Why Your Small Business Needs Facebook Video Ads in 2016

Once upon a time, in a period of my life not so far away, I was a social media manager at a marketing firm in Boston. This was before Instagram even existed, and right around the time Facebook introduced business pages to its network. Back then, social media was like the Wild West – it was still a relatively new medium that was geared towards human beings instead of brands, but before long, businesses started making their presence known too.

Lots of them. So many, in fact, that sometimes I’d log on and see more updates from companies than my companions. Facebook realized this was a problem and started putting the emphasis back on what it originally launched as: a social network for people, not brands.

When this happened, the organic reach of Facebook posts fell off a cliff for businesses.

If you’ve never heard of “organic reach,” basically what that means is: if you have 100 fans on your Facebook page and you post something, the number of people that see that post are considered the organic reach of that post. Well, as of today, I’m here to be the bearer of bad news and tell you that this once viable ‘organic reach’ is now essentially dead. Today if you have 100 fans, there’s a pretty good chance no more than 2 to 3 people will see your next post.

(You’re probably wondering what that little history lesson was all about, but I want to make sure you’re up to speed so we’re on the same page moving forward.)

Now, some small business owners were very hurt by this change, to the point where they abandoned the social network altogether.

I get it. It’s frustrating when only 2-3% of YOUR fans, the people that you worked your tail off trying to get to know about you, are actually seeing what you have to share. But the truth is, Facebook is no different than any other marketing you do for your business. And aside from word of mouth, that means you have to pay for it.

I’m a small business owner myself, so I know time and resources are tight, and I would never, ever want to waste either one of those for you. But I want you to start looking at Facebook a little differently than you may have in the past. Instead of being upset about losing your “free reach,” I want you to look at it as a place where you can speak directly to your ideal customer, based on mountains of data and laser-focused targeting options, for not a whole lot of money.

Did you know that 1.5 billion people are actively using Facebook on a monthly basis? In my humble opinion, any small business not paying to promote on there is making a huge mistake. And to be clear, I’m not talking about hitting the “Boost Post” button that is conveniently, almost tantalizingly, placed at the bottom of everything you share. I’m talking about using the actual ad creation platform built into Facebook called “Ads Manager.” This is where you’re able to create highly-effective ads by really digging into all that data Facebook collects from their users. You can also target people based on many other factors not possible by boosting a post, including Relationship Status, Education, Financials, and more.

Just to give you an idea, I recently ran a campaign in my community where I set a daily budget of $15 for one week to promote a video I created. When it was all said and done, the ad had reached 16,000 local people, accumulated over 300 shares, and had tons of likes and comments. And aside from the great exposure, I also attracted a few new clients (but it’s worth noting the content I shared was a high quality, inspiring video, so that may have had something to do with the success.)

In any event, I don’t consider this big money, especially when I can be as specific as I was in my targeting and put the video in front of the right people at the right time.

It’s the complete opposite of traditional marketing options where you paid and hoped the right people were going to see it (yeah, I'm looking at you newspaper.)

Now you can know the right people are going to see it every time, and you’ll only pay if and when that happens. Pretty awesome, right?

Well, hopefully I’ve convinced you Facebook is a great investment for your small business; let’s talk about WHAT you should be sharing in your ads, and in general. Since you’re short on time, I’ll get right to the point: VIDEO. And before I go on, I want to share a few compelling numbers:

As you probably know, video marketing has been on the rise for the last few years, but 2016 is when it’s set to explode. Yet, for reasons unknown, most small business owners still view video as something so intimidating and overwhelming that they never even try to get their feet wet. Only 9% actually have a YouTube channel, which is baffling when you consider it’s the second largest search engine in the world, right behind that thing called Google.

I want to be completely honest with you right up front: unfortunately, you’re not going to hit a home run every time you share a video online.

Which is fine, because you don’t have to. If your video doesn’t go viral, that doesn’t mean it was a failure. But just so you know, there are videos on YouTube where someone is literally taking their new iPhone out of the box that have tens of thousands of views (trust me, I’ve watched some of them.) Is there anything special about that? The un-boxing of a phone? No, but people were interested in what the video was about so they checked it out.

Just look at what’s happening around us. Right now, there’s 75 million Netflix subscribers that logged 42.5 billion viewing hours in 2015. Millions of people are ditching cable TV for Apple TV. Mobile phone screens are so big, they don’t even fit in your pocket anymore, and wi-fi and data speeds continue to increase rapidly. As people’s love for video grows, so does the power of social media to market your small business.

But search engines are also joining the trend, and we’re starting to see more and more videos popup on Google’s coveted first page. That’s why it’s so important to get a start on this now before it really takes off and your competitors leave you in the dust.

To really drive this home, the chief business officer for YouTube, Robert Kyncl, recently stood by his predication from a few years ago that 90% of all Internet traffic will be video by 2020.

Which sounds totally insane, until Cisco came out with a report that pretty much backed him up completely. And for those keeping score, we’re only talking about 4 years into the future.

So what type of videos can you create? When thinking of ideas, I feel it’s really important to put yourself in the shoes of your potential customers. Would you sit through a high-strung sales video? I wouldn’t. So if you create a unique product, maybe you could give people a glimpse into how it’s made (without saying how much it costs.) Or if you provide a service, maybe you could shoot a before-and-after style video, or better yet, get a short testimonial from one of your clients. You could share your company’s story and let people know who you are and why you love what you do. There’s tons of ideas out there for you to get started creating awesome, entertaining videos right now. You just have to pick one and run with it. Remember: there’s no right or wrong way to do this, and you’re not going to break anything by trying. Let your personality shine through and have some fun with it.

The great thing about creating these videos is that even though some will require more effort than others, the same videos that you upload to Facebook for advertising you can use a bunch of other places too, like YouTube, Instagram or your website. Not to over simplify things, but each time you do this, it’s like leaving a little breadcrumb on the Internet for people to find you.

The more breadcrumbs (or links) you have scattered around leading back to you, the easier it is for them to do so.

I know I covered a lot, but for small business owners like you and me that wear many hats and have limited resources, I truly believe you should look into paid advertising through Facebook, and consider using videos. Although the organic reach is worthless, Facebook still remains one of the best marketing tools for your business if you’re willing to give their paid ad platform a chance. And it’s only going to become more effective in the future as their algorithms continue to improve and provide even more accurate targeting options. This precision, combined with high-quality, personality-based video ads could really work wonders for your small business in 2016 and beyond. So what are you waiting for? Get out there and make it happen!