Creating an ad on Facebook is very different from posting on your personal page. Everything about Facebook ads—from the wording you use to the time you place them—plays a role in the amount of traffic they drive to your site.
What are Facebook ads?
Facebook ads are paid messages that businesses place on Facebook. This gives you the flexibility to write in your own voice. Plus, you can reach the people who matter most to you, as explained in the social network’s beginner's guide.
The essential component of this definition is the word "paid." Anyone can post on their Facebook page for free—but you never know who's going to see your post.
A paid ad lets you target a particular demographic, and you can be as specific or as broad as you’d like.
Facebook ads are available in a variety of formats. You also get to specify how much you want to spend, including:
- The overall amount
- Your daily budget
- Your cost per result
You even get to determine what user actions you want to pay for. That doesn't mean that Facebook will only charge you when your ad works the way you want it to, but you can choose how they bill you, such as being charged by the number of views or clicks. You have different options depending on the goals you set for your ad.
Why are Facebook ads important?
Almost 96% of social media marketers believe that of all the platforms out there, Facebook provides the best return on investment (ROI). And there's a good reason for that:
- "Facebook" is the most popular search term worldwide
- The platform has 2.4 billion users and more than 7 million advertisers
- People use it for an average of 35 minutes a day
- 68% of adults in the US have an active account
With a reach like that, you'd think that marketing on Facebook would be expensive, but it isn't. Not only does Facebook let you specify a maximum spend, it also charges you less to reach the same number of people that you'd reach on another platform.
One of the most attractive elements of Facebook advertising is its customization potential. Because the platform has so much information about each user, you can target your ads based on almost any demographic feature you can imagine, such as:
- Marital status
- Career field
Plus, customizing the audiences that see a particular post can cut your customer acquisition cost.
Facebook ads best practices
1. Know the algorithm.
Facebook isn't quite as notorious as Google for altering its algorithm, but it still has marketers clamoring for information every time it makes changes. One of the most significant shifts happened in early 2018 when Facebook released what became known as its “meaningful interactions” update.
The platform designed this update to de-emphasize brands and prioritize posts from its users' friends and families. All of a sudden, displaying ads on Facebook became a lot more competitive. Businesses quickly learned that they had to focus on engaging users in order to get attention.
Facebook still aims to show users “stories that matter.” When deciding whether to display a post, it looks at these 4 things:
- Inventory: All of the possible content that could appear on a user's feed.
- Signals: All of the information about a given post. These include passive signals like the time it was posted as well as active signals like the post's number of likes, shares, and comments.
- Predictions: The likelihood that a user will interact positively with a post.
- Score: A numerical representation aggregated from the previous 3 categories that shows the chance for positive interaction.
Active and passive signals are the only metrics that you can control as a brand. That means one of your primary goals in creating Facebook ads should be to inspire engagement with your content to boost the number of likes and shares that you get.
2. Know and speak to your audience.
You can only engage an audience if you know their needs and pain points. Look at all of the possible customization options you have on Facebook and answer as many of those questions as possible for your target audience:
- Do they buy high-end or budget items?
- Do they tend to research products in depth before buying?
- How old are they?
- Do they have spouses and/or children? What are their interests? What do they value? Are they health conscious? Interested in sustainable living?
Get specific with your questions. Facebook's demographic data allows you to target based on particular combinations of qualities.
If you offer a service for budget travelers, for example, you can display your ad to people who have used flight search tools in the past month or follow youth hostels websites in different countries. Meanwhile, a brand that offers tutoring services can target people with children who have bought educational materials recently and have “liked” their local school district on Facebook.
3. Get your readers to talk with each other.
Comments and likes are great, but peer-to-peer conversations are what really keep interactions going. Facebook allows people to connect based on common interests—that's part of the reason the platform exists. Take advantage of that and invite people to share their thoughts and experiences not just with you, but with each other.
To see how this works, take a look at these examples of Facebook ads:
Example #1: A women's clothing retailer posts a photo gallery featuring its new line of spring apparel. Underneath, the text asks readers, “What's your favorite spring trend? A. Florals B. Cropped jeans C. Peasant shirts D. Jumpsuits.”
Readers answer and start responding to one another's answers. “Florals! They look so cute with my ballet flats.” “I love cropped jeans, but I can never find a pair that fits.”
This has 2 benefits: It lets you collect information in a way that also engages your customers.
This works for business-to-business (B2B) customers as well. They may never have met one another, but they share a need for your services or products, so they probably have similar professional dilemmas.
Example #2: An insurance provider asks what benefits their followers offer. The answers spark responses as to what products—like long-term care insurance or disability insurance—are most valuable to their employees.
Statistics from these conversations can be like gold to your company, and when you solicit them on Facebook, you don’t even need to search for them.
4. Choose the right campaign goals.
Facebook features ads on its site as part of broader advertising campaigns. The first thing you do when creating an ad is to choose a marketing objective. Suggested objectives include:
- Brand awareness
- App installs
- Gathering lead information (such as email addresses or phone numbers)
- Engagement with the post or your Facebook page
Remember, your objective could affect how much you pay to run these ads, so choose goals that will provide your business with a lot of value.
5. Track post performance and adjust accordingly.
With its affordable advertising costs and real-time analytic tools, Facebook lets you experiment with different post styles and tweak your strategy based on the audience response. Check out the Insights section of your Facebook Page and look at any changes that occurred on days when you posted ads:
- Which posts led to a sharp uptick or drop in likes?
- How many likes stemmed from paid ads?
- Which posts had the most unique views?
- Does your audience respond better to photo or video content?
Most importantly, you can use these insights to inform the design of your next ad, because you need to always be creating new ones if you want to stay in front of your audience. Take advantage of that quick turnaround to tweak your ad design as much as possible. When you find something that works, stick with it!
How to set up a Facebook ads manager account
Facebook requires you to create and monitor your ads through its Ads Manager tool. The setup process is simple.
After you accept its non-discrimination policy, Facebook will take you to your Ads Manager page. There you can choose a campaign goal and create your first ad. Facebook uses the goal you choose to direct the creation of your ad set, which instructs the platform how to post your ad. You'll specify your preferences regarding:
- Audience demographics
- Post scheduling
- What you're willing to pay per ad display, per day, and overall
Once you have all of this information in place, you can design your ad.
Create effective ad campaigns
Facebook ads are extremely powerful marketing tools. They let you design and post ads that target very specific customer segments at a price that can suit any budget.
Remember to make the most of the platform's customization capacity as well as its interactivity. Turn your potential customers into active participants and you'll create the kind of engagement that Facebook—and your bottom line—will both love.