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Effective Alternatives to Facebook Ads

James Parsons • Updated on March 13, 2024
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An effective marketing campaign entails considering a variety of advertising outlets, and for a few years the ads on Facebook have been a standard part of most marketing campaigns. Recently, however, alternatives have been getting popular, so no longer are standard Facebook ads the only way to go for getting attention on Facebook.

One of the best reasons to advertise on Facebook and other social networking sites is that it’s easy to target the right demographic groups. The incredibly popular social networking site remains a mandatory part of any campaign, but there are valuable marketing options that go beyond the simple purchase of advertisements. The art of “micro-conversion” through Likes of a company’s page requires some finesse that goes beyond Facebook ads.

The Event that Prompted a Search for Alternatives

The incident that got people talking about whether alternative strategies on Facebook for advertising and marketing might be a good idea was the very public decision by General Motors to yank their $10 million worth of Facebook advertisements due to what GM suggested was a poor return on investment for the company’s marketing dollars.

Comments from marketers regarding the decision suggested that the social media campaign engaged in by GM probably wasn’t effective because the company wasn’t managing advertising on the website in the right way. Numbers for competing automakers at the time of GM’s decision showed that companies like BMW, Honda, and even Kia, had millions of “Likes” for their pages while GM was struggling to hit 400K.

Clearly, GM wasn’t doing something right with their Facebook marketing campaign. Regardless, this incident led to a lot of investigation by companies and marketers as to whether alternatives to Facebook advertisements were viable.

Facebook’s Competitors

Although Facebook offers solid investment value for marketing projects, big-name alternatives like Google AdWords and LinkedIn each offer similarly targeted opportunities to grab internet denizens who show interest in a particular keyword. The only downside to using a service like AdWords versus Facebook is that social networks offer a better chance to build a company’s brand.

On the other hand, AdWords offers a terrific chance for a small company to use a creative keyword and get some traction within the industry. Top level keywords are sometimes difficult for a small company to afford, but highly targeted keywords and words that take advantage of local marketing opportunities may offer solid investment value.

The listings that appear above search results on various websites such as Google and various search engines are an accepted part of a web surfer’s experience today, and advertisements get great exposure when the targeted keywords are chosen appropriately. Consumers today are savvy and won’t respond well to advertisements that aren’t targeted correctly.

For example, it would be a waste of money to target a keyword for “high heels” if a company was actually selling sneakers. Some advertising campaigns strive to reach too far into a particular industry and expand into different areas where the customers just aren’t interested in what a company has to sell. With smart keyword choices, sponsored listings offer tremendous potential.

In-Text Advertisements

Rather than run advertisements at the top of a page or along the side of it, there are also options for running advertisements directly within the text of certain content. These advertisements are generally showcased by a double underline along a particular keyword within an article, news story, or other online content. When a reader passes over this link with his or her mouse, a small pop-up will appear that showcases an advertisement.

This technology has been around for a few years, but it does cost a little more than traditional PPC advertising options. Marketing with in-text advertisements isn’t without benefits, however. The biggest potential advantage for in-text advertising is the extremely targeted focus of such advertisements. In a world of billions and billions of websites, successfully targeting a specific audience offers significant marketing value.

Buy a Boost

Purchasing likes remains a valid option for increasing brand awareness in a particularly simple manner, and using a service like, where actual people Like a page, significantly reduces the investment of time required to obtain some traction on the social network. Social networking campaigns can take up a lot of time, and purchasing Likes represents a great investment of marketing dollars for the time required to set up such a campaign.

Purchasing likes in today’s marketing environment is a cost-effective method of gaining popularity on Facebook because it’s easier to target the appropriate demographic for Facebook likes. The best way to determine whether the purchase of a fan base makes sense is whether the purchase includes highly targeted consumers, or whether the Likes are too general to offer true value.

Another option on Facebook that’s different than the social network’s standard advertising ladder that sits on the right-hand side of a person’s feed (generally known as external website ads) is the purchase of promoted posts. These advertisements will create three types of advertisements that will run directly in a user’s feeds. The ads run in both the desktop versions of Facebook and when someone accesses the site through the official mobile phone app.

The only drawback to these promoted posts is that they’re not as highly targeted an option as purchasing Likes or using the standard Facebook ads. Promoted posts remove some of the control that a company might have over their ad campaign, but sometimes this method offers an efficient way to increase brand or product awareness and total audience numbers.

Each of these alternatives represent what might be a better type of marketing than standard Facebook ads for a particular company, but there’s no reason that a company can’t take advantage of more than one type of alternative. Purchasing a boost, engaging in some sponsored listings, and keeping some traditional Facebook ads on the roster makes sense for a full and meaningful social networking advertising campaign. As with everything on the internet, there’s no reason to stop at just one type of advertisement.


  1. Damien Bielski


    Adwords to me is really the only good alternative. Nothing else has good enough ROI. Adwords beats Facebook in ROI though at least for my business

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