I advertise heavily on Facebook. What would be a fortune in TV advertising, which I've spent for years with mixed results at best, is a pittance on Facebook. I can experiment and try all kinds of things. I've got an ad on your birthday, an ad for the Yu-Gi-Oh Duel Terminals, you name it. I've got six ad campaigns going at any given time. This is because ads are profoundly well targeted and there's no risk if they don't work. Nobody has clicked on that birthday ad yet. Yes, glass half-empty people will point out that "hit rates" are far less than one percent (about .04% for us).
Who cares? If I'm only paying for those who click, it's not like I need to make grand judgments about the hundreds of thousands who don't. It's like putting down procreation because only one sperm fertilizes the egg. Oh pity all those poor swimmers; wouldn't a test tube be more humane? I'll also point out the old marketing rule that it takes about nine impressions before a potential customer will act. Theoretically, these low hit counts should work over time. I don't want to act like I'm defending Internet advertising. I don't need to. I do it because it works. I also want to point out that it's not evil, unlike Yelp. I can't target my competitors and Facebook doesn't encourage me to advertise by preventing this. It's fairly benign.
How does it work? We've learned not to use it to drive people to our store, or for events or for sales. Facebook ads work to connect people to our Facebook page. We're number nine worldwide for game store fans on Facebook and a lot of this is our advertising campaign combined with working very hard to provide good information to those who sign up. This results in informed customers who act on our information, often near instantly.
I have information I want you to know. You want to know it. Facebook is good at presenting it. If I wanted to have a sale when we first started, I would spend hours designing a postcard, possibly hiring someone to do it, hundreds of dollars in postage and wait a week or so before customers trickled in. Since no single department is more than 20% of our sales, it meant that any departmental sale had an 80% marketing expense wastage. Therefore, we rarely had these kinds of sales.
A few years ago, Email might have been the solution. However, email has problems. It's considered more intrusive. If I sent you 60 email a month, you would disengage almost immediately. However, two updates a day on Facebook is not considered extreme. Also, since 80% of what I post is of no interest to you (for some of our multi-genre gamers, it's as low as 40%, looking at our survey results), it's easier to let it flow off your back, duck-like. Some still prefer email, but they inevitably get far less information from us than Facebook and Twitter.
So yes, Facebook advertising works great, which is why I want to mention that all these erroneous "I will not pay for Facebook when it goes to $3.99/month on next Tuesday" pages are total crap. I am paying for your Facebook use. I want you to have it for free. Really. I also need a reasonable amount of your personal information for my marketing to continue my ad campaigns. I'm not saying that Facebook's privacy policies are good, because they're troubling. I am saying, and nobody seems to have mentioned this, that as an advertiser, I need your anonymous personal information to target my ad programs and I need you happy about it. Without that information and a happy you on Facebook, the system dies.