Should Your Business Be Using Facebook (Or Facebook Ads)?
- Twitter integration into search engine results pages (SERPs) has helped to indicate that search engines, Google specifically, are looking to social signals as a ranking factor in SERPs.
- On average, there are 1,500 stories that could appear in a person’s news feed each time they log onto Facebook. For people with lots of friends and page likes, as many as 15,000 potential stories could appear any time they log on.
- Facebook ads are, realistically, the only way to get seen by your target users.
With online advertising becoming a bigger investment for businesses each year, many are wondering if Facebook and Facebook Ads are where they should be advertising, and what are the benefits if they do.
As a social media platform, Facebook is one of the most successful. Unlike Twitter, Facebook’s number of users continues to grow. However, the changing algorithm and increasing competition in user timelines is raising serious questions about how worthwhile the social platform is for brands to raise their awareness and make sales. Even if Facebook is where your buyers are, are you going to be able to reach them?
Looking at the social signals, organic visibility and paid ads, we’re going to explore whether your business should be using Facebook and if paid traffic is the best route to take.
Social Signals – will Facebook help your SEO?
Twitter integration into search engine results pages (SERPs) has helped to indicate that search engines, Google specifically, are looking to social signals as a ranking factor in SERPs. Bing has also started testing their inclusion, suggesting that social metrics are universally being considered by search engines as positive ranking signals.
While this has helped boost organic interaction for Twitter itself and brands on Twitter, incorporating Tweets makes sense. Unlike Facebook, Twitter is primarily a news based social platform and its content fits well into Google’s SERPs which have news-specific tabs.
On the other hand, Google has been less keen to integrate Facebook content. Not in the least because Facebook is by all indications wanting to become Google.
By moving towards a more news centred platform with similar functionality to a search engine, Facebook hopes to become a one-stop site/app for users, recently introducing bookmarking, news carousels and in-app articles that don’t require you to leave the site, all similar to Google.
This begs the question: Does Facebook even share its data with Google to help it rank your site? Social signals are difficult to quantify but they do allow search engines to view certain markers. The number of followers/page likes, posts (on Twitter especially) with your brand name and links to your website are often visible and can be hugely beneficial for SEO. How impactful they are in the grand search algorithm, however, is still being debated.
In general though, Facebook is a closed system, only allowing Google to see certain information. It can know numbers of likes, but not see specific posts. What it can do is count links coming from those posts and follow the traffic to your site. This means that the clearest benefit to your brand being on Facebook is increasing traffic to your site and content – assuming users see these posts in their timeline.
Organic Visibility – Why you won’t be spotted in most timelines
Facebook is a heavily used platform with a consistently growing user base. That user base is varied and increasingly includes people and businesses from around the world. But with more users comes more competition.
As Facebook puts it: ‘There is now far more content being made than there is time to absorb it. On average, there are 1,500 stories that could appear in a person’s news feed each time they log onto Facebook. For people with lots of friends and page likes, as many as 15,000 potential stories could appear any time they log on.’
It used to be the case that posts and articles could get a lot of shares because users were actually seeing notifications and posts from pages they liked. Now, even posts from friends (let alone pages they’ve liked) won’t all show up in their feed most of the time, hidden based on Facebook’s determination of their (un)importance.
So, while metrics from Facebook like shares, can increase post visibility and organic reach, for companies organic page posts are becoming almost pointless – with big brands on Facebook across the board seeing 40% declines in shares. This fits in with Facebook’s growing revenue model as, like Google, brands are now reliant on ads to actually get themselves noticed. The result? More advertising revenue for Facebook.
This isn’t even considering the impending Facebook switch to family focus for it’s algorithm that’s been announced, which essentially says that Facebook Ads will be the only way to get noticed if you are a business page.
Paid Facebook Ads – Can you afford to pay to be seen?
Facebook ads are, realistically, the only way to get seen by your target users. So why would you choose Facebook ads over Google ads? Comparatively, Facebook is more affordable than Google’s Adwords. When it comes to dipping a toe in the paid advertising pool, Facebook can be a cheap and effective way of gathering data from real users, utilising a smaller budget.
Google lets you customise your audience, looking at area, gender, search history, etc. Facebook does this too but add to this a wealth of highly personal data that users give freely when they set up their profiles, like age, place of work, topics interested in (indicated by liked pages). As a result, you can get a really cost effective ROI on Facebook and be very specific about who sees your ads or boosted content.
Facebook offers huge amounts of ad customisation, including location on the page, mobile friendliness and inclusion of visuals. Unlike Google ads (not including Shopping), where you are dealing with text only advertising, Facebook ads let you use pictures and videos.
As we are being continually told, pictures and, increasingly video, is transforming user experience, especially for mobile users—the biggest share of daily users. Being able to use this to attract clicks on Facebook is a big advantage.
So, should your brand be using Facebook?
With the changes happening to Facebook’s algorithm, organic posting won’t do much for your page fans or interaction rates. In terms of gaining traffic to the site, getting clicks on content or spreading the word about promotions, paid ads will be the only way to gain any meaningful amounts of user clicks. The advantage is that it would be relatively inexpensive and could generate good leads and applications, all for less than Adwords.