To spend or not to spend is not the question.

There is a cost to acquire a facebook fan. The real questions of social media advertising are not if, but how much to spend, to whom and with what intent. We all know Facebook is ‘pay-to-play’ but we need to be savvy about how we do it.

A few weeks ago, after a losing battle with a Facebook ad campaign, I went searching for other social media managers as frustrated as I’ve been with ads lately. The following sentence jumped out at me and opened up a dialog that gave me a fresh perspective for balancing ad spend and organic posts.

“It seems ridiculous to pay that much for people to literally click a button” –  @PierredeBraux

I completely agree. It does seem ridiculous to pay for people to click a button. So I won’t. The goal of any Facebook brand page is to open a dialog with fans and customers. It’s not just about the number of fans, it’s about the quality. In my experience, Facebook advertising is absolutely worth it. As long as you’re reaching out to the right audience, know your goal and don’t depend entirely on Facebook advertising to make your page a success. Today I want to walk through a few things important for you to know when advertising on social to avoid just spending money for people to click a button.

Identify Your Audience

The real key to ‘buying’ likes, is to make sure you’re buying the right ones. No amount of money is going to help you make fans out of the wrong people. Not everyone is your customer, and if you need convincing read more here.

The goal isn’t to gain as many fans and followers as possible. It’s about gaining an interested, relevant audience of people likely to interact with your page and eventually turn into customers. Use Facebook’s audience targeting and spend some time identifying the people worth paying to reach.

People that don’t actually care about your page or what you have to say aren’t doing any good. The real value is in fans willing to share your posts and participate in your online campaigns. I am not saying finding this audience will be easy, it won’t be. But stick to what you know about your audience and target ad money to those more likely to be a good fan, not just a button clicker.

Pay per Like

The amount you spend on an ad depends on your marketing budget, the size of your business and how far you want these ads to go. Yes, if you want to grow a Facebook community quickly, you will have to pay for it. But that investment should also go toward building a community.

The average cost per like (meaning the amount of money spent on each person to like your page) is around $0.25 – .30. These ads are designed to encourage people to like your page and are particularly difficult because you need to demonstrate in one post why it’s worth people’s time. These campaigns don’t send people back to your website, so the sole purpose and money spent goes to investing in your social community.

Admittedly, these tend to be more expensive and Facebook is making it more difficult for organic posts to reach your fans. But these people are more likely to see page content and aren’t as difficult to reach in the future as those that don’t already like your page. If you target your audience correctly, these people are worth the small investment.

These ads quickly and efficiently explain to your audience why it’s worth their time to like your page. Give them a reason to follow you. “Your favorite butcher shop is now on Facebook! Like our page for weekly deals, coupon codes and delicious new recipes!” – This incentive will explain to your audience how they benefit from connecting with you.

Pay per Click

Want to send people back to your site? Or promote a new download? Campaigns built with the intent to send people back to your site average about $0.30 – $0.35. These campaigns are valuable for taking the audience from social media back to your site. They don’t always result in more likes for your page, but one of the biggest reasons to be on social media is to drive people back to your site. These ads have a specific purpose and usually support other parts of a larger content marketing strategy.

Don’t know which is better? My advice is to do both. Click campaigns are necessary for bringing your social community back to your website whereas like campaigns are vital for new fans, social growth and hopefully, new potential customers. The truth is that building and maintaining growth for a business Facebook page will cost money. Using that ad spend money wisely will help you get a lot more for a lot less.

Dominate Facebook

Roundpeg is an Indianapolis content marketing firm.