December 29, 2013

Rachel Strella

Should Your Business Spend Money to Advertise on Facebook?

Some folks cringe at the thought of advertising – especially in the social sphere, where it was once taboo to use the words ‘advertising’ and ‘social media’ in the same sentence.

Over the past two weeks, I’ve discussed the Facebook algorithm changes and what they mean for small businesses that have fan pages on the channel. These changes have many page owners in an uproar, especially those who paid to acquire their Facebook fans.

I manage nearly 20 Facebook fan pages and can confirm a startling drop in what’s been an already declining reach over the past year. Compared to only a month ago, organic views have declined as much as 40% for some pages.

While it may be tempting to jump ship for another channel, there are some things to consider first. Facebook currently has 1.26 billion users – and over 80% of those users are actively engaged on the channel.  That’s one of the highest user rates of any other channel on the web. In addition, Facebook integrates with thousands of other applications, which has enabled Facebook to claim 26% of all social shares.

For those who have spent time or money to establish a business presence on Facebook, my short advice is to stick around. You may have to spend more – time or money – to reach your goals. Still, Facebook advertising is relatively inexpensive and provides the added bonus of being able to target the specific audience you’re trying to reach.

The truth is, Facebook advertising can help achieve a variety of goals such as building a targeted following, increasing visibility, and driving website traffic. Some attractive options for advertisers include:

  • A choice of up to six different images to accompany the ad copy so you can monitor the results and choose the best image for meeting your goals.
  • A variety of image choices such as your own photos or free photos from Shutterstock, which are helpful for those in service-based businesses, where strong visuals may be lacking.
  • Ad placement options such as the newsfeed or the right column (or both) to determine which one can achieve the best results for your business

Facebook allows you to choose ad types based on the results you want to achieve.  Here are a few popular types of advertising options and some of the results we’ve seen.

Page Likes.  This option positions the business to drive new ‘likes’ or fans to their page. I highly recommend this for those who are just starting out on Facebook and are creating a new fan page, or for when you feel it’s time to reach a new audience.  In fact, over the past few months, it’s been the most effective way to increase likes on my own page as well as my clients’ pages.  You can set a daily spending limit (as low as $1/day) and target your audience based on characteristics such as age, gender, location, interests, and marital status.

In this new Facebook environment, it’s important to put your best foot forward and call attention to what you want your new fans to see when they like the page. One tactic is to ‘pin’ a post to the top of your page as you see in the image below. Pinning page content keeps that post at the top of the page for one week.

Pin content on Facebook

Page Post Engagement (Boosting). Boosting a post allows you to increase the post’s visibility to either current fans or targeted non-fans (or both).  I’ve boosted several of my own posts as well as posts for my clients. The cost starts at a minimum default of $5 (which you can change to a lesser amount once the ad is set up in the ads manager).  According to Facebook insights, the boosted posts have increased reach, on average, by about twice as many people. I recommend only boosting posts that include a specific call to action such as asking your audience to attend an event, visit your website (and include the link) or sign-up for your newsletter.

Facebook advertising


I still believe it’s too early to tell how much the boosts will pay dividends in the long-haul, but it’s worth spending a few dollars to test the waters.

Clicks to Website.  This is an option for those who want to send an audience to a site outside of Facebook, such as a company website or landing page.  Again, you can select the amount you want to spend.  If you choose this option, be sure to write compelling content that links to an appropriate landing page. This is critical for success with “clicks to website” ads, as the audience will not continue to click through to find what they are supposed to be looking for.

I recommend using this option for events in which you can track registration.  I have not experimented with this, but I know a few others who have had some success with it.

Should your business spend money to advertise on Facebook?

If you are committed to the medium long-term, I would say, “yes.”

Great content is still the key, and at this point in time, a business may still be able achieve many goals without spending.

I think that a lot of small businesses are still getting used to the idea of spending money on Facebook. However, strategically spending a few bucks can put a small business in a better position to succeed.

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2 comments on “Should Your Business Spend Money to Advertise on Facebook?”

    1. Thank you, Lynn. I have to admit - it was a beast to try to unravel. I'm delighted that it served a purpose!

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