Facebook’s Getting Greedy: Is Google AdWords Back in the Game?

Once upon a time, Facebook was the go-to online marketing tool. And with good reason.

You set up a business Facebook page, posted regular updates, engaged with your audience by replying to comments and that was that. You could sit back, relax and look at the likes and revenue rolling in.

Pretty easy, right? Facebook not only gave you enormous reach, it was also effective and really cheap (read practically free) to boot. Sadly, those days are long gone.

As adoption by businesses skyrocketed, Zuckerberg and Co started changing the goalposts, turning Facebook marketing into a money-printing machine. Which begs the question.

Is Facebook still a worthwhile platform to be on if you’re a business? Or is it time to ditch it in favour of another platform? Like Google AdWords, for instance?

Facebook Marketing Is Increasingly Expensive

There are no two ways about it. Facebook marketing is far from being cheap and easy these days. Between 2012 and 2014, the average business page’s organic reach dropped from 16% to a staggeringly low 2%, where it has hovered until recently.

Facebook wants you to pay for reach. And it has been incredibly successful at making you do it. So successful, in fact, that it makes over $1 billion in advertising revenue per quarter.

Facebook has also made no secret of its intentions to reduce reach even further. Various sources have been saying for a while that Facebook plans to reduce organic reach to 1% or even less. And it looks like the social network’s latest algorithm changes – personal posts will now be given precedence over page posts in people’s news feeds –  are how it plans to achieve this.

Bottom line: it’s going to become harder than ever to reach your audience unless you invest a substantial amount of money to promote your content.

So, Are You Saying I Should Quit Facebook?

Of course, you may still be wary of swearing off Facebook for good, despite the frequent policy changes that are making it harder and more expensive for you to use it. And understandably so.

There’s no doubt that Facebook remains a powerful marketing tool, for two reasons:

1. It excels at creating brand awareness

Facebook displays promoted content based on a user’s interests. Users can find out about your business even if they aren’t actively looking for your products or services.

What’s more, you can filter your audience by age, geographical location, sex, age group and more, making for highly targeted promotion.

2. It’s the largest social network on the planet

With 1.71 billion monthly active users, Facebook still rules the roost when it comes to social media. That’s A LOT of potential new customers you could reach. Users you’ll be missing out on if you’re not on Facebook.

But there’s a problem:

Facebook’s Biggest Downside – ROI

Facebook’s ROI is a lot lower than people think it is.

Granted, the cost you pay per click is very cheap. And you may see an immediate boost in page likes after running a Facebook campaign. But sales, not likes, should be the way you calculate your ROI. Likes won’t pay your bills or recoup your Facebook costs, will they? You’re going to need paying customers for that.

Unfortunately, Facebook users often aren’t far enough on the buyer’s journey to make an immediate purchase. This means you must sustain your paid Facebook efforts over a long period of time, which greatly increases your cost.

Out With Facebook, In With Google AdWords?

Google AdWords is often seen as an alternative to paid Facebook content, if not its direct rival. But in truth, they’re fundamentally different.

While Facebook reaches users who might be interested in your products or services, Google AdWords reaches those who are actively looking for your products or services. The result is a much higher conversion rate, because:

1. It targets people with higher buying intent

Users who find you via Google AdWords are actively researching a solution to their problem. This makes them much likelier to want to buy what you’re selling.

2. Relevance is rewarded

While Google AdWords has a more expensive initial cost, you can recoup your investment a lot quicker if you play your cards right.

Google AdWords isn’t about having the biggest budget. It’s about having the most relevant ad. Better quality, more relevant ads are given preference because they improve user experience. This in turn increases the likelihood that users keep using Google as their search engine of choice.

Relevance compounds the effect of buyer intent. If someone already predisposed to buying finds an ad that describes exactly the kind of problem they’re facing and promises a solution, they’re much likelier to buy. Right?

Google AdWords’ Downside – Awareness

Of course, Google AdWords’ biggest strengths are also its biggest downside.

While you’re likelier to make sales – and therefore see an immediate return on your investment – your ads will only turn up if someone searches for a similar product or service. Consequently, you won’t be found by those who aren’t ready to buy now but may want to buy later.

The Bottom Line

While it’s true that Facebook is getting greedy (actually, if we’re honest, it has been for a while) it’s unfair to pit it against Google AdWords. Ultimately, whether you go for one or the other really depends on your marketing goals.

Google AdWords is great at placing you before prospective buyers, which means it converts better. On the other hand, if you’re looking to build your brand by creating awareness, Facebook is still a must. At least for the time being.
Need help with your paid marketing? Talk to us.

susan aldea go left marketingSusan Aldea spent the first half of her working years in customer service for multiple industries including food and beverage, apparel and cinnabons (mmm). At that point it was all about optimal product positioning and carrying a smile even if she was exhausted from school. The second half of Susan’s career was entrenched in the anatomy of a multimillion dollar real estate development, optimizing a large real estate database and assisting Realtors with a multitude of real estate marketing campaigns. Even though she prefers to stay behind-the-curtain, her presence is always known and felt around the office.

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