Facebook Vs. Google AdWords: Where Should You Be Putting Your Marketing Dollars?

As a small business owner working with a limited marketing budget, should you choose to invest in Facebook advertising or stick to the tried and true, Google Adwords?

At first glance, with over a billion active users, an advertiser-friendly layout, and a number of new features that make it possible to target highly specific markets, Facebook may seem like a wellspring of untapped marketing potential. Then again, the Google AdWords display network has some great features, and it wouldn’t be as big as it is if it wasn’t padding advertisers’ pockets.

The Faceoff: Google AdWords Vs. Facebook Marketing

I often hear a lot of complaints from business owners claiming that Facebook sucks up too much money for too little return, while AdWords is better for targeting people and receiving click-throughs. Where there is some truth to this, you have to understand that the idea behind Facebook marketing is actually participating in the social experience and branding yourself. In fact, the two networks fulfill two very different goals.

Both Adwords and Facebook will let you target ads based on a person’s geographic location as well as demographic data, such as age and gender. But this is where the similarities end.

Google AdWords’ display network ads are targeted to people online based on their interests- data that’s been collected from their online searches and browsing history. So if someone has visited your website before, you can create ads to target those people as they browse through other, similar websites. This is known as “retargeting” in marketing parlance, but it’s officially called Google AdWords Remarketing. Here you can set up a list of visitors to target and display your ads for those visitors on various sites across the web.

If you are looking to sell something specific, then Google AdWords is your best option. People are looking for specific solutions and information when the do an online search or visit a specific website. Your job is meet that demand by bidding on the right keywords, creating compelling ad copy, and making a good effort on your landing page.

Facebook, on the other hand, relies on the data provided in members’ profiles and activity across the network to target their ads. Facebook’s easy-to-use ad apps and features, such as Promoted Posts, Sponsored Stories and hyper targeting features, along with the right Facebook ad manager tool, can provide you with a lot of freedom to customize your approach and add a personal touch. There are other benefits as well, including that everything is handled on-site with the exception of a few necessary apps. Best of all: Running a Facebook campaign is a lot lighter on the budget since most of your branding can be handled organically.

If you want to increase your brand awareness and visibility, Facebook may be the way to go. Brand awareness is built by establishing lasting relationships, and one of the best places to do this is in social networks like Facebook. Though it may take some time, once those relationships have been established, they’re bound to last longer and go further than the impact you can get from tactical, sales-focused ads.

So the take away is: If you’re selling a defined product or service and you are looking to simply pay some money for advertising and essentially walk away from it, then Google may be for you. On the other hand, if you want long-term success through branding, a wide variety of on-site tools to help you stand out in your niche, and to cement your position on a site that’s trending mobile, then Facebook may actually beat out Google as your platform of choice.

4 Points for Facebook Marketing Success

Now that you know the basic difference between the two advertising platforms, I want to give you 4 quick points to marketing success on Facebook, since Facebook seems to be the greater unknown:

1. Learn the site

One of the downsides to Facebook is that it changes around a lot, and thus you will need to learn the ins and outs of the platform. So before you get started with your marketing, the first step is to actually spend some time there; you also need to complete some research. Find out how to make a winning page for your business, how to go about forming and distributing ads and other materials, and find out where your competition is in the niche. Also look into things like Open Graph, app creation, and how to leverage Facebook features to induce sign-ups for directing people into a conversion funnel.

2. Focus on providing value to your target market

Before you create your page and start posting material and paying for ads, think about who you are trying to target. Where do they hang out? What is important to them? Can you provide something of desired value to these people? Facebook at its core is a social site. So while a well-placed, quality ad may get people to click-through and ultimately drive them to a destination, you have to focus on your long-term branding. Think about adding great value for the specific niche you’re targeting. If people don’t have a reason to actually follow your brand as part of the social experience, if they don’t really feel connected to you and your business, then you’re just throwing your advertising dollars away.

3. Work on the quality of your ads

Once you know how to create a page, how to make ads, and you also know who your competition is and that you need to offer unique value in order for people to choose you over everyone else, you then have to put a lot of focus on the quality of your ads and of your posts (which may become a form of indirect advertisement). Again, do your research and take a look at other business owners who have run succesful Facebook campaigns. Are there things that you can apply to your own campaign? You should also consider finding yourself a good ad-management app.

4. Increase engagement

Quality isn’t the only factor that’s important. With a social media site like Facebook, it’s all about the engagement. Though this is the last point in my list, it’s certainly not the least. Not only do you want your material to create a buzz and to get people interested in your brand and communicating with it, but you also want material that a fan of your page can share with their friends, and so on. Increase your engagement by emphasizing what your audience wants from you. Make things incredibly relevant for your audience run polls, ask questions, have contests, seek opinions and feedback, and other things which will create engagement.

Once you get the hang of Facebook and branding in general, you may want to branch out into the mobile market or purchasing additional ads on Facebook to target a much more narrow market or even specific individuals on the site. You may even want to run an Adwords campaign simultaneously. Or maybe you’ll see that Facebook just isn’t giving you the payback you’re looking for. As long as you use these platforms with clear goals in mind and you do the necessary work, you can’t lose.