Facebook Grants & Ad Credit Updates: How to Apply and What to Expect

In March, Facebook announced it’s plan to award $100 million in cash grants and ad credits to help small businesses struggling due to COVID-19 and its effect on the economy. In the original announcement, Facebook said the goal was to help small businesses offset costs including rent, operational costs, workforce retention, and connecting with their customer base.

They’ve just recently released more information on these programs and how small businesses can participate. Let’s take a closer look at what you can expect.

Who is Eligible?

The program is open to up to 30,000 small businesses in more than 30 countries. To qualify, each business must meet the following requirements:

  • Be a for-profit company
  • Employ between 2 and 50 people
  • Been in business for over a year
  • Experienced challenges related to COVID-19
  • Be in or near a location where Facebook operates

Facebook is currently doing a rolling release for applications across the U.S.  New York City and Seattle were the first to be eligible starting on April 18. Companies in San Francisco were eligible to begin the application process on April 20. On April, 22, more areas of the county will be opened to eligibility. 

Businesses will have 2 weeks to send in their applications. Decisions will be made within a few weeks after the application window closes. Facebook has not released a guideline on how long decisions will take to be made.

You can check to see if your local area is now eligible, by clicking the See Available Locations link in the Who’s Eligible section.

If you are in an area that is eligible to apply, you’ll be directed to a new page to begin the application process. For those located in areas not yet eligible, you’ll have the option to enter your email address to receive future updates.

How Can Funds be Used?

If you are eligible for the cash grants and/or ad credits, you may be wondering how you can utilize these funds. Facebook has created this program to assist with a variety of costs and expenses. Just a few of the ways you can use funds include:

  • Assist with rent
  • Cover operational expenses
  • Keep workers employed
  • Connect with customers

How to Get Started

Even if these grants and ad credits are not available in your area today, it’s a good idea to start planning ahead and gathering the information you’ll need for the application. Here’s how the process will work.

Step 1: Check to see if grants are available in your area by clicking here.

Step 2: Verify your business is eligible and meets the guidelines listed above.

Step 3: To apply, you’ll need to supply at least one of the following documents:

  • Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN)
  • Business license
  • Official registration
  • Proof of incorporation
  • Partnership documents
  • Contact information 
  • A brief summary of your company

Step 4: Prepare a short write statement on how the funds will be used.

Step 5: Submit the application.

Following application submission, Facebook may reach out for additional information or to have various questions answered before notifying grant recipients that they have been award funds. You can find more information about the application process here.

The Social Media Mistakes You Don’t Want To Make

These days, social media is an essential part of digital marketing. However, there are a number of pitfalls you need to avoid in order to build your brand’s social media presence and ensure it doesn’t fizzle out.

So what makes some social media marketing campaigns really take off, while others dwindle?

Read on to find out.

Pitfalls to Avoid When Creating Your Social Media Presence

As a business owner, you know what it means to have expertise in a certain area. Unless you’re an expert in social media, you may be approaching this part of your marketing strategy with a certain level of trepidation—and for good reason. Many brands find that their social media strategies are less than successful. Some even manage to hurt their brand image by reacting to negative feedback in a way they later regret.

Nonetheless, social media is too good of a tool to forgo altogether. And when wielded responsibly, it can generate massive results for your marketing efforts. All you need to do is educate yourself ahead of time so that you can avoid some of the most common pitfalls along the way. Here are some social media mistakes to watch out for:

Failing to formulate a cohesive approach

Social media can feel like a casual thing, leading many brands to believe they can “just wing it” and survive. However, this part of your marketing plan should be taken just as seriously as other advertising channels, especially in the area of planning.

Like other marketing strategies, you’ll want to start by outlining measurable goals and consistently track your progress. In addition, you’ll need to figure out what your target audience is and what tactics are needed to reach them on these platforms. While social media is certainly an effective way to connect with large numbers of people, you won’t be able to gain the attention of your intended audience without some in-depth research and precise targeting tactics.

Finally, understand the time investment required to see your plan through and assign a team to the task. Ensure that they have a deadline set for achieving their goals so time isn’t wasted on efforts that simply aren’t working.

Reacting poorly to negative feedback

Negative feedback should always be seen as an opportunity to start an important conversation—not a threat to run away from. Choosing to establish a social media presence does open up the door to criticism from people on these platforms. But by being prepared to handle it and using it to make your brand stronger, you’ll show that you take your customers and their opinions seriously. In return, they’ll be more likely to listen to what you have to say in the future.   

