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Why should I pay to advertise on Facebook?

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Since floating on the stock market in 2012, Facebook has been introducing more and more ways to monetise the site.

Over the last year, you may have noticed an increase in adverts on the side of your news feed, plus special offers friends have claimed and suggested pages within in your news feed. Facebook has always stated that it wants to be 100% free for personal use, so it has introduced a variety of advertising features for businesses to promote their pages to offset this.

Here's a guide to some of the features they've introduced:

Facebook Ads and Sponsored Stories
If you are looking for a really targeted method of advertising then Facebook ads are really useful. You can either choose to promote an external URL, so to drive traffic to a website, or a page, place, application or event on Facebook.

You are able to tailor your advert to your budget and you can choose whether to be charged according to the impressions the ad gets or by clicks, although it defaults to cost per click. You can also choose whether you want to add a total budget for the lifetime of the ad, or a daily budget.

Facebook ads are particularly effective at reaching specific audiences. There is the ability to tailor by gender, age and geography. You can also add keywords to target people with certain interests, who have liked other pages, or who have mentioned keywords in their recent Facebook posts. For example, a leisure facility could target the population of the town/city/district the facility is located, aged between 18 and 30, who have mentioned the keyword fitness.

Once people start liking your page as a result of the ad, this will appear on their friends' newsfeeds who are part of the audience specified as a sponsored story. This adds to the effectiveness of the advert as these also appear on the mobile version of Facebook, whereas the original ads are only visible to users on a computer.

The 'offers' system has been rolled out over the last few months and now pages only need to have 100 likes to have access. Facebook Offers is a feature that is an official way for company pages to create promotions and discounts on their services and offer them to their fans.

There are three kinds of offers: In-store, where people can print the offer email off or show it to staff on their smartphone, online only, where the offer can be redeemed on your website, and a combination of the two, where people can redeem the offer via either method.

For example, you could offer customers a free gift or discount the next time they visit you or set up a discount code that they can redeem on your website.

Facebook Offers have three key advantages over its competition of daily deals such as Groupon. Firstly, there's no minimum required number of purchases for the offer to go live. If people claim it, they can redeem it. Another advantage for fans is that they don't have to buy anything up front. This helps with the third advantage, the viral potential. As soon as someone claims a Facebook offer, their social graph is notified, triggering online peer recommendations that appear on newsfeeds, similarly to sponsored stories.

Offers have the benefit of increasing footfall, as well as promoting your Facebook page.

Promoted Posts
Promoted posts are another feature which have only recently become available for pages with 100 likes or more. You can pay to target particular posts to countries/regions/cities or languages, and the post will appear on newsfeeds of people within the chosen demographic, regardless of whether they like the page or not.

You can promote any post type including photos, status updates, links, questions, offers or videos and can either create posts specifically to promote, or choose a post from your Timeline which is no older than 3 days.

One of the top reasons people like a Facebook page is to obtain special offers and discount, so if you do create a Facebook offer, it is probably worth making it a promoted post as well. This will broaden your audience, as friends of your fans are more likely to see it. Competitions and high-value content are also prime posts to be promoted.

Big Wave Media can help with Facebook advertising and other social media marketing. Contact [email protected] for more information.

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