It’s often said that if Facebook was a country it would be a superpower. An empire even – with 2.2 billion users worldwide, including 70% of all internet users, Facebook is by far the biggest social network in history. The question is, how does that affect you and your business?

The answer lies in Facebook advertising. Like any marketing tool, it has its strengths and weaknesses – but if used properly it can help you engage with any demographic you choose, no matter how specific. Plus, it’s cheap and (relatively) easy to use. How so?

Bang for your buck

It’s true, Facebook advertising used to be basically free; now it is effectively a pay-to-play service. Even if your brand is a fan favorite with plenty of followers, relying on free publicity is no longer a viable strategy. Why did this happen?

Simple: everyone’s Facebook accounts were getting flooded with information and ads that, frankly, no one wanted. So by focusing on paid advertising Facebook has made more room for more creative and well-conceived ads that are (in theory) more tailored to each user. This is good, as when your ad does appear in anyone’s news feed, it will be framed better and have less competition than before – and they will thank you for it.

Big Brother is your friend

As scary as it is to contemplate the amount of information Facebook has tucked away in its server banks, from a business perspective it’s an absolute goldmine. Only Google is as well-informed about your customers’ likes, dislikes, spending habits, location and other information – and you’re already advertising on Google, right?

How specific can you get on Facebook? Really, really specific – you can narrow down your segment by age, gender, marital status, location, interests or purchasing habits. You can choose to target or exclude your existing customers or fans, and you can even target people who resemble these ones. Scary? Yes: but very helpful.

Choose your weapon

We’ve seen you can choose from multiple levels of ad campaign – there’s even a nifty little $5 “boost” option, which pushes an existing post out to a wider audience – and you can target very specific audiences. But it doesn’t end there: you can decide whether you want to direct more traffic to your website, go for a drive-thru approach with a conversion (‘Click Here!’) campaign, or simply set up signposts by raising brand awareness – and you can aim them at multiple audiences at once.

You can even have multiple campaigns running simultaneously if you wanted, aimed at different demographics. How might this work? Consider this scenario: you’re opening up a new branch in a different location, so you run a brand awareness campaign aimed at locals to that area; at the same time, you run a conversion campaign advertising a one-off sale/promotion aimed at your existing customers. So long as you avoid overlapping them (so that two campaigns are not competing for one customer) you can quickly expand your reach in several directions.

The upshot:

There are many reasons for making Facebook marketing a key strategy for your business. It’s a cheap, powerful and relatively straightforward way of increasing brand visibility and penetration. Of course, there are things to keep in mind: as with any marketing strategy, it can’t be an off-the-cuff thing – remember, a Facebook news feed has a lot to catch the attention already, and your ads must stand out to stand a chance. Likewise, you must tailor your campaign and content to your audience, your type of business and your stated aims. And, as with all things social media, such campaigns do take time and energy to maintain.

But is this really too much to ask? With a little time and effort – and perhaps a little help from a good social media marketer – you can make Facebook advertising an effective and powerful part of your business.

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