Is the secret of your small business success linked to the secret of Facebook’s success?


facebook small business mobile advertising

Facebook recently announced financial results that blew expectations out of the water and its stock shot up on the news.

But if you’ll dip into your medium-term memory for a moment, you’ll recall that a few years ago Facebook stock was hitting new lows not long after its IPO.

This turnaround is, of course, based on exploding ad revenue and tied up with that fact is good news and (maybe) bad news for small business owners along with some very important lessons. Let’s start with the lessons that Facebook’s success is teaching us, especially in light of the question of whether or not to advertise on Facebook.

Facebook ad revenue is up 45 percent over last year and – Get ready for it! – 78 percent of that growth comes from mobile ads. I don’t think there’s any other single statistic I’ve seen recently that does a better job underscoring the importance of mobile marketing in your small business.

Advertise on Facebook?

If you’ve been wondering whether you want to advertise on Facebook, you need to consider the question from the mobile marketing perspective.

Let me point out another lesson that the financial success of Facebook advertising teaches us and it’s one that isn’t immediately obvious. I’m talking about the death of the Internet as most of us have known it.

Consider this: Facebook is booming in both advertising revenue and users, and this growth is coming in the mobile sector. With that understanding, let me ask you a question: Are users accessing Facebook via mobile browsers, or the Facebook mobile app?

I think far more users check Facebook via the mobile app than do via their mobile browser. This reflects a growing trend, especially among the younger demographic. Mobile users prefer using apps over navigating to websites using a browser.

Is the Internet on its way to becoming just a pipeline to fuel mobile apps? Probably not entirely, but it’s certainly easy to picture a day when mobile users have a handful of mobile apps they rely on and scorn having to deal with the clumsy navigation delivered through the browser experience.

Need a mobile app?

This is pushing small business in a couple of directions. You should carefully assess your need for a mobile app and you should also consider advertising with Facebook, or another social media platform that gets a lot of mobile users.

This leads us to why Facebook’s good news should also be good news for your small business. If you look at Facebook’s ad revenue growth curve, it goes up dramatically. It couldn’t grow this strongly if advertisers weren’t getting a decent level of success from the ads.

I don’t think advertising through Facebook is a “slam dunk,” but I believe that if you are smart, or work with someone who has proven success on the platform, you can achieve your goals. In the shorter term, this might help you avoid developing your own app; reach your customers through targeted and tightly budgeted Facebook ads.

(By the way, most of the easiest and fastest app development services charge monthly fees, so the cost model isn’t too different from the way you budget for ads. I looked at some DIY app services earlier.)

The bad news, or at least the no-so-good news, is that Facebook’s ad revenue success seems to be coming somewhat from the expense of the organic reach small businesses used to enjoy. However, not all of this can be blamed on Facebook management.

Facebook doesn’t publish official numbers, but for many small businesses, it looks like the odds of your post reaching a high percentage of your fans has gone down. It’s not universal and I published an infographic from Agorapulse on this recently that gives some winners and losers.

Are your posts great?

In any case, the challenge for the small business owner is to organically get his or her posts in front of as many Facebook fans as possible, whether or not the owner has decided to advertise on Facebook. The best overall strategy is to understand that Facebook ranks posts similar to the way Google ranks websites: popular posts get in front of more eyeballs because they have proven themselves to Facebook users.

With this understanding, you need to post quality material that gets a lot of “likes” and shares. If you become good at this, your posts will end up in more news feeds. If your fans don’t interact with your posts, it tells Facebook that they don’t care about them, so why should Facebook continue to show them to users? After all, Facebook wants to create a rich user experience.

Finally, you can’t expect your posts – even your popular ones – to last forever. The typical Facebook user has some 250 friends, therefore most posts aren’t going to make it to the top of anyone’s news feed.

Unless, of course, you decide that the smartest thing for you to do is to advertise your small business on Facebook…