July 21, 2010 • Article by Nettie Wells
On the day when Facebook looks set to break the 500 million members mark, it seems more important than ever to think about the benefits of advertising on social media sites. Following on from our last entry on Promoted Tweets – we will discuss how improved user targeting techniques have made Facebook & LinkedIn the key battlegrounds for online social media advertisers and how best to utilise these tools.
Let’s begin with Facebook. What makes Facebook so appealing for advertisers is that users input large volumes of data about their personal preferences which can be used to target specific ads to specific groups. What’s so good about Search PPC is that users actively search for a keyword relevant to the ads that are shown (so long as the advertiser ran a half decent AdWords campaign). What Facebook does is more subtle, it allows advertisers to target ads to people who have identified themselves as ‘liking’ specific activities, brands, products, people etc.
What this means is that when you tell Facebook that you ‘Like’ Arsenal FC – an advertiser can target you (and the other 291,040 people who like Arsenal FC) with ads for Arsenal season tickets without appearing for people who ‘Like’ Chelsea. Furthermore, if you only wanted to promote season tickets for young people then you could limit the age targeting to under 18’s (72,340 people). And if you wanted to be really targeted then you could limit your ads to under 18’s who live in or within 16 km of London (19,520).
This ability to target such high volumes of specific traffic is unique to Facebook. But there are problems. It seems unlikely that a Facebook user is going ‘Like’ business loans with low interest rates for example, and the people who are interested in such loans are unlikely to be looking for them on Facebook.
This is where LinkedIn provides a better platform for Business users. Ads can be targeted by user’s employment industry, job function and seniority etc. It allows less control over the target demographic than Facebook – but is ultimately likely to deliver more high quality traffic.