Like it or loath it, Facebook is now an important part of marketing for businesses across the world. It's simple to set up your own Facebook Page for your business, and getting those crucial first 30 Fans by getting family and friends to Like the page. (30 is the magic number because it triggers your Page stats - and you definitely want to see those.)
So, once you've got those 30 Fans, you'll want to build your Fan base to get your messages to a wider audience. Your following will grow naturally with regular posting, etc, but there are quicker ways to boost these.
Sponsored Posts are Facebook Ads!
Enter Facebook ads. They come in various formats, depending on what results you want to achieve, which makes life easier when trying to decide which approach is best for you and your business. Needless to say, they are not free, so this should be treated as another strand to your regular marketing, just like newspaper ads or flyers.
Unlike Google Adwords, which are triggered by what people type into the search engine, Facebook ads are shown to people who match certain criteria such as location, age and interests. You can either pay per impression (the number of times it is shown) or Pay per Click (only pay each time someone clicks on your ad). You can set a budget, a timeframe and monitor your ad's progress, just like Adwords.
1. Driving traffic to your website
If your website is the main source of information about your products and services, or you sell online, this is the approach to go for. You can drive traffic to your home page or to any particular page, which is probably better as you can use your website stats to check how many extra visitors you got as a result of the ad.
Facebook term = Clicks to Website: Links
2. Action adverts
These encourage people to take action on your website, such as signing up for a newsletter, buying your latest widget or even downloading a factsheet or coupon. The advert has some sort of end result beyond just people visiting your website.
Facebook term = Website Conversions: Links
3. Page Likes
These ads aim to get people to Like your Page, so it's all about building a Facebook following, NOT about sales. So, this ad needs a really compelling message to persuade people to Like.
Facebook term = Page Likes (!)
A quick word about Likes
At Akira, we've found a fascinating piece of research that shows that more people Like or Share a page on mobiles than comment, simply because it is physically easier. It makes a lot of sense; one touch of your thumb on your smartphone and it's done. So, the key to a successful ad for Likes is a mixture of a strong image and a reason to Like so people don't actually have to click through to see your Page to Like it!
4. Photo Engagement
No, we don't mean photos of happy couples, but photos that encourage people to engage with your image - Like it, Share it, Comment on it., etc. If you already have a post on Facebook that's doing rather well of this type, you can Boost the post. The same applies to videos, too.
Facebook term = Page Post Engagement: Photo/Video
5. Local Adverts
This is probably the most interesting to bricks and mortar businesses; in fact, you must have a physical address to be able to create one of these ads. The secret ingredient here is a "Get Directions" button that guides customers from their current location to you. This is really useful if your business is both local and not on the high street, as customers can find you using their phones alone.
Facebook term = Local Awareness
How much does it cost?
Needless to say, that depends on how many people you want to reach, across how big a geographical area, and how much you want to spend. The only way to find out costs is to actually build an ad and see what the costs will be.
For example, let's look at a Page Likes campaign. A local foot care clinic looking to reach adults aged 18-65 within a 20 km radius of their clinic in London Ontario could potentially reach 140,000 people. Facebook suggests that equates to an estimated daily reach of up to 6,500 people, and suggests a budget of CAN$14 per day.
You can drill down further and narrow those 140,000 people down by other factors including their interests, behaviours, education and connections. So, the foot care clinic might decide to target men aged 35-55 with an interest in curling just as the season starts, to promote custom made orthotics as a way to improve their game!
That reduces the potential reach to less than 1000 people, and with a potential daily reach of up to 180 people. However, even if just 1% of that daily reach booked an appointment, that's 1.8 new customers, per day. We'd be happy with that! Facebook doesn't actually suggest a change in budget, as this is based on the level of advertising competition.
What's best for my business?
Like all advertising, it's a choice between broad spectrum advertising (like a newspaper ad) or highly targeted advertising (like a flyer handed out at the local curling club). Like all advertising, you need to monitor the results and test various options to see what works best for your business. Facebook actually do a nice little guide to how to create ads: you'll find it at https://www.facebook.com/help/458369380926902.