An In-Depth Look at How Facebook is Outpacing Traditional Advertising
By Erin Marine, Legal Account Executive at PR4Lawyers
The Wall Street Journal recently published an article on Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson’s advertising strategy for his political campaign. At the time, Carson was the leading candidate in the Republican primary polls, surpassing even the “seemingly unstoppable” Donald Trump, but Carson was also leading his political rivals in another arena: Facebook advertising. As of this writing, Carson has over 5 million Facebook fans, compared with Donald Trump, who currently has 4.8 million fans and leading Democratic rival Hillary Clinton, who has just under 2 million.
The article quotes Erik Hawkins, group director of Facebook’s global marketing solutions team, as saying that Carson is the most active presidential candidate on Facebook in terms of paid and organic activity. In fact, Carson campaign officials have already launched over 240 different advertisements on Facebook alone. The Carson campaign has made Facebook advertising a key component of its advertising strategy, while other candidates continue to cling to print and television platforms, the traditional darlings of political advertising.
Clearly, political campaign managers are starting to pick up on what many businesses and organizations have already discovered: Facebook is the future of advertising, and the future is now.
So what is different about Facebook that makes it such an effective advertising platform? In a word, targeting. Social media advertising differentiates itself from traditional advertising platforms like television and print by allowing businesses to specifically target their ideal customer based on certain demographics, behaviors, or interests. This means that businesses only spend money advertising to individuals who have a strong likelihood of becoming customers or clients, and users only see content and advertisements relevant to their interests.
While all social media platforms− including Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube− operate according to a similar process, Facebook remains the reigning social media giant, and as such has some of the most sophisticated targeting technology and data resources. At its most recent count, Facebook has over 1.5 billion active monthly users, and maintains significant data records on the behaviors of all of its users for use in its audience targeting. This data ranges from demographics− like age, gender, education level, and relationship status− to online behaviors and interests, such as politics, sports teams, and shopping. Facebook even allows you to target the friends of people with certain characteristics, such as friends of people who have recently become engaged. With the sophisticated targeting capabilities of Facebook Ads, the options available to businesses are practically limitless.
The Facebook Ads themselves also offer a huge array of options for businesses. Facebook has created a variety of ad types, from Ads that promote your company’s website by linking to your homepage, to ads that encourage people to “like” your business’ page on Facebook or engage with content you’ve posted, to ads that include an exclusive promotional offer for your company. One of the most advantageous aspects of Facebook Ads is that, unlike traditional print or television ads, you only pay when people take action on your ad, not for the number of people who simply see your ad. So if someone sees your ad on Facebook, but doesn’t click through to your website or like your page, you don’t have to pay.
This “pay-per-click” style of online advertising is nothing new; Google AdWords and Yahoo/Bing Ads operate according to a similar approach. However, in addition to offering the most options for “click” (meaning that a conversion of Facebook can include a page “like”, shared post, app download, etc., as opposed to simply a click-through to a website), Facebook Ads have a more personal feel, mimicking the appearance of an everyday Facebook post as they appear in the users’ Newsfeeds. While this may not seem important, it has had a dramatic impact on the performance of Facebook Ads, with Facebook significantly outpacing Google and other social media sites in performance and click-through rate growth. Facebook Ads that appear in Newsfeeds also get enormous exposure (impressions), meaning that the number of people who see an ad is significantly higher, but businesses still only pay when users engage or click through the ad.
Facebook has maintained its position as a social media giant over the years, and now it’s looking to become a giant in the advertising industry as well. Facebook’s sophisticated targeting technology and array of ad styles makes it an ideal advertising outlet for businesses and organizations, but especially smaller and mid-size businesses. Facebook allows you to advertise to your ideal customer, while eliminating many of the costs associated with traditional advertising. Bottom line? Facebook Ads perform well and are cost-effective, and traditional advertising just can’t compete.