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Why Advertise on Facebook?
Before you decide whether or not to advertise on Facebook, you need to determine what your goal is. Are you trying to sell something, or simply to raise brand awareness? Social media traffic behaves very differently from search engine traffic, and not being aware of the differences can result in wasting a lot of money.
We all know how Facebook makes money - they sell ads, and lots of them, billions per day. This lets you run ads fairly inexpensively, so you can get a lot of views at a low cost. Additionally, their tools let you do some pretty precise targeting. If you're on Facebook and you're seeing political ads for a candidate running in another state, then somebody isn't doing their job right, as location is just one of the ways that you can target your ads.
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When Facebook Advertising Works Well
In fact, political advertising is a great example of something that works well on Facebook, because while you'd like people to click on your advertisements, the main point is that they see them. Any time you're just trying to put your message in front of as many people as possible (in other words, building your brand), Facebook advertising can be a great choice because you can get a large number of impressions that are well targeted.
Just to take one example, if you were trying to build awareness about the promotions an airline was offering, you could display your advertisements only to people who have listed travel as an interest; to get precise targeting like that elsewhere, you'd likely have to take out an ad in a travel magazine, which would be an order of magnitude more expensive.
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When Facebook Advertising is a Waste of Money
Many people put a lot of time and effort into getting social media traffic to their websites, only to discover a disappointing fact: that type of traffic doesn't click ads or make purchases! In general, people using social media websites are there to kill time or be entertained; they're not looking to buy.
That's not to say that you can't sell anything using Facebook ads; if your product is expensive enough and your ads are targeted enough, the difference between your cost per click and your profit per item could be enough to make up for the low response rate. However, in this case you're better off buying search engine traffic through Google Adwords, which has a much better conversion rate.
On the other hand, there are some times when you can target so effectively that you easily overcome these disadvantages. Facebook uses the example of a photographer who placed ads targeting engaged women between 24 and 30; by offering a good discount ($500 off) to people who were likely to be specifically looking for that service, they were able to book nearly $40,000 in revenue from a $600 investment in advertising.
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How to Advertise on Facebook
Once you've decided that it's worthwhile, setting up an advertising campaign on Facebook is pretty easy. Just go to http://www.facebook.com/advertising/ and set up an advertising account; you'll need to be logged into your Facebook account first. There are often coupons for first time advertisers, so it's worth doing a Google search for one.
Once you're in, just click Create an Ad and you'll be taken to a page where you can design and target your ad as desired. You're required to have a graphic, and you can choose to pay for impressions (best when you're trying to get a message out) or clicks (best when you're trying to sell something).