Few things are as important to the marketing of small to mid-size businesses as efficiency. Budgets are tight and dollars are at a premium. Avoiding waste and making wise decisions with precious marketing dollars is very important. 

While I am a HUGE proponent of planning in marketing and proper research even on the smallest of budgets, sometimes when a business is just trying to get noticed some low-hanging fruit tactics can be used that require little effort.. Today, we'll take a look at a quick case study showcasing how simple Facebook advertising can quickly expand your brand awareness and start developing a core group of supporters for you to grow from.

Food Cart Friday - A Facebook Ad Case Study

Background: Food Cart Friday is a group I recently started on Facebook to help support a movement toward quality food cart fare in downtown Medford (my home town). I started the group with a desire to help these EXTREMELY low-budget businesses survive and grow as they push to become a mainstay within the area. The group has been running on Facebook for a couple of weeks and I started advertising about a week ago.


  1. Develop a fanbase that will be excited to connect with new people and these new businesses
  2. Grow brand awareness for the different food carts and the event
  3. Directly impact sales at the new food carts in a consistent fashion

Tactics: Like most small business owners or event promoters I started by inviting friends and other connections to get connected. 

  • After the initial wave of success stalled, I switched to Facebook Advertising (specifically, simple "Page Like" ads) to help generate awareness and connections for the group.
  • I also connected with various food carts on Facebook and invitied current fans to join us and learn more about the other carts in the area.


  • My time (1-2 hours spent setting up, inviting people, monitoring, creating ad, and promoting simple content on the page).
  • Cost of FB Page: $0
  • Cost of FB Advertising to Date: $10.67 ... yes $10.67


  • Invites to Friends - 13 likes/new page fans
  • Promotion on other (relevant) group/business pages - 20 new likes/friends
  • Advertising - 54 likes/new page fans (6 days)
  • Reach - from 5 to 2,224(exposure to the brand similar to a magazine ad)

That covers the numbers, but the real gem has been the actual $$$ produced for the vendors which over the last couple of weeks has totaled between $300-400 from the group. While many initial visitors have been friends/current connections, the latest round was the largest with 10-12 people coming for the group including a few new faces. Over time I expect this to continue to grow as the group develops.

I'll also note this is only the conversions I know about and I'm not aware of others who may have visited from the group outisde of the set time or multiple purchases made by the same person, perhaps on a different day.

Understanding "Likes" and their Value 

One of the biggest complaints of advertisers on Facebook from small businesses to global brands is - "What is the value?". While this debate continues on and there are several very clever ways to track likes back to dollars (tracking pixels + attribution, tagged post links, etc.) the truth is it's still tough to truly understand the value of a fan or like (as it is often hard to understand the value of brand awareness and branding in general).

Does Advertising on Facebook Work?
As Facebook prepares to go public, one question looms: does advertising on the social network work? Advertisers say they're still not sure what they're getting for their dollars. Shayndi Raice has details on The News Hub. Photo: AFP/Getty Images.

This largely stems from the fact that people just don't "convert" (immediately go purchase something) from the Facebook platform. Logically, this makes sense as most people aren't on Facebook to that point a purchase-focused ad is an interruption and usually ignored. The one exception to this seems to be Facebook's new FBX exchange (retargeting) which is showing some early signs of success.

So, if the general rule is that building a fanbase on Facebook doesn't directly "convert" like we all wish it would, what is the value? Here's a few points to think about:

  • Brand development
  • Brand awareness
  • Increased brand loyalty
  • Opt-in opportunity to market to your target market 
  • Customer service advantages
  • Immediate reactions to content 
  • Sales (think attribution - that post about your new product may not drive a direct sale from FB, but the awareness to a customer that "likes" you might bring the sale 3 weeks later when the person is ready to purchase)

I think the value of a "like" often varies depending on the business, goals, etc. as well. Think carefully about what a like means and the opportunities it gives you by understanding how the Facebook platform works.

Understanding Your Audience 

Now that you're stoked to grow your fanbase for cheap, it's time to slow down and make sure that Facebook is really the right platform for you. After all, if your target market is plumbing suppliers, it likely doesn't make much sense to participate in growing a base on Facebook. Although I'd love for someone to prove me wrong.

The value and the efficiency in the advertising largely comes from understanding your target audience well and honing Facebook's massive targeting options in. If you haven't done persona development or at least some basic target market research, it's certainly important to start there and then refine your ads appropriately. Pay special attention to location as well. The low cost often comes from restricting the target audience but also from restricting location. Even if you serve multiple places, if you know you have a hot bed of customers in Portland, OR, try restricting your ads to that metro (or even smaller zip code areas).

Facebook Ad Development Resources

A few resources to help you dig in further


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