Businesses everywhere face the challenge of making sure their messages get to the right people. Advertising can be expensive, so it’s smart for business leaders to always be searching for new, valuable ways to reach their buyers.
Social media has recently snagged the interest of many companies. A large audience and relatively little or no financial investment makes it a great advertising choice for companies with great products and services but small budgets.
This makes free advertising on Facebook sound good, right?
Posting across social media to help drive sales and increase your branding message may amplify your efforts. However, when it comes to free Facebook advertising, you get what you pay for.
These are little-known but true tidbits social media experts know about so-called free advertising on Facebook.
Limited Organic Reach
Once upon a time, free Facebook posts reached far more of an audience than they do now. Here is an example of the diminishing returns of such posts:
In the example above, our Facebook page reached 141 people organically out of 3,500 followers. This post only reached 4% of our followers.
A study by Edgerank Checker between 2012 and 2014 found that an organic reach for an average Facebook page dropped from 16% to 6.5%. For example, a page with 20k followers that previously reached 3200 people now only reach 1300.
This started in 2014 when marketers were flooding the social platform with tons of information. It simply isn’t possible for every post to be visible by every person on Facebook.
Facebook’s goal is to keep people on the platform as long as possible. The algorithm helps do that, because it shows users information that it thinks will interest them. Naturally, that may or may not be your advertising.
With these changes, marketers are getting less return on their investment of time to create and post information on the social media channel. They are reaching far fewer people than in previous years, making “free” advertising less appealing.
Increasing Likes Is Almost Impossible
Once a company has capitalized on their contacts to like their page, and their contacts have recommended liking the page, the growth can smash on the brakes. How can you reach all those other targets that you know would love your product?
It’s probably not happening for free.
Even though we want to think our cool infographic or informative blog post will go viral and hit thousands of hot leads, chances are good that won’t happen.
Facebook’s latest algorithm looks at the posts a consumer makes, as well as the ones made by friends that he or she likes, and friends’ posts throughout the last week. This can add up to a few thousand posts! From there, Facebook ranks these posts in the order it predicts the consumer will like them.
Out of all these posts, the consumer will only see a few hundred at most. The chance of having a post “hit” the algorithm as important enough to cut through all others and be seen by enough people to share it and go viral is slim. Unicorn, anyone?
Facebook Wants to Make Money!
The social media monster platform isn’t a non-profit. Why should they help build businesses for free? Creating algorithms that help consumers find content they are interested in takes money.
This chart shows Facebook’s revenue stream.
Advertising is Facebook’s bread and butter, so it’s safe to say that they are going to make it as enticing as possible for businesses to reach more people interested in their product or services through ads instead of free posts.
Companies that decide to only use free advertising on Facebook are missing out on key connections that could help them drive traffic to their website, elevate their branding message, and move the needle in revenue.
A social media strategy only focused on “free” advertising isn’t going to reach the desired number of people. The change in algorithm and need for Facebook to make money ensures that. To really maximize the impact of your message and its reach, companies must consider using paid initiatives.
Increasing Followers Is the Goal
Finding ways to get people who need your product to listen to your message is the bread and butter of effective branding. It’s no different with ads on Facebook. Plunking down some cash and hoping to see a big return one day won’t get you far.
Think about your buyers. What do they like? What makes them suffer? Once you answer these questions, you want to play to the answers in your ad. Develop an advertising strategy that answers those questions so you snag their attention. Once they see you are sharing helpful information, they will be more likely to follow you and read future posts.
But you want quality over quantity.
It’s tempting to use over-the-top language and offers to attract as many eyes possible. This is a stinky marketing strategy that won’t prove effective in the long run.
It pays to invest in “Like ads” on Facebook.
These are cool ads that show potential buyers what their friends are liking, which encourage them to like it as well. These are built based on the individual’s budget and the audience they choose. Here is an example of a “Like Ad” from MailChimp.
Companies that are interested in growing their followers without spending a fortune (who isn’t?) will see a great return on investment with “Like ads”.
Followers are fantastic, but the bottom line is, well, the bottom line. That’s why…
Increasing Sales Is the Goal
The ultimate prize with any advertising endeavor is more business. Building up sales and increasing the number of customers who use your product or service is possible with Facebook advertising. In addition to the ads mentioned above, there are options to encourage consumers to take the plunge.
