Recently, I had an interesting experience with a client. An event I was helping them promote, that had otherwise not sold any tickets, sold out in three days largely thanks to social media marketing - specifically a paid Facebook campaign. I'm not an advertising guru, but I'm at the point where I'm confident in knowing what works for Facebook advertising and what does not.
Here's what I've learned...
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Targeted campaigns geared at driving traffic are generally successful whereas ads aimed at increasing page likes, or building followers may not be the best use of resources.
The important thing to realize is that Facebook advertising isn't for everyone. If you're a consulting firm looking to sell IT services, I wouldn't advise you to place a Facebook ad. On the other hand, if you are a beauty salon, restaurant, or other B2C business, it can be a great platform for getting your name out there and driving your Facebook contacts back to your website.
Don't have a large budget? You'd be surprised how many views you can get for as little as $50. The fact is, Facebook ads have the lowest cost per 1,000 impressions amongst any online advertising avenue. If your campaign has a specific purpose, and you have goals that you can quantify with Facebook ads, you should definitely consider earmarking funds to run the occasional Facebook campaign.
These are especially useful for smaller B2C companies and those targeting a very particularly demographic or geographic area.
Con: Who Likes Pay-to-Play?
You want to get your content seen but who likes to pay for it? Nobody. Unfortunately, since Facebook introduced advertising, their algorithm has largely favored those who are paying for their content to be seen. The result? All those Facebook fans you spent years developing aren't seeing your stuff even though they've "liked" your page.
To get seen, make sure to earmark some funds for online advertising campaigns. Then, spend some time familiarizing yourself with Facebook's advertising guidelines. This is important because Facebook has some pretty particular rules about what you can and cannot include in an ad. For example, one of the rules that tends to trip people up has to do with how much text can appear in your image. Too much, and your ad will get rejected.
The greatest aspect of facebook ads is that they allow you to microtarget specific groups. We may joke about big brother watching us in regards to Facebook and their retargeting campaigns, but from a marketing and advertising perspective, this is really beneficial because we can target our audiences based on everything from location, age, and employment status, to gender, annual income, marital status and hobbies.
No one is seeing your content on Facebook anymore unless you're paying for it. Like it or not, this is the new online reality, and marketers and brands alike need to accept it. Because people are liking more pages, and friending more people online, they are being fed more and more content on Facebook.
Is it all useful or what they want to see? Not so much.
Ultimately though, the information shown is based on an algorithm run by a computer. It's not perfect and sometimes what the algorithm deems as "important" or "valuable" content might not always seem it to the user. So even if you're putting out great content - and paying for it or not - you still might not have the results you're expecting.
The bottom line is this: Setting marketing goals and knowing your audience and understanding what you're looking to get out of a Facebook ad strategy is going to determine whether or not Facebook advertising is right for your organization.