People ask me about advertising on Facebook versus Google all the time. This is like comparing apples to oranges; or perhaps TV to something completely new.
Facebook vs Google Explained
Facebook ads have always reminded me a bit of television ads. People aren’t watching TV for the ads, they may, or may not pay attention to the ads, but if the ad is memorable, interests the viewer, or repeats enough times, it is liable to sink in. Also, if the person is considering buying the item mentioned in the ad, the ad can push her over the edge to making the purchase.
Google however is something completely different. When someone advertises on Google, if she chooses the right keywords, she knows that people are searching for the very thing she is selling. When someone searches on Google, she is searching for you, someone like you, or a solution to a problem that you can help her fix. This makes Google the more effective tool for immediate sales.
So Forget Facebook?
Does this mean I think Facebook is useless? Not at all. I have been purchasing ads on Facebook for clients for about 2-3 years now. In my experience when you advertise the right item, with the right content, to the right demographics, you can get some good bang for your buck. I have managed to drive quite a bit of traffic to websites and Facebook pages using Facebook ads.
The cost of Facebook ads is substantially cheaper than Google ads, and the ability to focus on specific demographics, age, gender, education, can be quite useful. The ability to focus by interest may or may not be particularly useful. It depends on what you are selling. I’m not likely to find an interest that includes “personal injury attorney.” That level of specificity is the Google edge.
Think about your Practice
If you want to advertise your legal practice on Facebook, you need to think about your market as well as your timing. For example, I don’t tend to market to business professionals on Facebook. On the other hand, marketing for personal injury plaintiff work, plaintiff employment cases, divorce/custody, and the like can work quite well on Facebook. That is because you are seeking to reach the consumer directly. I also know that people are more likely to seek divorces after the holidays. So I might advertise for divorce representation right before Thanksgiving (you know people are thinking about it then) and up through the New Year. But I might not advertise divorces in May and June. I might switch to custody knowing people are likely to fight about summer vacation.
While I have had success creating ads that lead directly to a website without the firm having a large Facebook presence, those types of ads don’t really take advantage of the unique aspects of social advertising that Facebook offers. The more robust your firm’s presence on Facebook, the more impact the ads will have.
When I see X Friend Likes Y, I am more likely to notice it than I am to notice an ad that doesn’t connect to me in some way. Connecting an ad to a page that has over a thousand or more fans makes it all the more likely that your ads will have this kind of impact.
Take a look at this ad from Lexus. I notice it much more so because it includes a picture of a friend (which I blurred out) and the names of my friends who like Lexus’ page.
Google is seeking to offer the impact of a recommendation with Google+, but Facebook already has this market. If Google is able to take it over, in combination with its attempts at social search, it will make Google advertising even more of a power house than it already is. But Google isn’t there just yet. Facebook has the edge here.
Will you Gain Clients from Facebook Ads?
History does not favor creating sales directly from Facebook ads right now. A recent survey states that people are not buying as a result of Facebook ads. I have to wonder about the questions asked in the survey though. Tracking sales from marketing isn’t always an easy task. How do you know what actually causes a person to decide to hire your firm, or buy a product from you? It might be that the Facebook ad led the client to your site, but he didn’t call you right then. But perhaps that client remembered you and called you when he needed you.
I think at this point, we are simply not sure how to track the success of Facebook ads. Are clicks to a website success? If the point is clicks and there is a failure to convert, does that simply mean that the website isn’t engaging enough to create a sale?
At this point there are more questions than answers. So right now all I can say is, a good Facebook ad will get clicks to your website or page. But then you have to take over and make the sale or gain the client through the engagement you create with the lead that comes from your Facebook ad.