Should I Pay For Facebook Ads? Your Question, Answered!

Who this post is for: Any small business using Facebook Pages to market their business. 

If you are using Facebook to market your business, you’ve probably noticed the declining reach of your posts. Frustrating huh?

The good news is that you are not on your own.

Believe me, I’m right there with you. ;)

Here’s the deal… while Facebook is a free platform for users, it is still a business and businesses have to make money.

One of the ways Facebook generates income is through their own advertising tool. This is a tool that allows businesses to pay Facebook advertising fees in order to boost the reach and/or engagement of a particular link, page or post.

Through their own data collection and partnering with other data companies, Facebook can allow you to target laser-focused audiences unlike any other (or very few) advertising platforms.

Great… if you have the budget but what happens if you are a small business who can’t afford to suddenly start pumping money into your advertising?

Quite simply, if you pay, Facebook will give your posts priority in these user’s news feeds encouraging more likes, engagement and/or click-throughs depending on your objective.

If you don’t pay, Facebook have openly revealed the reach of your posts will continue to decline. You might be thinking…

“But I thought my fans saw all my posts anyway?”

Unfortunately not!

This is a common misconception of small businesses using Facebook Pages.

Who can blame you? Facebook don’t exactly do a good job of explaining this.

How about I give it a go?

On Facebook, we each have a news feed and there are thousands of pieces of content fighting to get into our news feed at any given time.

There isn’t room for all these posts so Facebook uses their algorithm to decide what content is and is not worthy of your news feed.

This is based on a huge number of factors.

For example, if you were to engage on C4 Compete’s Facebook Page frequently, Facebook would recognise this content as being valuable to you and choose to show you more of it.

There is a lot more too it than that but to keep things simple, let’s just say, this is another conversation for another day. At present, the average Facebook reach for a business page is 6.15%, according to Advertising Age (2014).

This may differ from page to page but for many small businesses, less than 10% of their Facebook fans are seeing their posts.

The same probably applies to you too.

UGH… now you see the frustration.

You are working so hard to produce strong, valuable content for your audience and nobody get’s to see it.

This is where the pay to play debate comes in.

Should you pay for Facebook advertising?

There are several arguments for and against Facebook advertising.

You can achieve some incredible results with Facebook advertising especially if you know what you are doing.  However, in terms of boosting any old post on your page, I would advise against.

This is why.

A lot of the content we post is not promotional – at least it shouldn’t be.

In fact, a proportion of our content doesn’t even belong to us.  A lot of the time, it is other people’s content.

If you pay to boost a post on your page then you are likely to see an increase in the reach and/or engagement of that post. However, if it is not a promotional post and it is not your own content, can it really add value to your business?

Probably not!

If you promote someone else’s content then you are spending money advertising their business.

If you promote engagement-focused posts, you might be able to keep a conversation going but it’s unlikely to lead to an immediate conversion.

It just doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to pay out huge amounts of money in advertising when it can’t be tied to some form of return on investment (ROI).

Now we’ve got that out of the way.

Let’s talk about when it would make sense to pay for Facebook advertising.

  1. Dark Posts [Promotional]
  2. Facebook Retargeting
  3. Promotional Posts [particularly after a previous post with high engagement

All three of these ads can be tied to your value proposition. They can encourage action and drive traffic to your landing pages. In some cases, they may even convert a sale straight away.

In these instances, you are spending money leading targeted Facebook users through your customer journey. You are sourcing leads and capturing them. Then you can nurture those leads towards a sale.

When done correctly, there will be a return on investment.

Businesses shouldn’t invest money where there is no return to be made.

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If you don’t know what these three terms mean in relation to Facebook advertising then I’d highly recommend seeking help before doing it yourself. Otherwise, you may end up spending a lot more money than you need too.

However, if you are the DIY kind then head on over to JonLoomer.com and check out Jon’s blog.  Jon has so much content on Facebook ads, it could fill a library.

In the meantime… let’s discuss five  steps you can take to combat Facebook’s pay to play ultimatum.

