Social media isn’t free.
In recent years Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter have all beefed up their advertising offerings. Every time I log into Facebook it is clear that large consumer products companies are making good use of these tools. The question I am more interested in is whether small businesses jumping on the advertising bandwagon? That was one of topics we explored in this year's internet marketing survey. Here's a little bit of what we learned.
About 50% of the respondents said they have spent money on advertising in the past or are currently spending money.
Social media advertising is has a very low initial investment in both time and money. For as little as $5.00 and a few minutes of your time, you can boost a post out reaching hundreds or even thousands of new prospects. So after the initial bump will we see more companies willing to give it a try in 2016? It doesn’t seem so, with only 23% indicating they have plans to spend next year.
Where are they advertising?
With lots of choices available, where are small business owners spending their money? Right now Facebook is the clear winner. It is interesting that companies are turning to Facebook more than twice as often as they turn to Google. LinkedIn is also chosen more often than Google.
What's driving the popularity of the social media advertising programs? It boils down to a few things, comfort, ease of use, audience segmentation and affordability.
Business owners are spending time on Facebook and LinkedIn anyway. They are already creating content to use in standard blog posts, so boosting a post is a natural extension of what they are already doing.
Ease of Use
A simple and effective campaign takes just a few minutes to set up. With just a few clicks, a business owner can boost an existing piece of content. The business dashboards allow for some sophisticated advertising planning if you want to be more specific, but there is no complicated process of picking key words, and hoping you have them right. And you aren't really bidding against other businesses for a spot. While Facebook does have some stricter guidelines for what can appear in an ad, if you follow their rules to create the graphic, you will have a very effective advertisement.
Facebook knows so much about their users, from relationship status and career choices to types of entertainment they enjoy. All of this information is available to an advertiser to custom build an appropriate audience for an advertisement. With LinkedIn you can target ads by industry, job title, size of company or even specific companies. In both cases you can put your messages in front of people most likely to buy.
You can get started for as little as $5.00. With such a low cost to get started is easy to see why many business owners have put their toe in the water. Like almost any other marketing you need to have clear objectives, plan your attack, run a few tests, measure the results, adjust your strategy and run again. Unfortunately it seems small business owners are being a bit haphazard in their approach, with a limited trial and then giving up rather than continuing to test.
Social Advertising the Trend to Watch
These tools will continue to evolve. As they do more business owners will experiment with small social advertising campaigns. Eventually some will develop a systematic approach and see real success as a result. You can be on the front or the back end of that trend but if you are going to be on social media for business you will have to pay to play eventually.
If you are ready to explore Facebook advertising, download our guide and get started today.