In a piece written earlier this year, Inc.com contributor Larry Kim laid out a bunch of great reasons why your business should be advertising on Facebook and why it's the social media platform of choice for marketers.
Kim's reasons are solid. Among them are the social media giant's ability to attract more than 1.5 billion visitors a month, the low cost to advertise ($50 will get your message in front of 5,000 to 10,000 people), its "amazing capabilities to target new customers" and its tools to re-target visitors again and again that generate more opportunities to create qualified leads. All of this is contributing to Facebook's explosive growth in advertising sales.
But wait. Before you start advertising on Facebook, you better be careful. Earlier this year, Facebook changed its algorithm to allow "mobile friendly" sites to appear more prominently in its search engine. Now the company is taking another big step to speed things up -- but if you're not in compliance, your ad may not be seen at all.
In a move geared towards "helping businesses be the best mobile advertisers they can be," the company announced last week on its blog the introduction of new "prefetching-pre-loading" mobile content in its Facebook in-app browser. To do this, Facebook is going to "predict" how likely a person is to click on an ad and then store the ad's content locally on the user's device for a short amount of time. If the user clicks on the ad, it'll load the initial content from the device's internal cache instead of from another server. The company believes that load times will be quicker by as much as 29 percent, or 8.5 seconds.
So if your business plans to advertise on Facebook, this means your ads will appear faster. That's the good news. But there's a downside. You need to make sure that when someone clicks on that ad, your website -- particularly your mobile site -- responds...fast. Because if it doesn't, your ad may not appear.
"The speed with which a mobile website will load is one factor our ad delivery system will use to determine which ads to show which people," said Matthew Idema, Facebook's director of ad products marketing in this report from AdAge.com. Idema said that Facebook could even "prevent ads from showing to someone if the website it leads to is too slow and not optimized for mobile." Facebook is obsessed with speed. And if your mobile site isn't loading fast enough for those users who clicked on your ad, then your advertising is going to suffer.
How to fix this? Facebook offers a few good tips on its blog post. But they're pretty technical. So here's a layman's translation:
Minimize your landing page redirects, plugins and link shorteners. Ideally, when a user clicks on an ad, he's taken directly to the desired "landing" page and not redirected through any other advertising or link shortening services like Bit.ly or TinyURL. All of this adds seconds to the time it takes to load the destination page.
Compress your site's files. Your mobile site should be using compression, which will reduce page sizes and therefore decrease the amount of time a user will need to display information. This is a server setting, so ask your web administrator to turn this feature on.
Enable multi-region hosting. Ask your web hosting provider about this feature, which spreads your data among geographic regions and reduces your exposure to localized traffic bottlenecks.
Use a high-quality Content Delivery Network to reach audiences quickly. Make sure your website is hosted with reputable services that provide a globally distributed network of proxy servers deployed in multiple data centers so that your users can get the best performance and availability of data.
Advertising on Facebook this year may be a big opportunity for your business. Just make sure to play by Facebook's rules if you want your ads to actually be seen.
A version of this column originally appeared on Inc.com.