Does Facebook Advertising Work for Small Businesses?

A few months ago I wrote a post with almost exactly the same topic. In that post I talked about the difference between hiring a consultant to help or doing your Facebook ads yourself. It was also about tracking, or knowing if your Facebook advertising is working or not.

In this post I’ll get more specific and try to answer the question about Facebook advertising for small businesses. Does it work? What are some reasons it may not be working? How to make it work.

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In general I’d say the answer to the question for most small businesses is yes, it works. At least it can work if you don’t make big mistakes. Mistakes like showing your ads to the wrong area (the whole country when you only sell local). Using use the wrong budget settings. Or writing really bad ads.

But what does it mean to say it works? If you don’t measure results you won’t really know if it works or not. But this is the same for other types of advertising. Print, radio, TV, and mailings. They can all work but they’re not so easy to measure. So most just guess. But you can measure somewhat better than you can with other forms of advertising. At least you can see how many people viewed, clicked, shared, and commented on your ads. But the important statistic is the sale. The return on investment. Did you get more than you spent.

Most small businesses can probably reach more people with Facebook for a much lower cost than many of the traditional forms of advertising. That may be all some businesses need to know for an answer to the question.

But what if you want to make Facebook advertising work really well. There can be a huge difference between doing poorly and doing really well with Facebook advertising. Depending mostly on how good your ads are and how well you target your audiences to show your ads to.

Here’s 5 tips to help you do better with Facebook advertising

  1. Keep going. Don’t just do one ad and then forget about it. Look at the results. Try another ad. Try to see if you can do better with a different picture, headline, or text. Try a video or multiple photos. Make a plan to run ads for a month or two. Then analyze the results and do some more. It’s common for businesses to try it and forget it. Don’t be one of them. If you give it an honest try and it just doesn’t work for you then stop. But don’t stop just because you don’t have time for it.
  2. Know who your customers are and target the same type of people with your Facebook ads. This is a huge part of getting success with Facebook ads. It matters who sees your ads. It matters because it’s a waste of money to show ads to people who are not potential customers. If you can be showing your ads to the right people you’ve won half the battle. The other half is getting the ads themselves to work.
  3. Test various ads. Change the images, the headlines, the copy. Change the specific offer if you have one.  Make your ads stand apart and be different. You have to get attention so you have to be different. If your ads can’t be fun or entertaining because of the type of business you are, then they must be useful, helpful, or informative. You have to give to receive. With your Facebook ad you always give first. As a result you’ll hopefully make connections which will later turn into customers and sales.
  4. Use custom audiences. These can be set up within your Facebook ads account. The audiences can be people who have visited your website, people who have engaged with your Facebook content, viewed Facebook videos, or lists of people you uploaded to your ads account. It’s much less expensive to show ads to these audiences because almost always they are people who are already interested in your business products or services. You’ll be spending your money showing ads only to people who are likely very interested. Your results will be much better.
  5. Don’t create business type ads. Create fun ads. This is social media so you people don’t want to see advertising. Your ads should not look like advertising. It’s kind of strange but it’s true. Your ads should not have the purpose of selling. Their purpose is to get exposure and to make connections. Selling comes later, most of the time off of Facebook.


Here’s 5 Mistakes to Avoid with Facebook Advertising

  1. Don’t focus on your business or how great it is. Instead, talk about the reader and the problems or issues they might be having that you can solve for them. You do have to be careful with some categories on this however. Your ads can’t contain content that asserts or implies personal attributes. Read more about Facebook advertising terms here. But you can still offer helpful advice and solutions to problems. For example, your ad can say something like “5 ways to better health” but cannot say “Are you in need of better health?”.
  2. Don’t let your ads wear out. There is an attribute you’ll see in the statistics called Frequency. Frequency is the number of times each person has seen your ad. If they’ve seen the same ad more than 5 times they may be getting sick of it. Depending on the type of business a lower number or a higher number is OK. Just remember it’s a good idea to change things once in a while. You can keep the same message but use a different image, or a slightly different headline.
  3. Don’t boost a post if you’re trying to do branding type of advertising and trying to reach a lot of people. When you boost a post Facebook will show your ad only to people who are likely to engage (like, comment, share) with it. This prevents the ad from showing to a lot people who you may want to reach. You can use the boost post method as long as you go into ads manager after boosting the post and changing the “optimize for” to reach instead of engagement. Rather than using the boost post button you can click the create ad button and use the reach objective. This will automatically set the “optimize for” setting to reach (rather than engagement).
  4. Don’t create a fake Facebook account for your business. Facebook accounts should represent real people. It’s against their terms to do this. Instead use your personal Facebook account to manage your business page and your ads account. Better yet, create a Facebook business manager account. Just go here to create one, it’s easy to do. This is the preferred way to handle your business with Facebook.
  5. Don’t be confusing. Make your message clear. A clear message is easy to understand and easy to act upon. Whether it’s an upcoming sales event, a coupon, or a general awareness type ad make your message clear and easy to understand. Part of doing this is to make sure the picture matches the message and they both match the website landing page (if your ad takes people to your website). Be clear and consistent.

One more thing you need. Your ad must resonate with the reader. That’s not always easy to make happen but it’s what works.

What types of businesses should use Facebook advertising?

Any business that has potential customers who are on Facebook can benefit from Facebook advertising. Some businesses are a better match for Facebook but that doesn’t mean the ones that aren’t can’t make it work. I always say, if you’re in the entertainment, fun, and enjoyment business you match well. Businesses like restaurants and theaters are great matches for Facebook advertising.

But what about lawyers and accountants and funeral planners? They’re not exactly fun types of businesses. The services they offer are not what people really want to be buying. But they’re still important. And people need important services just like they want fun services.

So there you go, if your business provides important services that aren’t fun services you can still do well with Facebook advertising. Get your business known and make connections with people by being helpful with the important things people need. Facebook advertising can work for your business. If you’re in the fun and entertainment business the answer is easy. Facebook should definitely work for your business.

Thanks for reading!

If you have comments or questions please comment below.

Read more articles about Facebook advertising and related topics on my website at

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