Interview with Facebook marketing guru Dennis Yu (Blitzmetrics)

Dennis Yu is a globally recognized Facebook guru, who tells us about Facebook wonders and helps us find out more and more about numerous features the largest social network has for business promotion.

Everyone who attended the first day of the Optimization conference which took place in October in Kyiv was lucky to listen to Dennis Yu presentation. Promodo was also happy to talk to Dennis and ask him for interview to get to know him closer and learn more about Blitzmetrics.

So Dennis can you share something about yourself first of all and about your company, the past, the future, what used to be, what you are going to be?

 I am a math guy, and as an Asian guy, I did math when I was young. I didn’t speak English  until  I was seven, so I competed in math contests which eventually led to that I ran analytics at Yahoo.

And then I started my own company that does optimization on Facebook Ads & drives traffic. And we believe that when you look at all the data that’s available whether it’s on Google or Facebook or LinkedIn or anywhere else, when you can segment those audiences, it’s really just a big math formula which you’re solving towards the goal. The goal being traffic, conversions, phone calls, leads, something like this. So for us our vision is to take the knowledge we have on how we optimize and just put it out there freely for everybody to share and to learn. So we’re really an education company, but we pay our bills by doing consulting for some really big brands.

What is an aim you are moving to? What are the plans for the future of the Blitzmetrics?

So we have a framework that we call metrics analysis action, and metrics is what in the report. So we have a lot of tools that will tell you how many fans you have and how many tweets there were. We generate the reports just like you would get out on Google Analytics except the social side of things. We want to put all those things out there for free, because we believe that reports are worth almost nothing, there’s so many tools out there  – every day I see these companies writing, oh, they have raised $10 million dollars to create reports.  So we want to give away all these reports for free, because what’s important is the logic on top of those reports. So how do they perform against my goal, why did sales goal dropped down, why is my conversion rate down, why is my open rate down for my email? So we’re gonna build this logic that sits on top of reports to make recommendations and then run into ads.

When people run ads that’s when we’re gonna make money, cause we will charge anywhere from 10 to 20 percent on whatever you might spend for your ad program. Because the reports are free, right? Because we got reports for free and then we either for free or close to free give out the analysis that sits on top of it, which may require some time. Then all the recommendations and implementations will be tied directly to your goal, because when you go back and look at the reports, you’ll see how you are doing versus the original goal that you stated. So then it’s proof that the optimization that we’re doing together works.

We’re based in the United States, and we’re a small team, we have only 25 people. But the demand out there for this is so much higher that for us to be successful we want to openly share techniques, we wanna train everyone else on these models, on how to optimize. So we can partner with other agencies, partner with guys who service dentists, car dealerships, or hotels, or run marketing conferences and Ukraine  – you know, whatever it might be, we want to power them so they can they can serve the underlying customers. Because we’re really like I said before we are math engineering based company.

You mentioned that you are a small company, relatively small – 25 people. So it is an ultimate size for marketing agency? In your opinion, what would be the best size for the company to be well-performing and to be run smoothly?

So there are different models depending on the company size, so for us, we are functioning as a  quasar agency in a software company. Now, if you’re an agency, the way you scale is by hiring more people, and so you make more money as an agency which is number of people times billable rate. So you increase your retain, increase number of people –  those are the only ways you can grow the revenue. But if you are a software company, like us, and you charge a monthly fee for usage of the software, then it could be, like a Google AdWords, it could be like you know whatever software company one can look at, where you can maintain a base of maybe only 20-30 people, but your revenue can grow exponentially.  Now for us, we have to manage both of those in the short run, because everything we build in our software is based on our customer direct feedback. So you know, being here, at the optimization conference is great because we’re learning what people are doing here in Ukraine, and how do we make things a lot simpler. So we have to act like a school, we have to listen, we want to work with partners, so that ultimately we can build the software that incorporates all the logic. Because the more we learn, the more we can build in the software. So from anyone else’s perspective we look like a university except the quality is better, it’s based on real-life stuff, people are working on real clients, and it’s free.

What would be your advice to brands? To manage marketing inhouse or to outsource or hire an agency?

So you should always own content and brand strategy inhouse. Because this is the essence if you are a brand manager, marketing manager, VP marking, CMO, then you have to own where you’re going, you have to own how your channels are playing together, your voice, what you stand for, activating your customers, having that expertise that only you can provide. If you hire an agency to come and create your materials, now they could do the Photoshop and do the graphics, but they won’t have the credibility that’s necessary that really stands for your brand. So what you do, you can outsource the technical components, like you outsource building an app, like you outsource when you have a creative brief already. But the brand has two own the experience, own the relationship. The same way as the architect for your house you might hire someone else to hammer all the nails.

We like that model because we don’t want to be an ongoing agency that’s doing all that stuff, we want you to come in and tweak what is necessary, do some programming, set up ad campaigns… But the content has to come from the underlying client. So the model we like to look at which we’ve seen successful for a lot of agencies out there and brands as well is to produce great content and then amplify that to the other people that need to see that content. And we’re really good at amplifying which is segmentation against your emails, segmentation against your Facebook audience and then making sure that each of those segments are seeing the content that you already have. So we have mapped out an email, like we talked about it yesterday, right? So emails about these different segments and the different content you want to match against them, you do the same thing on Facebook. Now for us, with each client who we work with, we don’t have, you know, we’re not MTV where not Jack Daniels, but we work with guys like that.

