Facebook may have generated unfavorable press in 2018 because of its data collection policies, but it’s still a firm favorite among small businesses in search of new customers. The evidence is compelling. There are more than 50 million Business pages on Facebook, with 80% of small businesses having already established a presence.
As consumers, we spend nearly two hours a day on social media, and on mobile 1 in 5 of those minutes is on Facebook or Instagram (noting that the latter is owned by the former). For businesses prepared to meet their customers where they’re already spending a significant proportion of their day with content that is relevant, the rewards are significant. It’s hard, after all, to ignore the statistic that 93% of buying decisions are based on social media.
What is Facebook Marketing?
Small businesses looking to get started with marketing on Facebook can take an organic or paid approach, but using both is advisable. Organic Facebook marketing is as simple as setting up a Facebook Business Page, which is completely free, allowing you to establish a verified presence on the platform. You can then post regular updates, engage with customers who comment, and set up easy ways for users to get in touch, share your content, or provide feedback.
By itself, however, a Facebook Business page is insufficient. It may drive traffic to your website, but for reasons that will be explained later it will fall short of your full marketing potential.
Where Facebook really comes into its own is with paid advertising, specifically through a Business Manager account. Again, this is free to set up and surprisingly user-friendly. With Business Manager, you can manage multiple campaigns, assign permissions for employees and/or external agencies, create ads, and track performance.
Ads can be posted on the Facebook newsfeed, Instagram (the sister application of Facebook), on apps, or on the third-party Audience Network (in the same way as Google’s Display Network). That gives you broad capability to engage with customers in a wide variety of ways, at several points throughout the buyer journey. And here’s the real kicker: advertising rates are a fraction of what small businesses are typically paying for print and broadcast media.
What content can you create with Facebook?
Facebook gives the small business an astonishing array of tools to create content from scratch, or repurpose what already exists. For example:
- Organic content can be created and posted in the newsfeed for brand awareness and lead generation.
- Ad campaigns can be created to generate catalog sales, promote special offers, or drive app installs using static, carousel, or video formats.
- Blog and video content can be posted to push conversion at the consideration and decision stages.
How to market effectively with Facebook
The world’s most popular social media platform presents a big box of chocolates, but it is important not to gorge all at once. In fact, Facebook’s Business Manager emphasizes discipline from the start. Each campaign begins with the requirement to set specific goals, whether raising awareness, growing engagement, or boosting conversions. Although Facebook does allow you to target so-called “vanity” metrics such as “Likes” and “Shares,” the better ROI is ultimately through conversions.
Next, Facebook provides a dazzling range of tools to help you define and target your audience. Any small business will understand the importance of targeting locally, but Business Manager’s Insights feature also allows you to focus on specific demographics or interest groups. You can even apply a saved audience or create a lookalike audience.
Once the campaign is up and running, Facebook’s Audience Insights gives you unparalleled visibility into ad performance. You can track and analyze engagement across target audiences and stages in the buyer journey, allowing you to adapt campaigns in real time.
For the small business accustomed to splurging on local print media with little or no analytics on reach and conversions in return, Facebook is a refreshingly transparent resource.
The advantages of Facebook Business
Facebook takes pains to portray itself as a simple platform, but it is a publisher with powerful creative support behind the scenes.
With little or no formal design skill, small businesses can create engaging content for both mobile and desktop devices. These include:
- Image ads — posts with images get 3 times more engagement. A superb resource for creating free images from a massive bank of clip art and photo resources is Canva (free).
- Video content — cuts through like nothing else. Although only 0.9% of posts use video, these account for 7% of reach.
- Facebook Live — a way to engage with your customers in real time with instant reactions.
Facebook also offers outstanding opportunities for retargeting. By including a simple string of Facebook pixel code in web pages, small businesses can serve ads to users consistently during the consideration phase to push conversion.
Finally, who knows better than the small business about the importance of community? Facebook is particularly effective at building and targeting local communities, not least because the de facto device for browsing Facebook is now mobile. Potential customers can be targeted when they enter your neighborhood, and are invited to get in touch by Messenger or call with just a single flick of the thumb. This feature is particularly important in the smartphone era, when customers expect to find what they want, purchase it, and organize delivery or pickup in a much shorter period of time (if not instantly).
Facebook marketing best practice
As a fluid, adaptive platform, Facebook is always responding (sometimes brutally) to changes in user behavior. One significant change has been the downgrading of organic content in favor of paid advertising. Even in the best of times, organic reach for any post was typically limited to 30% of your entire follower count on average. Now, your chances of cutting through the noise without some investment to prime the pump are negligible. There is nothing wrong with posting regular updates and news on the organic newsfeed, but if you want to see a real change in traffic to your website, you have to go with the paid option.
That leads neatly to the second significant change, which was Facebook’s 2018 return to personal over promoted content. In order to preserve its authentic, relevant principles, Facebook is returning to its roots in people rather than business. Ultimately, Facebook will reward content that is valuable, shareable, and community-focused. In response, make sure you create content that fits in with the newsfeed, rather than blasting into the conversation with corporate messaging.
As long as the small business understands that users gravitate to their newsfeed for diversion and fun, Facebook can return astounding results. In fact, it offers the lowest cost per 1,000 impressions (CPM) in advertising history. For little more than a dollar a day, your business could quite easily reach 4,000 people.
If you are considering testing the waters but would like to know more, don’t miss our AMMEX webinar on B2B Facebook Marketing on May 23rd.