By Sean Armstrong –
Should you advertise on Facebook or use Google AdWords?
If you’ve ever asked yourself this question, you’re far from alone…
It’s a question that I get asked almost every week, and that therapists, marketing departments, and business owners ask themselves every day.
So, what’s the answer?
Well, it’s a resounding: “It depends!”
I know… Helpful, huh? 😉
Let’s take a closer look at both Google’s AdWords and Facebook ads to see just WHAT it depends on so that you can make the best choice for you…
Just as Microsoft and Apple are the undisputed giants of personal computer operating systems, Google and Facebook are undeniably the two biggest giants of the Internet advertising world – at least right now. And each offers it’s own advertising models and platforms.
At first glance, Google’s AdWords and Facebook’s advertising platforms may look pretty similar…
The both offer massive potential audiences and they both offer pay-per-click (PPC) advertising models.
PPC is a low-risk model for advertisers because you only pay for performance. You pay only when someone takes the action you want – clicks on your ad – as opposed to paying for impressions – a certain number of people simply seeing your ad.
Because of this Google AdWords and Facebook ads both offer you the means to create low-cost, highly-targeted, high-conversion ad campaigns.
But most of the similarities end there…
I’m betting you’re familiar with the expression of “comparing apples to oranges” when comparing two items or groups of items that cannot be practically compared.
Well, comparing Google Adwords and Facebook ads is more like comparing apples to a slice of Brie cheese!
Sure, apples and Brie are both foods that provide sustenance and energy, but the energy and sustenance they provide come from entirely different sources. And they both, together, make up part of a balanced diet.
In my opinion, apples and Brie compliment each other and work even better together than they do apart. The same can be said for Facebook and Google ads.
Okay, enough of the food analogy… I’m starting to get hungry! 😉
Let’s take a look at what makes each of these advertising platforms unique…
Facebook offers multiple ways to define and target specific audiences, including:
- Demographics – An audience’s age, sex, relationship status, education, etc.;
- Interests – For example, the books, magazines, movies, websites, and Facebook pages an audience likes;
- Behaviors – An audience’s travel history, birthdays and anniversaries, what types of computers and mobile devices they use, and so on…
In contrast, while Google AdWords may serve ads to users based on their preferences and browsing habits, AdWords primarily offers only two means for you to target specific audiences:
- Location; and
- Keyword searches.
Don’t get me wrong… Google knows a great deal about A LOT of its users – for example, those Google users who have Gmail accounts or have created Google+ profiles provide Google a large volume of data about themselves and their habits.
But, unlike Facebook, Google does NOT collect this data on ALL of its users.
Unless you have a Google account and are perpetually logged in to it as you surf the Web, Google doesn’t know your personal data nor can Google can’t see what you follow or “Like.”
Therefore, your AdWords ads are typically triggered and served to users based only on the search terms they enter into Google’s search engine and where they are located at the time they conduct their search.
And Google doesn’t necessarily know the keywords your target audience is most interested in. Google only knows the keywords its users are searching for the moment they enter them into the search engine. As a result, the probability your Google AdWords ads will reach your target market is lower than with Facebook ads that allow you to target specific audiences.
What all this means is that – assuming you’ve taken the time to really get to know and define your target market – Facebook makes it much easier to find and get your ads in front of your target market and ideal clients.
2) Design and Layout
If you’ve ever searched Google, you’ve seen Google’s AdWords ads appear alongside the search results.
As you can see from the image above, AdWords ads are entirely text based, and Google allows you to enter up to 25 characters for the headline and up to 35 characters each for two lines of descriptive text, for a total of no more than 95 characters.
By contrast, Facebook ads allow up to 25 characters for your ad’s headline, up to 90 characters for the ad’s body copy, and an additional 200 characters of descriptive text, for a total of 315 characters.
What’s more, not only does Facebook allow you to include more copy in your ads, Facebook also allows and encourages the use of rich media such as images and video in your ads, call-to-action buttons, and social commenting and sharing links, all of which can dramatically help build users’ interest in and engagement with your ads.
