Facebook ads v groups – What’s the most effective way of promoting your local business?

So you have a Facebook page for your local business and now you need to promote it. Well, you have options, you can find some local groups to share your posts and content or you can use Facebook’s advertising platform. 

Both can be really effective and which one you choose is up to you, but in this blog we will outline the pros and cons of each medium.

Pros of local groups

  • It’s free to post
  • Your posts will be put in front of local people
  • Your reach will increase
  • Facebook is actively promoting groups presently

The main benefits here are that it is both free and easy to reach local people using groups. You will also receive much more reach than you would just sharing from a new page. 

The other benefit is that Facebook is currently actively promoting groups and encouraging people to join relevant groups. Some users are currently seeing their newsfeed dominated by group posts and have seen less updates from friends and pages that they follow.

Cons of local groups

  • You sometimes have to share from a personal profile
  • Not everyone in the group will be your intended target
  • It’s hard to measure the effectiveness
  • Some groups are dormant
  • You may need to meet strict posting guidelines
  • It’s likely that your competition will be in the group
  • Engaging with comments can be difficult

There are a few things to be aware of when posting in groups, firstly you may have to share from a personal profile. This will be fine with some, but others may see it is a direct line to the owner or management if they have an issue. Facebook now allows pages to join groups, meaning you can interact as your page, but it is up to the group owners whether they allow this.

Local groups tend to have a wide variety of people from all demographic groups, so if your business doesn’t appeal to many in the group, your reach will decline as just like on your page,

Facebook will show your post to more people if it gets a good level of engagement. Another risk is you may open yourself to criticism. For example, young professionals love a good selection of coffee shops, whilst some people think there are already too many, and they might just tell you what they think!

Hard to measure the effectiveness

Using insights and analytics is a good way of seeing what is working on Facebook and improving your content, but whilst sharing to groups will increase reach, you may not know which groups are being effective and which are not.

Another issue with groups is that you may have to follow strict group guidelines in order for your posts to be approved, sometimes you may not be able to share an existing post and promotion may not be allowed. Another situation that can arise is from groups that don’t pre-approve posts as you can find your post deleted later down the line, which can be frustrating, especially if it had some good engagement.

Finally, engaging with comments and interactions can be difficult, especially if you have shared to multiple groups, again you might have to make it clear that it is your business if you are commenting from your personal profile.

Pros of Facebook ads

  • You can target both locals and people who visit your location
  • You can add demographic and interest targeting to ensure you are reaching potential customers
  • You can perform split tests
  • You can exclude existing page followers
  • You can target people who have visited your website

Most people who are members of local groups will fall into these categories; they live in the area, they used to live in the area and want to keep in touch with new developments or they are moving to the area.

With Facebook ads, you can also target people who visit the area where your business is located. This is good for cafes and restaurants that can then target people who work there or people that visit from elsewhere due to better nightlife or choice of restaurant.

As we mentioned earlier, sometimes you will be targeting a specific age group or people with specific interests. For example, a gym owner may want to target people with an interest in fitness or weight loss.

Split tests

With Facebooks ads, you can also perform split tests. A split test is when you create two adverts and test them to see which performs better. You can try different images, ad copy or targeting to see what is more effective.

Another advantage of Facebook ads comes if you want to entice new customers with a bumper offer in order to really grab their attention, with ads you can choose to exclude people that already like your page and only target new customers.

Facebook ads also allow you to target people who have visited a website, or previously engaged with your content. This is useful as you are targeting people that already have an interest in your business, rather than a cold audience.

Cons of Facebook ads

  • It costs money and can be easy to burn through your budget
  • Some people don’t like seeing ads in their newsfeed

The cons of Facebook ads are quite simple, it costs money for one! And how much varies greatly. Just as with organic posts shared on your page, the better the content connects with your audience the cheaper it will be to reach people. Ideally, your advert should not look out of place in someone’s newsfeed, it should look like an organic post.

Secondly, despite the fact that people use Facebook for free several times a day and most of Facebook’s revenue comes from ads. Some people just don’t like ads in their newsfeed and will probably tell you about it too!

In conclusion, see what works for you. If you can get business from groups without spending a penny then that’s great. If not Facebook ads offer some amazing tools, that when used correctly can take your social media to another level.

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