The advent of Facebook was a game changer in more ways than one. The little social media platform that Mark Zuckerberg built has become one of the primary forces in our media landscape, affecting the way we consume news and advertising, and even shifting the ways in which we communicate on a pretty fundamental level.
For instance, Facebook has become one of the most important marketing platforms in human history; businesses big and small use the social network for reaching out to audiences, whether by sharing links and content, responding directly to customers through comments and messages, and, increasingly, by using Facebook as a channel for paid advertising.
It’s that last point that we’re going to focus on in this piece, because it’s becoming more important than ever before. Organic reach – the number of people reached by a Facebook post or update – has been declining on the platform, and many marketers are seeing this as a sign that it’s time to start reinvesting in Facebook not as an organic social network, but as a paid advertising channel.
The good news? Facebook advertising is a relatively inexpensive proposition, even compared to other digital marketing ventures, like search engine marketing (SEM) through Google. And it has a proven track record of success and ROI – if you’re using all of the tools that Facebook provides strategically.
Curious about how to create and share a successful ad on Facebook? You’ve come to the right place! Our team has plenty of experience putting the social media behemoth to work as a paid advertising tool. Here’s our team’s “how to” guide:
Getting Started With Facebook Advertising as Social Media Marketing (SMM)
In order to use Facebook for paid advertising, you’ll need to use “Ads Manager;” fortunately, if you’re set up with a Facebook profile, you can start using Ads seamlessly by logging in from Facebook. Just choose the dropdown “?” menu, then select “Create Ads” or “Manage Ads” to access Ads Manager.
Once in the management tool, you can toggle between your personal account and any professional pages, allowing you to manage multiple campaigns from one central hub. You can also create and manage ads through the front end of Facebook, as well; simply go to your business’ page – logged in as a manager – and select “Advertise Your Business” to access a pop-up, slightly more streamlined version of Ads Manager.
Set Up Your Objective
Before you get started with an advertising campaign, it’s important to know why you’re advertising; having a clear, actionable goal in mind will help clarify and guide the rest of this process, and help lead to a more valuable outcome for your brand.
There are any number of things that you may want to get from your Facebook advertising, and you can certainly opt for several goals at once. Fortunately, Facebook makes it easy to hone in on an objective, offering you a healthy selection of goals as you start setting up your first ad.
Facebook Ads breaks up objectives into three broad categories – “Awareness,” “Consideration,” and “Conversion.” Within these, you can narrow down on an even more specific goal. “Awareness” campaigns, for instance, can focus on increasing your reach to a local audience, or a broader one. “Consideration” campaigns focus more on driving traffic through to your site or increasing engagement (likes, shares, comments) with your Facebook content. And “Conversions” campaigns focus on converting leads into customers, by driving them into your purchasing funnel or guiding them to a brick and mortar store.
Get Sophisticated With Your Facebook Ad Targeting
Another vital part of any marketing campaign, social media or otherwise? Knowing who you’re trying to reach. Who is the audience for your product? Where do they live? What kinds of content do they like? All of these are important to know as you go into the advertising process; fortunately, Facebook makes it fairly easy to reach your most valuable audience, thanks to its sophisticated targeting tools.
Facebook has plenty of options available for creating an audience for your ad; you can use Ads to “retarget” visitors who’ve already visited your website, for instance, by installing a piece of code called “Pixel” on your site. You can also create a “customer file” by uploading or importing a contact list from your compiled data, or through a MailChimp campaign.
Just getting off the ground or trying to reach a completely fresh audience? Facebook also allows you to target users by means of some pretty sophisticated criteria; we recommend starting by location, then drilling down into the nuanced demographic information. You can limit your reach by age, gender, and, most importantly, by highly detailed specifications, ranging from interests and hobbies to political tendencies.
Take a lot of time to experiment with Facebook’s audience targeting measures, based around the ideal customer profile that you and your team have on hand. We promise you’ll be surprised by just how precise and flexible you can make your outreach.
Determine Your Ad Budget and Placement
Once you’ve set your audience, you’ll next want to set your placements; we recommend opting for “automatic placement,” which gives Facebook permission to automatically place your ads where they’re likely to perform best and give you the lowest overall cost per result. For more control, you can select where you want your ad to appear.
After this, it’s time to set up your budget. This is where a little strategic thinking comes in. The cost of every single ad is determined by Facebook’s sophisticated “Ad Auction” functions, which are a bit too esoteric to dive into in too much depth here. Instead, we’ll focus on what you need to know to make ads work for you on the day-to-day.
The most important thing is to set a reasonable ad budget. You can set a daily budget (how much you’re willing to spend on an ad every day) or lifetime budget (the maximum amount you’re willing to spend for the entire duration of your ad set, as determined by you). We recommend starting on the lower end of what you’re willing to spend, and perhaps setting a narrow lifetime for your ad, at least until you’ve got a firmer grasp on what works and what doesn’t. You can always spend more as you grow more confident with the platform.
One other thing that it’s important to remember? While Facebook does respect your overall maximum ad spend budget, actual daily spend amounts will vary, due largely to that auction process we mentioned earlier. You may spend a few dollars more or less than your set daily budget every day, if you opt for this route; these values will average out, and you won’t exceed your maximum for the lifetime of a set.
Know the Types of Ads Available
Now that you’ve done all of the legwork, you get to focus on the fun part: Choosing the format of your ad and setting up the creative! There are five primary types of ads on Facebook:
Photo ads use striking images to allow your business to stand out on a Facebook or Instagram timeline; these are great for highlighting products.
Video ads are similar to photo ads, but with the added dimensions of sound and motion. Video is the future of Facebook, and these ads are well primed to encourage user action and engagement on mobile and desktop platforms alike.
Want to include multiple photos or videos in a single post? Opt for a Carousel ad, which allows you to share up to 10 images or videos – each with a unique link and call to action opportunity – in one; these are great for encouraging clickthrough and interaction, as users feel inspired to swipe or click through your entire presentation.
Slideshow ads work like video ads, but they’re more “lightweight,” making them easier to play on all devices; they’re also slightly quicker and more affordable to create than a high quality video.
Canvas ads are the future of mobile advertising, and you can put them to work today. Facebook describes Canvas as “a blank space to tell your business’ story,” and it allows for greater customization than any other ad format. Essentially, a Canvas ad shows up on a mobile timeline; when a user clicks on it, the ad goes full screen, and can feature video, images, text, or call to action buttons.
Refine Your Approach
Regardless of the ad format you choose, it’s important to not slouch on your creative work! This ad is as vital a piece of content marketing as anything else you produce, and should be up to the same high standards as your blog or any print or TV ads you develop.
To that end, write, design, and code like a digital marketer! Focus on brevity and clarity in your copy, and make sure a call to action and the most important information from your ad all appears in the first 90 characters of your body copy. Use high quality images that reflect your brand’s visual identity, and avoid using too much text on your images (Facebook doesn’t like overly text-heavy visuals, and neither will your audience). And, lastly, don’t let your inspiring ad become stale or worn out; refresh your copy or imagery every one to two weeks to make sure your ad feels new and continues to produce value.
Have any other questions about getting started with Facebook Advertising? Looking for a helping hand to guide your targeting or creative efforts? Geek Chicago has a track record of getting social media results for a wide array of businesses. Drop us a line to talk results – and see what our team can do for yours!