Is Facebook advertising right for your business?
By Liz Murphy

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After Facebook's flat IPO performance and concerns surrounding the social network giant's ability to profit from their expansive mobile user base, the company's second-quarter earnings report released July 24 was a welcome surprise to investors and stakeholders.

INDUSTRY PULSE

Does your business advertise on Facebook?
  • 1. Yes, and it's very effective
  • 2. Yes, but we've seen little ROI
  • 3. No, but we're considering it
  • 4. No, it's not the right audience

The major highlight of Facebook's quarterly performance was that 41 percent of advertising revenue came from its mobile platform. This was a surprise to those on Wall Street, who predicted that mobile revenue would only total around 33 percent. Within an hour of announcing earnings, Facebook stock rose 15 percent.

But many business owners still have questions about whether to try their hand at Facebook advertising, in spite of the positive turn.

It wasn't long ago that social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter were considered too new and untested, making them unreliable options for paid advertising. In fact, many marketing professionals still debate the best way to determine ROI in the world of social media.

But Alex Stevens, a seasoned new media marketing professional and president of Social Media Club's Washington, D.C. chapter, offers a different perspective. Stevens understands why businesses exercise caution when it comes to Facebook advertising, but she says a "like" on Facebook can add value to a brand by establishing an online reputation.

"The millennial generation relies heavily on the presence of an online reputation to make their purchasing decisions," Stevens said. "If you want to do nothing but put your content in front of the right people, Facebook marketing is a great option at a relatively low cost. It also allows you to market to extended networks, adding a level of trust for each customer."



Facebook offers a variety of ways to advertise, as well as customization options to control how much you spend and who sees your message. If you're thinking of advertising your brand on Facebook, here four tips to help you get started:
  1. Find out if your audience is even on Facebook

    "You need to have a service or product that targets a demographic that uses Facebook. You should never advertise on a platform that isn't utilized by your demographic," Stevens points out.

    For example, her company's marketing strategy does not include Instagram, another trending social media tool that is owned by Facebook. Why? "Well, as much as I like Instagram, the 35- to 55-year-old we're trying to sell isn't on Instagram."

    As with any marketing strategy, it is important to research where your audience is before you try to reach out to them. Just because a platform works for one business does not mean it will work well for another.

  2. Take the time to target your audience

    "A 'like' is worth as much time and effort as you put into it," Stevens notes. If you're new to Facebook, it might be tempting to put your name in front of as many users as possible.

    If you acquire "likes" from people who ultimately have no interest in your brand, however, there's a good chance they will remove themselves as a supporter of your business. It's easy to get a wave of "likes," but the key to effective Facebook advertising is the retention of engaged users.

  3. Try different strategies; see what works

    It may take some trial and error to see what works best for your business, so try different strategies to engage Facebook users with a controlled budget. And as an advertiser, you are able to run multiple ads at the same time.

    Create tailored advertisements for specific demographics. Test different versions of your ad copy. Run the same ad with different photos. Once you have run a variety of campaigns, take a look at your performance metrics to see what works best. This will help you spend your advertising dollars more wisely, since you'll know what will deliver the best results before making a larger investment.

  4. Your campaigns should be action- and timeline-oriented

    John Chen, communications and marketing manager for the National Association for Law Placement, says being time- and goal-oriented with your campaigns is important, regardless as to whether your business has a built-in following or not.

    Established brands may have the extra push from their pre-existing community, but new brands also benefit from running campaigns that feature a specific call to action. Events and specials with an expiration date are good examples. Outside of events or specials, your advertisements should contain action verbs such as "download," "call" or "click here."
Facebook advertising may not be for all businesses — Trader Joe's and Apple are two brands that have left social media out of their marketing strategies entirely — but it is not irrelevant, nor should it be considered a passing fad.

On May 1, Facebook reported that 1.11 billion people — approximately 15.6 percent of the world population — use the site each month. And with more innovations, such as television-like advertising spots on the horizon, you should at least take the time to critically ask yourself if Facebook should be a part of your next marketing budget.

Liz Murphy is a content editor at MultiBriefs specializing in the law enforcement and security industries.