Marketing on Facebook vs. Advertising on Facebook

Marketing on Facebook vs. Advertising on Facebook

LET’S CLARIFY A FEW IDEAS: A shared Facebook post about the value of a brand or a brand story is marketing. A Facebook ad trying to get you to buy something is advertising. They are similar but not the same. Let’s explore.

When McDonald’s advertises the Big Mac on Facebook they are doing something in between. They are not actually trying to get you to stop at McD’s for a Big Mac at that moment, that would be advertising. They are really trying to build the idea of the Big Mac in your mind. Make your mouth water, so the NEXT TIME you see the golden arches you turn in for a Big Mac and some fries.

Marketing – telling a story, sharing a brand experience, with the intention of influencing future purchases.

Advertising – buy now, click here to register, special offer now.

On Facebook you can do both. But of course Facebook is not intending you to be surfing Facebook while driving, so their intention is mainly focused on future events. However, with mobile advertising and mobile Facebook the lines are getting a bit blurred. I’d still offer that marketing on Facebook is what McDonald’s is doing. They don’t have to give coupons for discount fries. The fries sell themselves, so McDonald’s usually advertises or markets things in addition to the fries. Like “all-day breakfast.”

In my experience, there is one type of advertising that works really well on Facebook and everything else is really branding. Typical results from a boosted Facebook post.


And because I know my audience, that 4.36% engagement rate is pretty high. Typical engagements range from 1 – 3%. In my demographic, women for this ad, here is my demographic breakdown.


From this information I can see that no one over 54 or under 35 clicked on my ad. So I can tighten up the target a bit more. But this is branding and marketing. I am trying to build a readership and audience for my blog.

When we talk advertising the one WINNER on Facebook is the Mobile Downloads Ads. But of course these require two things.

  1. That you have a downloadable app.
  2. That your required WIN is downloading your app.

In this channel, Mobile Downloads,  I have seen engagement rates as high as 35%. That means that over 1/3 of the people who see the ad then click on it. The actual download rate then goes down, because not everyone directed to the download store on their various phones is actually going to then click the download button, even when the app is free. That rate usually dropped by 20%. So we’d get a solid engagement and download rate of 23%.

The last mile, for this company, was getting the user to actually launch the app and register with the company for the application to work correctly. This is where the drop off is more of a problem. At this point our WIN rate was about 7%.

So of an ad that produced a 35% engagement rate and a 23% download rate, we would end up with a 7% registration rate. Now if we dropped these numbers to the typical Facebook engagement rate of 2%, you can see where we’d run into serious problems convincing anyone to allocate dollars to a Facebook advertising campaign. Branding yes, advertising, not so much.

Know what you want to accomplish on Facebook. Pick marketing over advertising and see if you can come up with a mobile app version of your website (These can be created for free these days with 3rd party apps.) and you may have some real potential on Facebook. Otherwise, you’re building brand and goodwill, also valuable, but harder to justify in this competitive business environment.

John McElhenney
@jmacofearth (also seen on Google+: jmacofearth)

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