Catalog Management Best Practices for Social Media

Lauren Clawson, Social Media Team Lead

What is a catalog? A Facebook catalog is a “container that holds information about your inventory, like images, prices, descriptions, and more. You can create catalogs for products (e-commerce), hotels, flights, destinations, home listings, or vehicles.” Like Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest also employ the use of catalogs to organize and sell products directly on the platform.

While catalog management is important for any e-commerce business, it also has a direct effect on your social media efforts: the status of your catalog impacts your ability to implement creative social media campaigns and the success of those campaigns. And this is not limited to just retail businesses; any company that sells a variety of products online can benefit from ensuring their catalog is well-formatted for social media.

In this post, we’ll explore how a product catalog can integrate with social media advertising across multiple platforms, and some best practices for maintaining a catalog that maximizes campaign performance.

How Does Social Media Use a Product Catalog?

Facebook Dynamic Product Ads

One of the most important features of product catalog implementation is the ability to use Dynamic Product Ads. This campaign type dynamically inserts products from your catalog based on actions users have taken on-site, or the likelihood that a new user would be interested in the product. Because the campaign is extremely personalized, we typically see it drive the highest ROAS.

Illustration showing how a product catalog integration with Facebook Dynamic Product Ads shows users product ads based on their on-site actions

Without a product catalog integration, Dynamic Product Ads are unavailable.

Facebook Shop

Businesses can sell their products directly on Facebook by adding a Facebook Shop section. Products are either manually entered or dynamically uploaded and displayed from a product catalog. Users can then purchase products without ever leaving the site or app. If your business has a wide variety of products, integrating your product catalog with Facebook can drastically cut down on time investment and ensure your Facebook Shop is always up to date.

Instagram Shopping

Marketers have been able to sell products via Instagram for over a year, but capabilities were limited to organic posts only. Businesses were able to tag their organic posts and stories with the product details that linked directly to the on-site product page or shop.

Screenshot of a clothing company's organic post on Instagram with product details tagged

However, recently, Instagram has been testing the ability to advertise those shopping posts directly from Ads Manager. This feature is only available if the product catalog is integrated with Facebook.

Pinterest Catalogs

Most marketers view Pinterest as a discovery platform versus a social media platform. Pinterest is aware of this and is doubling down on its users’ ability to shop on the platform. They recently introduced Pinterest Catalogs, where businesses can upload their entire catalog and promote their items through shoppable ads. Last month Pinterest announced an ad version of their organic Shop The Look pins, which allow advertisers to show an entire collection in one ad, with the ability to tag up to 25 products at once.

How Does Catalog Management Affect Social Media Performance?

The best practices of catalog management directly translate to the success of your social media campaigns. Whether you are directly integrating your product catalog via a POS system like Shopify, or manually uploading products to an excel spreadsheet, ensuring that formatting, image sizing, and collection information is correct and up-to-date will improve user experience, increase click-through, and increase your ROAS. This increase in ROAS comes from two places: prioritization of your campaign in the Facebook feed, which reduces costs, and an increase in conversion rates on-site.

Images and Descriptions

Images and descriptions that work great on-site may not directly translate to social media ads utilizing a product catalog. Ensuring that the products in your catalog are formatted with the correct image ratios and character limitations will increase your on-platform performance and reduce costs. Manually formatting to these specifications can be time-consuming, but there are tools out there to help with the workload. For example, Flexify simplifies the integration between Facebook and Shopify.

Post-Click Experience

Any incorrect or out-of-date products will increase ad costs and decrease conversion rates. Marking products out-of-stock and updating prices increase the likelihood that a user has a favorable post-click experience. Facebook, in particular, has made this an area of focus over the past few months, expanding from just interactions on-site. Users who immediately leave a page after a misleading ad will negatively impact the performance of the ad.

To Recap

As shopping and social browsing become more integrated, a well-managed product catalog will continue to increase in importance. When performing regular maintenance, be sure to follow these best practices to keep your offerings up-to-date and maximize your social media campaign performance:

  1. Ensure all product data is up-to-date and relevant.
  2. Images should be to be formatted to platform specifications to avoid inaccurate cropping or irregular sizes.
  3. All items adhere to platform content policies and terms and conditions.
  4. All product descriptions and titles should be formatted to platform specifications, particularly length.
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