For most businesses, paid advertising is now a necessity. It always was with Google, but now the social media platforms won’t give your posts the reach they need unless you’re prepared to shell out on advertising fees. The thing is that not all small businesses have had the resources to get to grips with social media advertising across various platforms.
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When you don’t know how to use these platforms properly, there is a high chance you’ll make expensive mistakes, wasting your marketing budget and getting little ROI. However, when you get it right your marketing budget will increase, as your ads will have attracted more customers to your site.
Although there are many platforms with advertising options, below we will take a look at the three most popular ones: Google, Facebook and Instagram. Read on for the pros and cons of advertising on each one.
1. Google Advertising
As the world’s most popular search engine, Google is a good place to start. According to Google’s records, there have been 4 billion store visits from people clicking on ads… and counting. Considering the sheer reach Google has, it could be a smart move to consider Google AdWords.
You can choose from two different types of ads via Google Adwords: text ads and display ads. Text ads are those you see at the top of your search results, or listed down the side of the page, and they are aimed at anyone who hits the Google search bar for related products or services. You’ll only pay if someone clicks on the ad (pay-per-click, or PPC advertising).
Display ads are the ones you see dotted around the web pages you’re visiting. They can be based on your previously recorded searches.
One downside is that AdWords isn’t guaranteed to work for your business; there is quite a bit you’ll need to understand before you go ahead. For example, if your SEO is up to scratch it can work well, but the industry you’re in is also a factor. For PPC ads, your success is dependent on keyword ranking.
Being in a highly competitive industry will cost you more with PPC – otherwise you’ll be way down the listings. If you’re in a niche market and use keywords appropriate to that, you should come up higher in the rankings.
Google is expensive at this point in time, so small businesses may struggle to afford it. Big brand budgets drown them out all too frequently. However, Google have reported that they’ll be revising their local ad pack so it should soon be more accessible for small businesses.
2. Facebook Advertising
On average, Facebook has just over 1.7 billion active users every month, of which 1.13 billion use it daily. People spend double the amount of time on Facebook than they do on Google, and Facebook research also showed that all users are connected by 3.57 degrees of separation.
Social marketers really favour Facebook as an advertising platform, as it is one of the cheapest platforms and can bring great results – if you know what you’re doing.
Like Google pay-per-click, Facebook ads work on a pay-per-impression basis. One of the good things about Facebook advertising is that you have the capacity to target audiences very carefully, as Facebook has so much data on their users. There are so many filters you can use to narrow down your target audience, making your ad reach much more specific. You can also adjust your ads throughout the campaign to make tweaks after studying the metrics.
In the metrics panel you can check on impressions, engagement, reach, click-throughs, shares, etc. You can get plenty of details on the results of your campaigns, but these are more likely to be social than financial unless you have a sound strategy.
The biggest issue with Facebook ads is that people seeing your ads are not necessarily planning to buy anything. They’re not searching for you. It can be very hit and miss (dependent on the kind of product you have), so Facebook ads are generally best for increasing brand awareness and building a social following. At least this way, when people are ready to buy, they may come to you first.
3. Instagram Advertising
In recent years, Instagram has really come into its own as a social media platform. Every month it has more than 600 million active users. Over 4 billion people every day are hitting the like button on this platform, and over a million advertisers are using the platform each month – the number has skyrocketed since this time last year, even.
Instagram gets much more engagement than Facebook, Twitter and the other big players. Considering that it gets ten times more than Facebook, it’s really worth considering as an advertising platform – especially if you are able to market using great visual content.
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Instagram is a very popular choice for small and niche businesses as it has done plenty to support them. The metrics and targeting options (like on Facebook) are very helpful, and you can make use of several free business tools. You can also check the performance of your unpaid posts against your paid ads; this helps you determine the best posts for paid promotion.
However, note that you can’t even advertise on Instagram in the first place unless you linked it to a Facebook page; Facebook gives Instagram the audience data you need. As with Facebook, you do need to understand who your target audience is. The better you know your target audience, the more successful your campaigns will be.
On Instagram, image content is king, so you can’t afford to get the visual side of your campaigns wrong. You will also need to get to grips with hashtags for the best possible reach.
Ultimately, Instagram is one of the best advertising platforms for small and niche businesses. It is possible to build a following very quickly by sponsoring posts, so it doesn’t matter if you’re new to the platform.
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So, to summarise: Google is the most expensive and the most challenging for small businesses, but if done right (with the right keywords or budget), can yield great results. You might make use of this guide to setting up Google campaigns, if you think it’s worth pursuing.
Facebook and Instagram are the cheaper advertising platforms, but where Facebook has the most scope for reach, brand awareness and building a social presence, Instagram wins for its useful tools, metrics and high levels of engagement. Of course, if you have the time, budget and knowledge, you may well be able to make use of all three.
Callum Mundine is part of the marketing team at oneegg.com.au. He is an Amazon marketplace & white hat link building specialist and has launched multiple successful brands on Amazon.com. Callum like his eggs boiled.