Should I Advertise on Facebook?

Megan Sullivan by Megan Sullivan on July 17, 2014
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As Facebook has grown from a college message board to a social media powerhouse, it has also become an equally impressive advertising medium, boasting over 800 million average monthly users as of March 2014. Unlike more traditional forms of media and even conventional internet advertising to an extent, Facebook and social media advertising is still a relatively new frontier. Because of that, businesses might find advertising on Facebook confusing. While you may have heard of the benefits of Facebook advertising, it’s important to fully understand the pros and cons for a small business looking to utilize the platform as part of its advertising strategy.

What Does Advertising on Facebook Entail?

First, let’s define exactly what Facebook advertising is. It’s not simply having an active Facebook profile for your business on the site. Facebook advertising comes in three different types: domain ads, page posts and promotions. Each has its own merits:

  • Domain Ads: Seen in the right-hand column of the page, these ads have a thumbnail image, a headline and a short description. They typically link to a website. The biggest drawback to domain ads is that they are only available on the desktop site, since the mobile app does not have the right-hand column. Their click-through rates aren’t great, but for some businesses, simply knowing that their name and/or logo are being displayed and seen by Facebook’s many users is worth the price of the ad.
  • Page PostsPage posts can be placed in the right-hand column and Facebook’s News Feed. They are also available on mobile. Page posts can have a variety of additional media, such as photos, videos, illustrations, etc. They can also be text-only, but it’s been proven that posts with photos and/or videos perform better. You can also use page posts to promote your business’ profile page and generate likes.
  • Promotions: Available in the right-hand column of a desktop News Feed as well as mobile, promotional ads fall into two major categories: events and offers. These posts can be used to drive traffic to your physical location. To create “offer ads,” your Facebook business page must have 50 likes. Offers typically perform the best, as many consumers highly value the opportunity to save money on purchases with their favorite retailers and businesses.

Benefits of Facebook Advertising

  1. Targeting: Facebook ads are served to users based on information found in their Facebook profiles and their activity on the site. This means you have a large amount of data at your disposal to make sure that your ads are being seen by your target consumers. Examples of target categories include age, geographic location, hobbies, likes and much more. For small businesses that don’t have a large advertising budget, this type of targeting can prove invaluable in cutting down on the amount of wasted impressions.
  2. Cost: For the level of exposure you receive, Facebook ads are cost-effective. Similar to Google AdWords, you can set your daily budget to keep your Facebook campaign within your desired spend level.
  3. Media Inclusion: Being able to incorporate photos and videos in your posts is a great benefit for advertisers.
  4. Mobile Integration: Facebook’s mobile presence is huge, and your ad will likely appear on the mobile site. Because of Facebook’s responsive web design, you won’t have to worry about your ads looking incorrect when they move from desktop to mobile, or vice versa. As noted above, domain ads are not available for mobile.

Drawbacks to Advertising on Facebook

  1. Low Performance: While Facebook does reach millions of people around the globe, Facebook ad performance in terms of conversions and revenue doesn’t necessary reflect this volume.
  2. Ad Backlash:Many Facebook users are still bothered by the inclusion of such intrusive ads in their News Feeds. While this initial furor is dying down, it is important to note that Facebook occasionally receives media coverage due to its attempts to use the platform as a testing ground for behavioral studies.
  3. Excessively Narrow Targeting: While it’s great that Facebook offers so many demographic options for targeting your ads, there is the danger of targeting too much and excluding potential customers from seeing your ad. A good account manager or Facebook sales rep should be able to counsel you on how to best manage your targeting.

Knowing these benefits and drawbacks, how can you determine if your business should advertise on Facebook? Here are some basic questions to ask before beginning a Facebook ad campaign:

1. What Is Your Overall Objective?

If your objective is to drive online sales, Facebook advertising is probably not the best option. While click-through rates are climbing, Facebook ad results are typically lower than other online media.

However, if you’re seeking to increase the number of likes to your company’s profile page, show off a new photo or video, or give consumers an in-store or online offer, then using Facebook ads might be the perfect fit. Facebook offers help on determining your company’s objectives as part of its help section.

2. Is Your Customer a Facebook User?

While it may be hard to believe, there are still some people who don’t use Facebook or who use it sparingly. You want to know whom your customer is and if advertising on Facebook is a viable way of reaching them.

For example, if your target customer is younger, perhaps between 18 and 25 years old, it may seem like Facebook ads are a no-brainer. However, these younger consumers are more tech-savvy and typically resist Facebook ads.

3. Are You Willing to Commit to At Least a 3-Month Campaign?

It may seem that trying Facebook advertising for a month is long enough to evaluate the efficiency of the platform, but the truth is that you really need to try it out for three to six months to get a full picture of its effectiveness. When planning your budgets and allocating time to manage the campaign, keep in mind that this takes a longer commitment than just 30 days.

4. Does Your Business Have a Strong Facebook Presence?

This means more than just having a page with a good amount of followers and likes. You need to make sure you are maintaining your Facebook presence by posting on a regular basis and providing relevant and valuable updates to your customers. A sign of a successful Facebook campaign is an increased awareness of your company and more likes for your profile page. You want to give consumers a reason to continue paying attention to you, even after the ads have run their course.

Advertising on Facebook, regardless of your business’ size, is a great way to gain exposure for your company on one of the largest websites in the world. By reviewing the above tips and tricks, you’ll be able to determine if Facebook advertising is right for you and your business.

Megan Sullivan

Megan has worked in the advertising and digital media space for over ten years, writing everything from content briefs to press releases to advertising copy. Industries she has worked in include: human resources, print media, digital media, computer software, online advertising and entertainment.

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