Clear call-to-action buttons guide potential buyers through the sales journey. Interactive videos and the “carousel” option of ads keep interest and maximize impact. Or, offer a sale for a limited time to encourage consumers to make their decision.
Used strategically, Facebook ads can increase a small company’s sales by over 100%. Our case study outlines an example that amplified their sales by a tremendous 714%.
Creating brand awareness, building relationships with more followers, and increasing revenue are all goals that Facebook ads contribute to. Free advertising on Facebook just doesn’t compete with the ROI. However, even organizations that believe in the process get overwhelmed at how exactly to weave through the seemingly tricky maze to arrive at the desired outcome.
How to do it?
It takes a village…and a strategy.
Marketers considering Facebook ads to increase their followers and sell their products need to thoughtfully consider their paths. What is the budget? Which types of ads will they use? What do they want to accomplish? And, perhaps most important of all, who is their buyer?
They also need to commit to one of Facebook’s strongest selling points.
Knowing what works spectacularly, what is just ok, and what performs poorly is one of the best ways to get the most out of your marketing budget. Facebook offers up tons of measurable data that help companies know how successful their ad campaigns were or were not. There are several metrics that help do this.
- Click rates. Reviewing how many people clicked on your Facebook ad helps measure and tweak your message. High clicks signal you are targeting an audience interested in your product or service. Low clicks shows that you need to re-consider your ad and your target audience.
- Click through rates. The click through rate tells you more than the click rate. It measures the amount of people who clicked your ad in relation to the number of people who saw it. After all, if you are targeting a niche tons of people aren’t seeing your post. If you have a high click rate, that means done a good job of segmenting your buyers. Aim for a click through rate of 3% or higher.
- Conversion rate. Knowing the number of consumers who saw the ad and went on to make a purchase is valuable information, and drives your initiative. The higher the conversion rate, the more successful you have been at nailing your message and pinpointing your audience.
The next two metrics measure how well your budget is performing with your paid Facebook advertising.
- Cost per click. This metric shows you how much you are investing to get a person to click your ad. Take how much you spent on the ad, divide that number by the number of clicks the ad received, and you are able to exactly quantify how much each click cost you.
- Cost per conversion. The cost per conversion is the total amount you spent on the ad divided into the number of conversions the ad brought you. This is also referred to as cost per lead. Keep in mind that an acceptable conversion rate varies depending on what you’re selling. If your product costs ten thousand dollars a hundred dollar conversion rate is great. However, if you are selling pencils, a hundred dollar conversion rate needs to be tightened up fast!
How to implement a winning Facebook strategy?
Going beyond free advertising on Facebook? Good for you! Now it’s time to decide how to do it in a way that maximizes your budget and minimizes the time it takes away from other projects.
There are three options for companies who want to build and maintain a high-performing Facebook advertising strategy.
Do it yourself.
If you have time on your hands. Do you want to handle developing your ads, deciding on your target audience, and reviewing the metrics? If you run a small business or marketing department, you probably have two dozen other things that demand your attention.
Handling your own Facebook advertising can end up costing you considerable time and effort. And, many initiatives have failed because the person handling the advertising got caught up in other responsibilities and didn’t devote the amount of time it needed to thrive.
Hire a social media manager.
There are plenty of social media professionals that could join your team and head up your advertising efforts. Someone who is focused on increasing followers and getting return on your efforts will help you see positive results. The downside is a new hire is expensive. By the time you hire and train a person, pay them and give them benefits, you add a hefty chunk to your advertising budget in their cost.
Work with a professional third party.
Keep your costs low and your results high by choosing a reputable social media advertising service. A company that offers experience in social media advertising can help you produce results faster and at less cost than you would could achieve on your own. Be sure the company you work with has a stable of satisfied clients and takes the time to work with you on an advertising plan that fits your budget and addresses your goals.
Waving goodbye to puny-performing free advertising on Facebook and saying hello to paid ads is smart business. Gain measurable results by being able to target your desired customers with specific ads at a fraction of the cost of traditional advertising. But don’t think you must do it alone, or hire an expensive social media employee. Check out your options to work with a social media advertising company and your business will see followers, leads, and customers increase faster than you every thought possible.
Do you have any more tips and tricks for free Facebook advertising that we may have missed? Share them with us below in the comments!