Facebook or Adwords: Which is Right for Your Business?

By August 27th, 2013. 1 Comment

Facebook or Adwords

Facebook or Adwords?

This is a question many business owners get stuck on, and for good reason. While it’s clear to most business owners that the future of advertising lays in online marketing, it’s not always so clear which avenues they should pursue.

Although there are many, many ways to market your business online, I thought it would be helpful to compare two of the most popular methods of online marketing: Facebook Ad & Google Adwords.

Both Google and Facebook offer free methods of promoting your business, however we’ll only touch briefly on those options here. In terms of paid promotion, both Google Adwords and Facebook Ads primarily offer pay-per-click ads.

But what can you hope to achieve through each? Which is best suited to your business and your goals? Which one is right for you? Facebook or Adwords?

The Main Difference Between Advertising with Facebook or Adwords: Intent

Perhaps the main difference between marketing with Google or Facebook is intent. People using Google search are in a very different space than those who are using Facebook (and of course, these ‘people’ could in fact be the very same ‘person’, just at a different time).

Think about it: When you use Facebook, what are you there for? Do you log in thinking, ‘I hope I’ll be able to find the cheapest running shoes?‘, or do you go in with the goal of connecting with friends, finding out what’s going in their lives, and maybe, maybe, connecting with your favourite brands?

And when you run a search in Google, do you do so with the intention of connecting with people, or with buying a product or acquiring information?


So as you figure out whether Facebook or Adwords is the best option for your business, it’s helpful to first figure out what your goals are, and then determine whether Facebook or Adwords has the best chance of meeting your goals.

Some possible goals you may be hoping to achieve:

  • Make sales
  • Build your brand
  • Grow your social media followers
  • Build relationships
  • Get traffic to your site
  • Expand your reach for little to no cost

Let’s take a look at some of these goals in more detail, and figure out whether Facebook or Google has the best chance of helping you reach them.

Goal: Free Advertising

No, I’m not saying they both let you take out free ads! (wouldn’t that be nice?). However both Google and Facebook provide ways to reach potential customers and clients without spending a dime: Google through Google Places, and Facebook through Pages.

The difference, of course, is that Google Places is only suitable for brick and mortar or local businesses, whereas any business can set up and use a page on Facebook.

Local business have a great advantage if they can get to the top of the rankings in Google Places. A few tips for local business owners in this regard:

  • Make sure your business name, as it appears on Google Places, is mentioned elsewhere on the web through links, descriptions, and contact info.
  • Get listed on popular web directories and sites such as Superpages, Yahoo, and Craigslist.
  • Ask local bloggers to review your business. This not only sends you referral traffic, but is great for boosting your Google Places rankings.

Facebook, on the other hand, can be used effectively by just about any business, local, international or online.

For businesses looking to boost the rankings of their Facebook Pages, there a few strategies they can easily employ. SEO Marketing giant SEOMoz recommends:

  • Choosing a name that accurately describes their business, but that also incorporates keywords people will be using to find their product or business. Pay particular importance to the first word of your name.
  • Create a vanity url with your keywords in it.
  • Use your keywords strategically on your page, particularly in your fan page name and in the About section.
  • Include your address and phone # on your page.
  • Link to your fan page from your website and other social media profiles.
  • Include your keywords in the first 18 characters of your status updates, along with a link back to your site.
  • Use keywords when using the Notes section of your page.
Facebook page SEO

SEO for Facebook Page

Goal: Make Sales Quickly

If you’re hoping to make some quick sales, and find people who are looking to buy right now, you’ll likely want to try Google Adwords.

For internet searches with high commercial intent, almost 2/3 of clicks go to sponsored results. 

This is HUGE. This means if you’re looking to make the sale, advertising via Google Adwords will get you there much more quickly even than ranking highly in the organic search results.

Google Ads are shown in respond to demand, whereas Facebook Ads are shown in response to interests or demographics. This means that typically Adwords will be better at capturing intent and driving conversions.

Goal: Get Traffic to Your Site

Although Facebook doesn’t release their average click through rate (CTR), independent analysis has shown an approximate average CTR of 0.051% for Facebook ads. The average CTR for Google ads on the Google Display Network is approximately 0.4%, nearly 10x higher than Facebook ads.

This means that, in general, using Google Adwords will allow you to get loads more traffic to your site in a much shorter amount of time.

Another feature of Adwords that allows you to drive highly qualified traffic to your site is retargeting. Retargeting allows you to have your ads shown to people who have previously visited your site, but who left to visit another site on the Google Display Network. This means that if you had a visitor who left without, for instance, completing a sale, you can offer a discount or deal and entice them back to your site.

Goal: Build Brand Awareness

This is where Facebook Ads shine. Although the average CTR of Facebook Ads is considerably lower, keep in mind you’re only paying for clicks. Your ad is still being seen  by a whole lot of people, and has the opportunity to be shared organically.

In fact, in a recent survey by Ad Age, 45.9% of marketers who buy ads on Facebook do so to build awareness and sentiment for their brand.

Ad Age Facebook Survey

Goal: Highly Specific Targeting

While both Facebook Ads and Adwords offer many different targeting options, each offer some unique opportunities in this regard.

For instance, with Facebook you can choose to target your ads by gender, age, marital status, as well as by specific geographic location (even by zip code in the US). While not all of these options are available with Adwords, Google offers behavioural targeting to it’s advertisers, allowing them show ads based on the pages users have visited in the past, and comparing those browser cookies with interest categories.

Goal: Build Relationships

This is another area where Facebook Ads outshine Adwords. Using your Facebook Ads to grow your Facebook page is an excellent way reach out to potential customers or clients in a completely non-threatening way.

By driving traffic to your page through ads, and then providing valuable, engaging content, you build positive sentiment and loyalty. On the flip side, if you drive traffic to your page and then constantly try to sell, sell, sell, you’ll likely accomplish the exact opposite.

Some ways to gauge whether you’re successfully building relationships may be:

  • Number of new ‘likes’ generated through ads
  • Amount of interaction on your page (comments, shares, etc.)
  • Amount of referral traffic from your Facebook page to your website
  • Monitoring the # of ‘unlikes’ you receive (too many fans unliking you may mean you’re selling too hard)
  • Number of new email subscriptions generated from your Facebook page.

If you’re looking to build long term relationships with customers who will get to know you and buy from you again and again, nothing beats Facebook!
When it comes down to it, I always encourage businesses to learn all they can about both Facebook Ads and Adwords, and then give both a try. And of course there’s no reason you can’t use both!

A solid marketing strategy may involve using Facebook ads to connect with your customers and build brand awareness, and Adsense to make quick sales and drive traffic to your site. Or Facebook for highly specific demographic targeting, and Adsense to take advantage of retargeting.

Whatever works best for your business to achieve your marketing goals, more power to you!

Do you rely primarily on Facebook or Adwords for your advertising? Which one works best for your specific goals? Let me know in the comments below!





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  1. Pingback: Casey Gollan Advises on Whether Businesses Should Use Facebook or Adwords | Extreme Weapons

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