If you haven't already, you might try taking Facebook's social advertising offerings for a spin. The ability to target ads to people based on very specific criteria and cap your ad spend at a daily amount of your choosing makes for a very cost-effective way to reach consumers, especially for smaller operations.
Facebook is poised to become the leader in online display ad sales this year, according to a recent post on All Facebook. Digital marketing consultancy eMarketer recently released data showing that Facebook has surpassed Yahoo in display advertising and is expected to have a 17.7% share of the market this year. That number is expected to rise to 19.4% in 2012.
Facebook's growth in display advertising marketing share comes as the social behemoth approaches 700 million users, a milestone it's expected to reach this summer. Each of these people represents a potential new fan or consumer for any given business on Facebook, assuming ad campaigns are set up effectively.
The power of Facebook ads is not just in their potential reach, but also in the highly granular targeting that's possible. Ads can be scheduled so that they are only shown to Facebook users who meet certain criteria, be it demographics, education level, location or interests.
For example, the owner of a wedding photography business might purchase an ad targeting recently engaged women over 24 years old who live within a certain radius of a given city and who have graduated from college (which may or may not indicate something about their likely income level).
The owner of a uniquely-themed cafe or restaurant in a major city might target ads to users based on their age, education and interests, as expressed by "likes" on Facebook. Of course, the ideal targeting will vary depending on the business, industry and marketing and to some extent, there is always an element of trial and error inherent in the process.
This targeting capability is a big part of what makes Facebook ads a cost-effective option for small businesses. In addition, companies can limit their ad spend according to their budgets, capping campaigns at a certain number of clicks per day.
Have you tried Facebook ads for your small business? Let us about your experience in the comments.