Some years ago, I attended yet a presentation from leading Australian search and e-commerce expert (and former SmartCompany blogger) Chris Thomas about the latest trends in search engine optimisation.
But during the presentation, he diverted from search to demonstrate what was then a hot new development: Facebook advertising.
As the audience watched on in dismay, he conducted a live demonstration of how you could run your ad (or ‘boost’ your post) to the precise audience you wanted: location, gender, age and even interests, could be narrowed down to give you a precise measure of how many Facebook users you could reach and how much it would cost you.
Program your own
Then if you liked the campaign reach and cost, you could go right ahead and place and purchase the ads on the spot. If you wanted, you could spend as little as $10 on your campaign.
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To anyone who had ever advertised before, the new capability was nothing short of revolutionary.
Being able to narrow your audience in this way was the biggest advertising development since search engines introduced ‘pay per click’ advertising late last millennium—at least to smaller business.
But being able to create and program it all yourself was something else altogether.
Taking on the media giants
Fast forward some seven years and the capability is now a mainstay of online advertising. In fact to some sectors, it is the most effective advertising medium of all.
One survey conducted by US video editing software firm Magisto last month found social media advertising, as led by Facebook, was more than three times more effective than the next most effective medium (print) for generating brand awareness and driving revenue.
And it was eight times more effective than television and 20 times more effective than radio in achieving the same outcomes.
Yes these figures are correct!
In his blog, prominent US digital marketer Brian Carter puts some financial meat around those survey results by suggesting that the cost of reaching 1000 people is just 25 cents on Facebook, compared to $US32 for print, before waxing lyrical about the return on investment it provides.
What becomes clear once you consider the low cost and convenience of Facebook advertising is that SME operators can freely experiment with it without breaking the bank.
Don’t abandon the professionals
This isn’t to say SMEs shouldn’t get some professional assistance to at least create some high-quality advertisements. But compared to traditional media, the entry costs are extraordinarily low.
Facebook advertising follows on from its digital counterparts in allowing smaller business to be able to ‘trial and error’ their advertising for the first time—a capability that was ill-advised in traditional media due to its comparative high cost.
This is illustrated by the popularity of ‘A/B’ testing (running different advertisements simultaneously to identify the most effective) of different advertising creative approaches—something once only the largest advertisers could afford to take part in.
With such low barriers to entry and cost, Facebook is an advertising medium that every smaller business should at least be considering giving a try.
In addition to being a leading eBusiness educator to the smaller business sector, Craig Reardon is the founder and director of independent web services firm The E Team, which was established to address the special website and web marketing needs of SMEs in Melbourne and beyond.