By Louis Eksteen

Alongside the social revolution, advertising has changed dramatically. Standard advertising formats are being challenged by social units, such as Facebook’s promoted stories.

In addition to the complex nature of social advertising is the fact that consumers are spending a significant amount of time engaged with social on their mobile devices. Mobile data usage is escalating dramatically. Cell phone companies are attributing the majority of this data growth to social. And nothing is bigger in social than Facebook.

The social network has therefore now started allowing ad targeting directed at its mobile app users specifically. Although Facebook still has a long way to go in integrating mobile and social with advertising (or, euphemistically termed “promoted stories”, etc), early signs are encouragingly positive that advertisers will increasingly be able to reach Facebook’s users via mobile.

So Facebook is clearly important to advertisers, but since the company’s criticised, virtually failed stock exchange listing in May this year, it’s become fashionable amongst many digerati to advocate against advertising on its platform.

But here are four good reasons to do just that (plus three not to).


Say what you will, but targeting in a social sense doesn’t get better than Facebook. A recent case study highlighted by Facebook shows a wedding photography company in the US (CM Photographic) spent only US$600 on advertising for a return of nearly $40 000 directly from these ads (over a 12-month period). Their secret? CM Photographic “targeted 24-30-year-old women whose relationship status on Facebook indicated that they were engaged”. (These case studies, available from Facebook, are also testament to the social network’s increasigly aggressive advertising sales techniques.)


If a company maintains a Facebook Page for brand content sharing, there is no better way to drive attention to this page than Facebook advertising. Many local examples attest to growing Facebook Likes and engagement by advertising. Once a company’s page has established a following, it’s then up to the company itself to ensure it runs owned media brand content that consistently resonates with these followers. (Facebook restricts promotions via Pages. Refer to their guidelines before embarking on any campaigns.)


Facebook lets advertisers use an automated advertising engine that enables cost-efficiency based on a specific allocated budget. This advertising manager automates sophisticated media planning and integrates with chosen deliverables, measured by Facebook itself. Careful planning and calculated experimentation with advertising creative, targeting and other measures can result in low cost for high social reward, depending on the objectives of the Facebook campaign.

Earned media

Building a brand that generates earned media requires a social kickstart. What you’re aiming at with earned media is motivating your target audience to share your brand content. This content should inherently be shareable, but advertising on Facebook is a great way of igniting initial interest. (The same principle counts for owned media too.)

But don’t use Facebook advertising if…


  • Your brand or company is not active on Facebook. Advertising on Facebook works best if it relates socially to what’s being advertised, either through brand content or via promotions run on the social network.
  • You are not willing to experiment. Creative executions on Facebook require frequent adaptation, depending on performance. Due to the frequency of advertising exposure, creative can burn out quickly. This means many different creative executions work better than fewer. Constant monitoring is required.
  • Your chosen target market is not active socially. Even though Facebook is huge, it could be that your closely defined target market is simply not represented in high enough numbers. For example, if you’re targeting 30-65-year-old South African men interested in pop culture (defined by Facebook), you’ll only reach about 1 400 individuals.