Social network advertising differs from social media advertising: Social network advertising uses websites like Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn and Twitter to target traditional advertising to potential customers. Whereas social media advertising focuses on building relationships in websites like WordPress, Flickr, Photobucket and Tip'd, which can increase a website's audience over time. Although the differences seem slight, they make a world of difference. Let's take a look at everything that social network advertising entails, using Facebook as an example.
How are Business Social Networks Set Up?
A business page on Facebook is set up differently than a normal networking page. The special business page allows business owners to post business news and updates. This page is different from normal Facebook pages because people can "Like" the business but not befriend the business. Fortunately, this decreases the chance of inappropriate posts to the business wall and allows business owners sole discretion in business page decisions.
How Do I Advertise in a Social Network?
There are a few ways to advertise using social networks. On way is to post updates and pictures to the business page, which is free. These posts, however, can only be seen by your personal Facebook friends. On the other hand, another advertising campaign uses paid promotions to reach a broader range of customers outside of your immediate personal Facebook friends. Let's look at each of these a little closer.
Posts as Free Marketing
First, you can advertise for free on Facebook by regularly posting to the business page. Updates, pictures, offers and products can all be displayed in this fashion, reaching your personal Facebook friends as your immediate audience. If your friends "Like" your business, their friends can also check out your business page, broadening your business audience for free. However, at a certain point, this free advertising option can fail to reach the audience of new potential customers that you desire.
Paid Social Networking Advertisements
Your business can also choose to pay for Facebook advertising. In this marketing option, you can appeal to as many customers as you would like or as few as you think are necessary. Charges range by the options available, basically increasing if you extend your audience reach.
Therefore, with these options in mind, a local pizza place that only serves a town of 50,000 may wish to advertise to about 35,000 people in the immediate area (not counting children under Facebook age). However, a national pizza chain may want to target every person in the nation who uses Facebook, in a certain age range.
Once the business has decided on the target market and has written a great ad, Facebook will post the ad on the right hand of users screens who fall into the right
demographic. Users can either ignore the advertisement, check out the link and/or like the business.
Similarly, the Beacon feature of paid Facebook advertising uses information about Facebook users to target an audience that may be potentially interested in your business, based on the user's information, likes and cookies. So far, the Beacon idea is great, but the implementation lacks a little focus -- married people are often targeted for dating sites or doctors can be targets for undergraduate schooling. This unfocused implementation can still target a majority of a businesses audience, which can be great for billion-dollar industries with change to spare but harmful to small businesses.
Overall, social network advertising may be a great option for your business: Large, national businesses can see great return on their advertising dollars. However, the limitations may not be ideal for small businesses, so other advertising options may be more effective.