There are 1.7 million people in Ireland with a Facebook account, one million of whom are regular users. This is up from 300,000 in January of 2009. Advertising revenue for the social networking site totaled some €532 million, or just over £437.25 million and is projected to increase by over €200 million more this year. According to the Irish Times, many small businesses in the country are taking advantage of the opportunity to advertise on one of the most popular websites in the world.
Rick Kelley, who heads Facebook’s online ad sales department for Europe, says, “Cost per click is our most popular format with advertisers.” It works very much like Google Adwords and pay in that businesses can purchase a direct response ad that will appear on the right side of Facebook pages barring the home page. The advantage is that businesses can target a specific audience. For example, one could target ads towards males age 35 – 50 who live in Dublin. It is also, according to some business owners, easier to use than Google.
Daragh Murphy’s Cork T-Shirt company advertises on Facebook, spending about €30 per day. “We tried Google ad words [sic] in the past but I Found it far too complicated.”
Other businesses are creating free pages on Facebook in lieu of placing ads. Ali Murray, owner of Alila, says, “I like to my Alila page from my personal Facebook page and so do all my friends. I spend a couple of hours at home each evening updating my page and I can see I get business from the page when I put the effort in.”
World-famous drinks company, Diageo, does this as well. Digital Manager Asta Lund says, “We occasionally advertise on Facebook but for the most part we see social media sites as somewhere you don’t pay. We call it earned media…The big benefit of Facebook to us is the depth of engagement we get with users and that’s a lot more meaningful than just placing an ad. Our Captain Morgan Facebook page helped us a lot in launching that brand in Ireland.”
One disadvantage to note is that with these free pages; there is no way to control the dialogue that can ensue. Nestle’s profile page, for instance, is littered with comments about the lack of integrity the company has, as well as those calling for boycotts. One “friend” writes, “To all singaporeans, pls boycott Nestle for their involvement in the occupation of palestine. PLSSSS inform our government that they are contributing and supporting Israel’s firm stance on breaking international law. We are known for being law-abiding citizens.”
For many small businesses in Ireland, though, the advantages far outweigh the drawbacks.