I don’t know if I can offer a absolute yes or no answer. It depends on a number of factors. But what I will do is share our experience (even though in its infancy) and some of my thoughts.
Very recently our marketing department took out several ads in Facebook that drove people to various school homepages in our main college website. Over a period of two weeks we immediately saw an increase of hundreds of visitors a day to our website. Despite the increase in traffic, we saw no applications or request for information forms submitted. We also saw over 85% bounce rates from the Facebook traffic. Keep in mind that this is over a very small window, but there are some observations and questions that should be raised that will help you in your efforts:
Were the ads misleading? Was the messaging in the ads correct for the landing page that they were directed to?
Was there a call to action on the landing page from the Facebook ad?
Was the landing page simple and to the point without confusion?
Is Facebook the right place to advertise our college?
Its very likely that the reason our limited experience with Facebook ads didn’t yield any applications is due to in-part to the first three questions. But I ask question four after talking with our advising manager today, who by the way is very involved with Facebook and social media. She had raised the point that maybe advertising in Facebook is not the proper medium. When people come to Facebook they are there to share and communicate with family and friends, they are not there to buy a product or look for a school to apply to. This discussion was furthered after talking with one of our web producers later today who made a good observation. When you go into your Facebook account, you are often there for a purpose – read status updates, play your favorite game, look at photos, etc. You likely block out the ads and superfluous content on the page – like a horse with blinders.
Your college may have a completely different experience, and I would like to revisit the Facebook ads when we have redesigned our website and have proper landing pages for campaigns to be directed to.
After these discussions, I started thinking about the effectiveness of Google Adwords. This post really isn’t about Google Adwords (it will come later after I have more experience), but I wonder when people are specifically search for ‘business diploma’ or ‘criminal justice studies’ in Google if purchasing Google Adwords to capitalize on those or other searches would deliver postive outcomes.
A really interesting comparison of Facebook Ads and Google Adwords can be found AU interactive blog. Check out their findings below (make sure to read the entire article so the findings are put in the right context):
Comparing every single metric, Google Adwords visitors were far more engaged, far more valuable, and far better targeted. The traffic was cheaper and more consistent. The volume was far higher.
It’s not even close. Facebook Ads just don’t work.
And for all the hype that it’s gotten, it’s not even in the same ballpark as Google’s Adwords. Not even the same league. While targeting users by their listed interests may sound promising, it’s just not very effective.