Make sure you download our ‘Guide to Managing Online Reviews’.

Minimizing the importance of a personal touch

Social media is all about connecting with others on a personal level. If you leave out that “human touch” when crafting your brand message, users are sure to notice and put their guard up. We naturally gravitate to both people and brands we feel we can relate to and engage with over time. If your social media presence gives off the air of a faceless corporation, you’ll stick out like a sore thumb on social media and risk being completely ignored.

Overpromoting your brand

This is a tricky one, as you’re on social media in order to promote your brand. Since the world of social media revolves around communication and connection, there are still plenty of ways to get your message across without being read as strictly “promotional.” Aim for the majority of your content to focus on engagement and interaction, rather than sales, and you’ll have a better chance of growing an audience that can be converted at a later time.

Thinking you can automate your social media presence

Unfortunately, you can’t put social media on autopilot and expect it to work. Again, the key point here is user engagement, which is a two-way street. If you’re not doing your part to continue the conversation and investing the time needed to maintain a relationship with your customers online, you’ll see your hard-earned follower numbers dry up at an alarming rate. Of course, you can set content to be posted in advance and automate your accounts to some degree. However, things, like replying to comments and answering questions, need to be completed in real time.

Posting low-value content

Yes, posting content often and consistently is crucial. However, so is the value of that content. If users begin to associate your brand with posts that do nothing but clutter their news feed, they will not only unfollow you, but they will also be much less likely to pay attention when you appear in other advertising channels.

Start Doing Social Media The Right Way

With more than 3.7 Billion active users on Social Media, brands can’t afford to miss out on developing the right social media strategy for their brand. Whether you have 50 locations or 5,000 locations, Qiigo has a customized approach to ensure you’re getting the most out of your Social Media Marketing. Contact us today to learn more and get started!

Facebook Ads vs. Boosted Posts: What’s the Difference?

Facebook ads vs boosted posts

When you’re marketing your brand on Facebook, you might not know which options are right for your brand’s goals. If you’re unfamiliar with the fine details of social media marketing, it can be tough to nail down key decisions, like choosing between Facebook ads and boosted posts. In this look at Facebook ads vs. boosted posts, we examine the pros and cons of each and teach you when to use one vs. the other.

Facebook Ads

Some users find it hard to differentiate Facebook ads and regular posts. That’s because many ads appear directly in users’ News Feeds, right alongside status updates, photos, and videos from their friends. While ads always carry a “Sponsored Content” note in light gray text, they are sometimes indistinguishable from regular posts in other ways.

The biggest difference between Facebook ads and regular posts is what’s under the hood. Facebook ads offer a range of analytics options, offering several different ways brands can track ad engagement and define campaign goals. What’s more, Facebook ads offer highly specific targeting options, allowing you to target ads to users by age, gender, location, interests, and other criteria.

Facebook ads also have richer formatting options than Facebook posts, with options for carousel ads, slideshow ads, canvas ads, and more. Some of Facebook’s ad formats are built with specific campaign goals in mind, with options for ads that collect leads, direct users to your website, and promote products. Ads can also include call to action buttons, making them a more dynamic choice for social media marketing professionals.

Example of Facebook ad
Example of Facebook ad

Boosted Posts

Boosted posts are a little less complex than Facebook ads and are easier to get a handle on if you are used to Facebook’s News Feed. Unlike an ad, a boosted post is simply a regular Facebook post that you pay to reach a wider audience. This ensures that your post is seen by a larger number of users, or seen more often by users who are likely to engage with its content.

Facebook boosted posts have one key benefit over Facebook ads: free audience research. Most brands boost posts after they already have audience engagement data, making it possible to boost posts that they know perform well with their audience.

Thanks to Facebook’s Ad Manager, you will be able to target your audience with boosted posts in the same way that you target your ads. This can make the boosted posts feature especially useful if you are producing News Feed content that appeals to specific demographics.

“…boosted posts are still considered ads because they require budget to be shared with a wider audience.”

Facebook

Choosing Ads vs. Posts

Choosing between Facebook ads and boosted posts largely depends on your social media marketing goals.

Each format tends to encourage different outcomes. Facebook ads tend to have a bigger immediate impact and translate directly to campaign goals, like lead captures, app installations, and sales. On certain campaigns, the added functionality of Facebook ads might make them a better fit for your campaign. Meanwhile, boosted posts tend to improve your brand’s social media engagement metrics and overall social presence.

