Tracy Petrucci: October 2014

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Facebook Advertising: Is it a scam?

There's been a lot of talk lately about how Facebook advertising is a scam, and people are getting likes and engagement from LIKE FARMS OR MILLS in other countries. Instead of always responding with a semi rushed answer, I decided to write this blog post on the topic.

I'll start off by saying, I am running ads every day, for multiple businesses, all of the time. They work, most of the time. (I'll get to why they don't work later) Everyone's definition of success is different, but that starts with knowing the difference between marketing and direct sales and how every business owner needs to understand some core principals of branding, and have a reasonable expectation of how long it takes for a new customer to trust you, or buy from you.

Most entrepreneurs or business owners are NOT marketing experts, they are experts and skilled in something else, which is why they started their business in the first place. This can lead to disappointing results, when that basic understanding of marketing falls short and expectations are not realistic.

With that being said I have lots of clients where the strategy has to start out with education on their topic to the community they are after, and multiple ads for multiple months to the same group. On the other hand, I've also had just as many, if not more, clients where the first ad works the first time, and they close a sale, and it works every time. Lastly, I've had clients where we tried ads for a while, found it too hard to connect with the right group, and decided to move on.

It's going to be very different for every business, and NO, not every business has a good reason to be on Facebook or use Facebook advertising. If you don't clearly understand how to target on Facebook, you might not realize there are a few key groups that you just can not find on there easily with the options available. Those are people I suggest not bother. And unfortunately, I will have to save that topic for another time.

So, what is going on with all these videos and claims that people are getting likes from random other countries? Let me start off with a few key points:

1. When you target an ad, you do it by location. The DEFAULT is always the country your Facebook page is set up in. So the default is the USA for most of us. You can then target more closely to your area, if you are a local business only, and go by zip code or city name.

If you hired a company to set up your Facebook page and they reside in a different part of the world (which actually happens often,  when people use a company they found online... these companies set up shop to look like they are in the US but they are not) then that could be a reason this is happening when they advertise. If you don't pay attention to your ad targeting and make an ad lazily and quickly, you should check to make sure the default target country is the one you do business in.

Now I'm not saying this is even happening, but it's something I've considered the reason behind why there is rumor about this issue.

2. People buy likes, which is the worst idea. I'm talking about the companies that say "We'll get you thousands of likes for just a few dollars!" If you do this, then, YES, every single like is going to be illegitimate and from some random "Like mill" somewhere else. How else do you explain getting 2,000 likes for 5 dollars? You have to regain the philosophy that quality is better than quantity, and avoid the temptation to buy a bunch of likes overnight. Keep reading, I will share how I help people get just as many likes quickly, but making sure they are interested in your business. And yes, you have to spend money.

What happens when people people buy likes, is now every time they advertise to their fans, which is supposed to effective and affordable, they are advertising for nothing and wasting their money. This just happened to a past client of mine who bought an existing boutique in town. I remember being impressed when she sent me the Facebook link because it had a good amount of likes for a small business. She started complaining that every time she boosted a post all these random people from Turkey were the ones engaging. So thus, she is spending money and wasting it. I looked at the insights of the people who like her page, and yep, they are mostly all from Turkey. It is VERY likely that whoever launched this Facebook page for them also bought a bunch of likes in this way, and now we have a problem.

However it is NOT the case, that she is boosting to her fans but Facebook is sneaking in these likes from Turkey. Her fans are from Turkey, and that is the problem. Do we know how they got there? No, because she bought the business from someone else, but the scammy business who offers tons of likes for nothing is most likely to blame.

I know this also, because another client of mine sent me over an email telling me how excited he was they just got 2,000 likes for five dollars. I instantly said, "noooooooooo that ruins our entire strategy," because now we can not advertise to our fans anymore. They are all young men in eastern Europe, who are not all interested in a mommy product.

These are the two main reason I can think of, why people are having issues with ads. Because they don't clearly understand it, these rumors get around that it's a scam. I've seen it all, the video of the guy and his experiment, the confusion and the posts circulating all over the internet. I don't care, because I do the most experimenting of anyone I know, all day, every week, all year, and I've never, ever, seen this happen to me or my clients.

With that being said, let's take a minute and talk about some of the reasons I find Facebook advertising extremely effective.

