As a marketing and advertising tool, Facebook is the best friend of small business owners and global brands alike and the good news is, Facebook advertising isn’t rocket science. Like anything else, it takes some practice, but there’s a definite roadmap that new users can follow to set up their account and start pushing out targeted advertisements – simple!
Even better, prices are currently a lot lower than on platforms like AdWords so it’s also a very useful tool if you find you’re being priced out of paid search but still need to advertise as part of your overall marketing and sales strategy.
The lowdown on Facebook demographics
First of all, a little insight into the kind of active users Facebook boasts. It may have started out as a social network for Harvard students, but now there are billions of users spanning most countries on the planet.
As of August 2015, Facebook has over 1.18 billion monthly active users (that’s not counting the hundreds of thousands of dormant accounts also out there).
91% of millennials (15-34 year olds) use Facebook.
The average time spent on Facebook per day is more than twenty minutes per user.
6% of all digital time is spent on Facebook.
As you can see, no matter which demographic you’re targeting, it’s likely you’ll find them on Facebook.
Advertising on Facebook
Over the years, as Facebook has become a force to be reckoned with in the world of advertising, the types of ads available has developed. Options include:
The domain ad: This simple advertisement is displayed on the right-hand column if you’re browsing on a laptop or computer – although it’s worth remembering this type of ad is not supported on mobiles yet. It’s essentially a basic plug for a website, directing traffic towards the domain with a title, a short description and a thumbnail image.
The page post ad: This is the most popular and common type of ad on Facebook, directing traffic to a certain page on your website. The ad appears in the Newsfeed (so it’s mobile-friendly) and there are lots of testing options so you can get your messaging exactly right before you post. These ads can generate Likes for a page, as well as encouraging engagement with the brand via the comments section.
The carousel ad: Ideal for e-commerce businesses, this slideshow of products allows advertisers to show off multiple products in a single ad. Each product has a nice, large picture of its own, and users can scroll through the selection.
Dynamic ads: Tapping into the personalization trend, dynamic adverts show very targeted, and very relevant adverts to the user. Products shown are based on what that user has already viewed, giving those deciding a nudge back into the site to purchase the items they have been mulling over.
Slideshow ads: The slideshow ad calls on one of the hottest trends in digital - video - to bring your adverts alive. Facebook describes them as a lightweight alternative to a full video and they can be used on both Facebook and Instagram.
Lead ads: Lead ads are one of the newest additions to Facebook’s advertising service. As the name suggests, this type of advert is geared towards helping businesses to generate leads. The platform describes this style of ad as a way of connecting people with businesses - allowing users to sign up to receive news, offers and quotes from businesses. The ad is based around a contact or sign up form. Once clicked the form is automatically populated with the user’s details, leaving nothing more to do than click to submit.
How to create a Facebook ad
Step one – goal-setting
The first step in creating your Facebook ad is deciding what effect you want the ad to have. Do you want people to Like your page? Are you trying to encourage engagement in the form of comments? Will your ad be driving traffic to your external site? Once you’ve figured out what the end-game is for your advertisement, you’ll be better placed to come up with your headline and description, as well as choosing a suitable image.
Step two – getting creative
Depending on the type of ad you’re creating, you’ll need to come up with some simple copy, as well as a headline and a link description. You get 25 characters for your headline, 90 characters for the body text and 90 characters for your link description – use them wisely! Think about the message you’re trying to convey, as considered in your goal-setting phase.
Step three – targeting
Facebook has grown more sophisticated over the years, to the point where now you can very accurately target certain demographics using a multitude of criteria, from age, gender and location to language, what profession your target audience works in, and even how they’re politically aligned. You can target individuals based on their ‘Interests’ and ‘Behaviors’ on Facebook, too – the options are endless. The best advice here is to test, test and test your ads repeatedly to gauge which ones are generating the most traction among your target audience.
Step four – analytics
Judging the performance of your campaigns is a crucial step – and Facebook has delivered with an excellent analytics tool that gives you the lowdown on every ad you’ve posted. It’ll show your conversion tracking, the cost-per-conversion, how many clicks were measured, how many Likes a campaign generated, the cost-per-Like, the total money spent on an ad… it’s a statistician’s paradise!
By measuring the success of your advertisements you’ll be able to gauge whether or not you’ve reached the goals you originally set out. If you did – great! You’re onto a winning formula. If you didn’t reach the goal this time around, try tinkering with your formula. Change the time of day you posted the ad, switch from a domain ad to a page post, or alter the text to see how it affects your results.
Check out Facebook’s page at https://www.facebook.com/business/learn/ for more details, as well as tutorials on setting up, creating and monitoring your ads on the platform.
In a relatively short time, Facebook has become one of the world’s most powerful, flexible and robust marketing and advertising platforms. It may take a little experimentation to hit on that winning formula that gets the Likes rolling in and the conversions increasing, but with a little practice and a simple process like the one above, enhancing the online presence of your business and boosting conversions is a breeze.