There has been a lot of buzz on the web with regards to PPC campaigns on social networking sites. These sites hold a distinctive advantage over Search PPC because of the personal information the networking sites possess on their users. This can make campaign targeting extremely effective, not to mention the significant size of their audiences. I have taken it upon myself to explore the most popular of the social networking sites (Facebook, Twitter, MySpace and LinkedIn), we then uploaded campaigns and compared the results to our search engine campaigns on Google, Yahoo and Microsoft. This blog will be the first in a series of five, exploring this new media.

Recently ranked as the website with the most unique visitors in the United States and second worldwide, only to Google (alexa.com), the first site I checked out was Facebook Advertising. Of all the social networking sites we explored Facebook seems to be the most relevant for Business-to-Client marketing. As the largest audience of any social network, and with more than 400 million active users, its large audience makes its draw obvious. 50% of Facebook users log onto their network daily with an average time spent on the site at 55 minutes. Another interesting fact is that Facebook is becoming increasingly mobile. More than 100 million active users currently accessing Facebook through their mobile devices and these users are twice as active as non-mobile users.

Facebooks’ largest audience segment is 18 – 34 year olds – at over 50% of its users, but the fastest growing segment in its network is females aged 55 – 65 years.

You can use the Facebook targeting tool to accurately access demographics of any country or audience you wish to target. Targeting options include targeting according to age, gender, relationship status, marital status, specific keywords, and geo-targeting and it is even possible to target people on their birthdays.

As with PPC ads on search engines the ads appear on the right of the Facebook content pages, but have the advantage of including images in their text ads. Images have been shown to positively affect click-through-rate and careful attention should be paid to which images to use. We generally do A/B testing between three images initially. On the campaigns we manage we saw a higher CTR than search engine content campaigns, but lower than search campaigns. This might seem obvious to some, but in actuality Facebook PPC ads are highly targeted content ads (and not search ads). In terms of cost-per-click, we find that in for-ex search campaigns the CPC is higher than Facebook, but in retail campaigns the CPC was generally lower in Facebook.

For anyone looking to expand beyond search campaigns Facebook is a must. They have the largest audience of any social media website. Facebook is even more relevant to ecommerce now as they have recently added the option of conversion codes. Another advantage is the multi-facetted marketing options Facebook offer: PPC campaigns or social media reputation through fan pages and groups.

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