Facebook Launches New Local Awareness Ad Product for Local Businesses

What if you could advertise on Facebook, but only target potential customers who live or work within, say, 10 miles of your local business? Well, now you can. Facebook’s new ad category, called “local awareness,” is designed to help local businesses reach their target audiences at the lowest possible cost.

After selecting “local awareness” as the category, advertisers then select a target radius around their business, which can be as little as a mile. Choose how much you want to spend, and Facebook will show you how many consumers you will reach. From there, it’s as simple as uploading a headline, a photo, and some ad content. If you don’t have an awesome photograph, Facebook has millions of high-resolution stock photos free of charge. Once the ad is approved, it will start showing in the news feeds of consumers in your geographic area.

On the down side: Facebook users who turn off “location services” for Facebook on their mobile phones will never see these ads. Avid Facebook users, however, tend to be social animals, and like to connect with friends and use local search, which requires location services to be turned on.

Value of Advertising with Facebook

With over 1.2 billion active participants, Facebook has become a very powerful player when it comes to social media marketing. A user who “likes” your business page automatically receives your updates in their news feed. One estimate places the average value to a business of a Facebook “like” at $147. And out of 1,000 consumers surveyed recently by Gannett G/O Digital, a majority responded that they had visited local Facebook pages as well as product reviews before making a purchase offline.

For businesses who depend on local foot traffic, however, advertising on Facebook has not traditionally offered the best return on investment, as the cost is too high and the reach too broad. This new method of targeting only local customers at a much lower cost is a smart way of Facebook making advertising much more affordable and effective for local businesses. The big question that still resides, however, is whether these targeted ads also reach people that convert to become customers. While with Google search advertising it’s known that consumers have a purchase intent, with Facebook knowing consumers are in your area doesn’t necessarily mean they want to buy from you.

Local Marketing Mistakes

Making the Most of Facebook’s New Ad Product

Study after study consistently shows that the most effective ads are those that include some sort of a discount, freebie, or other special deal. Include your offer in an attention-grabbing headline and you have a winner. Additionally, be sure to include an attractive, high-resolution photo of your product or of your customers enjoying your services. While Facebook does offer a large selection of stock photos for free, it’s worth investing in the services of a professional photographer, if need be, to take some compelling and original photographs at your business.

Emphasize the local nature of your business, your unique products and services, and appeal to consumers’ desire to “shop local.” Take advantage of the “get directions” feature in the ads as a call to action to guide customers directly to your location with their smartphones.

Local businesses with small advertising budgets have traditionally been overlooked when it comes to effective advertising programs geared to their particular needs. This new product comes closer to change this. We’re looking forward to tracking the results and hearing stories from local businesses that decide to try it out.