Facebook offers display ads that allow marketers to target specific audiences based on their geographical location as well as their personal interests.
Facebook is the biggest social network platform in the world and boasts approximately 1.59 billion monthly users.
The site was originally targeted at a college audience, but the user demographic for the platform now starts from the minimum age of 13 and continues throughout all other generations, although the least popular group is the over-65s category.
Due to the vast audience of visitors that Facebook receives, and its ability to keep them engaged for lengthy periods of time as they browse around profiles and pages, it stands to reason that marketers are able to utilise the platform to great effect. Social media marketing is still a growing industry, but already it is challenging the more established methods, such as Google search marketing and SEO, to drive engaged users to a business.
Facebook has offered advertising in various forms from as far back as 2004, although its original ad units were far from the sophisticated devices that today’s marketers can benefit from.
Ads are paid for on a per-impression or per-click basis and suggested bid rates give you an idea of how to manage your advertising budget.
Over the years, Facebook has learned how to gather incredibly precise knowledge about their users based on the intimate level of details that appear in each individual’s profiles. When users ‘Like’ a page this acts as a signal to Facebook that the user is interested in a particular niche of business or brand.
By building up such information about people, Facebook Ads are one of the most superior types of advertising programs that are available at the moment.
Marketers can choose to target consumers based on several different criteria including location, interests and demographic.
There’s no use in advertising your local business in Vancouver to an audience of Facebook users in the UK.
Facebook makes it easy to pin down your precise geographical area and only show ads that are relevant to your market focus. It also possible to target users that have recently moved to a town who might want to find out about your local business.
One of the most powerful tools is the ability to target an audience within a specific radius of a town, so if you service only the immediate market, for instance, if you run a barbers or cafe, you can target people within a few miles of your town, but if your business provides a service to a wider geographic area, you can target people up to 50 miles from your town. This is great for the service industry, especially when there is little competition in the area.
This is an important category for advertisers as interests are extremely variable across billions of users.
You might want to attract those with a passion for fishing to try out a new bite alarm, or crime fiction lovers to read the latest thriller.
Depending on your industry or niche, you can apply a highly specific focus to this field and display ads that are more likely to convert into click-throughs from this selected audience.
Targeting interests is also a way to try to capture a competitor’s audience. For example, if you are promoting sports shoes, you can target anybody who likes Nike or Adidas.
Another option that Facebook provides is the opportunity to boost posts. The concept is similar to the ad model in that you can reach an audience based on criteria such as geography and interests.
It is possible to target fans, friends of fans and exclude fans completely where appropriate to your strategy. Boosting posts is an excellent method for sharing brand news and developments quickly with those who may be interested in it, and advertising direct to fans of a page increases the likelihood of engagement, which when couple with a large fan-base, can help a post “go viral”.
A free way to spread the word about your brand or business across Facebook is with the clever use of some viral marketing.
Having users ‘Like’ your post or page is a great way to get consumers engaged with your brand. Companies usually employ a professional marketing agency to come up with a successful viral campaign, but often funny, informative or sentimental pictures and videos can work wonders for a company.
Retargeting can be a powerful way to engage with people who have already visited your Facebook page or viewed your website. This is achieved by setting up Facebook custom audiences so that whenever somebody visits your website, or a specific landing page, they are added to your retargeting list in Facebook Ads Manager. This is a good way to remind people of your brand following a viral campaign.
People rarely purchase from a company the first time they come across it, especially if they first see your site as a result of a vital marketing campaign, so retargeting them with adverts is a good way to build trust and engagement.
There are some limitations to advertising in Facebook which often catch people out. Facebook does not like a visual advert having more than 20% of the image covered in text – this can make it harder to create an engaging image that also sends the exact message you want, but with a little imagination and creativity it is possible to make a great advert. Facebook also provides a checking tool so that you do not waste your time uploading adverts that will be rejected.
In terms of pricing, Facebook ads is cheaper than Google AdWords, especially if you’re trying to send traffic directly to your Facebook fan page, rather than a website. But, if you’re a local business looking to generate direct response enquiries, then your advertising money would be better spent with Google.
However, click through rate is not an indicator of intent – while Facebook will generally provide cheaper traffic for a website, it tends to have a lower conversion rate, which means that it is not always the best tool for a business.
Some industries attract more clicks on Facebook than others, so it is worth bearing this in mind when you plan a campaign.
Web industries such a gaming, dating and deals all receive the lowest CTRs on Facebook, with CTR as low as 0.027% for Dating, whereas general retail, publishing (this includes news) and telecommunications attract the highest CTRs, with rates up to 0.919% for telecommunications. Costs vary widely too, starting at $0.08 CPC for clothing and accessories, up to $0.39 for deals – clothing and accessories also gets a reasonably good CTR of 0.254%, which means that this could be a good area to consider, so long as you factor in the high rate of returns in this industry.
By comparison, Google is primarily search based focused, so you can expect to receive a higher click through rate on your organic search ads because you are displaying your ads to searchers who are actively searching for your products or services. A well-crafted text ad could easily get double digit click through rate. You would be lucky to get over 2% with Facebook. There’s an excellent bit of research on Facebook CTR on Quora.
Facebook is based on interruption marketing with their main visitors reasons on being on their website in first place is to connect, share and to be entertained socially CPA can differ widely, for example, a local plumber would get a significantly higher conversion rate and better cost per acquisition using Google AdWords than say someone selling Teespring T-shirt’s which sales are built off additional Facebook likes and shares.
Tell A Good Story
Facebook works especially well when a good story is told. For example, the story style post Trip to Cambridge saved by local garage!, attracted over 10,000 views, 113 likes and 38 shares, at a cost of a few dollars, and resulted in several new customers. People love a good news story, especially when it concerns a local business. A bland advert highlighting mechanical services would not have received anywhere as much interest and would have cost much more to generate new business.
Facebook marketing is a complex but incredibly effective tool. Always research your target audience and consider your marketing budget before launching a social ad campaign. As with any form of Internet marketing, it is possible to quickly burn through your budget before optimising the campaign, so consider hiring a social media manager to run your campaign.
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* Adapted images: Public Domain, pixabay.com via getstencil.com