Why Local Businesses Should Advertise on Facebook

by Helen M. Overland December 17th, 2009 

There is One Key Question that Local advertisers are asking themselves right now, more than ever before. As people shift to to communicating and searching for information online, traditional advertising models may not be as effective as they were in previous years. This means that Advertisers are having to struggle with the Key Question in a more tangible way than ever before:

Where should I advertise?

And one of the answers that keeps cropping up for Local advertisers is the option of advertising on Facebook. But is Facebook really a valid way for Local advertisers to generate business?

We decided to explore this question in more detail, and since there was more to it than we'd normally put in a blog post, we decided to release a whitepaper on the topic. But if you don't have time for the whitepaper, here's a couple of points to think about.

Have the time? Get the whitepaper here.

How Big is Facebook Now?

You know, Facebook is getting really, really BIG. You knew that already of course, but it's always interesting to check in and see where we're at from time to time.

As of today, Facebook reports having more than 350 million active users, 50% of which log in on any given day. More than 35 million users update their status on Facebook every day. More interesting, the average user spends more than 55 minutes per day on Facebook.

That's a fair sized audience by any measure.

But it's not Facebook's audience just today that it pays to think about, but the networks share of voice going forward also. Judging by Google Insights for Search, Facebook is not slowing down any time soon:

social network popularity-usa

How is Facebook Advertising Different from Search Engine Advertising?

Obviously, advertising on Facebook is very different from traditional search engine PPC. The main virtue of advertising in search results is that you can target people who are interested in seeing your ad, as judged (mostly) by what they type into the search box. Facebook ads are targeted by interests, age and workplace, among other options.

As we all know, the most successful advertising platforms tend to be those which can provide granular targeting to an audience large enough to make it worth the effort (that's critical mass).

With the traffic volumes and engagement levels currently being seen on Facebook, advertising on the system is becoming more and more "worth the effort" for businesses.

Granular targeting for Local Advertisers

But mass alone is not enough for Local advertisers, since they are by nature, Local, and the ads need to be targeted enough to generate actual returns. And this ability to granularly target ads is what makes Facebook useful for Local advertisers.

Facebook gives Local advertisers the chance to be proactive in who they target, without having to resort to running general ads in the hopes that the right people will see it. Ads can be targeted down to a city location, to people who are interested in the topics that relate to your product. Run a travel business in Houston? Show ads to people interested in travel who live in Houston. Run a flower shop in Pheonix? Go ahead and show ads to married men in the city.

Keep in mind though, that running a campaign on Facebook, even if it's PPC, is not the same as running an ad on search engines. You can't just copy your campaigns over between the two.

The man targeting options on major search engines tends to have just 3 layers (demographics are available, but the jury is still out on their usefulness):

Facebook targeting by comparison, adds in a new layer - demographics, which can help advertisers drill down deeper into targeting ads (and we suspect the demographics are fairly reliable):

More Local

This is only a few of the points we cover, so you can either download the Whitepaper, or, if you don't have the patience for the full whitepaper, you can get some more of the highlights in this presentation:

Helen Overland

Vice President at Search Engine People, helping clients with Conversion Optimization, Analytics, and On-Page SEO. Online Marketer since June 2000, Internet geek since 1994. Follow me on twitter at @semlady to see what I'm reading now.


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5 Responses to “Why Local Businesses Should Advertise on Facebook”

  1. Ryan Hanley says:

    This is more of a question than a statement but don't people tend to get turned off by Facebook Advertisements? My experience has been that people are reluctant to interact with business on Facebook. Like Facebook is their world outside of business and don't want to be marketed there? Any truth to this and how do you fight that perception?

    Ryan H., http://www.ryanhanley.com/
    .-= Ryan Hanley recently posted: 6 Books that Inspire Business =-.

  2. Helen says:

    Hi Ryan… we've run, and are running, campaigns on Facebook right now and the results indicate that the ads work just fine. I can see why people might be annoyed to see ads if they were paying for the service, though.

  3. I LOVE this post! I have been very interested in this idea. I have heard from others that FB is excellent for local clients. This is definitely going to inspire me to test it out.

    But how scalable is this? Can it be offered by a firm that has 100+ clients? Or is it too labor intensive and better reserved for a boutique agency offering?
    .-= SEO Consulting recently posted: Brand Reputation Management =-.

  4. Andre Colt says:

    Does anyone here try to put an advertisement on Facebook?Cause I would like to know if it is effective? Facebook is recognized globally and what I think is the effectiveness of the advertisements on facebook for the fact that lot of users are not interested on ads but they much prefer on facebook applications

  5. Sandy McNeil says:

    I find Facebook is so hard to advertise to, I spent thousands of dollars trying to get sales and ended up with a huge lose. I just don't thing it works. Perhaps it depends on the niche.