If your business plans to join some of the largest U.S. consumer brands in suspending their July Facebook advertising campaigns, how will you replace the ads and the sales they generate?
The giant companies and several national organizations say they want Facebook to clamp down on hate speech. Brands like Unilever, Coca-Cola and Lego aren’t likely to lose sleep over not advertising on Facebook for a month. But what about small businesses that have found Facebook an inexpensive way to reach customers?
Ahava Leibtag, founder and president of Aha Media Group, shared some awesome advice in the Search Engine Land daily email today (7/1/20). “One thing I’ve been telling clients is to be honest with their audiences,” Leibtag wrote. “Big brands can afford a pause. Smaller (tiny) brands (clothing, jeweler, niche tech, etc.) cannot afford to pause.”
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In her note to SEL editor-in-chief Ginny Marvin, Leibtag suggested telling customers, “We get 90% of our revenue from Facebook ads. We would stop but if we do we would go out of business, which is also irresponsible to our staff and our customers. Instead, we’re pledging 10% of our revenue in July to X to help support social justice causes like X.” (You can subscribe to the daily email by visiting Search Engine Land’s home page.)
Politics aside, what can you do if you decide to boycott Facebook, or if Facebook should become a less desirable advertising platform? Here are some alternatives to Facebook Ads:
- Search ads, Google and Microsoft
- Google display ads
Here are very general comments about each.
Google Ads / Microsoft Ads
The beauty of search advertising is that your ads can appear when people are intentionally searching for your product or service. Ads are shown through an auction system that aggregates your keyword bid and the relevancy of your ad to the search. You only pay when somebody clicks on your ad. It’s difficult to compare costs with Facebook, but in general, you can run an effective Facebook campaign for less money than an effective search ads campaign. Clicks in Microsoft Ads campaigns are generally cheaper than Google clicks, but you may not get as many.
YouTube, owned by Google, is the second largest search engine in the world in addition to being an extraordinarily popular video platform. You manage YouTube ads within the Google Ads management tool. Short videos make the best ads for YouTube, but they don’t have to be highly produced, and text ads can also appear in YouTube searches. You can target by topic, geography or select channels on which you like the ad to appear. You pay when somebody clicks the ad.
If you already sell goods on Amazon, you could shift your Facebook budget to an Amazon ad campaign. As with search advertising, you bid on keywords related to your product. There’s almost no creative work because Amazon uses your product listing to automatically generate ads. Small budgets can be successful on Amazon. Because it is a closed system, Amazon’s ad management tools report exactly which ads resulted in sales, total sales revenue and the return on ad spend.
Like Facebook, Twitter ads can be targeted by interest as well as by location. You can choose to use ads to add followers, to get clicks to your landing page or to generate engagement. Unlike Facebook, which is built to foster relationships among friends and family, Twitter is built to connect people with similar interests. Depending on the type of campaign, you pay for clicks or per thousand impressions (CPM).
In my experience, LinkedIn is the most expensive social media ad platform. That’s because it is a business-to-business social medium. The minimum daily budget for LinkedIn ads is $10, but that doesn’t go very far if clicks are costing $5 to $7. Costs per click vary depending on the topic and the audience you want to reach. In addition to including usual demographics like age, location and education, LinkedIn can target your ads based on job title, type of college degree, years of experience, industry, and which company you work for. You need to have a LinkedIn account to run ads, and to run sponsored content or messaging ads, you need to have a company page for your business.
Pinterest users are shopping. They’re pinning and collecting photos of things they’d like to buy, whether it’s a new lamp, a wedding dress, jewelry, or plants for the garden. It’s an ideal advertising environment for businesses that sell certain consumer goods. In Pinterest, you can simply promote pins you’ve already created, or you can build entire campaigns based on keywords, interest or certain audiences. You’ll need to create a business account. Rates are cost per thousand impressions.
If you want to reach a younger audience — anywhere from 13 to 34 — Snapchat might be the place. You can do image or video ads that appear between and among Snapchat stories. Ads for branding and app downloads are popular on Snapchat. It uses an auction system, too, and the minimum spend is $5 a day. There are tools to help you create ads, and Snapchat provides a pixel to place on your website to track interactions with people who click or tap your ads.
If you’ve decided to pause your Facebook ads and you’ve got a decent list of customer email addresses, double-down on email marketing. Your customers already are interested in you and your products, and they expect to hear from you. Don’t be shy about letting them know if there’s something new or a product or service that could supplement something they’re already bought. Using the advice from Ahava Leibtag, you could even use email to tell your customers about your Facebook advertising decision.
If you don’t have an email list, get working on it. No matter what advertising platform you use, your data belongs to someone else. An email list is all yours, and nobody can take it away from you.
Although I am a TikTok fan, I’m not going to recommend it right now in light of allegations that the platform, which is run by a Chinese company, has access to sensitive information on your mobile device. It’s not clear to me yet, whether the issue has been resolved. I’ve also not included Instagram, which is owned by Facebook.
Whether you’re boycotting Facebook Ads or not, it’s a good exercise to consider your options should Facebook, or any other social platform, disappear or just become too unpalatable to use.