Post Great Content

Conversations start with great content. Focus on the interests of your consumer, even if they are outwith the scope of your products and services. Remember that your goal is to build strong relationships, not gain a quick sale. Aim for 20% promotional content with the other 80% focused on building relationships around your audience’s interests. Focus on your target audience and the things they care about. A proportion of this 80% should be other’s content that is relevant.When you do include other’s content, make sure you are adding value to the post rather than just sharing it. Otherwise, you are just producing more noise. In other words, don’t just aggregate content but curate it. Keep in mind that if you can get one post with high engagement, you can then follow it up with a piece of your own content knowing that you will receive more visibility in the news feed.

Post More Frequently

Not every Facebook user is online, all the time; they dip in and out throughout the day. By posting consistently on a daily basis, you are far more likely to catch those users. If you have a small fan base, start with 1-3 posts a day, keeping posts at least 3 hours a part. Take a note of how long it takes for engagement to drop off.  As your page grows, you may want to add an additional 1-3 posts depending on your audience’s behaviour.

Community First

Don’t forget to engage. This doesn’t just mean replying and encouraging conversation on your own page and on your own posts. You also need to consider what Facebook Pages your target audience will be active on. I’m not talking about competitors but rather non-competitive agents. If you are local business, this could be your Chamber of Commerce or if you are a B2C then it could be your local newspaper. This would also include related businesses that aren’t in direct competition with you but share a large proportion of the same audience as you. It’s important that you take time to really think about this and make a list that you can keep handy. This will save you a huge amount of time and make it far easier to build relationships with non- fans on Facebook. When engaging with other Facebook Pages, treat it as you would a networking group. Engage in comments and build relationships. Don’t ever spam, ask for likes or self-promote on other’s pages. I know this is really obvious but it is worth reiterating. Not only is it rude but it’s also the quickest way to make the worst first impression. When other businesses (And customers) give you their trust, it’s important to respect that and show you really do care about doing business the right way.

Don’t Stress About The Numbers

I know I told you to check your insights but be wary not to get too caught up in the numbers. As my good friend, Robert Caruso of BundlePost says, you’ll end up with ‘analysis paralysis’.

Everyone and yes, I mean EVERYONE, sees those dipping red numbers. This is perfectly normal.

As long as you are keeping an eye on things, adapting to any ‘stand out’ trends and continue to serve your audience in the way they want to be served, you’re doing great!

It’s also important to note that there are a lot of ‘lurkers’ on Facebook. These are people that may not ‘like’ or engage with your page but still view it frequently or have it stored in their own personal interest lists.

For example, think about prospects that will be checking out your social profiles before giving you a call or an email. There are many time where sales won’t come directly through social media but social media has still played a key role in the conversion.

This is why it’s important to take a note of how customers find you.

Cross Promote

Cross promotion and integration of ALL marketing channels is essential to your business’ success.

In the context of social media, this includes cross promoting your other social channels [Website, Twitter, LinkedIn, Email etc.] and also, promoting your online experience, offline.

Customers remain loyal because each time they buy from you, they receive a great experience. Your goal is to take that great experience offline and magnify it online.

Before you can do this successfully, you need to ensure your customers are aware you are online. This can be done through simple discussions with your customers, branding and in some cases, an incentive for visiting and/or checking in on social media.

Through cross promotion, you will be able to drive traffic to your Facebook page. People may not go to the effort of searching for you but by raising awareness and making it easy for them, they are far more likely to visit / click-through.

Then once your audience is on the page, it’s up to you to create that killer content to keep them there and engaging.   So let’s do a quick recap with some action steps that you can take today.

  1. If you are going to advertise, make sure that the ad is connected to your value proposition and can be tied to a return on investment.
  2. If you don’t know how to create Facebook ads, I highly recommend that you either hire a professional or swot up on the topic and test it out.
  3. Implement these 5 steps to educate your consumers that you are online, you do care about them and you are providing value to them. This is their reason to visit, your content and engagement is their reason to stay.

As always, I hope you found this post valuable.

If you did, it would mean the world to me if you clicked and shared it with your social friends and family.

I’d also really love to hear your thoughts.

Do you use Facebook ads? Have you seen a return on investment? Do you have a different view on what we should or should not be paying to promote?

Let’s get a discussion going in the comments below!