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Advertising has done a complete flip. Newspapers are slowly stopping their print editions, the phone books are being sent to the recycling bin and AdWords can be above budget for most businesses.

The Social Networks have the answer. Most of the networks now offer affordable advertising features for all businesses.

However, the most successful, affordable and effective advertising platform appears to be Facebook. Not only does Facebook have a massive audience, they offer several options for advertising that can fit most any business.

Local companies can target users within a certain radius of their location and even narrow it down to exact zip codes. Facebook also offers features that can direct ads to extremely specific demographics, i.e. age groups, gender, online purchasing behaviors and interests.

Want to advertise to only iPhone users? You can. Do you offer a service to newly engaged couples, you can direct ads to them. Looking to advertise only to people interested in yoga, you can narrow it down to Facebook users who are interested in yoga.

Have a list of customer or potential customer emails? You can upload those emails into Facebook and target your ads just to those people.

However, the most effective ad campaigns that Facebook offers (IMHO) are the Custom Audience campaigns and the Lookalike campaigns. Even if you don’t think your business needs to advertise on Facebook, you need to see how these particular Ad Campaigns work, how they can work for you and most especially how they can work against you.

Here are some real life examples of how these ads work:

Example #1 – Lookalike Ad Campaign:

I was working with a new client. They are a local health club. I was on their website on my PC as well as my phone and tablet. Upon returning to Facebook I started to get nothing but ads for local fitness centers. All of which are my client’s competition.

fitness exapmle

Upon seeing these ads and understanding that even their own clients would be seeing these ads they signed up for monthly advertising. Their ads now show when Facebook users in their area visit any type of fitness/health club website (not just theirs!)

Example #2 – Custom Audience & Lookalike Ads

I am a big online shopper. There are a pair of boots that I want for the winter. They are quite costly so I was price comparing online. I Googled the boots and then visited a few different shoe store website as well as Amazon.

I put the boots into shopping carts on Ebay, Zappos and Amazon.

Upon returning to Facebook I began to get ads from Amazon, Zappos and Ebay asking me if I forgot to finish my purchase. As well as ads from other online stores with the boots featured prominently.

Months later I STILL am getting ads for boots.boots 2

Example #3 – Lookalike Ads

We are a Social Media Marketing and Advertising firm. Throughout the day I am on my own websites several times and I am constantly researching Social Media information via Google search. I visit other websites related to Social Media often. my ads

As I am now visiting these other sites, as well as my own, my News Feed on Facebook always has at least one ad for a competitor offering Social Media. Of course, I get my own ads as well since I am focusing on an audience that is interested in Social Media too and I am visiting my own site and other Social Media sites my News Feed typically always contains one of my own ads.

Example #4 – Custom Audience:knobs

I purchased a new home this year, I am redecorating and redoing most everything in the house. I am constantly online looking at different items for the house – curtains, knob pulls, fabric, pillows, furniture, etc.

Example #5 – Custom Audience:vista groupong

I recently purchased my Christmas Tree. Every year now I use a Groupon for a fresh tree to be delivered to my home. I also am looking into our Christmas Cards and for years now I use Vistaprint to purchase our Christmas Cards. I know get ads from Vistaprint and Groupon daily.

So what does this mean for your business? While you may think you don’t need to use Facebook Ads, you may want to reconsider. If you have competitors who are offering the same (or similar) products or services and they are using these ads it is very likely that YOUR customers and potential customers are seeing the ads.

Having these ads on your customers or potential customers Facebook News Feed could mean the difference of retaining that customer or losing that customer to your competition as well as potential customers finding your competitors before they find you equating to a lost sale.

Even if you have plenty of customers or advertising sources elsewhere work better for your business you may want to run these two campaigns on Facebook to stay competitive and relevant. Otherwise you are basically giving away business to your competitors.