By now you probably recognise the importance of having a Facebook page to represent your business or website. You can engage and expand your audience; market products, services and webpages; and gain direct traffic.
Coupling this with other social media accounts like Twitter, and ensuring your site is optimised for the search engines, gives you a good shot at success.
But what do you do when the natural growth of your Facebook page (the number of likes and active users) plateaus, and you end up preaching to the choir, or worse things start to go backwards?
It may be time to spend money to make money.
What Are Facebook Ads?
At some point when you’ve been scrolling down your news feed you will have come across a “sponsored” post. Visually they look much like any other post from your friends, except there’s usually more interactions and some kind of product or content being promoted.
Likewise you may have also noticed more obvious adverts down the right hand column.
When starting a Facebook advertising campaign you can choose either of these options (or both).
Why Facebook Ads?
Obviously there are a multitude of online advertising options. Banner adverts, text links, Google adwords etc. What makes Facebook so appealing is that it’s simple to use, cost effective, and your ability to target the exact audience you desire is fully in your control.
The Ads Manager centre provides a comprehensive set of data, showing you how many people have seen your ad, how many people engaged with it (clicked through, commented, liked, shared) and you can even implement a conversion tracking “pixel” that further monitors users actions once they land on your page.
To give some perspective, here are the figures for a single ad campaign that I ran for two days in June.
8,648 Unique Clicks
13.106% Click Through Rate
Reached 73,615 People
… and I paid a total of £29.94
That’s roughly £3.46 per 1,000 clicks – not a bad cost per click (CPC) for highly targeted traffic.
Furthermore because Facebook ads are first shown to all the followers of your page, you can reconnect with those followers that have dropped off.
You may have noticed in the past year or so that posts you make are reaching fewer people. This is because Facebook is now prioritizing what appears on people’s news feeds. Users are only shown posts from pages and friends who they regularly engage with (comment, like etc). Paying to appear in their feeds, results in more engagement, which then carries over even when your ad campaign ends. In other words more people will see your none paid posts following an ad campaign.
In my experience you will also receive a number of new page likes after a campaign, which means exponential growth if you regularly take out ads.
Every Facebook user has access to Ads, unless they’re a victim of a rare glitch that bans you before even starting (I personally suffered this error, so opened a new Facebook account just for ads).
To begin with you’ll want to add a payment option.
Click “Ads Manager” from the left hand column of the Facebook homepage, then Billing and Payment Methods. Here you can add your credit or debit card. Don’t worry about being overcharged, you choose either a daily limit or overall campaign limit when setting up your ad, and Facebook will never go over this. Your campaign will usually end just under this limit – hence my £29.94 instead of £30.
Now you have two options. Boost Post from your page or setting up an ad through the Ads Manager.
Using the Boost Post button is a simplified version of the Ads Manager, and is ideal for beginners or if you’re in a rush. It doesn’t have all the features that you might require, but it can still be effective. It’s basically aimed at those who run a Facebook Page and want to reach some extra people with their posts.
All you have to do is publish your post as you would do normally, and then you’ll see the option to “Boost Post”.
Click it and a window will then pop up allowing you to choose some basic targeting options. The first setting is either “People who like your Page and their friends” or “People you choose through targeting”.
Don’t be put off by the second option, it will still be posted to your followers, but instead of your follower’s friends (who may have no interest in what you’re promoting) you can define countries and cities, age range, gender, and most importantly Interests. It’s a far more effective option.
Interests are defined by what users post about, the content they include in their profile and several other factors. It is therefore worth taking your time with this setting.
You can enter up to four interests. So if you’re promoting the sale of iPhone covers, you may choose terms like iPhone, Apple, and smartphone.
You can then enter your Maximum Budget (the amount you’re willing to spend over the entire campaign).
“More Options” then also allows you to select the duration of the campaign. I personally go for 2 to 3 days, but if you have a large budget there’s no reason why you can’t go for longer.
That is all there is to the Boost Post feature. You will be presented with an estimated reach (how many people will actually see the post in their news feed) and you can now monitor the post like any other.
Setting up ads from the Ads Manager gives you several more options.
When you click “Create Ad” you will be shown a list of different objectives, such as “Clicks to Website”, “Page Likes”, “App Installs” etc.
These are fairly self-explanatory, but if you’re a beginner you may want to go for the simpler choices like “Clicks to Website”.
Depending on your selection, you will then be asked to enter your url, upload an appropriate sized image, and craft your headline and description text. This is essentially the same as making a post on your page.
You will also have the option of including a “Call To Action” button, with phrases like “Buy Now” or “Download” depending on what you’re promoting. This is entirely optional and you may prefer to stick with a regular looking post so you don’t appear like you’re hard-selling. Obvious ads for poor products often end up with negative comments, so choose your approach wisely.
You have 3 options for Ad Placement – regular desktop news feed (just like a post for your page), right hand column (a smaller but more over ad) and mobile news feed (same as desktop, but on handheld devices).
There is no clear cut answer as to which to choose, but if you’re selling a product and the text is filled with sales copy, the right hand column will protect you from any negative backlash from people who simply don’t want you invading their news feed. It’s more obvious that its an advert and people who are genuinely interested will click.
If your ad is not as overt, or is more of a content rich or viral blog post, then choosing desktop and mobile news feed may be the better option. There’s no real reason why you would differentiate between these two options, unless you feel mobile users are less likely to buy a product or stay on your site.
Once again you can target your audience via interests, but now there are also options for “Behaviors” and “Connections”.
Now you can select people based on what mobile device they use for Facebook, where they have travelled, what kind of events they have attended and much more. You can also target them based on specific pages they like or people they are connected to. So for example if they like a band and you’re promoting memorabilia then you have an obvious targeting choice.
Finally specify your budget and schedule. This can be a continuous daily budget until you choose to end it, a daily budget within a set time period, or a lifetime budget within a set period.
Since I run smaller campaigns I usually set a lifetime budget and run it for a couple of days.
Just like Boosted Post you can monitor your campaign’s success in Ads Manager, and it’s also a good idea to track the landing page in Analytics.