Facebook Ads in 2014
Long before Facebook started offering “suggested posts”, “sponsored ads” and the variety of different options they have today, Opace were offering more traditional B2B internet marketing services, including SEO, social media and of course Pay Per Click using Google AdWords. These all worked (and still work) very well as forms of B2B marketing depending on the type client, objective and audience.
I had seen more traditional ads on Facebook previously but had hardly paid any attention as they were small and hidden out of sight in the right hand column of Facebook (see below example).
Then I noticed these strange “sponsored ads” starting to appear on my Facebook stream as though a friend had posted an update or made a recommendation. I was curious, initially I only noticed a few major brands doing this (which may of course been down to their targeting settings) and I will touch upon later in this blog, but over time more and more small businesses started doing the same.
Here is an example of one “suggested post” ad that is on my stream right now:
We’ve been experimenting with Facebook Ads now for over a year in conjunction with other marketing techniques, so I thought it was about time to share some of our experiences. The intention of this blog post isn’t to provide a “how-to” guide for Facebook Ads as there are lots of other great blogs on the subject, for example, but hopefully this will provide some useful insights and rationale as to why businesses should at least consider Facebook as part of their advertising/marketing strategy.
If you need help getting started with Facebook Ads I’ve provided some useful links below:
- Here: User Guide to the Ads Create Tool
- And here: How do I create a Facebook ad or sponsored story?
- And also here: The Complete Guide to Getting Started with Facebook Ads (one of the more recent tutorials)
Initial reaction to Facebook Ads and how things have changed
A user’s perspective
When I first noticed these “suggested posts” or “sponsored ads” appearing on my stream, I’ll be honest, my initial reaction was anger at the fact Facebook had forced these into something which felt very pure and personal. This was made worse by the title “suggested” which makes you think somebody you know has recommended which is not the case. I’ve never been an active Facebook user and around this time I was very sceptical about its benefit for most businesses.
I don’t know how typical I am of a business owner, but I would often lie in bed browsing Facebook on my phone to see what friends and family are doing, but my mind never stops thinking about business. So, when I saw a local agency’s ad pop up promoting their “content marketing services designed for agencies” I was curious and was amazed at how targeted the ad was. I visited their website a couple of times and then forgot about them… until the ad next appeared on my screen. This time I logged onto my PC, visited their website and placed a trial order. It worked – and on me of all people – a self proclaimed sceptic!
It was around this time my outlook on Facebook advertising changed, because it had worked on me. I thought of TV (ITV commercials in particular), Google (AdWords) and other platforms that offer a “free” and useful service which they need to monetise somehow. I then came to the conclusion that Facebook advertising for business does work, was essential for its survival, and wanted to experiment to see how effective it could really be.
An advertiser’s perspective
I will give some examples of our results, but what I will say is that going back about 10-12 months ago we had an adverse reaction from a small percentage of the target audience, mainly ads that were targeted at business owners. This was quite simply because they didn’t agree with having the ads forced in front of them. Some went as far as trying to spam our ads to make a point, but this was more targeted at Facebook as a platform rather than us. However nothing like this has happened in the last 10 months and my opinion is that this is down to a number of factors:
- Facebook Ads have become more targeted or at least the algorithms are more effective now
- Facebook are filtering out users responding with spam to ads (can’t prove this)
- Users are quickly becoming more accepting of ads as I did
- Users are becoming more knowledgeable about how to block ads or at least avoid them – see the following link for more info – http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/how-to-control-the-facebook-ads-you-see-weekly-facebook-tips
Different types of Facebook Ads
I won’t go into detail about each of these but Facebook has become a lot more powerful recently, offering a range of ad types as can be seen below.
I have personally trialled the following types with varying degrees of success:
- Page Post Engagements – to boost your post engagement (views, likes, comments and shares) to users who would otherwise not know about your post
- Page Likes – to boost your fan base and promote to users who would otherwise not know about your brand/page
- Clicks to Website – to work on a Pay Per Click basis similar to Google AdWords but having a very different mode of targeting (audience rather than keywords) and has always been far cheaper in our experience.
- Offers – to promote sign-up to a competition, giveaway or offer that you’re running
How targeted are Facebook Ads
For the purpose of this blog, I’ll demonstrate “Clicks to Website” although the targeting is very similar for all ad types. Like Google AdWords and other platforms you can set a location but you can also target by age, gender, interests and other criteria. “Interests” is the equivalent to keywords in AdWords allowing you to target your audience in an entirely different way. This is where Facebook Ads comes into its own. Not even LinkedIn Ads, the more obvious choice for B2B advertising (another topic), offers the same level of flexibility and targeting.
In the example below you can see I have set the ad to target within 20 km of Birmingham, any gender and age group of 18 plus. I have also added a few “business owner” type job titles (although there are far more) and we already have a potential reach of 28,000 people.
Let’s look at some real examples.
Facebook Ads for recruitment
Last year I needed to hire a new member of staff with a very specialist skill set in SEO. I could have gone through a recruitment agency or used various job sites but it was suggested to me that I give Facebook Ads a go. I hadn’t even contemplated using Facebook in this way and was totally amazed at the results.
The Ad (promoted post)
The Ad was simple: A promoted post (sponsored story) with an image, some copy explaining the position and very targeted criteria only looking at local individuals with an expressed interest in topics related to SEO.
For a modest £75 investment the results we as follows:
REACH (PEOPLE WHO SAW THE AD)
- 188 Total Actions
- 105 Page Photo Views
- 38 Post Likes
- 17 Page Likes
- 28 Other Actions
AVG. COST PER POST ENGAGEMENT
In terms of practical outcomes, we were inundated with applications from local specialists, some who provided case studies, reports and white papers on their approach to SEO. For various reasons we didn’t hire in the end but it was a great experiment. I’m still in contact with a number of those individuals today and we regularly bounce around ideas and discuss experiences.
Small business advertising and brand promotion using Facebook Ads
The next blog will go into two separate examples comparing Facebook Ads (Clicks to Website) with Google AdWords and LinkedIn Ads, but in summary both campaigns achieved significant targeted business reach, costing between 24p and 58p per click, 1/3 to 1/6 cheaper than the alternative.
You can view the next blog here.
If you were of a similar mindset to how I was a year or two back and you doubt the benefit of Facebook as a platform for B2B marketing or maybe you just have a dislike to Facebook Ads, then hopefully that will have changed. At very least this blog post will have shown you how Facebbook Ads worked on me (at a time when I was massively opposed to them) and hopefully provided you with some insights as to how powerful and cost effective they can be in terms of reaching your target audience.
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