When you have a business page on social media sites they make it seem so easy. Look at how many views you’re missing out on! You can get 500 views with just $3! $3? 500 views? If 500 people saw my ad, that has to mean something!

It is very tempting when you’re staring at that sad number of views that come through organically. I caved. To give it a try, I decided to take advantage of the free advertising money offered by two different social media platforms to test them out. Here’s what happened.

My first experience was several months ago. I was given a $50 credit. I did a small amount of research first, and for my product I needed a pretty tight set of parameters, both in demographics and geography, so my ad ended up being a bit more expensive.

This platform was based on cost per click, so I didn’t end up knowing how many impressions my ad got. My $50 credit provided me with about 10 clicks. (Yeah, $5/click. I still can’t believe it.)

I use a tracker on my website that shows me information on website views. It tells me some interesting information such as what city they are in, what pages they visit, how long they’re on my site, and how they got there–Google search, social media referral, direct, referral from another site, etc.

So, for $50, I got 10 clicks. Cool. Well, I found evidence of 8 of them, 2 of them mysteriously didn’t show up on my tracker. All 8 of the clicks I found evidence of were all on my site for less than a minute, and none deviated from the home page. So for $50, 10 people looked at my website and did nothing about it. Cool.

My second experience was more recent. This time I was given a $30 credit which I used over 14 days. During this campaign I got 1364 views, 17 link clicks, 2 post likes, 1 post share,  1 new follower, and 1 troll comment. I decided to remove the troll comment because, well, their comment actively deterred my target audience.

So, you wouldn’t recommend it?

I wouldn’t go that far. I only used the money provided for me as an advertising credit. In order to be effective, social media advertising requires a large investment of time and money. In my business, advertising is best done to a very specific target audience, it is not that worthwhile for me to advertise on a broad scale to random people in random places. I can’t even fulfill orders in other countries, and other states or even counties is quite expensive due to shipping costs. So I really needed a very targeted audience. I selected 4 counties that were near to each other, women, a broad age range, and 4 interest categories that go with my target demographic. The price per click is very high when you start advertising to very specific groups as I did.

The other thing about my business is, I am looking for somewhat qualified leads. It’s pretty unlikely that someone will randomly be browsing the internet, stumble upon my website, and decide to start a coffee shop so that they can use KT Coffee (how cool would that be though?!). Similarly, while there is value in people looking at my website and social media posts, if the only action they take is to look at my page and say, “Well that’s neat,” and move along, that doesn’t exactly do anything for my bottom line. My ideal customer is someone who has a problem — they need a wholesale coffee supplier — and is looking for a company to supply that for them (did I mention that it’s fresh and delicious? You know, if you’re interested 🙂 ). Although not impossible, it is exceedingly difficult to get a good qualified lead through social media advertising.

What is social media advertising good for?

Social media advertising works very well for companies that create a lot of interesting content. Blogs, videos, phone apps, entertainment sites–these are all the types of businesses that really do well with social media advertising. The point is to get a little boost to content that people have an interest in sharing anyway. The reason is, on these types of sites, that page click is valuable. Your target is to get people onto your site, because once there, they have a good chance of clicking on something else and consuming more ads as they go.

Social media advertising is a great way to get two things: views and clicks. For my business, although I love when people engage with me and look at my content, at the end of the day, what I really need is to sell actual coffee. Most people are not going on social media to try to find a solution to their coffee problem–at least not on the wholesale side.

My conclusions

Social media advertising has a place for certain types of businesses–specifically, content driven businesses that can get value out of clicks and views. In order to get a lot of value, you’ll probably want to have a fair bit of advertising money saved up to make it worthwhile.

If, like me, you’re a brick and mortar business where you need a more qualified lead to get value from advertising, social media advertising may not be for you. The primary reason I wanted to write this post is to help other small business owners answer the question of, is it worth it to spend that extra $5 to boost that post?  It may feel like it’s not a lot of money, but over time it racks up a bill for something that likely won’t bring your business much value.


Featured image courtesy of howtostartablogonline.net obtained from https://www.flickr.com/photos/143601516@N03/28188286432