An incredible article right here!

    I especially enjoyed the upfront clarification about getting you “plumbing in place” before you begin messing around nearly blindly, without Goals, Content and Targeting.

    Thank you for sharing!

  37. Everyone, I’m honored by the encouraging comments– thank you. These fundamental principles are still true today, a year later, even with new ad types, placements, and so forth.

  38. This is the single most valuable article I’ve read in months. And I read a lot of articles. Man, this was so value packed, I don’t honestly know where to begin. Thanks Dennis, well done.

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