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Is Facebook still relevant for business?

Facebook is still the most popular social network in the world. That’s established. Over 2 billion people use it every single day. And it’s no “new kid on the block.” Surprisingly, Facebook has been going strong for over a decade. Most Australian businesses are now using Facebook marketing to find new customers, which is a good thing. It makes sense. And for a decade, it’s been doing a good job.

But as the platform matures, there’s an increasingly antagonistic relationship between the platform and its business users to the point where business users are organising and taking legal action. What are the complaints? Banned accounts, lost money and lack of access to the platform. Mismatched expectations driven by estimated reach and results. The list goes on.

However, the fact remains that for most of us, Facebook is a great place to start connecting with our customers and building relationships with new ones. If you want to grow your business, Facebook usually needs to be part of your strategy.

It’s a pay-to-play platform.

If you want to get your message out there, Facebook is a great way to do that. The main issue with this is that you’re probably going to have to pay to get that message out. The days of posting a product or price and getting 100 new customers are over. The users of Facebook spoke loudly back in 2015. They demanded that Facebook not become one giant marketplace of things people are not interested in. Now we have a situation where repetitive promotional content is throttled back because Facebook’s users don’t want to see it. The trouble is that there are gurus and coaches and experts still teaching unsuspecting business owners that they can expect the kinds of results we were getting 8 years ago.

Given that you will need to start paying to get your message out there, is Facebook still relevant?

Well, of course, it is. It’s still the biggest game in town by a long shot.

Still the leader in targeting.

It’s also, by far, the most targeted ad platform out there. Facebook’s deep knowledge about its users’ activities on the platform means that they know what people are interested in both in the short and long term. For city-wide and national campaigns, this means that you can go in tight to target just the people you know are the most interested in what you have to do.

Where this power breaks down is in smaller markets. While targeting specifics in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, and Adelaide is a piece of cake, going regional means the specifics aren’t as valuable.

Once you reach cities the size of Newcastle, Gold Coast, Wollongong and Geelong, there’s a shift. You now need to get a little less specific as there are far fewer people active on Facebook to draw a good-sized audience to send your ads to. This gets far worse when you get down to cities like Cairns, Darwin, Toowoomba, Townsville, Wagga Wagga and Bendigo. You need to pull right back on the specific targeting and aim for a more broad audience.

Zooming into regional and rural towns like Alice Springs, Emerald, Ayr, Echuca, Warrnambool, Murray Bridge, Geraldton, or Dubbo means that targeting interests becomes useless. Now you must target the whole town and hope for the best. In much the same way you would with local TV and radio, but way cheaper.

Still the most cost-effective social network.

What’s not so well-known is the median pricing of Facebook ads sits well below other online networks. Advertising on Pinterest, Twitter, LinkedIn and TikTok is much more than Facebook. You can get away with a $150 monthly spend in a regional town on Facebook. The starting price for any kind of ad on TikTok is $3000. Even LinkedIn doesn’t even let you in the door for less than $350 a month. Facebook is one of the few places where you can start small with a $35 boost and work your way up.

That makes it still relevant for small businesses that are price sensitive and don’t have massive budgets to draw on.

More ways to advertise

If you want to share your brand with other people and build an online community, Facebook is a great place to do that. However, sharing content isn’t the only thing you can do with it. As a business owner, you can also use Facebook to advertise, research, and look for new employees.

Using Facebook Ads allows you to make ads that will show up in people’s news feeds. These ads will display to the kinds of people you choose to target. As I said earlier, this is still the most potent and accessible advertising available today by a long shot.

Facebook Ads Manager and its related tools such as Business Manager and Ad Accounts let you make complicated ads, track the performance of your ads, and see how your ads compare to other ads. Or retarget people who have seen an ad with another ad. Perhaps consider loading up your email list to target people who are like the ones who already love what you’re doing. These features have been around a long time and still don’t seem to have made it across to most other digital ad platforms.

But like all promotional platforms and advertising channels, some things work, and some don’t.

Keeping yourself relevant to an audience on Facebook

Throwing up some Canva graphic full of text isn’t gonna cut it anymore. And it never really did. Now that the world’s most extensive social network is noisy with content, you’re going to have to do better. Producing quality content can still come from your favourite design tools, but you need to get smarter with how you use them.

  • High impact colour or video backgrounds make things stand out
  • Using video instead of a graphic is always a better choice
  • Movement gets attention
  • Short, sharp messages attract a reader, not long-winded messages
  • Content that gives someone an action they can take in their lives wins
  • Be aware of who you’re talking to and what time it is

But as much as there are things to do on Facebook, there are things to not do on Facebook.

The first “don’t” is falling into the trap of only using Facebook for Business and not using it for connecting with friends. When you don’t use Facebook as a network for people, you fall into the trap of not understanding how people communicate and interact on Facebook. And that means your ads and business posts will always miss the mark.

The second is posting only about your business, products, and services. And this goes for only posting links to your services or products on your website. Are you interested in posts like those on other people’s business pages? Of course not. So why would you expect anyone to be interested in yours?

Going further, posting tonnes of photos of your office, store or yourself isn’t going to cut the mustard in a crowded social media feed. Facebook is a vibrant place of people connecting with people. No one relates with a pull-up banner or a shot of the inside of your store. People connect better with other people. So while photos of you are a start, don’t stop there. Include your customers, visitors and exciting guests. That stuff is far more interesting than what’s on your shelves.

Should I still be focusing on Facebook?

Of course. It’s still the big dog in the yard. Around 3 billion people use it every month. Having a presence helps your business show up on Google. It’s a significant source of social proof (the way people check to see if you’re legit and still around), and it’s the source of many online shopping transactions.

It’s less about whether Facebook is still relevant and more about whether the way you’re using it is still relevant. If you’re just posting your weekly list of specials like you always have, you’re losing. But suppose you’re trying features like Facebook Shops, Live Video and getting to know the stats in your Page Insights and Business Suite. In that case, you’re much closer to turning your time on Facebook into a good time.

Dante St James is the founder of Clickstarter, a Facebook Blueprint Certified Lead Trainer, a Community Trainer with Facebook Australia, a digital advisor with Business Station, an accredited ASBAS Digital Solutions advisor and presenter, and the editor at The Small Marketer. You can watch free 1-hour webinars and grow your digital skills at Dante’s YouTube Channel.