People are spending ever more time on social networks due in large part to their widespread availability on mobile devices. Mobile social media apps have built-in triggers to get your attention in the form of those little notifications that show up on your smartphone’s home screen telling you when someone in your network has liked, retweeted or pinned your content. Or when your contact has a birthday or gets a new job.
Those notifications prompt you to check out what’s going on in your network throughout the day, driving up the time you spend on the network. Facebook does this the best, with users globally spending an average of 50 minutes a day on the site.
As social media has become integral to our daily lives, advertising budgets have increased for social media to reflect that behavior. Here, then, is a cheat sheet to help you evaluate the pros and cons of social media advertising at a glance.
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Strengths Of Facebook Advertising
Of all the major social networks, Facebook has the most users by far. According to Statistia, the network had 1.79 billion monthly active users as of the third quarter of 2016. Add to that the 500 million active monthly Instagram users, which Facebook owns.
That’s what you call critical mass; Facebook has the largest audience you can reach with social advertising.
People use Facebook because of all the social networks, it is the place where most of their family, friends and colleagues are.
Behavior Of Facebook Users
Think about all of the things people do on Facebook. This short list will give you a taste:
- Update their Facebook profile with personal information and changes in life stages such as getting a new job, getting married or having children,
- Connect with others by friending them,
- Post status updates,
- Tag people they know in status updates and photos,
- Like, share and comment on others’ status updates,
- Upload and share photos and video,
- Record live-streaming video,
- Post long-form content using Facebook Notes feature,
- Watch videos, look at photos, and click on stories that appear in their news feed,
- Follow brands, organizations, and celebrities by following their pages,
- Participate in Facebook groups,
- Hold private conversations via Facebook Messenger.
Facebook records all this information and puts it into a personal profile of who you are and how you behave online. And with the critical mass of users that Facebook has, the company can provide advertisers the ability to hyper-target exactly who they want to reach at scale.
When you consider that the Facebook mobile app, the Facebook Messenger app, as well as Instagram and WhatsApp, both of which Facebook owns, are among the mot popular smart phone applications, Facebook is an obvious channel through which to reach mobile audiences.
Finally, Facebook has two advertising features that make it a very powerful platform: Re-targeting and Lookalike Audiences.
By putting Facebook-supplied code on your website, advertisers can deliver ads on Facebook to users who have visited their site. What’s more, advertisers can deliver ads to people who visit specific pages on your site. That allows you to send tailored ads to people who visit a landing page but don’t convert versus specific ads to people who have converted, or cease to send them ads.
Facebook Lookalike Audiences
Facebook’s Lookalike audiences audiences work in two ways:
- By examining the characteristics of people who visit your website, or
- By examining the characteristics of people who are on your email list,
and comparing those people to similar people on Facebook you have not yet reached with your ads. Essentially, Facebook can build a profile of the type of people on Facebook it knows about who visit your site or are on your email list, and match that profile with other Facebook users who look like your visitors or email list members. Thus the name Lookalike Audiences.
Facebook Advertising Units
Among the major social networks, Facebook has the greatest variety of advertising units. The major types of ads include:
- Right side rail ads,
- News feed promoted posts,
- Carousel ads,
- Canvas ads,
- Video ads,
- Instagram-specific ads,
- Event ads,
- Lead generation form ads, and
- Location-targeted ads.
Weaknesses Of Facebook Advertising
Facebook has been criticized over the years for misreporting advertising metrics, including:
- Over-reporting video plays,
- Organic reach miscalculated because it didn’t remove repeat visits,
- Instant Articles metrics over reported time spent on articles by 7% to 8%, and
- A miscalculated referrals metric for apps.
Facebook recently responded in a blog post by announcing:
- Partnerships with additional third-party verification organizations,
- The launch of a “Measurement Council,”
- Clearer metrics descriptions and definitions, and
- The launch of a Metrics FYI blog.
A Walled Garden
Most of the activity by users and the content they create and share on Facebook is done behind a login. That means most of the content is not public and therefore not to exposed to the wider audience available through search.
Promoting content via advertising, therefore, will not have the secondary benefit of extending the visibility of that content beyond the walled garden that is Facebook.
The 2016 presidential campaign highlighted the role Facebook advertising played in the promotion of fake news.
The social network is suffering a public backlash as a result. If the credibility of the content appearing in Facebook continues to be called into question, users may finally turn elsewhere.
ALSO READ: The Pros & Cons Of Twitter Advertising.
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