Since its birth in 2004 in what is now one of the most famous startup stories of all time, Facebook has grown into a global juggernaut and key part of the prevailing cultural zeitgeist. After acquiring Instagram in 2012 and WhatsApp in 2014 (as well as Oculus VR in 2014), it has become so integrated into the social fabric of modern living as to have rendered the world only 15 years ago totally unrecognizable.
What accounts for the majority of its growth? Usability? Yes. Right place, right time? Maybe. But on a micro level, where people and businesses fight for the limited attention of the masses, there is one factor that reigns supreme.
In the fourth quarter of 2018 Facebook reported $16.6 billion dollars in ad revenue, with ad impressions increasing 34% over the same time period. Everybody, from giant multinational corporations to Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, utilise the platform to reach fans, build brand and sell products. Clearly something is working. And if you aren’t using it yet it might be time to start.
Read on below as we take a look at the nine top reasons why Facebook advertising is a necessity for modern businesses.
Page Likes and Followers
Being able to build a powerful hub within the confines of the Facebook platform is a powerful way to distribute the message of your business. When someone likes your page you can be fairly confident this person wants to engage with you on a regular basis and is interested in your products, which is extraordinarily important when considering the lifetime value (LV) of an individual or organisation to your business.
Though the organic reach of Facebook is not what it once was (due, in part, to the amazing success of its ad platform), by providing enough value on your page for consumers to like and follow you, you set up to the opportunity to gain some free eyeballs and space in their newsfeed. Facebook has essentially set it up for you to take a swing; the pressure is on you now to be worthy of the attention of your audience, providing engaging and powerful content at scale that will be engaged with and shared.
In the digital world of cross-platform targeting and an expectation on the part of the consumer for customisable journeys, being able to reach the right people at the right time is of paramount importance. Facebook knows this and have invested billions into their targeting capabilities, allowing you to reach the right audience with almost laserlike precision.
The sky really is the limit here. You can reach local people, people on the other side of the world, fans of your competitors, people from certain demographics or interests, people who speak different languages… The only ceiling to your potential is how much money you have and how talented your creatives are.
Remember in the intro when we spoke about Facebook ad impressions increasing by 34% in 2018 Q4? Well, during that same time period the price of advertising on the platform actually dropped by 2%.
Not only can you define your target profile with general metrics such as gender, location, occupation, income and interests, you can also dive deeper into consumer behaviour. If you have a time-limited offer you could target people who are only in the area temporarily, or if you have a larger competitor you can actually choose to go after an audience who have shown an interest in their brand. E-commerce businesses can tap into historical shopping behaviour, or past page interaction. With granular segmentation like this there really is no excuse for putting irrelevant ads out there.
One of the beautiful things about using Facebook paid ads is just how big the playing field is. With over 2.38 billion monthly active users as of March 2019, you can truly go as narrow or as wide as you want. Depending on your industry, you probably already know which approach makes the most sense. If you’re new to this it might even be that you need to go wide first and then narrow it down as you collect more data. With Facebook’s colossal reach, you can do it.
That’s right. Facebook marketing is actually getting cheaper.
One of the main reasons for this enormous growth is the low minimum spend you need to invest to get an ad campaign off the ground. This allows marketers to aggressively experiment with different creative and audience segments until they find a rich vein of eager customers. Once they do the inventory is there for them to scale up, increase their budgets and dramatically lower their cost per acquisition over time.
The Facebook bidding system can be as cheap or expensive as you want it to be. It is always a balancing act between maintaining ROI and aggressively scaling and they make the road to both extremely simple to achieve.
Undoubtedly Instagram has been a huge factor in Facebook’s continued success. As an image-based platform designed for fast consumption of cultivated content, targeting the right people with a striking visual can be extremely effective in getting your message across. There are businesses that have built their brands almost entirely through the powerful engine of Instagram ads, either through the platform itself or through the use of influencers to provide a more native experience.
