Isn't this what Facebook is about?
Pictures of kids, vacations, maybe a political rant?
No, Facebook is more than that. It's also a great marketing platform. Because of its user base and the targeting opportunities.
Why Facebook marketing is hot
We all crave attention. In order to tell our story, first we need everyone's attention. Facebook has this attention in spades. Meaning, 2 billion users. Enough said.
Yes, Facebook has amazing targeting opportunities. One can target based on location, interests, but also build an audience based on a list of emails. Out of that custom audience, Facebook can build a lookalike audience, which will be very similar to the initial one. Targeting based on interests is less precise than based on emails, but it's powerful nevertheless. Audience Insights is a tool that can help marketers tremendously with defining their audience.
For instance, it's easy to target mothers between 30 and 45, in a certain zip code, having children between 3 and 10, who like dogs and make more than $100,000 a year.
Facebook integrates with the website of the user by installing Facebook Pixel, helping marketers with conversion tracking, optimization, remarketing.
Facebook is not just for B2C. Workplace targeting allows us to target employees of a specific industry or specific company, so LinkedIn has a serious contender when it comes to B2B.
AdWords was cheap early on, too. Now it's not anymore. After all, it's been around since 1997. Amazon used AdWords intensively back then. Right now there are many Fortune 500 companies that spend money on TV ads and print magazine ads that nobody watches and reads. Once these companies realize the power of Facebook, the marketing costs will rise. For right now, Facebook is cheap, though.
FEEDBACK AND METRICS
Unlike traditional means, like direct mail, TV ads or print ads, where it's impossible to know if the ad really reached the target, we can be sure that the right person receives and nobody else. Somebody can throw the envelope in the trash unopened (and we'll never know it). Same with TV ads or print ads. With Facebook, we know for sure whether the ad has been delivered or not. Also, we have all kind of metrics to help us target better and improve the efficiency.
Facebook and Instagram marketing are sisters
Instagram ads are (or can be) run in the same way as Facebook ads. Given this fact, we're gonna talk about Facebook and Instagram marketing interchangeably. For those who fon't know, Facebook acquired Instagram in 2012 for $1 Bn (it seemed an enormous amount of money at the time, but now it seems cheap, given what Facebook managed to achieve).
Instagram makes a lot of sense for younger audiences (below 35) and obviously, for visual products. Another cheap way to take advantage of the platform is Instagram influencers, very much underpriced.
"Why do I need Facebook? It's silly/it's below me"
You don't need to be a heavy user in order to take advantage of the platform. There are many people who are very private, no picture of kids or vacations, but they use it as a marketing tool. And, in the end, it doesn't matter what you and I think. The market already decided that Facebook is an excellent platform. We don't know how long it will stay that way, as it's a quick-changing world, but for right now, it's a very effective (and cheap) way of marketing.
One thing I learned from my stock trading experience is to ride the trend. When there's a train approaching, you either get on it or get out of the way. The train will go with or without me. But if I don't do it, others will, and be successful.
"We don't need Facebook. We do word of mouth/direct mail/email campaigns"
We have this romantic vision that just because it worked in the past, it will continue to work for many years. Email opening rates were 90% in the late 90's, when we were reading every single email, in its entirety. Today we treat emails as spam. We wouldn't be able to read many of them, they are simply too many. We were excited about email back in 1998, that's why they even made a movie about it. Not today.
There is still this excitement about social media, though. We're not excited about ads, sure, but we don't treat them as spam. Not yet, at least.
Boosting a post is rarely the way to go, for several reasons. But the most important reason is that there are many objectives to choose from when running an ad, and boosting doesn't give us the opportunity to select an objective. Many users do just boosting, Facebook advertising is so much more than this.
See below how many kinds of objectives are available in Facebook. Currently (January 2018) there are 13 of them (Engagement has 3 subcategories) and each objective is optimized for a specific purpose (build awareness, advertise event, conversions, video views and so on).
A powerful feature of Facebook is split testing. The general concept is A/B testing. It's widely used in software development (and many other areas) and it means putting in front of the customer 2 different creatives (in this case) and the users will let us know which one they like better. Of course, we're gonna put the money on the winning side. These are the options when choosing split testing:
So we can test the creative (the image or video), delivery optimization, audience (in case we want to test different audiences), placement (whether Facebook, Instagram, Audience Network - meaning, outside Facebook, or Messenger). We always use a split test for Delivery Optimization and then for Audience, as this will help a lot with both finding the best audience and the best way to serve the ad. The first part of the campaign (a few days) is a good time to do that.
A good way even direct mail can take advantage of split tests on Facebook is this: before spending a lot of money on printed ads, one can test several images using Facebook marketing. It's an easy and cheap way of testing the market.