For specific campaigns, the decision between an ad and a boosted post will come down to long-term vs. short term outcomes. On a wider level, a mix of Facebook ads and boosted posts are usually the best way to break up your Facebook social media marketing budget. Boosted posts will allow you to build your brand’s reach and fan base, while ads can help you translate your brand’s presence into tangible outcomes. This one-two punch will allow you to build likes and fans, then turn your new followers into actual customers.

Boost for likes and brand awareness, but use Ads for conversions and shopping orders

Build your brand’s social media marketing presence with help from the experts at Qiigo. Our team will help you reach campaign goals and build a raving fanbase on Facebook and other social platforms. Call (888) 673-1212 today to find out how.

How Social Media Cut This Franchisor’s Cost-Per-Lead in Half

Acquiring leads for franchise development can be a costly and difficult process. Experts say that the average cost of a new franchise lead is $120 — more than almost any other industry. But with the right digital strategy, that figure can be cut in half.

In 2017, a prominent Franchise 500 brand came to Qiigo with a problem. This brand was spending near the industry average per lead, with a significant digital focus on Pay-Per-Click advertising. But a concerningly low percentage of these leads were converting. The result was low ROI and stunted growth.

After surveying this brand’s situation, the team at Qiigo came up with an innovative game plan. We dramatically reduced their PPC ad spend, redirecting these funds to alternative digital channels. Much of this money went towards Social Media marketing, with a particular focus on Facebook Advertising.

By the end of the campaign, these changes had cut the brand’s average Cost-Per-Lead in half.

Our strategy also allowed the brand to reach their target market more easily, consistently, and accurately. As a result, the average quality of their leads increased at the same time as their average cost per lead fell.

Below, let’s take a closer look at how this happened.

Paid Search Underperforming Franchise Brand

During our initial discussions with the brand, we learned that they occupied a unique niche in the world of franchising. The brand’s core service offering was a youth soccer program, and they were seeking franchisees who had existing interest or experience with soccer.

That helped explain the underwhelming performance of their paid search campaigns. People just weren’t searching for the kinds of targeted search terms that would provide the brand with high-quality leads.

To find these leads, the brand needed to target their audience in a much more specific and accurate manner. This would require micro-targeting leads who met the following criteria:

  • Financially qualified to invest in a franchise
  • Interested in owning their own business
  • Located in or near an available territory
  • Existing experience/interest in soccer

Paid search made it difficult to target prospects across all of four these areas. Even if you’re passionate about business ownership and youth sports, you’re probably not Googling terms like “tee ball franchise business,” “kids swimming program franchise,” or “after school basketball franchise opportunity.”

Based on these concerns, Qiigo developed a custom strategy to boost the client’s digital franchise development efforts. Here’s what we came up with…

Social Media Used to Micro-Target Leads

To start, we recommended that the brand reduce its Paid Search budget by roughly 60%. The remaining Paid Search funds would focus on a smaller, more targeted set of keywords and parameters. This would increase the overall quality of leads, improving on-the-dollar returns on paid search.

Using the funds saved from Paid Search, we recommended a mix of alternative strategies to more accurately target high-quality leads. Of these strategies, we focused most heavily on Social Media, with a particular emphasis on Facebook.

In franchise development, Social Media campaigns tend to focus on LinkedIn. But in this case, Facebook’s rich combination of audience data and targeting tools were a perfect fit for the client’s needs.

Through Facebook, we were able to create a series of Custom Audiences and Lookalike Audiences to target high-quality leads. These audiences targeted standard criteria for franchise development marketing, such as location, age, education, and income markers. We also retargeted users who had previously engaged with the brand or had visited the brand’s website.

At the same time, we used Facebook’s audience data to targeted users with existing experience and/or interest in soccer. Our audiences included users who “liked” content related to soccer, who had played the sport in school, who had worked in the field of soccer, or who listed themselves as a self-proclaimed “soccer mom.”

Throughout the campaign, we partnered with the client to identify which specific audience markers resulted in the highest rates of leads, as well as which types of content produced the strongest engagement metrics. This allowed us to refine our targeting strategies and our creative output.

We performed similar adjustments to Paid Search over the course of the campaign. This allowed us to further improve lead generation rates across both channels.

The Results: Lower Costs, Better Leads, Stronger ROI

In less than a year, the client experienced a significant boost in digital franchise development. In fact, 22% of closed sales in 2017 were the direct result of Qiigo’s digital marketing efforts.

Over the course of the campaign, we reduced the client’s average cost per lead from roughly $120 down to a remarkable $58 per lead. And despite paying less for each lead, the overall quality of the clients’ prospect pool had actually increased, resulting in stronger ROI.

