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Facebook Adverts (a hyperlocal example)

As Facebook becomes ever popular, it is rapidly becoming the primary place that “normal” people communicate and interact online. I decided to run a test advertising campaign on Facebook to attempt to further grow the Facebook presence of a hyperlocal website I run.

Background

I run a community website for my local village, Hartwell in Northamptonshire. The site had humble origins as a community forum, but last year was significantly upgraded with, amongst other features, the ability for local people to add their own events, groups and news. This information is then automatically posted to a Facebook page and a Twitter account.

The forum has quite an active, albeit small, group of members, but what has seemed to happen over time is that more and more discussions (or interactions) take place on Facebook (Twitter is also a useful medium but is ultimately fairly niche).

I have recently been planning a future update to the website for a proposal to the Parish Council (the site, although independent, receives a small grant from the Parish Council to cover costs in return for them having a dedicated section on the site). This update will include more integration with Facebook, so I wanted to look at ways to increase the number of people we had “connected” with by running a trial advert.

The Advert

Facebook Adverts appear on the right hand column of the Facebook page – personally I have never clicked on a single one, although this is much more due to relevance that not having seen them.

The process of creating an advert for a page is pretty simple, but what amazed me were the range of options you have in targeting your adverts.

In the case of the Hartwell page, I chose to target people who live within 16km of the village (and the surrounding towns), who are not already connection with the page, but who have friends who are already connected to the page. You can also choose to target people based on their interests, gender, relationship status and eduction / work

The Results

The advert has been running for two days, at a bid cost of slightly lower than the Facebook recommended level (you pay the going rate for a cost per click upto your maximum bid – you can also set a daily maximum spend).

The advert has had 75,660 impressions, and has been clicked 39 times (a click through rate of 0.052%). As the advert appears on almost every page on Facebook for targeted users, the vast majority of whom will not be interested, this low click through rate is unsurprising.

The average cost per click is 28p (with a total spend so far of £10.75). These clicks through have lead to an additional 12 “connections”, which is a conversion rate of 31%. This means that each new connection has cost 90p.

UPDATE:

The advert has now been running for just over four days.

Impressions: 128,874
Clicks: 81
CTR: 0.063%
Cost:  £21.54
New connections:  25
Cost per new connection:  £0.86

Conclusion

It is still early days for the advert, but at face value it would seem that Facebook Adverts are potentially a good way of extending the audience of a hyperlocal website Facebook presence at a fairly reasonable cost – these new “connections” will now receive all the posted items into their news feed, and any interactions they have with your page will be posted to their friend’s feeds.

Obviously the feasibility of running a similar campaign depends on your budget, the size of your community (the larger, the higher potential cost), and the objectives of the site (ours is to inform and engage with as many people as possible about what is going on in the village), but certainly I am pleased with the results so far.

Beyond Hyperlocal

Beyond hyperlocal websites, I can see the potential of Facebook Adverts for commercial organisations, especially ones connected to a specific area or interest area. The targeting functionality is very powerful, for example imagine if you are a local hiking store, you can specifically target people who live in your local area and are interested in hiking and camping.

Of course getting “connections” is only the first part of the journey – these connections ultimately need to be converted into customers.

The other thing with Facebook Adverts is that only one is displayed per page, and it is not difficult to imagine that as more advertisers use the medium, the bid prices are going to rise. Unlike Google Adwords, were you can reduce the cost by targeting different keywords, with Facebook, advertisers are all pretty much bidding for the same single box.

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