Your advice is to have content, email marketing and  strategy inhouse, so everything else could be outsourced to the agency?

So the analytics and engineering behind that is something we think should be outsourced, unless the team is big enough that they can have their own analytics team and optimization team. It’s usually easier, of course I’m biased where you can hire someone like us or hire other agency that can make sure that your content is being seen by particular people that you wanna see. Now for that it takes a little bit of data mining, because you have things like the Facebook Graph, you have ways of pulling out lots and lots of small group targeting –  that’s the kind of thing that is probably best to hire somebody just for a few hours or just to get you started. Then when you have people who are in-house have the skills, you can teach them how to do so you can own it. I’m very much a big fan of the model where you bring it outside initially to show you how to do it, you participate in every step. So the first step is we do it and you watch, the second step is you do it and we watch. And the third step –  it’s all yours. Now we get the best of both worlds versus trying to hire someone internally maybe it’ll take them a lot longer to get where they need to go.

What would be your top three tips to get a great coverage on Facebook?

So first is the page post ad, so when people post on Facebook, they usually get only five percent news feed coverage. So if you have a hundred of thousand fans, then only five thousand people are going to see it. So if you turn on a page post ad, that’s always targeting at your fans, then it’s always gonna work.

Number two is media coverage. So who are the other people in your industry that you would like to influence that if they write about you, you will get a lot of great exposure. Some people call it earned media or PR coverage, right? So your work placed target all those people. So for us, when we write a great article, let’s say there was an article in the LA Times that talks about research we put out there on Facebook, then we target all the people who work at Mashable in the New York Times, in The Wall Street Journal and USA today, and the Washington Post. Because then that causes those journalists to see that we were already written up in NPR or in the USA Today  – all these kinds of places and so that continues to get us more coverage. So for anyone listening to this you want to do the same thing. What is the piece of content that you’re very proud of? We’ve got shown in the newspaper you on TV or a client had a case study where they talked about how successful they were and they used your services.

Or even if you are a big brand, what kind of promotions are you tied with?  Maybe you sponsor the Olympics, maybe you had the little league team that enough if you are small business. So there are other affiliations and content out there, a third party endorsement –  not on your website, but on someone else’s website –  its that’s very trustworthy, take that, share on your Facebook page and then target all the other people who are going to the optimization conference, who are in your industry. May be your veterinarian, so target all the other veterinarians so they can see this. And that’s how you really get power, because Facebook as word of mouth, so you wanna try to take the good things in life and amplify it against the audience that you know is going to appreciate that and spread it for you.

You are one of these companies who are trusted by Facebook, you have tie connections with Mark Zuckerberg, so would you recommend something to him? Do you sometimes wish to tell him “do this or that with your product, with Facebook”?

So I’ve talked to Mark about this several times over the last two years and he is somebody who is so intelligent that I don’t think he has quite the understanding that ordinary people are not engineers, and even though Facebook has all these tools out here, and it’s true –  you can build amazing app if you’re a great engineer and you understand how to write SQL and build apps. But for the average marketer it’s going to be very difficult, and what he told me three years ago, when we had lunch, he said that advertising does not have to be interruptive, it doesn’t have to be something which is constantly in your face and trying to yell at you and get you like “get out of my way” like these advertisements. In Facebook because its content based on what your friends are doing and stuff you’re interested in, he said you know we can create a system, that will reward advertisers that say things that are relevant to you. For example, I know you checked in at Chipotle or went to McDonalds so you did this. Then McDonald’s can pay to show that that’s just where you were. McDonald’s benefits, I benefit because we’re friends and I always want to know what my friends are doing, so that’s the social connection when brands are amplifying the actions that their fans are doing. Getting endorsements always based on what someone else says about the brand, that’s how word of mouth and social advertising is different. So I told him that all the things are possible, but he’s made it too difficult and they need to make it a lot easier.

Recently there has been an update to the Edge Rank algorithm, what do you think about it? What has changed and why?

So first off, Facebook says that there is no an Edge Rank algorithm, now a lot of people who are in the SEO space, they like to talk about Page Rank and Google all these different factors, so they naturally apply that same mentality over to Facebook, saying “oh, there are all these different factors”, and they are. Now the concept of the Edge Rank exists, and the Edge Rank is nothing more than the connection between any number of objects. So you and I are users on Facebook, and those are objects, and the connection between us that an Edge. So the Edge between you and your car and your other friends are the edges, between which you can get all these little lines that connect together  – those all are edges. So Facebook is looking at who you’re interacting with more and naturally showing you things that it thinks you like based on that. There is no magic behind that, I don’t think there’s any way you can really game it except to say that if you post a lot of silly photos that are of low quality – cats, or “please like that”  or “come on, please like and share”  – then it actually could penalize you.

 

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