Over the last several days this video has been gaining traction in social media marketing circles. It’s a somewhat damning criticism of Facebook ads and the ‘value’ of a like. For those that come across the video it would be a wake-up call if not in the proper context. Many would claim that spending money on Facebook is something that is akin to shredding hundred dollar bills and feeding them to a trough of pigs. To those people all we have to say is:

You’re right. But you’re also wrong.

Are Facebook ads a waste of money?

No. Believe me when I say that. They are a waste of money however when you don’t know what you’re doing with them.

Allow me to tell you an anecdote from my youth. When I was 8 my father purchased my brother and I a very simple chemistry set. It was (most likely) his hope that this would spark some sort of desire or passion for chemistry. Rather my brother and I opened the box and began to mix the different liquids with each other and pour the various coloured pieces of dust into other pieces of dust. Essentially we were just kids and we saw something shiny…so we played with it. Needless to say my father wasn’t very happy to see his gift to us go to waste. What he said next has stuck with me for 20 years and I can remember it word for word:

“You had such an opportunity here. You could have created the most beautiful rainbows and learnt so much about the world if you had just taken the time to sit down and understand what you were doing. But you didn’t. You simply threw away this chance.”

Facebook ads are the same thing. If you don’t know what you’re doing then you’re going to be wasting your money. You’ll be taking away this opportunity at truly reaching an engaged and passionate audience. Do ‘click farms’ exist? Yes. Does a ‘like’ matter. Not as much as you would think.

Over the 2 years social media marketing has matured enough that it is no longer a mere popularity game. If I wanted to I could purchase a hundred thousand ‘likes’ for my clients and tell them that I’ve done a fantastic job. I would simply sit there and say “but look….you’ve got more likes on your page…obviously I’m worth the money according to this metric”.

Most clients would believe me. It would be the easiest money that I could make.

But that’s not what anyone with a good conscience does.

It’s also horrible social media marketing strategy. Why?

Because as we’ve outlined before all it does is play havoc with your engagement. Marketers have been screaming for years that engagement is the most important metric when it comes to social media. If you want good engagement numbers then you have to be prepared for a few harsh truths:

1) Your social strategy will take a long time. But it will pay off

2) Yes. It’s also going to cost money.

3) The numbers will be small to start with.

Let’s talk time. How long will a good social strategy take to pay off? Well in all honesty we’re talking months to years. Creating a community of passionate brand advocates takes time. I’ve had potential clients approach me and say that they have a product launching within the month and they are just starting their marketing strategy now. The greatest problem with social media is that it’s so new that many people are simply comparing it to traditional marketing methods. They think that by simply putting up a few Facebook ads then they’ll have covered all their bases. Not true. As the above video can attest good Facebook ads have become an art form. You have to know the medium, audience, product and copy back to front and constantly be critical of your work. But that’s only the first stage. Luckily Facebook ads are something that we at Transcending Social Media specialise in.

Now money. Yes. They’re going to cost you quite a bit of money as well. You shouldn’t find it shocking to hear a social media marketing expert quote you $500, $1000 or even $2000 a month for an advertising budget (this is outside of major campaigns as well). This is because at the end of the day you’re going to have to have your content seen by your viewers. From there you can sell to them, ask for donations or just increase your engagement. But if you have gone and purchased likes then all you’re doing is making it harder and harder for your engagement numbers to organically boost your post.

It’s a harsh truth in social media that we’re all starting small. Unless you’re a major brand such as McDonalds or Coca Cola then you don’t have the automatic brand loyalty (not to mention the marketing budget) to amass a huge amount of fans onto your Facebook page in a few days. This means that we’re stuck with starting small. Growing a brand on social media is exactly like growing it in real life. You start with one, two or three passionate advocates and then that will eventually expand to hundreds, then thousands and then tens of thousands. The greatest misconception of social media is that results are instant. The truth of the matter is that results depends on people…and people are notoriously fickle. It will take them a while to like your product, charity or band. It will take them a while to truly engage with you. But the results pay off. They pay off because you’re cultivating a dedicated group of fans that will rave about you to their friends. That’s what a good social strategy is all about. Creating those fans. Forming that community.

So. Are the ads a waste of time? No. Never. You just need to know how to use them. You need to know how to collate the right audience, how to frame ads, how to study the metrics and how to make changes if needed. All of this means that without having a professional eye constantly overlooking your Facebook ads you’ll simply be wasting your money.