Facebook Ads Are Good. I Swear!

By Wednesday February 27th, 2013

Hyper-personal targeting and new Facebook conversion tracking make for great advertising, whether you like it or not.

I find myself spending a lot of time extolling (and some time defending) the benefits of Facebook advertising as compared to other digital and traditional ad placement venues. I would like to take a few minutes to answ some of the most common questions and gripes, ending with a big splash as we look into the most recent addition to the Facebook ad arsenal, conversion tracking.

“Facebook ads are just a little picture on the right side, I never click on those.”

I have hundreds of thousands of clicks to prove that someone, at least, very definitely clicks on those ads. Really, though, the effectiveness of this medium is the hyper-targeting of people based on their self-stated interests. While Google Adwords effectively targets users based on what they’re looking for (in other words, typing into Google), Facebook ads can target people with things they didn’t know they were looking for, based on their interests and connections. This truly allows you to target people, instead of search terms. If you know you’re showing mountain bike ads to people who love cycling, then it doesn’t necessarily matter if someone clicks the link. They’re seeing your brand, associating it with their interests, and eventually internalizing it. Maybe they don’t click the first time, but by the fifth time they’re bound to be getting curious. By the way, with a cost-per-click campaign, that extra brand saturation from “non-clickers” is free exposure. Remember, 7th time’s the charm.

“What good are a bunch of Facebook friends anyway? Doesn’t mean they’ll buy anything.”

Perhaps gaining new Facebook followers shouldn’t be the goal of your ad campaign. Any amount of marketing without a very specific goal is wasted effort anyway. Is your goal to get possible customers to buy on your ecommerce website? Maybe your Facebook ads should lead straight to a product page on your website that appeals to the target audience of the ad. Don’t let me downplay the value of a fan, though. Jason Brewer mentions how Seamless decided that they were willing to spend $7 for Facebook fans, based on their calculation that each fan averages much more than $7 in revenue for the company. Even without direct cost/income comparisons, each person added to your Facebook army serves to increase the size of your Facebook “megaphone,” meaning that each post and interaction reaches a larger group of friends and friends of friends. Referrals have always been the best way to get business, now it’s just easier to get them.

“There’s no formula for Facebook ROI! How do I know it’s worth it?”

This last question does a great job of boiling down the concerns posed in the other questions and is the most common among marketers, especially those of the old guard. Basically, “Does it work and how do I know it works?” Traditional marketing campaigns live and breathe ROI formulas and tactics for tracking conversions based on large companies’ obsession with hitting numbers and KPIs. So, how do we track such things with Facebook ads? The analytics are pretty good within the ad platform. You can easily gather things like click-through rate, interactions and likes. If your goals and tactics are confined to Facebook, then this should be plenty, but what about a situation like the earlier example regarding mountain bikes? Previously, there was a hole in the ability to track conversions like these once users leave Facebook, but now there is hope! Facebook has recently added the ability to add conversion tracking pixels to your website. Now if your goal is to drive people from Facebook to the checkout of your ecommerce store, it’s as easy as adding the tracking pixel to the checkout page or button, and voila! a proper conversion funnel. This doesn’t exactly tell you the value of a Facebook fan, but if you’re unable to figure your ROI using these funnels, then it’s probably because your goals aren’t specific enough. Decide what you’re aiming to achieve and ROI calculations should be easy.

Let me add here that I am not providing Facebook advertising as the answer to all of you digital marketing woes. A successful digital strategy requires studying many ad platforms to decide which ones are most beneficial to your business, industry and goals. I’m not going to suggest that Facebook ads are for everyone, either. In many cases, however, well-targeted Facebook ads will help you to reach more people, who are interested in your product, for less money. Just like anything else, though, if you go in without firm goals and a well-thought-out plan, then I can guarantee that the results will be less than you hoped for.

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About the Author

Matthew is a partner and Chief Strategy Officer at Brolik. As CSO, he manages the digital marketing team, helping Brolik’s roster of clients achieve their online marketing goals. When he’s not coming up with his next big campaign idea, you might find him in the recording studio or enjoying an IPA with a funny name. Check him out on Twitter.