Is Facebook Ads Ready for Restaurants? The Positives and Negatives

Restaurants should no longer dismiss Facebook Ads as Ads has become progressively friendlier for small businesses. But problems remain. I’ll try to give you a balanced look. Here is some reasons (the positives) why it might be the right time for your restaurant to try out Facebook Ads. I also review the problems (the negatives) that remain and must be taken into consideration.  Let’s get started:

Reason #1: Targeted Advertising

The first improvement for restaurants was targeting. You are able to limit your ad to a zip code or a city. Additionally, another targeting feature of value is being able to target based on age, birthday and sex. You can even use what I’d like to call inverse word-of-mouth marketing (Facebook calls it “friends of connections”) where you can target the friends of your fans, etc. This gives the friend the ability to confirm the value of your restaurant with the fan who liked your restaurant.

How Facebook Ads Target Users – Clara Shih from ForaTV

Reason #2: Advertising With Value (Newest Development)

Facebook Ads, despite its weaknesses, has added an additional element that is definitely significant as it fuses on Page marketing (posting on Facebook) and Ads. The new Sponsored ads don’t only notify a fan’s friend of their LIKING of your restaurant, but includes content from your Facebook Page. In particular, Facebook gives a recent post attached to the ad. It allows a restaurant to show off the content a customer gets with LIKING the page. A customer can see the value of your Page by seeing a post of a promotion, link or question. It rewards Facebook Pages (who advertise) that don’t pollute News Feeds with worthless posts. I think restaurants that really have something to offer on Facebook will definitely benefit as content is always a great tool to create curiosity.

Problem #1: Does It Lead to More Business?

In the past, the question was whether Facebook Ads cause people to find out about your restaurant or do they only confirm their previous engagement, without some kind of promotion around the Facebook Page. In other words, it hasn’t been clear if they actually bring additional business by themselves when it comes to restaurants. Real engagement has always been stronger than the number of fans.

But we’ve seen that a fan is a valuable customer (spending about $80 more per year), but is that actually caused by liking a Sponsored Page? It surely cannot be as powerful as a friend’s recommendation that appears in the News Feed (which you don’t have to pay Facebook for), but anytime a person LIKES a Facebook Page it appears in the ticker regardless, perhaps causing a natural increase in interest.

Problem #2: Undesirable Placement

The problem for is although these new ads have credibility (much more so than what’s available on Goolge) but they aren’t place in a very visible place. Not only that, but customers have been conditioned to ignore the ads as they are always in the same place.

Problem #3: I’m Here For My Friends, Not Shop

Additionally, the social quality of Facebook will never truly align with what businesses want like Google does. On Google, people are seeking information that they normally don’t know; in contrast, Facebook members devote the majority of their time on brands they are already familiar with (beyond what their friends share). But a local restaurant causes more curiosity than ad that you may have found in the classified 20 years ago.

Conclusions

In general, Facebook has taken another leap forward with their ads. Although many have feared that Facebook will destroy the marketing environment for restaurants, that doesn’t seem to be the case as Facebook has not pitted Facebook Ads against the free on-Page marketing. Instead, they complement each other. Sure, they are raising the bar for content, but so does Google with organic search.  If you add to that the new Insights, you have a better business environment for restaurants.