1. Yes, it used to be free, but let's all get over it and accept that it's not anymore.
Trust me, if anyone is frustrated and upset by the fact our fans don't see our posts anymore, I am! I have been using pages since its beginning, and am spoiled by the fact everyone used to see everything all the time. There are two reasons this is not the case anymore.

If everyone saw everything from every friend and page they like, they would go insane and shut down and not use Facebook. The algorithm existed to help people see what is most important to them or what is actually a good piece of content, versus crap. Is it perfect? No.

With that being said Facebook also of course, wants to make money off advertising. That has grown over the last few years, so put those two together, and you pretty much have to deal with the fact the reach is going to be low. Once you can accept that, let's move on to other reasons why you might still stay on Facebook...

2.  Facebook helps your SEO.
Posting on social media helps your overall endgame of being found on search engines, organically. This is true of all social media actually. I had a student in my college class who was an electrician. This is one of those industries where social media is harder to look good on, in my opinion. However, this student used to rank on the 6th page of Google, and just by making a Facebook and Twitter, and using it sparingly, he moved to the 3rd spot down on the first page by the end of the semester.

Maybe, just maybe, your objective for being on social media sites like Facebook is not to directly make sales or put pressure on yourself, or worry about the reach. But it is to help you be found in search engines. That can be your Facebook objective, and now you don't need to worry about it!

3. Facebook advertising is cheaper than pretty much anything else.
The reason I like Facebook advertising is because you can spend as little or as much as you want. It is not scary, it is not a commitment, and you can start and stop them as much as you want. Want to spend 50 bucks on an ad? Not liking how it's working so far, 20 dollars in? Just stop it.

Now, this is where it may not work for you if you don't try to learn from why it's not working. I say, just stop it. But then I'd say, tweak it, change it, try something else, and try again. If you do an ad and it didn't work, and you don't try to figure out why or change it or try long enough, you probably won't learn much from it.

Facebook ads are usually cheaper than google adwords, but that is because you are showing the ad to people who did not ask to see it. This is why it's crucial to do a good job niche targeting your ads, so they speak to people and they think, this ad is just for me! I would like to spend another hour talking about how and why to do this, but again I'll have to save that for another time.

4. You can capture leads and keep marketing to them.
So you spend 1,200 dollars on an ad in Yoga Journal (and I'm not saying this can't be a solid part of your strategy) but you have no idea who saw it, what they did, or have a way to contact them again.

You can place a nice offer, coupon, giveaway, or download to a niche group of people interested in yoga on Facebook, and make them like your page, or use a third party app to enter their email to claim the offer. Now you have gathered legitimate leads who are interested in what YOU have to offer, and you can continue to post to them, send email newsletters or promotions to them and put them through that sales cycle of trust and branding so they turn into a customer.

Yes you may need to pay to promote a post here or there so they see it, but with all the options out there for advertising, it makes complete sense to me that one should be able to afford a few bucks to promote to a group of people who are 100% into you and what you do. Seems smart to me! Again, we have to get over the fact it's not free anymore, and we can still realize this is a successful way to reach people if done correctly.

So. Like anything, there are people who know what they're doing and there are people who don't. If you're not a Facebook expert, maybe you're not going to do a perfect job on your ads, and you shouldn't expect to. I've been doing them for years across different industries, and I test, and test, and test my ads. I test them until I find the cheapest group, with the highest click through rate, and I let those babies run. I see my clients having robust email databases, likes, and engagement, with the proper targeting strategy. And I don't think I'm as well versed on it as someone who ONLY does Facebook ads. I know there are people who know way more than I do, and who can do amazing things I probably don't even know about!

Can I do a bang up job making a flyer or a logo for someone? Heck no! I'm not a graphic designer and I pay my favorite designer 110 dollars an hour to do that for me. Mine would look horrible. I think it's worth thinking about that maybe ads don't work for people because that's just not their expertise, and that is ok. We all put our energy into things we love, and that's why we are all good at what we do and are in business.

I just wanted to highlight some of the wonderful things about Facebook ads that my clients have experienced so people can understand the two sides of the coin. I stand by the fact they are still not for everyone and every business, and in no way is Facebook advertising the only option for a successful marketing campaign.

Social media is one tiny part of a marketing pie, and an understanding of traditional marketing and utilizing other channels are a huge part to any business being successful in their experiments online. 

I wish I could write 10 more pages on the topic, but it's Halloween tomorrow and my little one is begging me for her costume now! Until next time...