While social media marketing and advertising have been all the craze for several years, Google and Facebook have really taken the lead in the last year in terms of paid ads on their platforms. It used to be predominately up to individual organizations to manage their ads online. This meant that online companies were leaving money on the table, and they won’t do that for long.
Nonprofit organizations got incredibly excited when it appeared that you can reach so many more potential customers for so much less money. On a Facebook boost we recently did for Oklahoma City Ballet, by the time we spent $22 we had a paid reach of over 22,000 people, according to their analytics. I think you’d be hard-pressed to find that type of coverage with the more traditional advertising methods like print, radio and television.
While this may seem like the marketing and advertising utopia we’ve always dreamed of, it’s not without its fair share of challenges. In this article, I will go over the pros and cons of both.
Pros of Facebook
Many people think Facebook is an archaic social media outlet — numbers simply don’t support that theory. According to a study by the Pew Research Center, below is an accurate breakdown, as of September 2014, of people on social media:
- 71% of online adults use Facebook
- 23% of online adults use Twitter
- 26% use Instagram
- 28% use Pinterest
- 28% use LinkedIn
So, it would make sense to focus your marketing efforts on Facebook, and Mark Zuckerberg’s empire is more than happy to take your dollars. They do it in two ways. First, you can boost your posts. This increases the number of times your posts show up in people’s Facebook feeds — and on the number of people who see it, because it not only goes on the pages of those who follow you but on the pages of their friends.
Second, you can select the region you’d like your post to be boosted to, which really narrows down your target audience. You can also increase your exposure by promoting your page instead of an individual post. These are seemingly great ways to increase the number of people who interact with you on Facebook and you can make an impact with relatively little money spent.
It is a known quantity that Facebook mines your information, but in terms of their analytics you can use it to your advantage because you can see the age, gender, location and a laundry list of other information about the people exposed to your page or post. Much more detailed information than you get from other marketing outlets.
Cons of Facebook
The biggest problem with Facebook is we do not know how they get the information on the numbers of people you’re reaching. There is no second party to check these numbers, so we just have to trust Facebook — which isn’t something Facebook has had success with. An ongoing poll is running on Naked Security on whether or not users trust Facebook with their personal information. As of the day I’m writing this, 93.16% of users do not trust Facebook with their personal information (take the poll to see the results). How are we to trust Facebook with anything? There’s even concern that some “clicks” you get are not from actual people but from bots.
Pros of Google Ads
Google Ads has a similar approach to Facebook, but it also has its differences, being a different platform. With Google Ads, you set a max budget and only pay when someone clicks on them. They can be animated GIFs, too, which are more attractive than static ads. You can set up a list of keywords to direct your ads to people who are searching for those words.
What’s great is you can upload all your ads at once, set your budget and timeframe, and you’re done. Google has a wonderful analytics program that allows you to really see what demographics connect with you.
For nonprofits in particular, Google Ads has a grant program that can garner you from $10K to $40K a month to use for these ads. Few nonprofits have marketing budgets nearly this big, so it can really make a difference in your exposure.
Cons of Google Ads
The problem with Google Ads is that when you set your budget, you can’t spend more money to get more exposure. Since it is a pay-per-click method, if you don’t get clicks, you don’t spend. So a $10K budget is great, but if you only spend $50 because that’s all the clicks you get, all that “free money” just goes away.
Google also has an issue like Facebook: they control all the data they show you and they aren’t much more trustworthy. According to a recent study, more people actually trust the NSA than Google.
I’m not saying do not use these outlets, as they certainly are useful tools. I’m saying that the time has not come yet to abandon all traditional marketing and advertising methods.
But I suspect that day is coming closer and closer.