Advertise, then socialise

It is a commonly held belief that a business should push Facebook to its allowable limit to advertise their products and services free of charge, and then if they get some ROI, they should consider some advertising.

In other words, be social first and foremost. Engage with your audience, have conversations with your customers. Then advertise.

My advice is the direct opposite. Set a budget for advertising, take the amount you want to spend on social networks, and spend it. Spend it wisely otherwise you’ll just walk away saying FB ads don’t work. Make funnels, build lists, gather leads and enquiries. Make it work and scale it if you can. Then socialise with your potential new customers.

For the sensible among you, the benefits of the latter are obvious. The old-school thinking of AIDA (Attention, Interest, Desire, Action) is evident in the latter, but it’s not in the first.

With average reach and clickthrough percentages in single digits, you’d have to have a fan base of many thousands or tens of thousands to have any serious ROI. Organic social media takes a long time to mature. It’s a slow process.

Beyond your fan base

Advertising is much more effective, simply because it gives you the power to reach potentially millions of people (although you’d normally want to reduce that a bit with targeting). It is a tried and tested business model that has worked since the first business ever existed.

Whether it’s in a newspaper, on TV, Facebook or the back of a bus, advertising works because it reaches the right people in masses. Your Facebook page with 250 likes isn’t a big audience when only five per cent see the post and one per cent of those click on it.

The big difference is that it costs money to advertise. Well yes, that’s the reality, and before Facebook, that’s what businesses did to reach their audience. It’s a huge mistake to think that businesses can be given a free advertising platform and not expect to pay.

Yet many business owners slam Facebook for making it hard to get free advertising. The myth is even propagated by social media ‘experts’. There is a place for organic social media, but I for one, will never let you believe you can advertise your business on a free platform as a long-term replacement for advertising. There will be exceptions, but they’re very few and far between, and they’re very hard to predict.

Marketing your business requires stable tools and resources. Advertising is stable, social media isn’t. So that’s why I always say…

Advertise. Then socialise.