Facebook Ads: Friend or Foe

facebook-iconFacebook, with more than 750 million members, seems like a fantastic place to advertise. Not only is the audience huge, but people spend more time on Facebook than anywhere else on the Web. By one estimate, the average Facebook user spends more than 11 hours a month on the site.

Seems like a no-brainer, right?

And when you factor in the fact that Facebook ads cost about 1/20th as much as AdSense ads (and have about 1/20th the number of advertisers, reducing your competition), why wouldn’t you advertise on Facebook?

Facebook Ads: Friend

Apart from the numbers already listed above that make Facebook look like an advertising paradise, there are other reasons to advertise there:

  • Targetability—

    with the wealth of data that Facebook has on its members, it’s very easy to target your ads to a specific group, whether based on age, gender, education level, geographical location, interests, marital status, even religious or political affiliation.

  • Connections –

    the average user has 130 friends, is connected to 60 pages, groups, or events, and posts 70 items a month that, cumulatively, get shared 25 billion times a month. This means that if your ad works, and people begin to like your product or page, it could be widely shared across a number of different networks, giving you even more exposure.

  • Analytics—

    Facebook also enables you track exactly how well your ad is doing. By assessing your analytics regularly, you can make more strategic enhancements to your ad to generate more response.

Facebook Ads: Foe

There’s just one problem—people don’t go to Facebook to look at ads or think about shopping. They go there to socialize, to catch up with their friends or families, to be entertained by videos or other links that have been posted on their page, and so on. In fact, ads can seem like a big intrusion on those activities, and can actually wind up giving your business a negative reputation in a lot of people’s eyes.

The fact is it’s very tough to blatantly sell products or services on Facebook. People are increasingly wary about being marketed to, and prefer to find their own way to the things they want. This is why inbound marketing can be so effective.

The Verdict

It can be done. The massive audience helps. The targetability helps even more. But you’ve still got to get people to click. And this means getting their attention. Facebook ads are fairly small and you don’t have a lot of words to work with, so you’ll need to create a lot of different ads that are tailored precisely to appeal to the group at which they are targeted. You’ll need to be creative, patient, and willing to constantly try new things. And you need to put a lot of thought into making your landing page great, because that’s where your conversions are going to happen.

As with just about everything, there are pros and cons to Facebook advertising. It’s a tough market, but it can bring great results if you’re willing to work at it.