Facebook advertising can be hard to grasp. First, the platform is always expanding, with new features and capabilities added frequently. Second, your business needs will change. Put those two factors together, and you’re playing a shooting gallery game at a digital carnival.
But you can get your brand growth efforts on Facebook off to a smarter-than-the-average-bear start with a few solid how-tos and the whys behind them. After that, you’ll have a better understanding of where to spend your dollars more wisely on Facebook’s advertising platform and why it matters. You'll get less carnival, more results—and, hopefully, just as much fun.
First Things First
If you haven’t had much success in the past with Facebook advertising, should you really reconsider it as a strategy to grow your brand? Honestly, maybe you shouldn’t. Maybe you got sucked into the “every brand should have a Facebook page” myth.
The truth is, not every brand should have a Facebook page. If you look around your industry and see few to no competitors with a presence—especially a successful presence—on Facebook, you might be on the right track when you think Facebook may not be the best place to spend your ad dollars and brand energy.
If everyone in your industry has Facebook traction and you don’t, however, that’s a good reason to reconsider. In your previous efforts, you simply may not have understood the options available, how to better target your ads and how to do some smart, competitive research to make your advertising efforts worthwhile.
So let’s start with the why behind the advertising. You can build campaigns to increase Likes to your page (fan acquisition). You can build campaigns to promote a particular post (Promoted Posts) on your brand page timeline. You can also build campaigns to drive traffic directly to your website (these are ads you typically see in the right sidebar). App developers can encourage people to download their apps, and event sponsors can raise event awareness. For a complete list of common objectives for ads, Facebook has a short, snazzy list right here.
Getting Eyeballs on Those Ads
With Facebook actively dialing back organic reach, ads can now not only help you reach new fans, but also help you reach more of the fans you’ve already earned. Here are a few simple ways to begin targeting your ads to make sure you’re reaching more of the best people for your brand:
- Geography. If you only do business in the United States or in a certain hyperlocal market, get rid of the broad reach and only target users in those areas. You’ll end up spending less, and the fans you acquire will mean more.
- Interests. You can target ads to people with specific interests, including an interest in your competitors.
- Demographics. Want to attract millennials? Boomers? Seniors? Well, Facebook’s got that dialed in. You can select generational demographics for your ad targeting or create your own based on gender, age, geography and interests.
So how much should you spend on your advertising? Great question, but there’s no definitive answer. Here’s what I can tell you: It’s probably going to take a little bit to get your advertising dialed in. Some ads will work better than others. Some graphics will perform better. Some demographics will surprise you with their response, and others will fail.
My best advice is to set a reasonable test budget. Choose an amount that’s not going to hurt while you learn the Facebook ad game. SEO software provider Moz advises that brands spend at least $1 per day on Facebook ads. It also suggests that if you can’t afford that, you probably shouldn’t be in business.
Are you wondering why you have to pay to reach people who are already fans of your brand’s Facebook page? That's a good question, and the answer is simple: Because Facebook’s free ride model is a thing of the past.
Organic reach isn’t dead by any means, but Facebook’s revenue model now depends on you paying to reach the people you most want to reach. For my community of roughly 30,000, for instance, I spend from $60 to $120 per month, just to keep my brand top of mind for those folks. I also invest a portion of every fee I’m paid for every article I write to drive traffic to those articles from Facebook. It’s a no-brainer investment for my brand and my community, because I owe it to them to give them relevant information and I owe it to my brand to make that kind of investment. It’s the least I can do.
Unfortunately, Facebook’s advertising platform is largely self-service until you start spending thousands (and thousands) of dollars. However, it hasn’t left you stranded. The platform has improved significantly over the past year or so, offering more guidance as you go through the ad creation process.
If you’d like to get the skinny directly from Facebook, visit the Facebook Advertising section. There's also a fair amount of help available in the Facebook help wiki with answers to a myriad of questions for new advertisers.
If you want to keep up to date on the latest Facebook advertising news, the following is my go-to list for news about Facebook advertising and why I follow each site:
- Moz. Moz has one of the most solid search marketing and general marketing blogs on the Web. Read it for information on everything from SEO strategies to Facebook advertising. The "techy" posts might occasionally go over your head, but keep the subscribe button switched on because useful information flows daily.
- Mari Smith. This is a solid blog to follow if you're a beginning Facebook advertiser. It offers regular news about Facebook updates and changes in general.
- Jon Loomer. A must-read for midsized to larger brands diving into Facebook advertising, Jon Loomer invests considerable time in how-tos and case studies.
- Ad Espresso. This informational blog offers well-documented articles about Facebook advertising.
If you haven't yet dipped your toe in the ad waters at Facebook, now's the time to do your homework, set your budget and dive in. After all, your audience is waiting.
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