IHC’s Grant King on what recent Facebook changes mean for your business

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Have you noticed your company Facebook page or posts have not received many new “likes” over the past few months? There is a good reason for this. Facebook announced they are limiting brands’ visibility when posting on the social network site in an attempt to encourage the spend of more on paid Facebook advertising. So in essence, Facebook in 2015 is all about businesses getting what they pay for.


What is Facebook doing with users personal information?

You might have noticed on your own personal page that Facebook has been busy in recent months advising users of alterations to its terms and conditions and privacy policies. This is an attempt to use your personal profile and demographic information for advertising purposes and to serve promoted posts and sponsored ads onto the newsfeeds of carefully targeted audiences. Of course, this will always take place in a privacy-protected way. Engagement with targeted audiences is a key point of difference of paid Facebook advertising when compared with digital marketing options, such as Google Adwords.


Growing strength of Facebook: 1.36 billion users

This month, Facebook achieved over 1.36 billion active users, making it the global powerhouse of online social media platforms. It is important to understand the term “active-users” refers to any person that has logged into their Facebook account over the past month, so we are talking about regular users who are interacting with friends often daily and sometimes even hourly, and are actively viewing the news feeds on which paid promoted posts will appear.

Over half of all Facebook users now access their newsfeed from a mobile device, such as a smartphone.

To have your brand and product campaign exposed to this highly engaged audience is powerful to say the least.


  • Emirates 24/7 reports in April 2015 there are close to 5 million current Facebook users in the UAE, representing a dramatic increase over previous user figures
  • Nearly 45% penetration
  • Most users 25 to 34 years of age
  • Mobile access for half of all users

Facebook in the UAE

There are up to 5 million Facebook users in the UAE according to Emirates 24/7, and earlier reports indicate 66% are male and 34% are female. There are more 25 to 34 year old Facebook members in the UAE than any other age group and they represent 46% of Facebook users, followed by the 18 to 24 year olds who represent 22%. Facebook users in the UAE generate 2.7 billion page views each month and spend an average of 25 minutes on every visit. So broadly speaking, Facebook is ideal for brands targeting a younger, upwardly mobile audience who are early-adopters and are technologically savvy.

2 million paying Facebook Advertisers

Facebook has reported a nearly US$1 billion increase in revenues from the fourth quarter of 2013 to the fourth quarter of 2014 as a result of previously limiting brand post impressions. With a reported 2 million advertisers from this month, Facebook is serious about offering advertisers a wider range of innovative promotional options and has largely adopted the pay-per-click billing method similar to Google Adwords, a concept familiar to many marketers and businesspersons. At the same time, Facebook has expanded its range of “promoted post” and sponsored ad offerings to advertisers, which are now served onto PC, mobile and tablet devices.

Last year, Facebook introduced auto-play video promoted posts for mobile devices, giving advertisers a multi-media and interactive way in which to showcase their brand and product offering, and a range of innovative audience engagement options.

However, it all comes at a price. Facebook announced from January 2015, brand posts are effectively invisible to new users, so businesses need to pay to promote them, with costs of around AED5 or more per click, or calculated per 1,000 impressions. But the question is not so much whether businesses can afford to promote posts, but rather whether they can afford not to. Of course, there is little sense in spending time and effort on an active Facebook page and regular posts if nobody new can actually see them. But without a Facebook page, are you missing out on some reasonably priced and powerful brand exposure?

Refusing to pay for Facebook Advertising?

The good news is that if your brand chooses not to pay for Facebook advertising, your existing followers should still be able to view your business page and posts. However, as mentioned earlier, post visibility to new users will be limited.

