March 2015 saw the Facebook F8 conference and, like everything else that this social media giant does, it is talked about across all channels, around the globe. There are changes coming to Facebook and everyone is talking about them.
The likelihood is that some of these changes will change how some people use the platform and, for many online businesses selling products and services via Facebook, this renewed interest could make for rich-pickings. If you have never used Facebook ads, or have done so in the past, now is the time to re-examine your use of them, alongside other online advertising, and how they can really harness consumers to your business.
So why is Facebook advertising a marketers dream?
- Users – It is thought that 1 in 7 people on earth have a Facebook account, a colossal figure by any stretch of the imagination. With the ‘average American user’ spending the equivalent of 10 days a year on the platform (or 243 hours), you can begin to appreciate the audience and consumers that are out there using it.
Can you really afford to be missing out on such a large chunk of customers? However, if you think this is simply too big, and your services are UK or even geographically limited to a smaller area within a country, county or city, then advertising on Facebook is still relevant.
- Locality – the versatility of ads on this huge network is that you really can hone them down to specifics. For example, if you know the demographic of your target customers – male, aged 21 to 40, for example, you can set these parameters within the advert set up. Add to this the fact that you can name up to 10 interests also mean that your advert can be specifically targeted at a certain group of potential customers. For example, a local florist in Blackpool may want to start tapping in to the lucrative wedding bouquet market, and could use Facebook as a way of driving this kind of traffic (and people) to their Facebook page and/or website.
- Business & growth – Facebook is surely one of the social media platforms that has proved itself, time and time again. It is not a product or a service that has stood still. It has continued to evolve and develop into a global success, tapping into our desire to engage and connect, but in our own way. For small businesses, it offers versatile, competitively priced online advertising too. You set the amount you want to spend over a set number of days; in other words, you set what you can afford.
- One to one communication – Facebook, some said a few years ago, had lost the messaging crown, something that ‘Whatsapp’ was said to have snatched from their grasp. But, they have reclaimed this title and, with the changes proposed at the F8 conference recently, this messaging function could become even more important. This messaging service at the moment, is for individuals on Facebook but, in the near future, businesses will have access to it too; instead of emailing thanks to a customer, you could message them instead. Advertising on Facebook really could plunge you in to a whole new world.
- Local communities – online communities are just as important as ‘real life’ communities; they foster a sense of commonality and belonging, something that is no different when applied to online communities or groups. Sharing common themes and interests, your ads could bring together a group of fans of your products of services. Powerful and passionate, you could soon create a following for your brand.
- Feedback – engagement is something that every business should be looking for when it comes to their online presence. Businesses, in the past, have made the mistake of thinking that online ‘adverts’ are solely for the purpose of claiming new customers and have been found wanting. Your adverts and presence of Facebook should be just as much about encouraging engagement, comments, feedback and dialogue as it is about selling.
- Social context – with something as powerful and global as Facebook is can be difficult to understand why some adverts or suggestions for page likes end up on your newsfeed, that seem uncannily accurate or in tune with your likes. This is because like other social media platforms, Facebook applies ‘social context’ to where and how adverts can appear in a newsfeed. For example, if someone has liked a similar type of ting previously, your advert or page promotion could quite easily appear in their newsfeed.
- Sponsored stories – ‘social by design’ is Facebook’s approach to advertising and is basically the linking of your friends to your product. So, if people you are friends with on the platform create a story about how your product enhanced their lives etc., you could end up with a sponsored story. Research has shown that this form of advertising – getting people talking about you – decreases cost per acquisition (how much you spend compared to how much you get back) by 32%.
- Social in nature – the edge that Facebook can have is the very fact that is social in nature; people are on it voluntarily, engaging when they want to and with whom they choose to. Advertising is a similar thing; not rammed down the throat but connected to their habits, likes and dislikes.
- Affordable with great returns – the possibility of new realms and customers being reached with Facebook ads cannot be understated. The fact that it is affordable, yet still effective – you don’t need to be spending thousands of pounds of your marketing budget on Facebook adverts to stand alongside the ‘big players’ in your industry – is surely the biggest benefit of using the ads. And, with the ability to monitor and actually what works, and what doesn’t.