This all being said, Google does offer display ad options on its Display Network. But, as with AdWords, you have to bid on keywords and, in my experience, you still don’t have nearly as much control over who is going to see your ad as you do with Facebook.
However, I want to keep this discussion confined to AdWords… We’ll take a closer look at Google’s Display Network in a separate post.
3) Session Length and Brand Building
No, I’m not talking about the length of your sessions with clients. 😉
When it comes to advertising on Facebook and Google, a “session” is the specific period of time someone spends on one of these websites before navigating to another site. And people generally spend much more time on Facebook than they do on Google.
Thus, it can be said that Facebook “sessions” typically last much longer than Google search sessions.
Why is this important?
Because longer session lengths make Facebook the preferred platform for building brand awareness and connecting with prospective clients on a social or personal level.
Google, on the other hand, is where people go when they are looking for something specific and they want it NOW… and this often includes when they’re looking to make a purchase.
It’s extremely difficult to build a relationship with someone if you only have a few seconds in which to do it.
This isn’t to say that you can’t build your brand equity with Google AdWords. Just that you have to go about in a different manner.
When someone clicks on an AdWords ad, they’re taken to a landing page you’ve created (either on or off your website) and this landing page is your opportunity to build your brand with good design and compelling copy.
Facebook users, on the other hand, will tend to see your ads multiple times on a recurring basis – not just when they search for a specific phrase.
This means Facebook users get a chance to see what your brand is about and become comfortable with it before they decide to click through to your website or Facebook page.
The additional brand building, awareness, and comfort provided by repeat viewings of your Facebook ads relieves some of the pressure from your landing pages and websites to perform immediately.
The ability for people to like, comment on, and share Facebook ads with one another also means Facebook ads leverage word-of-mouth and social proof, both of which are powerful tools in advertising.
When people see that a friend already likes your product or service, they’ll be that much more likely to trust you and your business than they would without such “social proof.”
However, as alluded to above, the benefit of Google AdWords is that your ads are getting in front of people who are looking for your product or service at the precise moment they want it!
So, Which Is Right For You?
The key to understanding which advertising platform is right for you lies in your purpose…
Are you trying to promote knowledge of your practice or brand? Are you trying to establish yourself as an expert in your community or field? Or are you trying to build interest in a book or some other product or service?
If so, then advertising on Facebook is by far your better bet.
The ability for Facebook users to “like” your Facebook page and click through your ad combined with the ability to track both events and then create additional advertisements tailored to users who took either or both actions means Facebook does a much better job of optimizing your ads for results.
Accordingly, your Facebook ads are more likely to be noticed by your specific target market and ideal clients and to enjoy higher click-through rates than are your Google AdWords ads.
And, given the miniscule numbers of psychotherapists that are advertising on Facebook, you’ll face much less competition and your ads are much more likely to stand out and get noticed on Facebook than they will using Google AdWords.
But, when it comes to selling specific products or services to people who are looking for them right IMMEDIATELY, Google AdWords is the way to go.
Here’s a quick example…
Let’s say you have a private psychotherapy practice that’s focused on helping people overcome social anxiety and other anxiety disorders and you want to drive people in your geographic area who are struggling with social anxiety to the social anxiety page of your website. In this case, Google AdWords should be your first step.
However, if you’ve written a book about overcoming social anxiety, provide regular workshops, or are interested in establishing and building your brand and authority – while simultaneously increasing your client base, of course – then advertising on Facebook is going to be a must.
As I said before, I like apples and Brie… And I like them even better together. I feel the same way about advertising with Facebook and Google AdWords!
Both platforms, when used correctly, can help you achieve amazing results with a modest budget.
Therefore the whole concept of Google AdWords vs. Facebook ads is a little fallacious. The differences between the two make them complimentary and, ideally, you’ll want to implement not one or the other but both in order to take advantage of each platform’s strengths.
Are you using Google AdWords or Facebook ads? Both? If so, which one has worked better for you? Please share your questions, comments, and experiences below. We look forward to hearing from you!