Facebook has come a long way from its humble beginnings in a Harvard dorm room and is now a key marketing platform for big business. Facebook fully realised its potential in 2013 when mobile ads were introduced to our news feeds and the company now generates millions of dollars.

From the first ads placed in 2004 and advertising contracts with companies like Apple and Victoria’s Secret in 2005, Facebook stepped up its advertising game in 2008 when businesses were offered the chance to create a business page for free. With the offering of advanced targeting options and the ability to manage ads, the decision was obvious. 

Popular methods for advertising 

Advertising on Facebook should be dependent upon key business objectives. There are two most common forms of advertising which we’ll delve into in greater detail below: 

Promoted posts (also known as ‘boost post’) 

This form of advertising is often used to display a post to a wider audience using Facebook’s targeting options. Popular targeting options tend to be:

  • Age
  • Location
  • Language
  • Interests
  • Behaviour (i.e. whether they browse only on mobiles or only on tablets etc)
  • Education
  • Country of residence

Since the latest updates to Facebook’s algorithm, many businesses have noticed a decline in organic reach, so boosting a post can be a very useful tool to use when you need to promote important messages or new campaigns with a wider (whilst still targeted) audience. This tactic has been popular with Starbucks, who recently boosted a range of posts to launch their delivery service.  

Promoted Facebook page

If your sole objective is to increase the number of likes your business page receives, then promoting your Facebook page itself could be a good option for you. When promoting your Facebook page, you can allocate the campaign a ‘lifetime budget’ and select a targeted demographic of users that will see your page. You can select this demographic by choosing from a number relevant categories. 

Within the Facebook ad interface, there is also an option to promote website clicks, which is similar to page promotion. With both these options, you can use split ad testing to monitor how audiences respond to different images or text used in posts and find out what engages your audience in the best way. 

Benefits of Facebook advertising

Exposure Opportunity: Facebook has over 1.35 billion active users each month and is second most visited website behind Google. Impressive stats, and it’s highly likely that a segment of your target audience will be registered on Facebook – a perfect opportunity for you to engage with them. 

Opportunity for effective targeting: Anyone who creates a Facebook account will need to input basic information, such as date of birth, location and language, meaning that the site is an incredible tool to target specific demographics. Whether it’s a business operating worldwide, or simply a small business operating locally, targeting can be as wide or as specific as you want. 

Retention: As well as using ads for traditional organic promotion of products and services, exclusive Facebook deals can also be offered to customers with such incentives likely to increase brand loyalty and positive word-of-mouth for the business. Additionally, as Facebook displays the number of friends who already ‘Like’ the page, this can encourage others to get involved and interact with the page. 

Flexibility: With the ability to create image based ads, and no character length limits like Twitter, Facebook ads offer a highly flexible and personalised way to advertise your business, product or service without the restrictions present on traditional ad platforms. 

Multiple viewing: We’re living in a social media-driven world and logging into a social network multiple times a day is common for users worldwide. This presents advertisers with an excellent opportunity to reach out to their target audience numerous times throughout the day and on different devices.

Affordability: With the sheer volume of active users each month, Facebook can provide a relatively cheap method of placing your ad in front of an interested audience. Offered on both a CPC (cost per click) and CPM (cost per thousand) ad buying model based on your requirements, this offers further flexibility

Drawbacks of Facebook advertising

Low click-through-rate: The large numbers of users on the site can also be a drawback resulting in ads being missed by consumers. So, regardless of how well ads are targeted to a demographic, click-through-rate can often be very low. 

Low conversions: Facebook was originally designed for connecting with friends and for inspiration so many users are still cynical of the increasingly financial nature of the site and may not be ready to make a purchase. As such, action is rarely taken leading to a low conversion rate. 

Ad blockers: Easily downloaded through your browser, ad blockers are particularly common with the younger generation and are often put in place to avoid all ads completely. So, although they may fit into the demographic you are targeting, your ads will not display if ad blocker software is installed on their browser. 

Targeting an older audience: Although Facebook is increasingly popular among elderly users; many are still more familiar with Google, especially when searching for products/services. As such, Google AdWords may be considered a more effective platform when advertising to this market. 

Facebook is an ever-evolving beast, but hopefully this overview should give you a clearer understanding of how Facebook advertising could potentially advance your business, as well as its key benefits and drawbacks.