Is Social Media Really Worth it for Small Businesses? I asked Facebook.

I spend lots of time speaking with business owners and the big question always comes up: is social media worth the time and effort for small businesses?

So I decided to go to the source and get some real stats and answers from the people who would know: Facebook, and the head of Facebook Pages himself Benji Shomair.

I got Benji to answer the big questions we all want answers to and open the vaults on some secrets to getting the most out of your Facebook Page marketing efforts.

According to a recent study, 61 percent of small businesses don't know how much they spend on social media marketing each year, and only 17 percent are even measuring any return on their investment. So as a result most small businesses find it all a bit much and end up giving up on social media. I hope this interview helps you dive deeper into 'Marketing 2.0' and gives you some insight into Facebook ads too.

Bianca: A lot of our clients wonder -- is social media really worth it for them, or is it something that big brands dominate and others only talk about? How would you justify social media and in particular Facebook to small business owners as a valuable endeavour?

Benji: Great question. With more than 40 million active small business pages on Facebook, small business owners are utilizing Facebook now, more than ever, to connect with their customers. The amount of time that people spend on their mobile phones continues to rise dramatically, and that in turn increases the time that people spend on apps like Facebook and Instagram.

Business owners from across the globe tell us that Facebook is helping them acquire new customers and grow.

Bianca: So, how can small business owners effectively use Facebook to market their brands on a limited budget?

Benji: The beauty of Facebook ads is that a limited budget does not mean limited results. Brands can get a "bang for their buck" and effectively market their businesses on a limited budget.

The best features for small businesses are the way Facebook can target people. We encourage small businesses to get specific about who they want to reach, so they can spend more efficiently on the people that matter to them.

Here are the four keys to effective targeting:

1. Target by location.
This lets brick-and-mortar businesses reach people who are within a certain radius of their location in real time.

2. Target by interests.
This allows business owners to choose from hundreds of categories like music, movies, sports, games, shopping, and so much more. For example, a sporting goods store should target Facebook users who are interested in playing baseball or participating in a triathlon.

3. Target by behaviors.
Reach new customers based on the things they do -- shopping behavior, the type of phone they use, or if they're looking to buy a house.

4. Use connections.
Businesses should filter their ads to reach the people who like their Page or their app -- and reach their friends, too.

Bianca: Because measuring ROI is proving to be what turns businesses away from social media marketing, how can small businesses measure their return on investment with Facebook ad campaigns?

Benji: The first thing we ask a business when they start the process of creating a Facebook ad is what their objective is -- are they trying to drive people to their website? Boost their Page posts? Get people to download their app?

We then suggest the best approach for advertising based on that objective, and once a campaign starts we do a lot on the back-end to make sure their ad is reaching people who are most likely to take the action the business is hoping for.

In terms of measuring, small businesses should regularly visit Page and Audience Insights so they can understand what types of posts their audience is engaging with most.

Based on what performs well -- such as videos, text posts or promotions -- small businesses can strategically adjust their content to meet their objective.

Also remember that most people will be seeing their ad on a mobile device, and they must make sure the creative and message works in that format. Our Facebook for Business website is a helpful resource, and advertisers can use Live Chat in the US as well, to talk to a person in real time about any questions they have related to marketing on Facebook and understanding how to use the tools available to help get their ROI data.

Note: We were just warming up, I have more revealing info from my interview with Benji Shomair from Facebook. For the second part of the interview, click here. I ask the following questions:
How to conquer social? What does growth in mobile usage mean to small businesses? And more.

Magicdust is a web development company specialising in digital marketing and SEO services for SMEs.