Facebook offers up a tremendous opportunity to discover new customers. The social media website is expected to reach a billion active users this year. According to Alexa.com, Facebook visitors average over 25 minutes a day visiting the site.
These are highly profiled visitors to advertise to. They've profiled themselves in detail, itemizing specific and numerous likes and interests. It's instant market research. Better yet, Facebook allows businesses to target ads in a laser-like manner. Ads can be targeted to run only to people who like a particular thing, are of a specific age and sex, and live in a particular place.
Facebook advertising is amazingly affordable. There are ads I'm presently running for local businesses that cost 8 cents per 1,000 ad impressions, I can reach thousands of highly-targeted prospects in a local market for only $2 to $3 a day.
Instead of offering set prices, Facebook has prospective advertisers make bids, either paying per 1,000 impressions or paying per click. Facebook even lets businesses set budgets that shut down ads after a daily spending limit is reached.
Related: Is Facebook Advertising for You?
Small businesses everywhere are affordably getting their message out, and reminding potential customers of their presence.
Don't be a straggler anymore. Here are some strategies to drum up business using Facebook on a shoe-string budget:
- Get your loyal customers to "like" you. Take care of your present customers, and get them to "like" your Facebook page. You may even set up a computer so they can "like" you in your store. Offer them a deal or a prize in return. For a few dollars a day, you can then run ads that show up on the pages of all the regular customers who "like" you. You can display ads just to people who like you. Sure, you should also build an email list, but Facebook is a more friendly channel. If you really just want to remind a thousand customers today that you're in business -- and you don't want to annoy them with an email -- display an ad of Facebook.
- Seek out obvious customers. Once you've assembled an audience of loyal customers, the next step is to seek out new ones through advertising. Some target audiences are pretty obvious. For example, there's a vegan-friendly restaurant I like to frequent near my home in Ann Arbor. The owner runs a Facebook ad targeting all vegans or vegetarians within 15 miles of the restaurant. That's hundreds of prospective customers right there. But there are also vegans who don't specifically list themselves as vegan, but they like the movie Forks Over Knives. A quick visit to Amazon.com and we discover people who like Forks Over Knives also like the book The China Study. The restaurant owner targets these interests to find ever more potential new customers.
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- Find the less-obvious customers. There are certain types of people you should be advertising to that you aren't targeting, simply because it isn't intuitive. A motorcycle repair shop may have a disproportionately high number of Pink Floyd fans among its customers. The repair-shop owner should not only be targeting Facebook ads to local Pink Floyd lovers, but probably playing it in the shop, too, to build rapport. Figuring this out used be as hard as traveling to the dark side of the moon, but now a business owner can figure this out simply by analyzing the pages of people who "like" the business on Facebook. Facebook makes the dark side of the moon shine brightly.
For the first time in human history, customers and prospective customers are volunteering vast amount of information about themselves, making it publicly available. For a few dollars a day, it's possible to connect to old customers, find new customers, and understand them all like never before.
The future of advertising is here, and it is on Facebook.
Thomas Meloche is the president of Ann Arbor, Mich.-based Procuit Inc, a maker of educational software using the Facebook platform. He is co-author, with Perry Marshall, of Ultimate Guide to Facebook Advertising: How to Access 600 Million Customers in 10 Minutes from Entrepreneur Press.