It’s astonishing how much Facebook has changed since 2004. From a self-declared “online directory” to a mobile-first network, the social media giant continues to grow. I wonder if the boys who started it in a Harvard dorm ever dreamed they would one day reach more than one billion users.
So here we are. Facebook is 10 years old and placing an arsenal of weapons at your business’s disposal. Putting your page on cruise control is not enough; you’ve got to keep people engaged. As I’ve told you before, most of your own fans don’t see your posts. So you need to entice them. Facebook ads and promoted posts are two great ways to do it - and they let you focus in on your ideal audience - location, gender, age, similar interests. If your small business doesn’t have the coin for a big ad campaign, these Facebook options are a great way to hit your target audience. Let’s run through the differences between ads and promoted posts.
With a credit card linked to your Facebook account, you can promote your page in as little as two clicks. It’s an easy solution if you don’t have previous experience with ads, which are a little more labor-intensive.
First, ask yourself, “Where’s the best place to drive my audience - my Facebook page or an external website?” If you want more people engaging with the cool content on your Facebook page, you want promoted posts. If you prefer to take them directly to your website, you’re better off working with the Facebook ad dashboard.
Next, one of the key differences is - you guessed it - pricing. If you’re a small business owner, you can spend as little as $5 or as much as your heart desires for promoted posts. Facebook gives you an estimated “likes per day” and a sample, customizable post. Pricing for ads is a little different. First of all, you get two options: CPM (cost per 1,000 impressions) and CPC (cost per click). Both are auction-based; in other words, you have to beat out your competition. But no worries, this isn’t hard to do. Facebook gives you a bid range (usually only a few cents per click). Typically, you end up paying less than the maximum bid. Just set a daily budget - as little as $1 - so when you reach that limit, Facebook will stop advertising your ad.
Think of it like this: CPC is about clicks; CPM is about awareness. CPC is safer. You’re charged when someone clicks, and your cost won’t go over your daily budget. However, your ad will go away after the allotted clicks, and if your budget is low, that may not be too many. If you’re after awareness, CPM is the better route because more people will see your ad. Think about it like an online billboard. However, while the allotted amount of people will see it, that doesn’t guarantee they’ll actually look at it.
Make sure to edit your ad. Facebook generates a sample ad, automatically pulling from your mission statement or description. Since that’s not likely to be very exciting, write something enticing, something worth clicking on, something that will motivate action. And you have only 90 characters, so get to your point quickly. If you don’t want your ad running continuously, set an end date. Pick one that matches up with this spring's and summer’s promotions.
Unlike with Facebook ads, you will set up only a daily budget to promote your page. You’ll know upfront how much you are paying. Facebook even gives you an estimate about how many people will like your page per day.
Many businesses do both promoted posts and ads. I suggest you sample your options; see which one works best for your company. There’s no set formula that will work for all companies. Facebook provides analytics so you can track how your ads are doing. If you get lost, check Facebook’s FAQs.
Remember: All options allow you to set up a budget lower than $10, so there’s really no excuse not to experiment. While Twitter and some other networks are certainly worth consideration (especially if you cater to a teen audience), Facebook been around for a decade. That’s like a century in social media years! In terms of online ads, they’re old pros by now. Give them a shot.
Lana O’Hollaren does business development and account management for Aloysius Butler and Clark and manages the agency’s southern Delaware office. She can be reached at 302-249-4438.