We reported here earlier this week that only 10 percent of small businesses recently surveyed consider social media to be an effective method of marketing their businesses. More than half of B2C and B2B small businesses admitted to needing help with the tools. It's clear that many small business people remain confused or simply don't have time to figure out how to use Facebook and other social media platforms to win customers.
But advertising on Facebook could be getting simpler, the tech trade publications Inside Facebook and TechCrunch reported yesterday. According to Inside Facebook, the company is "testing a new design for its self-serve ad tool that simplifies ad creation and recommends a combination of ad types that are most likely to achieve an advertiser's objective."
TechCrunch explained that the new approach will "give more guidance to advertisers as they build their campaigns — specifically by helping them find the right mix of Facebook ads and Sponsored Stories to achieve their stated objectives."
Both publications provided screenshots of the new workflow—yet to be rolled out to the public—that shows how advertisers will be prompted to answer questions "What do you want to advertise?" (a Facebook destination or another URL?) and "What would you like to do?" ("build a blogger audience," "get people to see and engage with your important posts" or "configure advanced creative and pricing options such as bidding for clicks"?) in order to get automatic help from Facebook designing and targeting their ads.
Reported TechCrunch, "Once advertisers have identified their goal, the ad creator will recommend a combination of ads and Sponsored Stories to achieve that objective."
The ad creation interface will still let advertisers choose their audience by geography, age, gender, interests, relationship status, and education level, or even target those at particular workplaces. And advertisers can set a budget, schedule campaign run time, and use advanced options to configure pricing or bidding.
If Facebook wants more local businesses to advertise, Inside Facebook notes, "it is important for the company to consider the user interface it provides for the broadest range of customer, especially when the targeting options and ad types are getting more complicated."
No word on when the new improved workflow will be introduced to users. Not soon enough for some small businesses. As one TechCrunch reader commented, the current self-serve ad tool "is like playing with rubik's cube."
To see a gallery of Facebook ad campaigns that a panel of judges recently deemed most successful, see Facebook Studio. You can also see case studies of Facebook ads, in this Facebook Casebook from ClickZ.
Do you use Facebook to advertise? Do you find the tools confusing? Or have you had success? Tell us in the comments.