Brands must advertise on Facebook to be successful

Get ready to build sponsored stories and promoted posts into your 2013 budget.

Is it necessary for brands to advertise on Facebook?

The answer is yes.

This isn’t great news for brands—especially small ones who welcomed Facebook a couple of years ago. At that time, Facebook leveled the playing field. Now, with the advent of Timeline and Facebook’s decision to go public, all that has changed.

What am I talking about?

Recent studies report that as few as one in 10 of your Facebook fans see your posts at any given time. (The real number Facebook shared is 16 percent). You might doubt the stats, but I’ve found this to be pretty close to the truth. For the handful of pages I manage (or help manage) for brands, I only see a small number of likes/comments on organic posts.

For example, one page I help manage currently has 2,200 fans. It’s a small organization. We typically see 10-15 likes and a handful of comments on organic posts. But for one post a week we put $300 of Facebook advertising behind it to spur engagement, and ultimately page likes, too.

The result was more than 700 likes and 50 comments for each post. That’s a sizeable difference.

From a brand perspective, that’s where we’re headed with Facebook. Facebook ads—including sponsored stories and promoted posts—will be the primary way your fans see and engage with your content.

I’ve seen some folks recently suggest that companies should add Facebook advertising costs to their budgets for 2013. (I’m guessing companies already did this in 2012.) After what I’ve seen with my clients, I can’t argue with that suggestion.

I’m not suggesting brands need to promote every post, or turn every post into a sponsored story. But if you want to succeed on Facebook, whether your goals are engagement, reach or leads, you’re going to have to invest in it monetarily.

That could be $2,000 a month for small brands, or $10,000-20,000 a month for large ones. It depends on your budget and, ultimately, how much focus you want to put on Facebook as a brand driver.

But make no mistake about it; advertising is becoming essential to success on Facebook.

What do you think? Based on what you’ve seen on Facebook with your clients/organization the last few months, do you agree?

Arik Hanson is principal of ACH Communications. A version of this article originally ran on his blog, Communications Conversations.

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