What Facebook Wants Small Business to Know about Advertising

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Last week, I attended a “Boost Your Business” workshop sponsored by Facebook. It’s the second time I’ve attended a Facebook-sponsored seminar since they moved their SMB division to Austin.

For all the criticism about this social network and all the changes that cause upheaval for organizations trying to navigate Facebook’s changing landscape, you have to give them credit for trying. By Facebook’s own admission, small businesses in the US are their real opportunity to grow revenues.

Think about it for a minute. You are a brand new business. You have a limited budget. Where else could you start to reach your customers with an investment of $25? You certainly can’t touch the traditional advertising outlets of print, radio and television unless you’re prepared to spend $10,000 or more PER MONTH. Digital ad networks won’t even talk to you unless you’re prepared to spend significantly over time.

Small businesses can afford to advertise on Facebook and they can be successful doing it.

Here are some key points made by the Facebook team during the seminar.

  • Facebook has 1 billion users on mobile daily. DAILY. No matter how small your small business, chances are a key segment of your potential customer universe is on this platform.
  • 1 out of 5 minutes spend on mobile devices is either on Facebook or Instagram. Since Facebook has integrated the advertising choices to include advertising on Instagram, this is a great way to expand your advertising audience, especially if you have great visuals.
  • Once a day is key to engagement. The Facebook SMB team shared that small businesses who post a minimum of 3-5 posts a week will have the best success. In fact, they shared that if you are posting more than once per day, you are actually stealing from your own engagement because you’re not getting the full benefit of the 24 hours of life in a post. (What I WISH they had shared was the average page size for which this statistic is valid).

The typical small business owner wears many hats and choosing and placing advertising is just one more burden. While the process can seem daunting, here are four takeaways from the Facebook seminar that can turn a burden into an opportunity.

  • Boosted posts are the most elementary way to begin advertising. However, they lack the precision of more targeted ads and are often more costly per “click.” Smart small businesses revise and refine targets over time.
  • Choose one objective for your campaign – it could be page likes, website visits or purchases; then target your audience and the amount you will spend to reach them.
  • Test, test, test. If an ad is not performing as you had hoped. Start over. Try a different image, a different target, a different amount.
  • Change your ad frequently. The Facebook team recommends that ads should be changed every 3-4 weeks.

The good news for small business owners is that Facebook continues to develop resources to assist this sector. Here are a few:

  • In the Facebook Ads Manager window, the help tab pulls up the most commonly asked questions as you can see from the graphic here.

help screen for FB

The biggest piece of advice from the Facebook team: set it and forget it is NOT an option.

How has your advertising experience been on Facebook?

Facebook Reaches out to SMB with “Fit”

Fran at the FB Fit SeminarSmall businesses are getting extra attention from Facebook these days. As the social network moves its users to a new blend of organic and paid content, Facebook users are becoming exposed to higher levels of paid advertising.

Individual users are unsure about how much advertising they want to see in the network. Businesses want to know more about using Facebook for advertising, but they have tons of questions. How does it work? How much should I spend? How do I measure success? Where do I get help?

These are all questions I get regularly from my clients; the result is that I conducted some very small experiments with Facebook ads, which you can see here and here .

The challenLight up question mark photoge for small businesses is that they already feel like they are wearing so many hats they do not feel capable of exploring or learning about one more thing.

Facebook is making an attempt to change that with its Facebook Fit program. This is a “road show” of seminars by Facebook itself. Earlier this summer, I attended a seminar in Austin that was geared to helping small businesses navigate advertising options and hear from similarly sized businesses on how they are using Facebook advertising.

The afternoon included a panel of small businesses who have successfully used Facebook advertising. The panel included the owner of a local restaurant and food truck; a local retail store with a robust e-commerce platform; a national jewelry brand; and a company with niche products for outdoors.

The method by which each of these businesses got involved in Facebook advertising ran the gamut. The restaurant owner started with a budget of 5 cents per day. Yes, cents. The national jewelry brand and the local retail store, on the other hand, had an integrated marketing budget and they slowly carved out dollars for Facebook advertising, based on their success with organic content, fan contributions and other factors.

They all seemed genuine. They all were realizing success with their marketing campaigns. They all believed in the benefits of Facebook advertising. Sure, Facebook invited them to the party and (by now) has a vested interest in their success.

As a group, though, their message was very clear.

Everyone on the business panel started out small. They tested. They learned from the tests. Then tried something new. They carved out budget for the ads. While the restaurant owner was spending $15 per month on ads, the retail store with the e-commerce platform was spending $500 a month once they integrated Facebook into their marketing campaign. It’s a smart approach.

Facebook claims that online ads have a 38% success rate, while ads on Facebook reach 89% success rate. This is not verified information, but is the benchmark they offered at the seminar.

How can you take advantage of this information so your business can begin exploring advertising on Facebook? There are a LOT of new features available to advertisers, some of which I have not yet tried, but will be testing in the coming weeks and months. Here is a rundown of some things available to small businesses.

Boosted Posts

This is where you take organic content and apply advertising dollars to it. You can target demographic and psychographic information, and the ad returns some good data when the “boost” money runs out.

Page Like Ads

Usually shows in the newsfeed, and users can rotate images seen and use same targeting as the boosted post. Also returns some good data.

Website Ad

Runs in the right-hand column and NOT in the newsfeed. Don’t have to have a Facebook page to link to it. You do have to be on Facebook to do Page Like Ads and Boosted Posts.

Conversion Measurement

This is newer than the ad types listed above, but allows you to track conversions (based on YOUR choices) after people view your ad. You set up the conversion pixel when you create the ad and it follows the visitor on the Web.

Lookalike Audience

Exactly as it sounds. You target your advertising based on page fans, website visitors or a database (see next section). Haven’t tried this yet, so I can’t offer any results.

Custom Audience

This option (in my mind) is troublesome. Here’s why. You take an existing list, like your email newsletter list, and upload it Facebook’s Power Editor feature. You can exclude current customers, target those “like” your current customers and other features. Facebook claims that it can’t actually see or reuse the lists you upload, but data security is a hot topic these days so I would have a lot of questions before I tried to use this feature.

There are many more features in the pipeline, including better mobile choices and better interface with applications.With Facebook Fit, the network is trying to be more responsive to small businesses. By their own admission, there are more than 30 million small businesses on their network, so it’s about time. They’ve even located their Small Business Division in Austin, which might mean more outreach opportunities.

I plan to test a new series of Page Like Ads and maybe even a lookalike audience and track conversions this fall. I would love to hear what you are trying on this network.