As originally featured on Entrepreneur.com …
Since the first telegram sent in 1893, to Mark Zuckerberg launching Facebook from his college dorm in 2004, technology has taken what can only be termed as several gigantic leaps for mankind. And every technological advancement has created brand new opportunities for people and organizations with the foresight, to capitalize and reap massive benefits from it.
When Google AdWords took centre stage two decades ago, people were reluctant and uninformed about how to engage with this new pay per click advertising model. That was the time when keyword competition represented a stark contrast to the cutthroat atmosphere of today. That was also when Amazon and many others capitalized on the opportunity, and the success in capitalising on Google ads played a significant role in these companies propelling themselves to becoming market leaders today.
Facebook Ads are following a similar journey, as Google Adwords once did. There is massive potential for brands that is still yet untapped.
What Has Created This Opportunity?
Many businesses and brands are still catching on to the fact that Facebook is not just for brand awareness but also performance marketing. Many businesses and brands who experimented with Facebook Ads did so more than a decade ago when the entire focus was tilted towards page likes and engagement. Safe to say, many weren’t convinced of the business potential, and as the old saying goes, once bitten, twice shy.
Here’s the caveat: Facebook Ads have evolved remarkably since then. While the original page likes and engagement campaigns exist, Facebook is actively encouraging its advertisers to prioritize campaigns more closely related to their business objectives, such as lead generation, or conversion campaigns.
How Brands and Agencies Have Inadvertently Fuelled This Opportunity
Brands and agencies have been slow to react and adapt to the ever-evolving social media advertisement landscape.
Only in 2019 is the ad spend on digital mediums predicted to outpace that of traditional media spend. Despite people spending more time online than on traditional mediums, there has been an industry-wide lag in shifting their focus from traditional channels to newer platforms which have already attracted the majority of our attention for years.:
In a time where the majority of decision-makers for the world’s largest brands were born prior to the Internet and personal computer, it brings about some interesting opportunities within the relatively new landscape that is social media. There’s no disrespect intended here – the point is that there aren’t many times in life you will find yourself with such a large opportunity ahead of you that is still relatively unexplored.
With many large brands still only dipping a toe in the water here and many struggling to keep pace with the fluctuating digital advertisement arena, the auction-based system of Facebook Ads means that the ads are still largely underpriced right now. With more than two billion monthly active users on the platform, this presents modern marketers with the biggest digital goldmine since Google AdWords.
Are Small Businesses Taking Advantage Of The Situation?
As many big brands have lagged in shifting away from legacy strategies, they have left the field wide open for ambitious, disruptive startups that are determined to make a mark.
The rise of a twenty-something entrepreneur who started with an idea and grew to a multi-million brand in a few short years is a common headline nowadays.
Not everyone is a winner though. One of the staple factors that gave rise to social media advertising was the ease with which brands could run campaigns. Compared to the significantly expensive advertisement channels of television and newspapers, Facebook advertisements required little upfront investment for smaller brands to get started.
While that can be a blessing for cash-strapped brands, it can also be a problem for impulsive decision-makers or business owners with lean teams. Many have been burnt here before assuming that it was a simple process to set up ads and generate results and as such spent very little time in strategising their approach before spending a few hundred or a few thousand dollars. Would you perform any better in the stock market using the same approach? Probably not.
Facebook has spent years trying to educate the mass market and actively advise brands from the largest to those just starting out. The process isn’t as simple as it first seems though which is where most go wrong. To generate a profitable return on ad spend from Facebook, you’ll first want to put some code on your website for tracking and optimisation (Facebook Pixel) and segment your online audiences and offline databases (custom audiences) and then you’ll want to map out how you intend to nurture your target audience through your marketing funnel to ensure an overall profitable result.
Adding Fuel To The Fire
Enter what we call, the “Maserati Marketers” all-talk, no-value social media marketers who proudly flaunt their secret guide to success and showcase their “record sales” figures that seem too good to be true and in many cases, they are. They are the modern-day snake-oil salesmen that boast their way into the pockets of smaller brands drawn in by the flashy cars and fancy talk but fail to provide actual value as promised.
Unsurprisingly, due to their failure to generate results, these Maserati Marketers have driven many smaller brands away from Facebook advertising. This creates a rising distrust of Facebook advertising by many who’ve been burned one too many times before.
Such unpleasant experiences blur the opinion of smaller brands that fail to realize lesser competition, and a growing user base means the prices are as low as they will ever be before bigger brands really start moving their billions on to the platform.
A grand culmination of misinformed masses, false starts, fake gurus, and challenges posed by rapidly evolving technology has created one of the greatest opportunities, if not greater than when Google ads first came on to the scene.
As Chris Cox, Facebook’s former CPO, recently said, “Social Media’s history is not yet written.”
If it’s taken until 2019 for digital spend to outpace traditional marketing, you can imagine how much time there is to capitalize on this current opportunity with Facebook advertising.