Facebook: 90% accurate in targeting your preferred clientele…

Unlike Google Adwords that is reportedly 30 per cent accurate in targeting by demographics, Facebook is said to be 90% accurate in targeting audiences by demographics. In the marketing field, you can’t get much better accuracy rates than that. On Facebook, businesses only pay to target adverts to the exact people that they would like to connect with. Facebook says that targeting adverts helps advertisers:

  • Find the right customers across devices, including desktop, mobile and tablets
  • Deliver relevant messages to specific people
  • Get the most value from the advert spend by reaching only the people that matter to the business

More importantly, it is possible to customise the target audience profile according to the following factors:

  • Location
  • Occupation
  • Industry sector
  • Age group
  • Interests

So, if your business is a ski holiday tour operator, you can target 25-35 age group users with an interest in skiing and serve up promoted posts offering ski holidays.

Also if your business is a Dubai-based, woman’s fashion retailer, you can target Dubai-based women within a specific age range.

It is also possible to target by occupation and industry, which can be very useful for recruiters and headhunters, or for the promotion of specialist goods in niche industries.

Assessing your digital marketing options….

Sales: Google Adwords is still the “go to” online medium for achieving online sales (or conversions as they are known). The difference is all about timing. With Google, you know users are searching for a product at the exact time they enter the key search words and click that all-important “search” button. Access to a group of motivated online shoppers is worth paying for. Although Facebook may be able to more effectively target potential client profiles, the problem is that it is not known if they are seeking your type of product at that exact time. Hence the reason that Google has the clear advantage over Facebook when it comes to generating online sales.

Branding: Facebook is widely regarded as being the superior medium when it comes to branding. Facebook have announced that they count “impressions” only when the post is actually visible in the users newsfeed screen (and can be viewed by the eye), whereas, Google counts an impression even if it appears off screen at the bottom of the page (and not visible to the eye). This gives Facebook the edge for increasing brand awareness.

Engagement. There is no doubt when it comes to engagement, Facebook is number one. Brand pages with a large number of “likes” can interact with their group of followers on an on-going basis. But care must be taken to avoid “Facebook Post Fatigue”, where followers are bombarded with too many irrelevant posts to the extent that they “unlike” the page. So it is important to ensure that posts are newsworthy and relevant, or contain genuine offers (i.e. useful discounts or competitions).


  • Get your credit card ready! Set a budget for Facebook Advertising. Start small and run test campaigns. Review the budget and increase according to the results.
  • Promoted posts: If you want to promote a specific product, service or event, it is recommended to use the “promote post” option on Facebook Advertising. This ensures maximum post visibility and enables users to click through to your website to access the offer.
  • Promote your page: If you are seeking more followers and “likes” on your Facebook page or want to engage with users, you are best to use the “promote page” option. Followers should then receive access to future posts and remain fully engaged with your Facebook brand page.
  • Cost Per Click (CPC): Use the “daily budget” option to spread your monthly budget evenly over the month to ensure you do not exceed what you can afford.
  • Conversion tracking: Facebook, as with any form of advertising, is all about the return on investment (ROI). Don’t make the mistake of looking at only the number of “likes” received, as it is important to remember that many users will click-through to buy on your website, without necessarily “liking” your page. This is still a success for your business. The way to measure this click-through traffic is to utilise the Facebook conversion tracking service. This free service is similar to Google Analytics and involves loading an invisible tracking pixel onto your website that then tracks Facebook users visits and navigation of your website, providing useful conversion statistics which can measure campaign effectiveness.

“It is important not to just look at the “likes” but also the “click-throughs” to your website and ultimately sales conversions…”

So the moral of the story is that nearly every business should have an active Facebook page and pay to promote posts, it is simply a question of setting your budget appropriately, according to your industry sector and what your competitors are doing. Talk to a social media or digital marketing expert and it is recommended to run a number of test campaigns over a few months to measure the results.

It is clear no business can afford to ignore the growing strength of Facebook, as it is highly effective at increasing the online footprint of any business.

Grant King has over 15 years Digital Marketing experience in the UAE, UK, Europe, Australia and New Zealand, and is currently Director of Digital Marketing at award-winning Dubai-based communications agency, IHC. For a free digital marketing review, simply email grant@ih-c.com or call +971 56 629 0054[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

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