Is Facebook Advertising Worth it?

Facebook is free, isn’t it?  Well, if you’re a user yes – accounts are free and you sign up at no charge.  If you’re a marketer – yes it’s free too.  You can get a page set up for your company or brand at no charge.  The question I get the most from small business owners is: after I sign up, how do I get people to like my page?

Let’s remember one thing: Facebook is a business.  They have spent lots of time and even more money trying to monetize the service and rake in some serious cash.  Is it working? Yes, it is – big time.  Forget all the chatter about their sloppy IPO, Facebook is getting better at making money and with a global reach of 1.01 billion (!!) monthly active users there’s no stopping this freight train.   As CNBC put it, Facebook is a money machine, and if you are looking to market your company, their advertising platform is a way to get this money machine working for you.

Facebook’s advertising platform puts all that personal data you’ve shared with Facebook to work for the marketers that are trying to reach you (See?  Nothing is really free, is it!).  Did you recently get engaged and update your relationship status?  Get ready for all the ads you see to be from wedding-related businesses.  Have knitting as one of your interests?  I bet you see ads from crafting companies.

So, if you’re a small business – is Facebook advertising worth the money?  Consider this: for a few hundred dollars (or even less) you can directly target people in your city, neighborhood (in some cases), gender, age and more.  You can target your fans, your fans and their friends, or users you have yet to connect with.

For example: in October, Thrifty Foods opened our second location in the Courtenay/Comox area.  At the store opening, we had a little fun with a giant pumpkin – wheeling it in on a gurney as a tie-in with the hospital foundation that benefits from the sale of our pumpkins around Halloween.  When photos were posted to Facebook, we ran a sponsored story of the first photo.  For about $150, this photo was seen in the newsfeed of 74% of people who are on Facebook in that area and the photo got 228 likes, 28 comments and 18 people shared it with their friends.

It’s a great photo (which helps), but it certainly opened my eyes to the benefits of Facebook advertising – and it’s so reasonably priced for the reach.   You can set a budget large or small, by day or week, and spend as little or as much as you wish.  You can create a campaign to encourage likes to your page or highlight specific posts.  Even for the smallest of businesses, I would encourage you to add it to the mix.  More and more, you’ll need to advertise to increase your reach on Facebook (and yes, by all accounts they are making it that way on purpose).

Sarah Roberts

Sarah Marlayne Roberts is a public relations and digital media strategist based in Victoria, BC. She has extensive marketing, social media, public relations, and special events experience from her work in television (CTV Television, Canadian Idol, Juno Awards, The Bachelor Canada) and with some of Canada’s most vibrant brands including The Edmonton Oilers, the legendary Hudson’s Bay Company and now, Thrifty Foods. Her focus at Thrifty Foods is on the company’s digital presence including the web and social channels, working to reflect the in-store experience online. In her spare (?!) time, Sarah also blogs about pop culture and other stuff you shouldn’t live without at STUFF by Sarah and works with small business clients on maximizing their online presence.

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  • Anonymous

    No offense intended, but I sort of proved its not… http://socialmediatoday.com/jc-kendall/1047376/facebook-waste-time-most-advertisers. A CTR of 0.051% is hardly worth it for anyone. 

  • http://twitter.com/SarahMarlayne SarahMarlayneRoberts

    None taken, we use this as part of our overall media mix and have seen above average CTR.  Content is key as always, we see great results.  Agree to disagree?

  • Anonymous

    I would love to agree to disagree were it warranted by an overall statistical basis, but it isn’t. Facebook’s numbers are not only bad, they are worse than the year before. I think its kind of irresponsible to suggest that your personal performance numbers are informative of the mean average result. 

    The truth, is that Facebook advertising is approximately 20x less effective than Google AdWords. That is not opinion, but historical fact. I’ll leave it there, and provide no additional argument, but if you read my article, as I read yours, and please also follow the links in the article back to the data provided, only one conclusion can be drawn. 

    Social Media Marketing is quickly developing a reputation like that of Search Engine Optimization, due to lofty performance promises that rarely pan out the way described. My goal is to bring reality to the industry, so that your clients and mine are better served. 

  • http://twitter.com/SarahMarlayne SarahMarlayneRoberts

    Hi JC, my post is not framed as a promise – it’s a recommendation to add it to the mix.  The goal of this blog is for us to share our experiences – that’s exactly what I’m doing.  Google Adwords is an important tool as well.  I’m sure our readers able to make their own decisions based on my post, yours, and the 1000s of other professional opinions out there.  Happy Holidays, Sarah.

  • William Rock

    Great Post, however before one starts to advertise on FB they should at least understand their target audience as well be able to track clicks from FB ads to track the effectiveness of the money they spend. Consider if a new company wants to try it out I normally say let’s evaluate your Google Adwords campaign and find out the best possible areas for conversion and setup funnels in their Analytics to track what their visitors are doing once the ad is clicked. The other thing to consider is the audience for those ads. It is very easy to setup a campaign and assign money to it however a company gets discouraged very quickly and says no let’s not do this just because they feel it did not work, however if you have stats to backup cost per conversion things make sense and they then get more involved. This does not just pertain to FB but to all paid mediums. 

  • http://twitter.com/SarahMarlayne SarahMarlayneRoberts

    Absolutely William, tracking and knowing your audience is always key – great points!

  • guy

    well not everyone is so lucky,,,some of us get scamed by this and they do nothing,,,i sold thousands of ad’s and got a 95% fake profile return,,no comments no likes on post no shares,,so dont think facebook is a very good choice for advertising

  • guy

    join my group to hear why and how this happens

    https://www.facebook.com/pffftbereal