It can be difficult for a small business to decide the best way to spend your marketing budget–and more so with social media thrown into the mix. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and other related platforms are technically free, with additional pay-to-advertise options available to expand your reach and exposure. Facebook is the resident social media marketing giant so let’s examine how their ads deliver: is it worth it for a small business to invest part of their marketing budget in Facebook ads, or is it a waste of time and money?

Pros and Cons Of Facebook Ads:

PRO: Targeting and Share Reach
Facebook ads allow you to target a very specific demographic. Local businesses can specifically market to local consumers, targeting them with offers and incentives to patronize your business. Incentives (coupons, discounts, etc.) can also be used to encourage fans to share your page with friends – under the right circumstances these offers can have a viral like sharing effect which means more views, likes, and customers for you.

CON: Promotion Isn’t Guaranteed and Can Get Expensive
A few dollars here and there to promote a post may seem fairly inexpensive, but it can eat up your marketing budget fast. Buying “Likes” may not yield the return you’re looking for when your posts will only reach a fraction of the people (think 3-6%) who are fans of your page. Facebook then gives you the option to promote your post so that more people will see it, which of course adds to bottom line. Essentially, you are paying for likes and then paying again for those likes to actually see your post and even then it’s not a guarantee.

PRO (with a bit of CON): Build Your Customers and Test Quickly
Facebook ads build a customer list much the same way email and direct mail marketing does. However, that information can only be accessed through Facebook and their ad/promoted post sharing tools; you cannot contact those customers at will. Testing ads can be relatively inexpensive when first experimenting so if you want to give it a go, take your best performing ad and put some real money behind it to see what kind of return it yields and then gauge whether or not pursuing Facebook ads is of value to you.

CON: Analyzing Results and Tailoring Ads Can Be a Pain
Small businesses don’t always have the marketing budget or manpower necessary to capitalize on Facebook ads. The best returns on Facebook ads come when you’re carefully measuring your reach, tracking analytics, and designing or tailoring ads accordingly.  If you’re not the most savvy social media user or don’t have the capital to hire someone else who is, Facebook ads might be more hassle than help.


  • Facebook ads may be worth it in an initial push for followers/likes (like and share marketing tactics by offering incentives, etc.).
  • Trial and error play a big part in success with Facebook ads.
  • Facebook ads can be a huge waste of time and money if you aren’t skilled with measuring reach and designing good ads.
  • Don’t blow your whole marketing budget on Facebook ads unless you have someone behind the scenes who knows what they’re doing.

Facebook ads can be very beneficial under the right circumstances and may prove to be so for your small business. If you have some room in your marketing budget for experimentation and at least small amount of social media savvy, it doesn’t hurt to try your hand at it to see what kind of response you get. If your budget is tight and your social media skills not as sharp as others, maybe give Facebook ads a pass, you’ll likely find another outlet more amenable to your budget and know-how.

For more insights on marketing strategy that actually works for small business, subscribe to the FreshLime Newsletter here. Connect with Jay Bean, Founder of FreshLime and Small Business Marketing Expert on LinkedIn and Twitter.