The Power of Facebook Ads

Facebook ads have the potential to play a powerful role in helping brands build up their presence on the 850 million member social network. With more than 4 million brand pages, it can be difficult to stand out and garner the attention of even a brand’s most loyal advocates.

Facebook offers a range of ads, including typical display ads, which lead to off-Facebook websites, “Like” ads that allow consumers to “like” or subscribe to a brand’s Facebook page and ads focused on engagement by encouraging social networkers to RSVP to an event, take a poll or take another action. Then there are Sponsored Stories, which allow brands to leverage actions being taken by members of its community (e.g., leaving a comment) and amplifying those actions to make them more apparent to other users.

Each type of ad carries different benefits and should be used based on objectives. Like ads are best used to grow the number of consumers who “like” a brand page. Once they like the page, brands are then able to incorporate a retention or engagement strategy using a wide range of content to keep consumers coming back (recruit then retain).

Engagement ads allow brands to encourage users to take a specific action. A brand may be trying to invite people to an in-store sneak peak event or participate in a poll. These ads allow consumers to take a deeper action other than clicking through.

Sponsored Stories allow brands to use actions being taken by others, amplify them and use those actions to influence the behaviors of their social connections.

Facebook ads, when used effectively, can deliver on a range of business objectives, but ultimately Facebook ads deliver on three core benefits.

Grow the Base then Amplify It

A Facebook page doesn’t come with a community. That community has to be built, and once built, it’s the brand’s responsibility to prove its value so members come back, which comes down to a matter of content and engagement strategies.

Facebook ads allow brands to essentially start a snowball effect. Brands target specific users to get them to like the page. Once they like the page, brands can then encourage them to take actions, by “liking” content, sharing photos, posting comments, answering polls and so on. Those actions are then shared with community members’ individual social graphs. A brand may be connecting with 100 people, but each of those 100 people are likely connected to an average of 130 more friends who see the actions of community members displayed in their News Feeds, building reach but, more importantly, building awareness that the brand has a Facebook presence.

This creates the snowball effect. Facebook ads got the ball rolling by kick starting the community, and community actions amplified that presence. Statistics range, but between 1 and 5% of people who “like” a business on Facebook did so because their friends did.

Once the community is built using “like” ads, Sponsored Stories can be leveraged to amplify the community’s actions, so they aren’t hidden or buried in News Feeds. A brand can build the community then leverage it and make actions within that community work harder.

Some brands won’t find they need Facebook ads to start their community. Brands like Apple are already a “badge of honor” among many of their advocates. These brands don’t have to ask people to “like” them. They’re actively sought out. Other brands that don’t yet have that affinity may need help and a call-to-action to encourage people to find and like them on Facebook.

Target Specifics

Facebook ads also allow brands to target very specifically. Instead of the context being about the content of the website as traditional display ads are purchased. The context is user-submitted. Users create their personal profiles, sharing everything from their locations and genders to their hobbies and interests. As Facebook continues to unroll the Open Graph protocol and Facebook consolidates user actions taken across the web, the data Facebook has to inform advertising is going to continue to grow.

Emotional Resonance

Facebook ads have the ability to be delivered where few other ads can, next to information people use to identify themselves. Ads sit alongside information on their personal Facebook profiles and News Feeds, allowing brands to connect with how consumers perceive themselves.

These ads can cause consumers to identify with the brands being advertised because the ads are immersed with their personal self-identities, which can be far more powerful contextually than other digital advertising.

Facebook Ads Have a Role

Like any marketing channel, Facebook ads have a role to play. They can’t live within a silo and must be accompanied with a larger engagement strategy to drive action once recruitment has taken place. They aren’t a silver bullet by any means and should be approached like any other marketing channel with clear goals and objectives in place.