Sometimes reaching the right audience for your business can be difficult. But when you're a small business, it can be a little more challenging. Especially when you consider how much it costs to advertise. With smaller brands, you have to really get creative when it comes to reaching your potential clients. This is where social media comes into play.
There's a lot of advertising that can be done for free or super cheap. This is great news for those smaller brands that are on a budget. Mainly because you have the ability to reach a large audience with little to no financial investment. But sometimes you get what you do or don't pay for. I'll go over a few things to consider when it comes to free advertising on Facebook, what's good about it and what's not so great.
Thankfully Facebook is a great option for brands with a tight budget because they offer really low prices. However, with the right skills and a little know how you can advertise on Facebook for free. And as always, when you post across a variety of social media platforms, it can drive sales and increase your branding message. Today we'll discuss the good, the bad and the ugly of free advertising on Facebook.
THE GOOD: HOW TO ADVERTISE ON FACEBOOK FOR FREE
Advantages of Facebook Marketing for Small Businesses
The three advantages are:
- It's free! Who doesn't love that? There's absolutely no cost involved with having a Facebook business page. You're free to post and share content.
- You can promote your products and services. Once you have an audience, you can effectively sell your products to them without any marketing costs. You can also let your fans know about any special events or deals that you have.
- Interact with your customers. Facebook really is a great platform where you can engage with your customers. You can listen to what they have to say and respond to their comments. Whenever you post photos or posts, you let customers know what you're up to. This is also a great tactic to make it so customers think of you whenever they do decide to make a purchase.
It only takes a few minutes to set up a Facebook business page, but if you want to have success when it comes to marketing your business, you need to spend a few hours a week on advertising. You'll also need to create engaging posts, respond to questions or comments, and interact with your followers.
THE BAD & THE UGLY: WHY FREE ISN'T ALWAYS THE BEST TACTIC ON FACEBOOK
Limited Organic Reach
Back in the day, free Facebook posts reached a lot more than they do now. A study by Edgerank Checker, conducted between 2012 and 2014, found that the organic reach for an average Facebook page dropped from 16% to 6.5%. How is this possible? Back in 2014, marketers started to flood the platform with tons of information. So now it just isn't feasible for every post to be seen by every single person on Facebook.
Facebook's main goal is to keep people on the platform as long as possible. The algorithm helps because it shows user's information that might interest them. So that alone may or may not affect your advertising efforts. With these changes, some marketers are getting less of a return on their time and effort. While some state that they reach even fewer people than in previous years, which makes "free" advertising a lot less appealing.
Increasing Likes Can Be Extremely Difficult
Once a company capitalizes on their fans to like their page and their fans have recommended liking the page, the growth can cease. So how can you reach everyone else who you know would just love your product? It will most likely NOT happen for free.
Even though you might think your killer photo or awesome video will go viral and give you thousands of leads, it isn't always the case. In fact, the chances are pretty high that it won't happen. Especially with Facebook's latest algorithm. The new algorithm looks at the consumer's posts, plus ones made by their friends throughout the last week. This can add up to a few thousand posts! From there, Facebook ranks these posts in order to predict if the consumer will like them.
Out of ALL these posts, the consumer will only see a few hundred at most. So the chance of having a post "hit" the algorithm is very slim. Mainly because the post has so many other posts to go up against.
Facebook Wants to Make Money
Facebook definitely isn't a non-profit. When it comes down to it, advertising really is Facebook's cash cow. So, it's safe to assume that they aren't going to make it super easy for businesses to reach more people for free. Which is why brands that choose to ONLY use free advertising on Facebook are missing out. You'll more than likely miss connections that could drive traffic to your website, elevate your brand's message, and get some much-needed revenue.
A social media strategy based solely on "free advertising" won't reach the desired number of people. Plus the change in algorithm and the need for Facebook to make money guarantees that. In order to really make an impact with your message (and reach), you need to consider using paid initiatives.
Still want to try your hand at adverising for free on Facebook? It doesn't hurt, especially with the following tips...
TIPS FOR FREE FACEBOOK ADVERTISING
Getting people to like your page is crucial when it comes to advertising on Facebook for free. I mean who else would you be promoting your content to? But the biggest factor is that a page that doesn't have any likes doesn't really seem trustworthy. Here are some great ways to get those fans:
- Add the Facebook icon wherever you can. Promote your Facebook page everywhere that you can. That includes all marketing efforts, business cards signs, email signatures, websites, etc. Just make sure your page has a vanity URL (i.e. www.facebook.com/yourbrand). That way it's incredibly easy for people to find you.
