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With websites continuing to proliferate unabated, small businesses find themselves grappling with the question of how to reach an increasingly fragmented audience in the most cost effective way. In an emerging market like South Africa, for instance, Facebook delivers some 60 percent of the online population on a single platform. Small wonder then that, for many businesses, it has become the logical choice when it comes to online advertising.
A number of small business owners, however, still mistakenly perceive Facebook as a platform that requires large budgets and significant social media resources in order to make it work for them. Marketplace Cost-Per-Click (CPC) adverts have, however, made it possible for small businesses to effectively reach a large audience with highly customisable campaigns.
Facebook has continued to show impressive growth both globally and locally. South African stats, for example, currently show that there are over 4.2-million Facebook users in the country, (which is over one-million more users than there were at the same time in 2010). It is this growth which provides small business with the ability to reach either, a large national audience, or more targeted local audience, that makes Facebook a very tantalizing proposition.
With that in mind, let’s explore eight factors that make Facebook advertising a no-brainer for small businesses.
1. Facebook’s audience:
4.2-million active users in South Africa (never mind 750-million global users) are numbers which are difficult to argue with. Very few other platforms are able to offer small businesses an audience of this size for a manageable budget.
2. Targeting ability:
Having a massive audience is useless if you aren’t able to target very specifically. Especially as a local business, you mostly want to target local people. Facebook allows you to do that by geographically targeting your campaigns down to city level. Not only are you able to target geographically, but you’re also able to target Facebook users by demographics and key interests from information that Facebook pulls from their profiles.
3. One on one communication:
By creating a fan page, small businesses will be able to engage their customers on a one on one basis. This does require some planning, but Facebook provides ample advice on how to effectively manage a fan page.
4. Create local communities:
Through engaging with your customers on your fan page, sharing content and encouraging them to share their own content; you’re able to create an intimate online community and in the process learn what your customers are passionate about without making them feel like they are in a focus group.
This point follows on from the last one. Fan pages, if managed properly, can provide you with very insightful feedback from your customers. Also if you create an environment in which they feel comfortable talking to one another about what they love about your business and what they’d like to see changed, and you respond accordingly, you will gain a very loyal customer
6. Built in social recommendations:
Facebook’s ad units are designed with the added benefit of having built in social context. So if one of your friends likes a brand, and you see an ad on Facebook from that brand, the ad will reflect that your friend likes this brand. According to research done by Nielsens, an ad with social context results in a two times increase in message awareness and a four times increase in purchase intent.
7. Sponsored Stories:
These are new social ad formats through which advertisers can amplify stories generated in a Facebook users’ news feed that are related to their brands. Sponsored Stories support Facebook’s ‘social by design’ approach to advertising. That is, using the influence of friends to generate actions. According to the TGB Global Facebook Advertising Report, Sponsored Stories ads in Facebook campaigns decreases Cost per Aquisition (CPA) by 32 percent
8. Social by design:
Ultimately, the major strength that makes Facebook advertising a stronger proposition than traditional display advertising is its intrinsically social nature. This allows the advertiser to leverage people’s social connections to connect with new customers. With the information web fast already being overtaken by the social web, these social connections will become an even more crucial piece of any brands marketing strategy.