Many brands get on social media expecting to create a Facebook page, post for a few weeks, and then suddenly have thousands of followers.
But unless your product is on Shark Tank and goes viral, or you already have tens of thousands of fans lined up waiting for you to start a Facebook page–both of which are fairly unlikely, by the way–that’s just not the way that social media works. Growing your following on social media, especially on Facebook, takes time, effort, and–wait for it–an ad.
Believe it or not, people around the country do regularly interact with ads on social media, and ads are a great way to boost your exposure whether you’re just starting out or you’ve been on Facebook since day one.
When setting an ad on Facebook, you have the option to select one of two ad ‘settings': impressions or likes. In an ad for impressions, you (believe it or not) set your bid and pay per thousands of impressions, and in an ad for likes, you bid for likes and pay only when a user likes your page as a result of the ad. Both have their own distinct advantages depending on what you’re looking for, but in creating your ad, you do really have to choose one or the other.
Although you can technically run a split campaign where one ad is bidding for impressions and one is bidding for likes, in our experience, that’s less effective than just picking one or the other and going all-in on that respective ad.
As you might imagine, there’s a pretty strong connection between number of impressions you get when running an ad for likes, and the number of likes you get when running an ad for impressions. Below, you can find two data sets on two different clients:
In the case of client 1 (on top), we didn’t start running the ad until the 18th, at which point we set it for likes. Up until the 15th, there were, as you might expect, quite a few likes. But when we stopped that ad and started bidding for impressions, likes dropped off pretty quickly while impressions shot up.
For client 2, the same connection exists. We started bidding for likes on the 7th and switched to impressions on the 21st, at which point likes slowed down and impressions picked up pretty quickly. When we switched back to likes on the 8th of February, impressions went down–that is, of course, until we once again switched to impressions on the 22nd and likes leveled off.
You do get some likes when bidding for impressions, and vice versa–that’s true. But if you’re going to choose one setting or the other, you need to be clear about what you’re looking for, because you don’t want to depend on getting likes while bidding for impressions or impressions while bidding for likes. Clarity is essential.
So how do you know which ad setting is better for you? Well, it really depends on what you’re looking for:
- The most exposure possible: If all you’re looking for is to get your name out there, impressions are a great place to start. They get your ad in front of a lot of people, and get people thinking about your brand. Impressions are great for short-term campaigns, new brand launches, and brands looking to expand their reach, whether globally or nationally.
- Long-term readers for posts: Impressions may be great for getting the word out about your brand, but they’re not always great for generating long-term engagement. If long-term engagement and readers are what you’re looking for, consider setting your ad for likes. While an impression ad will only show to people a given number of times (say, 5) and then be done with that person, an ad for likes takes someone to your page once they like it and gives them the chance to be exposed to what you post. That’s best if you’re looking for long-term value.
- The appearance of a popular page: Whether this is a good or a bad thing is hard to say, but some brands want nothing more than the appearance of a popular page. If that’s the case, there’s nothing wrong with starting an expansive ad for likes without much concern over focus or direction. Be warned that this approach won’t give you much long-term value, but in some cases, that isn’t what brands are looking for. Sweeping ads for impressions can also be useful for these types of brands.
- A focused following of individuals: Much like you’d set your ad if you’re looking for long-term readers of your posts, setting your ad for likes and deeply constraining the copy and specs of the ad can be a great way to get a focused following. While your focused following will naturally grow as you spend more time on social media (people won’t like your page unless they’re interested), you can supplement that growth with a highly targeted ad for likes.
In all cases when thinking about impressions vs. likes, it’s essential to take the time to set (and track) your ad properly. Facebook likes and impressions can have a lot of value, but only if they’re with the right people. You can get yourself 18 million impressions in a week pretty easily if you put yourself in front of a global audience with no filters or keywords–but how much value do those impressions really have if they’re people who aren’t interested in your brand or industry? The same is, of course, true for likes as well.
If you’re just starting up your Facebook page and looking to get the ball rolling, spend some time to set up a strategy and think about what exactly you’re hoping to get out of our Facebook page. In the end, you’ll find that either impressions or likes is best for your brand. Or, you could potentially even determine that your time is better spent on Twitter and LinkedIn. Either way, it’s impossible to know that without an initial strategy.
The best thing you can do in this case is pick an ad strategy and stick with it. Set your ad and run with it for a month and see how it works. If you’re not getting what you’re looking for in that first month or two, change the ad and see how much closer that gets you. If after a few more months you’re still not happy, your time may be better spent somewhere else. The key here is that you’ll never know until you try–so get out there and give it a shot!
Image Credit: CC by Sean MacEntee