Connect with us today to learn more about how we can help you generate more leads for your Franchise Development efforts.

Using Hashtags for Local Marketing

If your small business is active on social media, you need to be hashtag fluent. In the right hands, hashtags can help your small business reach a much larger share of local customers. But in the wrong hands, hashtags can be easily abused, with cringe-worthy results.

While hashtags are easy to misuse, they’re not that difficult to master. With a little work, you can tag your way to a much stronger presence on social media.

Types of Hashtags

On a basic level, hashtags tend to fit into three general categories. Different types of hashtags work better for different types of posts, so many sure you choose the right tag in each instance.

  • Branded Hashtags. These are hashtags specific to your brand, such as your name, your tagline, a campaign tagline, or the name of a product/service. They can be used to encourage customer interactions or raise awareness.
  • Trending Hashtags. These are hashtags for trending topics, which tend to be generated by current events or viral content. They can be a good way to gain visibility, but only if you can post high-quality, relevant content.
  • Content Hashtags. These are hashtags that add information to the post (e.g., “Join us at #UnionSquare for #FreeSamples”) or recontextualize other parts of the post (e.g., “#FeelingBlue? Kickstart your painting project with a free color consultation”).

Guidelines for Different Platforms

In addition to different types of hashtags, you’ll need to be thoughtful about how you use hashtags on different social networks. Here’s a quick look at hashtag best practices for four popular networks.

  • Facebook. While Facebook supports hashtags, they aren’t widely used or especially effective. Use hashtags sparingly in your Facebook posts.
  • Instagram. Hashtags are a crucial feature of Instagram marketing. Aim for 5-15 hashtags per post. Tip: Instead of adding all of your hashtags to your original post include some in comments.
  • Pinterest. Smart hashtag usage can increase your visibility in Pinterest search. The network will display your first four hashtags, so include between 4-10 per image.
  • Twitter. Twitter’s the network where hashtags first took off. But with Twitter’s character limit you’ll want to limit yourself to one or two hashtags per post (or none at all).

Hashtags for Local Social Media

The hashtag strategies that work for national brands aren’t always a good fit for local businesses. Here are a few smart ways that local businesses use hashtags on social media.

  • Local Trends. When hashtags trend locally, they appear in the feeds of users from that area, but not in the feeds of other users. Since a pool of local users is smaller than a national or global one, it is easier for local businesses to stand out with locally trending hashtags. You can use hashtags to cheer on local sports teams, announce local events, or encourage donations to local non-profits.
  • Niche Hashtags. Local businesses should be wary of mega-popular hashtags. Instead, you should target niche hashtags that are relevant to your business. This will make your content more visible to the right kind of people, which boosts your chances of engagement. Try using a free tool like Hashtagify to identify the best hashtags for your business.
  • Social SEO. 65% of shoppers perform online research before they visit physical stores. Much of that research occurs on social media, where hashtags can give your business a boost in search results. On hashtag-friendly platforms like Instagram and Pinterest, you can tag posts with the name of your city/town and products/services to increase visibility (e.g., “Get a #CouplesMassage in #Topeka”).
  • Franchise Tags. If you’re the owner of a franchise location, branded hashtags can be tricky. If you simply echo your franchisor’s hashtags, you won’t stand out. To create a branded hashtag for your franchise, see if you can find a catchy way to combine your brand or your core product/service offering with your street address, neighborhood, or city.
  • Have Fun! Social media gives you the chance to forge more personal connections with your customers. So don’t be afraid to have fun with hashtags. Your #ThrowbackThursday post might not rack up hundreds of likes, but it will help your customers see a more personal side of your business.

General Tips & Guidelines

To wrap things up, here are three general guidelines to help you incorporate hashtags well and avoid embarrassing situations.

  1. Think Before You Tag. A number of businesses find themselves in hot water when they unthinkingly use risqué or offensive hashtags. Even if you’re using what you think is an original idea for a hashtag, make sure that it doesn’t have an unintended meaning.
  2. Don’t Go Overboard. Cluttering your posts with hashtags not only makes them difficult to read, but it’s also considered a social media faux-pas. So reel in your inner graffiti artist and go easy on those tags.
  3. Tag Naturally. When using hashtags, it’s tempting to adopt popular slang or reference current trends. This is a smart strategy, but only if you can use these terms naturally. When businesses try to use slang or make references they don’t know, the results stick out like a sore thumb.