- Ask people in person. It doesn't hurt to ask people to like your page. Ask people you meet who you think might be interested. Ask your friends, co-workers, and family members. The more, the better.
- Ask people online. It's a really good idea to have a link to your Facebook page on your website and/or other social media accounts. You can also ask people to like your Facebook page after they purchase something. The message can be something like "Thanks for your purchase! Don't forget to follow us on Facebook to hear about new products and promotions."
- Get involved on Facebook. You can post on pages and groups within your brand's niche, right from your business page. If you offer advice or helpful answers, you just might get people to click your page and like it.
In order to really boost your page, you need to be creative enough for people to actually like your page. Especially if you are using the free technique. You can also hold contests or offer discounts. This is a great way to advertise for free. And it has the potential to boost sales. It also doesn't hurt to use a variety of promotional posts.
Types of Promotional Posts
Whenever you promote with posts, you need to make sure that you share information that your followers can benefit from. For example. a status update that reads "All backpacks on sale!" won't necessarily end up on a lot of newsfeeds. And if it does, they'll probably glance right past it. So what's your next option? Post something that is both entertaining AND useful. And whenever you post a status with an image, there is a MUCH better chance of people noticing it. There will definitely be more engagement than just a text-filled status.
- Use pictures or videos. They are incredibly entertaining for your followers.
- Focus on customer benefits. Let them know what sets you apart in terms of customer service.
- Offer a deal or coupons. Entice them with discounts that encourage them to buy.
These are all great things to do whenever you advertise for free on Facebook. But like I mentioned earlier, sometimes you get what you don't pay for. Remember there are a few things that you need to keep in mind whenever you want to do any type of advertising. Having specific goals will help your brand in the long run. Always remember that your goals should be to:
Increase Followers. You should focus on finding ways to get people who need your product to actually listen to what you have to say. It's effective branding and it's no different when it comes to advertising on Facebook. Think about your buyers and share helpful information. When you use this tactic they are more likely to read your future posts. And as always, quality over quantity is the way to go.
Sales Matter Most. Once you increase the number of followers, you'll beef up your sales. That's why it's a good idea to use clear call-to-action buttons since it helps to guide buyers through their sales journey. Interactive videos and the "carousel" option of ads keep their interest. It doesn't hurt to offer a sale for a limited time to encourage their buying decision. Brand awareness builds relationships and increases revenue. This should always be your goal when it comes to Facebook ads.
However, if you do choose Facebook ads as a way to increase followers and sell products you need to take a few things into consideration. What's the budget? Which type of ads will you use? What do you want to accomplish? And most important, who is the target audience? Whatever the reason, make sure to use Analytics as a way to track your efforts.
Analytics are crucial when you want to learn what works and doesn't work for your brand. Facebook offers tons of measurable data that will help you figure out how successful or unsuccessful your ad campaigns are.
There are several metrics that help do this:
- Click rates. You can check out how many people clicked on your Facebook ad. It also helps to measure and tweak your message. High clicks mean that they are interested. Whereas low clicks mean that you need to re-consider your ad AND possibly your target audience.
- Click through rates. This will tell you a lot more than the click rate does. It measures the number of people who clicked your ad compared to the number of people who actually saw it. Because if you aren't targeting a niche, tons of people aren't seeing your post. So if you have a high click rate it means your segmenting your buyers the way you should. You should really shoot for a click-through rate of 3% or higher.
- Conversion rate. Whenever you know the number of people who saw your ad (and actually made a purchase) it really ups your initiative. Again the higher the number, the better you are at nailing your message out to the right people.
The next two metrics tell you how well your budget is performing with your paid Facebook advertising:
- Cost per click. Want to know how much you are actually investing? This analytic is the one for you. All you need to do is take how much you spend on the ad, divided by the number of clicks the ad received and you can get the exact cost of each click.
- Cost per conversion. This helps you determine the cost of each conversion. This is the total amount you spent on the ad divided into the number of conversions the ad brought you. It's also referred to as cost per lead. An acceptable conversion rate varies depending on what you're selling.
Going beyond free advertising on Facebook isn't hard. And if you've decided to take the plunge, good for you! All you need to do now is figure out how to do it in a way that benefits both your brand and budget. There are several routes to take too. You can do it yourself, hire a social media manager, or a digital marketing agency. Whatever route you take, make sure you know what each one involves. We hope you've found this helpful. Let us know if you have any questions!