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Facebook’s business model centers on staying at the top of the social media ladder by constantly revamping its site and apps in hopes of creating an even better experience for both Facebook users and advertisers. On one side, Facebook is currently unmatched as a marketing platform for its ability to target and serve engaging content; on the other, their user feedback system allows people to tell Facebook exactly what they is relevant to them, and what they’d rather not see in their Newsfeeds. While Facebook’s powerful suite of marketing tools is meant to make reaching out easier for everyone, they come with a catch.

In the golden days of social media marketing, entrepreneurs and marketers could leverage the crowdsourcing power of social networks to spread the word about their business or project — for free. Talk about a return on investment! To social media marketers, organic reach and engagement is still pure gold, but as with all precious resources, it’s available in a limited supply. Facebook has come clean about reducing the organic reach of posts by Facebook Pages, encouraging marketers to spend money on ads in order to keep in touch with their current following as well as reach new audiences.

Facebook’s Audience Insights feature in the Ads Manager helps businesses target very specific audiences for ads. To keep in line with Facebook’s privacy policy, marketers who use Audience Insights don’t have access to personal information such as names and contact information of the users they hope to reach. Instead, they learn about user demographics (age, gender, education, lifestyle, etc.), page likes, location and language, how often users log into Facebook, what devices they use to browse, and past purchasing behaviors.

Audience Insights isn’t a free tool, of course; these highly specialized ads have a price tag. Many brands and companies that spent considerable effort on building their fan-bases in order to take advantage of free content distribution are disappointed in Facebook’s crackdown on organic marketing. However, thanks to its social context, Facebook is able to offer advertising very cheaply, as high-quality content is enjoyed, shared, and circulated independently of Facebook’s advertising model by Facebook users themselves. Let’s put it this way: If a marketer does his or her job well, Facebook’s job is made easy, and the advertiser gets rewarded with rates at pennies on the click.

While Facebook ads could be seen as just another financial burden, the tools at advertisers’ disposal (including Audience Insights) give ads quite the edge in reaching quality audiences. This means higher click-through rates, stronger leads and — the real gold — more conversions.

Facebook not only utilizes users’ lists of “liked” pages to determine which ads to show, but also uses information from other websites and apps that Facebook users frequent. Of course, this can still lead to things coming up on a user’s Facebook feed that might not actually be relevant to them.

It’s happened at one point or another to every Facebook user: An ad pops up that leaves you scratching your head, wondering why on earth that ad got to your eyeballs. To combat this, Facebook allows users to manage their ad preferences. On each ad shown, the ad preferences dropdown lets users select from a few different options. They can choose to acknowledge an ad was useful to them, find out why an ad appeared on their feed, hide a particular ad, or hide all ads from an advertiser.

As a longtime frontrunner in the social media landscape, Facebook’s recipe for success is clearly its commitment to trying new ways to streamline the Facebook experience, both for businesses and consumers. Although the idea of paying for advertising through Facebook might seem off-putting at first, the ability to access thousands of potential customers with its precision targeting can outweigh the cost.

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