For some time Facebook has dominated the social media landscape and it is by a considerable margin the biggest social network in the world. For this reason, quite rightly, most organisations consider it an important marketing platform. However, Facebook’s algorithm – its system for deciding what posts to show its users – means that in reality most Facebook pages have a very low ‘organic reach’. So no matter how many likes your page has, it may be that only a small number of people will see the posts you put out via your Facebook page.
You can use Facebook to reach a range of audiences by opting for its paid advertising. If you’re new to Facebook advertising, it can seem a bit complicated and confusing and many smaller organisations never move beyond boosting posts via their page’s timeline, which may not be the most cost-effective or efficient way to advertise.
There is a three-tier structure to advertising on Facebook.
Campaign: Defining your objective
One of the most important aspects of Facebook advertising is choosing the correct campaign objective. This is because Facebook will optimise your ad for whatever objective you want to achieve. So if, for example, you want to get people to your website, you should choose the ‘Traffic’ objective.
It’s also worth being aware that for some types of objectives you can choose to split test a campaign. This allows advertisers to test how different audiences respond to an advert – you can then use the outcome of the test to help you plan your next campaign.
Ad Set: Defining your audience targeting
One of the features of Facebook advertising that makes it so strong is the range of options in terms of audience targeting. You can choose to define an audience based on a number of different factors including geographic location, demographic indicators (age, gender, life-stage, job and interests). It is generally better to run two or three adverts that are specifically targeted to each audience (changing the image and copy as appropriate) than one advert targeted at a mass audience.
Your other options for finding relevant Facebook users to show your ads to are ‘Custom Audiences’ and ‘Lookalike Audiences’. Custom Audiences lets you target your existing customers on Facebook. There are different ways to create Custom Audiences, including creating one from your own email newsletter list. Lookalike Audiences are Facebook users who are deemed by Facebook to be similar to any of your Custom Audiences. They can be a good option if you are looking to grow an existing audience. You can read more about all the targeting options here.
Ad Set: Setting the budget
Once you have created your ad and selected your target audience, it’s time to specify your budget. There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to how much to spend. If you’re starting out, it’s best to set aside a small budget of say £50 and test different approaches.
Once you feel more confident that your ads are proving to be effective, you can increase your spend. Using the default settings, the system will continue to show your ad until it has ‘exhausted’ your target audience. If you prefer, you can specify a maximum daily or lifetime budget and control how long the advert runs for.
It’s also worth being aware that by default Facebook will show your ad in a number of places: on Facebook itself, in the newsfeed and in the right column, on Instagram, on its ‘Audience Network’, a group of third party websites, and on Facebook Messenger.
My advice to new advertisers and those with a small budget is to switch off the other placements except Facebook newsfeed (and Instagram if you are actively using it), because you can very quickly use up your budget with your advert running in less effective places.
Ad: Creating the advert
The last part of the process entails creating the advert itself. This is the most intuitive part, but the main point to remember is that the images or video you choose should have the greatest visual impact possible. A tightly cropped image will always work better than a very busy one. You should also think carefully about the text – keep it short and clear with a strong call to action.
Once your campaign is running you can monitor its performance with the Ads Reporting tool within Ad Manager. Once the advert has been seen 500 times, it will get a relevancy score, a score out of 10 that indicates how well your audience is responding to it. It’s an important metric to keep an eye on.
Additionally, if you’re aiming to drive traffic to your website, track the clicks through to Google Analytics using campaign tagging. This will give you more insights about what those people do once they get to your website.