Does advertising on Facebook really work?
Yes and no. For most small businesses, probably more on the “no” side. That is, unless you really know what you are doing when it comes to creating an effective advertising campaign.
I had 6 people email me last week asking if advertising on Facebook was a waste of time. I thought it would make a good blog post as Facebook is doing a lot of outreach these days trying to recruit small business owners to advertise on their platform.
I'm not a big fan of Facebook when it comes to advertising, I feel like the idea of paying a few bucks to get someone to “Like” your fan page or even visit your website (when they are not in the right mindset) is not the best way to spend your advertising dollars. When it comes to paying to build a fan page, I would say to forget it. A few years ago when you posted content on your fan page, it would show up on about 40%-60% of your fan's timelines. Guess what that number is today? Estimates are around 5%, but many fan pages report much less than that.
Talk about a bait and switch on the part of Facebook, why would you pay for someone to “Like” your page when there is almost zero chance they will see your post unless you pay to promote it to them? Yes, Facebook wants you to pay them twice for an activity (someone seeing your post) that has marginal value as it is.
My biggest complaint with Facebook is that they market directly to the small business owner and give the impression that it's really easy to run an advertising campaign themselves. The same goes for Google Adwords (I'm an agency partner with them). While the platform technically lets you create a campaign without any sort of special skill, executing an effective advertising campaign is really hard. This is why most small businesses that try to do it themselves end up losing their shirts.
Just like any advertising medium, you have to know how to create an effective ad with an effective offer if you hope to have some sort of success. You also have to make sure you are reaching the right audience at the right time. If you get these things wrong, most likely your advertising campaign isn't going to be very effective. That applies to online and offline advertising.
I do think Facebook advertising can work, but I think you have to be smart on how you go about it or else you'll just be wasting your money. I still think pay per click marketing through Google and Bing do much better when it comes to making sales, but Facebook can work if it's done right.
If you don't have a lot of experience creating an advertising campaign, I would strongly recommend you find someone to help you. Also, start with a small budget but be prepared to increase it as you need a reasonable amount of click volume (100-200 clicks at least) to see if your campaign is working. If you decide to give it a try, below are a few tips to keep in mind.
If You Are Going To Advertise On Facebook
What Do You Want People To Do?
What action you want people to take plays a big role in how effective your campaign will be on Facebook. If you're hoping to put a run of the mill ad up and hope people will come to your website or store and buy something, good luck with that happening. While I wouldn't pay for someone to “Like” my fan page, I would consider paying for someone to opt-in to my email list, which seems to be how most effective marketers are using Facebook these days. In a nutshell, it's very hard to get a direct sale via Facebook, but if you can capture them into your sales funnel, you can then communicate with them and eventually turn them into a customer.
One area that is very interesting is using Facebook to remarket to people who have been to your website before. With remarketing, you track people after they leave your website and advertise (remarket) to them as they surf the internet. Creepy, but effective. Remarketing can be a very effective way to advertise online. You can even market to an existing email list on Facebook through Facebook Custom Audiences.
Try Promoted Posts
With a promoted post, you can have your post injected right into the timeline stream of your target customer. The most successful promoted posts are ones where engagement is created. Maybe it's an inspiring blog article you wrote on your website, an interesting report someone can download or some kind of limited offer, it has to be something interesting and engaging if you want it to work.
People are on Facebook to socialize, not buy. You have a lot of cat videos and faux inspirational posts to cut through in order to get seen so you have to be creative. I've used promoted posts with clients successfully where we had created an interesting article and used promoted posts to get it in front of more people quickly.
Make Sure You Geo-Target
Geo-Target means to set your advertising so it only shows to the geographic area you want. So if you are located in Charlotte, NC, you may want to only target people in the Charlotte metro area. Be careful about running ads internationally, especially in Asia and the Middle, where there are thousands of Facebook “Click Farms” where people spend all day clicking ads and “Liking” people's posts and pages. I'm not going to get into the crazy reasons why these are setup, but I'll just say there is an entire underground market on Facebook where people make lots of money doing stupid stuff.
If you're going to do it, do it right
So my closing thought is that I'm not a big fan of advertising on Facebook, but it can work if it's done right. If you're a small business without a lot of marketing experience and thing you can do it yourself, you'll probably be disappointed. You can either do two things, spend a boat load of hours teaching yourself how to do it right, or hire someone to help you do it. Just make sure you get some examples and references as there are a lot of clowns out there touting themselves as social media experts simply because they have had mild success personally online.