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5 Pros and Cons of Facebook Advertising for Small Businesses

Perhaps not so long ago you could survive without online advertising. That’s no longer true today, however. Consumers now automatically turn to the internet when looking for a service or product, even if they mean to go to the shop afterwards to actually pick it up.

For most people – especially the younger generation – the simple rule of thumb now is, ‘if you’re not online, then you don’t exist.’ And if that younger generation is the future for your business, then that isn’t an acceptable situation. Therefore, the question really shouldn’t be, ‘do I advertise online?’ but rather, ‘where do I advertise online?’

Facebook is one option. But should you choose it over its rivals and other forms of advertising? Let’s look at the pros and cons.

PRO It’s the biggest

More than 70 percent of internet users have an account on Facebook, with over half using the site regularly. Twitter is at only half that. What’s more, Facebook is still growing, while Twitter growth numbers have been flat for over a year. In other words, Facebook is the biggest and it’s going to stay that way for some time. What that means is that Facebook has far deeper penetration than most other social networks. You can reach everybody from young to old, from technophobe to even most technophobes. No other network has that – or will, to judge by the numbers.

CON It’s not quite so cool anymore

That said, the network isn’t the coolest kid on the block – how can it be when even grandma has a site? For that title you’ve now got to look at Pinterest, Essay Republic, Snapchat and Instagram. That is also where you’ll disproportionately find the Millennials (who are often the most sensitive to what’s hot and what’s not), so if you want to target a younger audience, Facebook might not be the places to go.

PRO It is advertising platform is mature

Facebook has been working on advertising for a while. That means that most of the kinks have already been worked out and it is incredibly easy for a business to target those people they want to, as well as explore the statistics of their audience. This allows business owners to easily tweak their message and who they’re targeting without needing a deep understanding of how to analyze or make sense of the numbers.

CON It is a social network, not a business network

That said, most people use Facebook for social reasons and aren’t all that interested in the businesses that are on the site. This means that unless you’re good at creating engaging content that is quite different from what everybody else is doing, your rate of engagement will be low.

PRO You do not need another site

As almost everybody is on Facebook when you launch a campaign somewhere else on the internet to drive viewers to your site, you don’t need to use several social platforms. With other platforms you don’t have this luxury. You’ll need several just to make certain that you’ve got most people covered. That can both be confusing for your customers and add extra work for you and your business.

CON There are a lot of fake profiles

At 83 million, the number of fake profiles on the website is significant. And though Facebook works hard to get rid of these accounts, it would seem it’s not a problem that will go away. Fake accounts mean fake clicks and fake likes. These eat up the money you’ve invested in marketing, without actually generating any returns. What’s more, some businesses actually go under as their content doesn’t reach their intended audience. That is obviously not a situation anybody would like to be in.

PRO Like buttons are everywhere

And where there are like buttons, there is Facebook – measuring, weighing and gathering statistics on who is doing what. In fact, the only other company who can say they know as much about their customers as Facebook is Google. And obviously you’re already advertising there, right? When you’re advertising on Facebook you’ve got access to that knowhow to target exactly those customers you’re after.

CON It takes a lot of time

To manage your business Facebook account you should log in on a daily basis, so as to respond to comments, show activity and engage. That’s a big burden for many people who are trying to run a business. Of course, some of us are good at making friends and at engaging socially – in fact the right personality type can feel recharged by doing this. For others, however, it’s just another task to add to that massive heap of things that need doing.

PRO Your content can snowball and even go viral

This has to be the biggest one of them all. Through social media it is possible for your content to reach far beyond its initial audience and reach thousands, perhaps millions if it happens to go viral. Now obviously this is not an easy thing to accomplish. Making things go viral takes luck, science and a lot of sweat and hard work. But the fact that it is possible (and easier) on Facebook makes advertising there immensely valuable.

CON The conversion rate is low

The click through from ads is low, running between 0.18% to 0.36% globally. In other words, somewhere between one in 250 and one in 500 people that see your ad is likely to click through to what you’re trying to sell. And from there how many will actually buy your product? That means that particularly if you’re advertising based on per view, you’re not getting a great deal of bang for your buck.

The Verdict

To me it seems pretty straightforward. You have to have a Facebook presence. There are just too many people on the network for you not to be there. The real question is, do you push only on Facebook or do you also push on other social sites? There the question is harder to answer. It depends on who you’re trying to reach and how much time you’ve got. You’ll have to weigh the pros and the cons. That doesn’t change the verdict, however. You need a Facebook presence – even if it only serves to point people through to your actual site

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