Launched from a dorm room back in 2004 as a way of connecting with friends at Harvard, Facebook has come a very long way and is now a key marketing platform for many companies. From humble beginnings generating millions of dollars, Facebook fully realised its potential in 2013 when mobile ads were introduced to our news feeds.

From the first ads placed in 2004 and advertising contracts with the big guys like Apple and Victoria’s Secret in 2005, Facebook stepped up its advertising game in 2008 offering businesses the option to create a free business Page with advanced targeting options and the ability to manage their own ads.

Popular ways to advertise on Facebook

Advertising on Facebook should be dependent upon key business objectives. The most common forms of advertising via the network are:

  • Promoted Post (Boost Post): this form of advertising is often used to then display this post to a wider audience utilising Facebook’s targeting options. Popular targeting options used tend to be age, location, language, interests, behaviour (i.e. whether they are a mobile phone user), education, country of residence, and many more. With the latest updates to Facebook’s algorithm, many businesses have noticed a decline in organic reach, therefore if there is an important message or new campaign to share with fans, boosting a post will promote it to a wider audience. Such tactics have been popular with the likes of Starbucks, who previously boosted their posts to announce their excellent addition - delivery service!
  • Promote Facebook page: if the objective is solely to increase likes on the page, this option is advised. In selecting this option, a lifetime budget is allocated to the campaign and the page will be displayed to users within the targeted demographic with a call to action i.e. to encourage likes. Within the Facebook ad interface, there is also an option to promote website clicks and this is done in a similar way to page promotion. With both these options, you can use split ab testing to monitor how audiences respond to different images - find out what works best for you using this option.

Benefits of Facebook Advertising

  • Exposure Opportunity: behind Google, Facebook is the second most visited website in the world and with 2.45 active users each month, it’s guaranteed that a segment of your target audience will be registered on Facebook - so what are you waiting for!?
  • Excellent Targeting: when creating an account with Facebook, basic information is required such as date of birth, location, language etc therefore using the same demographic for targeting is genius. Whether it’s a business operating worldwide such as ASOS, or a small business operating locally, targeting can be as wide or as specific as you need.
  • Increase retention: traditionally used for organic promotion of products and services, exclusive Facebook deals can also be offered with such incentives likely to increase customer loyalty and positive word-of-mouth (WOM) for the business. Additionally, as Facebook displays the number of friends who already ‘Like’ the page, this encourages other users to like the page too.
  • Flexibility: with the ability to create image based ads and a lengthy character allowance, you can effectively advertise your business, product or service without the restrictions which occur using other advertising platforms.
  • Multiple viewing: logging into a social network multiple times a day is common for users around the globe presenting advertisers with an excellent opportunity to reach out to their target audience. With the app installed on many smartphones, ads can be shown at all times of the day.
  • Affordability: with the sheer volume of active users each month, placing your ad in front of an interested audience can be relatively cheap. Offered on both a CPC and CPM ad buying model based on your requirements, this offers further flexibility.

Drawbacks of Facebook Advertising

  • Low click-through-rate (CTR): with millions of user on the site each minute, ads are often missed therefore regardless of how well ads are targeted, click-through-rate is often very low.
  • Low conversions: as Facebook is used for connecting with friends and for inspiration, users may not be likely to be ready to make a purchase. As such, action is rarely taken instantly leading to a low conversion rate.
  • Ad blockers: particularly common with the younger generation, ad blockers are often put in place to avoid all ads completely. So, although they may fit into the demographic you are targeting, your ads will not display if ad blocker software is installed on their browser.
  • Targeting an older audience: although a proportion of the elderly are registered Facebook users, many are more familiar with Google, especially when searching for products/services. As such, Google AdWords may be considered as a more effective platform when advertising to this market.

After delving into the types, benefits and drawbacks of Facebook advertising, you should have a clearer understanding of how it can benefit your business. In order to cater to all audiences, Facebook is continually changing and in the second part of our blog we will look at the latest updates - stay tuned!