Most businesses make their first foray into online advertising with Google's AdWords. However many are now starting to look at Facebook as either an alternative, or as an additional online marketing channel.
Why choose Facebook?
Advertising is about numbers and about effectiveness and Facebook gives you both. Facebook's numbers are huge with more than 900 million users worldwide, of which 30 million are in the UK. The majority of these log into Facebook daily and are reading over one trillion pages of information every month.
Facebook also gives businesses the ability to target their advertising so only the right people see each advert. Because it's a social network, where users share their private information and talk openly, Facebook can allow you to focus on specific geographic areas, types of users, and customer interests. If you want to talk to everyone online in the South East, you can, or if you just want to talk to men between the ages of 30 and 40, who like pizza and are in the Woking area, then you can do that too.
So what are the drawbacks?
There are two main criticisms levelled at Facebook in terms of advertising:
i) Users aren't looking to buy when they are on Facebook
ii) Facebook users don't want to be advertised to.
A report released in November 2011 by research group TNS said that 61 percent of Britons do not want to engage with brands via social media, and only a quarter of consumers in developed markets see social networks as a place to buy products.
Additionally, a recent poll of Facebook users by the Associated Press and CNBC found more than half (57 percent) of Facebook users have never clicked on an advert or sponsored content when using the social network, and 26 percent hardly ever clicked on an advert.
However, the sheer numbers of consumers on Facebook more than makes up for those that aren’t interested in adverts. Just do the maths, if 61 percent don't want to be advertised to there are still 11.7 million (39 percent of 30 million,) who do, and 12.9 million (43 percent of 30 million) who have clicked on an advert.
What businesses shouldn't advertise on Facebook?
Facebook is largely a consumer medium; it's designed for people to talk to and connect with other people. If you are a business needing to communicate with other businesses, then it's not going to be the right place for you to promote yourself. However that's not to say that you can't do business-to-business advertising on Facebook. An advert on Facebook might not be as effective as an advert on a specialised website, but once again the numbers of users and targeting options mean that it could still be more cost effective.
How do you make Facebook work?
Unlike Google AdWords, you can effectively start advertising on Facebook without spending a single penny. By creating a Business Page you can begin build a presence on Facebook and a fan base--all it takes is just a few hours of your time.
A Facebook page is also something that many consumers are coming to expect of a business. More and more companies now show their Facebook URL on their offline advertising rather than the address of their own website. But there's a limit to what can be done on a Facebook page and to do things like ecommerce or mcommerce you still need to have a dedicated website and an online retail application; ideally an ecommerce solution that integrates invisibly with your Facebook site.
Advertise for free with Facebook
Facebook has just launched the Small Business Boost programme to give businesses a taster of what advertising on Facebook is like. All you need is a Facebook page with 50 fans and you qualify for £25 of free advertising. If you increase your fan base to 100 fans you then qualify for an additional £60 of ads.
How to create an advert on Facebook
1: Define your goals
The first step to a successful campaign is to identify what you want to achieve with your advertising. Do you want to engage with your prospects, increase sales with promotional offers, or build awareness of your products or brand, or a combination of them all?
2: Target your customer
Facebook allows you to slice and dice your customer profile by:
• Location, language, education and work
• Age, gender, birthday, and relationship status
• Likes and interests.
Additionally, if you have a successful page you can also target friends of fans already connected to your pages, which creates some fantastic possibilities for catching people before they realise that they want your products, and is potentially hugely useful for launching anything new.
3: Create a compelling design
Get creative with your advertising content and be prepared to experiment with multiple versions of your advert. Include high resolution images (avoiding stock photography) to help your advert to stand out. It’s proven that the human face, especially a smiling woman, boosts the success rate.
4: Call to action
Make sure you have a clear call to action to motivate people to click. Try different options for phrases and use proactive language like Learn More Now, Check it out and Explore Today rather than less active language such as, Click here, or Visit today.
5: Set your budget
Your priority should be to set a budget that achieves the objectives of your campaign. Decide how much you want to spend and specify a daily maximum budget. Also consider whether you want to pay on a cost-per-click (CPC) or a cost-per-impression (CPI) basis.
6: Refine your advertising
Use Facebook's Insights app to see how your adverts are performing. If they're getting click-throughs but they aren't converting, then start to tweak the language and the images, or even alter your pricing.
If people become followers, reward them with great content and engage to keep them loyal, such as advice, offers, video clips, polls, images, sample products, and so on.
Simon Armstrong is marketing manager for cloud-based ecommerce supplier, Actinic.
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