Sheryl Sandberg has reported recently that over two million advertisers are currently using Instagram and Facebook stories to showcase services and products. And with the introduction of Instagram Shopping to the platform there is about to be a huge boost in e-commerce related opportunities for the switched on retailer. We live in a world where pictures and videos tell the story and if you aren’t investing in your multimedia resources you are going to miss out on a lot of potential channel growth in the coming years.
Do you remember when advertisers were scrapping over banner and skyscraper ads? Me neither. The truth is platforms such as Facebook have completely changed the game when it comes to ad type variety. Now there is something for every offer, every business, and they make it so easy to keep tabs on your customers that you will know exactly what is working, when.
If you run an ecommerce business you can use image ads, boosted posts, video ads, slideshows, carousels and collection ads to highlight the benefits of your products. If you are a service business or a conference centre you can use lead generation and event response ads to drum up targeted interest in your speciality. If you’re going for a big brand push you can take over mobile with a full-screen canvas ad or a video, or just hit people up for page likes. It really is an inexhaustible medium that lends itself to creativity and experimentation.
There are two options for Facebook business advertising when setting budget: daily or lifetime budget. For those businesses without unlimited bank accounts having a daily budget is perhaps the most suitable. This allows you to keep a tighter control on where the money is going.
The daily budget functionality allows you to set strict dollar amounts at the ad level, rather than at the account level, giving you the freedom to test new avenues without affecting the performance of your long-running winners.
With the introduction of cost cap bidding you can also decide the maximum cost per action or impression that you are willing to pay. This is a great step towards minimising waste spend and exploring what truly effective (ROI producing) actions you can drive within your daily budget. By restricting yourself in this way you can learn how to do less with more, put forth more effort to squeeze every reward from your hard-earned screen time, and reap the long-term benefits of a more disciplined campaign.
Like most ad platforms Facebook offers basic tracking capability. Impressions and clicks are par for the course and available within your personal dashboard for easy reporting and campaign optimisation. Where Facebook ads become really interesting is when you start tracking for conversions. By dropping the Facebook pixel on your site you can effectively monitor the behaviours of visitors and customers, building up a valuable first party data source that will allow you to target audiences more effectively, drive more actions and ultimately measure the performance of individual ad placements over time.
With FB pixel you can set specific values for actions on your site and actually begin to build a picture of your optimal customer journey. Do people click three or four times before they make a purchase? Do they browse and then come back? What factor is causing them to abandon their baskets at the checkout? With these sorts of insights not only can you improve your advertising in real time but improve your business on a macro level.
Whilst some marketers are calling the rise of data-driven advertising the death of creativity, it’s the opposite that’s actually true. In our fast-paced, hyperactive world we are all day-trading for attention (credit: Gary Vaynerchuk) and the competition is so fierce you have to be creatively on top of your game. People are being sold to all of the time, which means anything that isn’t the perfect fit for them in that moment is going to be ignored and discarded. That makes knowing your audience and your place in the market more important than ever.
We touched on this area previously but there is such a wide variety of creative options on the Facebook platform that it is almost impossible to completely strike out. From Facebook sponsored ads and boosted posts to canvas ads and carousels, there is a clearcut way to build brand awareness, generate leads, promote content or shift product. And if none of that works there is always the previously mentioned video (72% of agencies say that video is as effective, if not more effective than television advertising).
We’ve really only touched the tip of the iceberg about why Facebook is such a great platform for advertisers. Not only do you get the dual power and extreme reach of both Facebook and Instagram, you also build specific consumer data over time, which is the modern-day version of striking gold. Gone are the days where B2B businesses avoid it with the thinking “our customers aren’t on there”. Everybody is on there! And as the social ad space continues to shift and consolidate its resources we can look forward to more seamless customer journeys, enhanced attribution and, hopefully, a lot more happier customers.
What are your thoughts on Facebook advertising?