Facebook Ads Are Not Your Silver Bullet

You’ve heard the stories. You know the ones i’m talking about- the mom and pop cafe puts $100 into a Facebook campaign and overnight it turns into the latest hipster hangout; the e-commerce startup with ailing sales who drops their last pennies into an ad that generates a 500% ROI overnight, bringing them back from the brink of shutting down….

While Facebook is a pretty great platform for building your fanbase, I have to break some bad news – it’s not the silver bullet that many would have you believe.

The only universal winner in Facebook advertising, is Facebook.

But that doesn’t mean that all hope is lost for the neophyte ad operator looking to strike gold in the crowded hills that are Facebook ads. With some understanding of the best way to employ the granular targeting options that Facebook provides, and some careful planning on how to incorporate the ads in your over all campaign, Facebook ads can still be one of the best tools in your hat for driving new customers to your brand.

First, let’s talk about WHY Facebook ads.

 

Facebook User Growth

Facebook User Growth

At a whopping 1.6 BILLION users, Facebook comes in at the largest social network in the world. To put that into perspective, if you were to count every user on Facebook at a rate of one user per second, it would take around 45 years to finish. With the granular targeting that the platform offers to put the right ad in front of the right people, at the right time- it’s not hard to see how cost effective the platform really is. Especially if you include the cost of your own time to set up the ads in the equation. At $0.60 per click by someone who is interested in your brand it’s a downright steal when compared to the $23,000 that a billboard in Boston with no audience targeting would run you.

Relevance.

One of the coolest unappreciated features for the user of Facebook is the ability to dictate what kind of ads are displayed to you. Where else can you say, “Hey, I don’t like that ad on the wall, can we switch it to something that I like?”, and have it actually do so? If you’ve never experienced this, try clicking on the small arrow in the upper right corner of an ad you don’t like the next time you are on Facebook and select ‘Hide Ad’. You will be given a couple options to choose from such as ‘This Ad Isnt Relevant to Me’ where Facebook will record what the ad was and why you didnt like it. This will be saved in your ad preferences and used to display more relevant ads in the future. It helps them offer a better service to their advertisers, and helps the user have a better experience by providing more relevant ads. (Want to see what Facebook has on you? Click on the Arrow in the top right of an ad and select ‘Why am I seeing this?’ which will display why that ad was served to you, followed by Manage Your Ad Preferences for the complete profile that Facebook has built)

Organic Reach Decline.

We’ve already talked about this topic here, so I will be brief. In the changes to Facebook’s timeline algorithm, sharability and relevance has become more and more important to deliver the user experience that Facebook wants to provide. Great for users, not so great for building a brand. It means that the organic reach of a post without a paid boost is declining; making it much harder to build the reach of a Facebook page than it used to be. So while Facebook is still an amazing platform to reaching your customers, it is just becoming more of a pay to play model.

How Can This Be Used to Properly Construct a Campaign That is Still Effective?

Well, it’s going to take a little work and some understanding of how Facebook fits into a comprehensive campaign – and understanding that you can’t just throw money at it and hope that it finds the right users. An effective campaign will draw the user in and slowly convert them to a fan, then a customer in due time. First we start with simply wanting the user to get to know us, then we build that relationship over time until eventually they become a customer.

The biggest thing here is to understand push vs pull marketing. (Check out our article here for more on this in the context of Google Adwords vs Facebook Ads.) In short, push marketing is convincing someone that they have a problem and then presenting them with the solution, pull marketing is when the customer knows they have an issue and are already looking for a solution when you come along and offer them the perfect solution just when they need it. The key here is to remember that the audience on Facebook is not looking for a solution to their problems, they are looking to build and maintain relationships with their friends and family, share photos and experiences, and just maybe keep up with their favorite brands. They are not in a primed and ready to go shopping mindset in the way that Pinterest users are (Pinterest is great for e-commerce and retail) and this must me taken into account when planning your campaign.

Use this to your advantage and begin your campaign with the goal of building a relationship with your ideal customer.

 

Population Pyramid of Facebook

Population Pyramid of Facebook

The algorithm already let’s a user self select themselves into various interest categories, all you have to do is figure out which one your business fits in and then find those users who WANT to know about your industry. At first, just build your brand awareness. Let the user know that you exist and what you stand for. This can be done with everything from your branding, to posts and even the voice that you use in your posts. Think of it like dating – you can’t ask the Prom King or Queen out until they know you exist.

Next, you can start building the soft sell. Once they like you and want to know more about you and your brand you can start to give them offers or let them know what you can do for them. This might be a discount offer, a single low priced item or service, or even a free item. The goal here is just to get them in the metaphorical door to see what you have and the quality that you provide. This is where you have the opportunity to create a true fan. Someone who will tell all their friends about you and act as an evangelist for your brand. Just a few of these people might mean the difference of a couple new sales and a flood of repeat business so treat them well. A good tactic at this stage is to use lookalike audiences to target the people on Facebook who have many traits in common with your current customers.

Finally, Your Bottom Line.

Make sure to keep your budget in mind as you are planning this customer journey. If you have only 3 months of marketing budget available, but your planned out customer journey to a sale takes 6 months… well that’s going to get you far. Try accelerating the process, or hacking the timeline to leverage your current customers to help in the relationship building process of new customers. Or offer something of value earlier in the journey at no cost to help build trust quicker. There are ways to accelerate the process, but don’t skip it entirely.

Using a simple funnel to guide new customers through the journey to a sale through Facebook is something that might take more time and money than you initially planned for, it’s not going to be that 500% ROI from the legends of early Facebook, but taking the time to do it right will generate you a return month after month that you couldn’t have imagined otherwise.