Imagine that you run a tiny, relatively unknown shoe store located in a tiny, relatively unknown corner of your city. About a couple of blocks away, an office worker named Anna breaks her heels while running in the middle of the road. Anna curses under her breath, because she has no spare shoes, is 30 minutes late for work, and it'll be the third time that week she'll get told off for tardiness.
Panicking, Anna whips out her smartphone and opens her Facebook account, because she's pretty sure her friend Glenda posted a picture of a brand new pair of shoes last week. She hopes that Glenda will be kind enough to lend her that pair, just this once. She'll think about owed favors later.
To her surprise, an ad about your store shows up on her news feed. As her eyes move down the ad, the corners of her lips move up. Yes! There's a shoe store a couple of blocks from here! How lucky can I possibly get? Without a second thought, she runs to your store, and you win over another local customer.
That, in a nutshell, is how Facebook's Local Awareness Ads work — when they're used right.
Released in October 2014, Local Awareness Ads are the latest addition to Facebook's set of targeted ads. Unlike the others, this one targets customers who are literally within a given radius of your brick-and-mortar store. To make the most of Local Awareness Ads for your small business, you need to:
1. Specify Your Goals
Fortunately, Facebook spares you most of the legwork in figuring out what you want your local ads to achieve. If you visit Facebook's Local Awareness page and click the blue Create Ad button, you'll see something like this:
All you have to do is click and fill in the necessary information from there, and presto: You have a targeted Facebook campaign for your local community.
Of course, it'll be much, much easier to determine your reach, budget, campaign period, and other logistical concerns specified in the fields above if you:
2. Profile Your Target Market
Find out what makes your target market tick. For example, Anak Alidz, a Malaysian store specializing in modest, ready-to-wear outfits for Muslim children, limited its Facebook page's posts to Muslim mothers and published parenting tips on top of the usual product photos. As a result, it managed to recruit more distributors, gain a sevenfold return on investment, and achieve a 500 percent year-on-year sales growth.
3. Revamp Your Image
Even if you already have a Facebook page, it won't hurt to complement it with an official, self-hosted website. Not only does a self-hosted website look more professional, but it also gives you more leeway to manipulate the site's elements and have it project the image you want.
Take Messiah Lifeways, for instance. Formerly known as Messiah Village, it changed its name and overhauled its entire image in early 2012. Ever since, it has regularly posted engaging content — such as videos and authentic stories about people and their struggles — and eventually bagged the Gold Award from the International Council on Active Aging (ICAA) for its rebranding efforts.
4. Think Mobile
If your website is responsive — that is, it adjusts itself to fit the tiny screens of mobile devices — that's great. If your website is responsive and has a mobile app to go along with it, that's even better.
EZTABLE understood this when it ran targeted mobile app ads for its mobile app. It also boosted its campaign further by utilizing Facebook's Lookalike Audiences feature. Within one year, it saw 700,000 app downloads, a 9 times growth in mobile revenue, and a 70 percent lower cost per installation compared to other ad platforms.
5. Track Your Results
To measure the effectiveness of your campaign, you need to calculate the following: conversions, conversion value, and cost per conversion. You can get more information on these via Social Media Examiner's detailed, step-by-step guide on tracking Facebook conversions.
If your current marketing efforts aren't cutting it, try zeroing in on what's literally outside your door. Who knows? “Smaller is better” might be the best marketing strategy for your business right now.
Adrienne Erin is a freelance writer and designer based in Pennsylvania. She has been passionate about career development ever since her college years — all four of which she spent interning in her college’s career center. Now that she is her own boss, she shares the practical advice that she finds works in her own life. To see more of her work, visit her design blog.