It's a question I hear a lot of my clients asking and unfortunately there's no single answer. As always, it comes down to what your overall marketing objectives are for your business. That's the best place to start when determining whether or not you should be paying for Facebook aka advertising on the platform.
Why would I advertise on Facebook?
Advertising on Facebook has become increasingly more important because Facebook as a company is always improving. They want to be providing the most relevant content to the end user.
Think about how you use Facebook. Are you using it to get bombarded by company's updates all the time? Probably not. You use it because you're interested in what your friends are up to and/or to stalk your ex or the next new prospect. (#notjudging)
Facebook has an algorithm you may have heard referenced once or twice before. Here's a great article on how that works, but here's a quick breakdown:
Because Facebook wants to serve up the best content to the end user, they have an ever-evolving algorithm that determines what the best content for each individual user is. This is programmed based on how each individual user interacts with Facebook.
Ever notice you tend to see updates from your closest friends or the people you stalk? Also, ever notice you see posts from brands you've recently visited? That's the algorithm working its magic.
It's very difficult as a brand to get your messages seen by your target audience when competing with the algorithm. So why compete with it when you can join it?
But SHOULD you join the Facebook advertising crowd?
Now that you know why you might consider advertising on Facebook, let's take a look at whether or not you should.
Let's go back to your marketing objectives. What are they? To increase more sales, get more brand awareness? Probably. Then yes, Facebook is a great place for you to do those things and advertising can definitely enhance your results.
But before you bust out the credit card, consider your target audience. Before starting any new marketing endeavor, always consider your target audience! First of all, are they on Facebook? Second of all how are they interacting with Facebook? Do they rarely use it? Do they have a limited group of friends that they look at? Do they interact with brands at all? If they don't Facebook isn't going to have as much data on this person so your targeting won't necessarily help you reach these people.
It's going to be different for every business, which is why you need to really understand your buyer personas.
WHAT do you advertise?
Much like the organic Facebook algorithm that determines where organic content shows up in an end user's feed, so too is their an algorithm for advertising content.
Guess which ads will get shown more frequently? Those that people engage with. (Side note: engagement in almost all aspects of online marketing is the end game.)
First, based off of your objectives determine who you want to advertise to: are you trying to reach people who already know about your business or a new audience?
If you're going for people who already know about you (a good place to start for small businesses and those who don't have a huge budget) you should use pixels. You can add pixels to your website to track who visits your website. Then you can use those audience pixels to advertise to them on Facebook.
If you're going for increased brand awareness and new audiences, make sure, again, you understand your buyer personas. Create different group segments based off of different buyer personas. Facebook let's you get crazy niche with the targeting- so go nuts.
For example, I get ads for tee shirts that say "This California girl is loyal to New England football." The company running that campaign is targeting women, who live in San Francisco, are from New England or maybe like/post things about New England, and who like or post things about the Patriots. And guess what? I own that tee shirt.
Once you've determined your objectives you can get creative with the content and the messaging.
IF YOU READ ANYTHING IN THIS POST, READ THIS:
Whether you're going for brand awareness or sales, try to capture their email address. If you don't put anything in place to capture these people your advertising to, you're going to have to keep advertising to them. OR you can capture their email address and organically, FOR FREE, send them sales, messages about your company, etc.
For example, if you're looking to increase sales you could do an advertisement that says something like "get 20% off your first order!" Then when they click through the ad it can explain how signing up for your email list gets them 20% off their first order. You get a sale AND their email address to keep marketing to them. Double wammy.
Pro tip: DON'T do "Like" ads. Ever. You can pick a different objective for your campaign and your ads will still have the "Like Page" on the ad.
Check out the image to the right. You can tell Outbrain has a different objective in mind (trying to get clicks to see how the platform works) but there's still the "Like Page" option in the top right corner.
Ready to begin your Facebook advertising?
That's another beast! Facebook has some very helpful guides on how to get started. That being said, it can be a time consuming process- as is anything when you're doing it for the first time.