The REALLY Useful Guide to Facebook Advertising

Adam Brown 6 years ago

One of the simplest yet most effective things I’ve learnt about Facebook advertising - and this also applies to other platforms such as Twitter and Reddit - is that marketing is not about how I can influence you, marketing is about how I can make you influence other people.

Facebook advertising can be used for a variety of different things. Lead generation, brand awareness and direct sales can all be driven from Facebook’s simple advertising platform. But it’s not just about driving direct sales. Facebook can be used as a funnel.

If you are looking at it from a direct sales/conversion perspective, you will see spend and conversion but it’s not exclusively about this. You need to be looking at the broader and bigger picture. Facebook, however much it is changing, is still a brilliant platform for sharing and people do want to share. Instead of looking at it in a conversion perspective look at Facebook advertising as a platform to advertise but also to gain advertising for free.

If you target that one person they will say yes, no, or maybe, but if you show that person something they are willing to share, it then becomes a personal recommendation which is so much stronger than a single random advert they have just seen in their newsfeed.

Community Management

Looking after Facebook pages can be a mammoth task but in the long run can really pay off. As you will be reading on many a blog, produce good content and the rest will fall into place. The same applies here. If you are producing content that your audience wants to see, your engagement and likes will continue to rise.

So how does this effect advertising? When you are running adverts, this can give you some leverage and also allows you to change who you are targeting and in what way.

Competitions might sound old-fashioned, but they remain as popular a mechanic as ever. They are a great way to create a unique spin on the normal advertising you see on Facebook, and when you target the right people it can work really well for gaining likes as well as increased engagement rate.

A tip here is to offer a prize or prizes which you know will excite your community and get them ‘talking’ and sharing – not a cheap, generic-looking offer which audiences are constantly being bombarded with and can find anywhere.

Paid advertising on Google allows you to target one person in one stream but with Facebook, when you create and run a campaign, your ad will firstly show to your target audience. That’s your first hit. However, if anyone in that audience has interacted, it will show to their friend, which is a secondary hit and therefore acting as free advertising! What are the equivalent chances of someone sharing a good advertisement they might have seen on Google the other day? Virtually zero.

Facebook – Segments of people that can be approached in different ways.

One risk with Facebook is getting too complacent with your advertising. This is true within most other platforms as well but it all comes down to testing again. Adverts always need to be tested over and over again.

Getting complacent with an advert can also mean that the costs continue to rise, after a while your targeting group gets smaller and smaller as you continue to target the same people. The frequency the advert is shown to them increases and if they haven’t liked it the first time they have seen it, it’s unlikely they will the second time.

It’s not all about your advertising strategy. You have to have something that makes your business or website different: for example, Zappo’s USP is based upon amazing customer service. If you have a USP it can greatly increase every aspect of your Facebook advertising apart from the cost. If you start an e-commerce store selling clothes that every other store sells, why would someone click that ad or like your page?

If you sell clothes everyone sells BUT you have an incredible story about how you’re different to your competitors – such as TOMs, which donates free shoes to children in poverty with every pair of adult shoes purchased from them - you’ve got an amazing groundwork to begin your advertising.

The advert itself has three major parts

The Audience
So who exactly do you want to target? Of course, you should be building your website/business strategy as a whole around this, not just your Facebook advertising campaign.

The Story
What’s the story you are going to tell through either your page or your advert? Stories that resonate with your target audience, as you’ve heard before, sell.

A Reason to Share
This is mainly related to promoted content but also needs to be thought about when aiming for likes. If your advert is good enough they will continue to the page and then like or share content. With promoted content, ask this: is it useful to others? Will they share it with their friends or even recommend your page?

Content and paid budget

When it comes to paying to promote certain content there is one big factor with most paid content promotion on Facebook: TIME. If you create two posts a day on your Facebook page you will see the normal rate of engagement you have, when one suddenly gets a lot more than the average this is the time to promote it. This can be difficult if you are running pages and paid content on behalf of a client but if you can quickly get in touch and move budget around this can really improve what you get for your money.

Content that is interesting obviously obtains more engagement. It may sound like a really simple point but one that many forget. If you promote a product day in day out on your Facebook page the audience will grow tired of the repeated cycle and aren’t going to engage with the post. If you post content that is timely and engages the audience, overall engagement will increase and in turn gives you great content to promote.

I’ve said this before but an advert on Facebook is not just about selling or getting likes, it’s about getting that personal recommendation from a friend.
If one of your friends already likes the page that means you are more likely to like it also - unless you don’t like that friend, of course!

Dark posts/hidden posts

Dark posts can be created via power editor, which you should be using more and more. Facebook seems to be favouring power editor users by implementing changes to this area with minimal change happening in the basic ads manager. Power editor, once you learn how to use it, can really speed up advert creation.

One of the massive advantages of hidden posts or dark posts is that you don’t have to post them to your page, in turn not spamming the page, if you want to run a variety of different promoted posts. This also means that you can turn posts on and off. For example, what if you have shops all around the country and are running an offer but the store in London has sold out? You can then turn the advert for London off, in turn reducing the negative impact that could be seen from promoting an offer that cannot be claimed.

How to approach building ads

1. Image – The image has to grab the user’s attention. This could be with a variety of different things such as:

- Colours
- Different Shapes
- White Space
- Emotion

2. Title – Within a title there should be something interesting to the user. After grabbing their attention with the image, you need to keep them reading the text so ensuring the title is interesting is a must.

3. Text – This area is mainly used for a call to action, for example ‘like our page’, ‘start your trial’ or ‘try us today’.

There is never a definitive way to write and present adverts as it will be different for your target audience, so this is where experience, as well as testing, comes into play. Don’t settle for the price you are at now, keep testing until you get lower.

How to Choose Targeting

Start with what you know works
The first step is to start with what you know works. If you have run ads in the past for a similar campaign, and know this works, it’s a good place to start.

Test smaller targeting
The next step with your targeting is to test a smaller area; for example, splitting the ad into multiple campaigns and also splitting the interests. This allows you to get a better understanding of what each area/interest being targeted costs.

Custom audiences are brilliant for conversions using emails
Custom audiences can work wonders for increasing conversions, and in turn lowering costs. Email lists can achieve this, as can a pixel placed on the site.  Placing a tracking pixel on the site can greatly improve how you target people. The pixel can be set up on different areas of the site, which means you can set rules for each audience such as users who have visited the cart or visitors who only visited the home page. This can take some time but once set up the custom audiences can be used over and over again via power editor.

When testing, one of the first points I would raise is to not waste the segment. For example, you set up an advert, targeting a huge audience and the advert performs poorly. People have now seen the advert and decided not to click and if you included a brand name or something you want to keep throughout, you have now wasted that audience.

The first test you do should be to a small audience. This allows you to test your ad copy (image, title and body). I would suggest setting up multiple campaigns for your advert as Facebook chooses one out of the campaign and runs with that, not always the best one. After these are set up, you cannot wait an hour and see what happens as it really does take some time and a bit of budget to test properly.

After you have found a few different advert campaigns that work well it’s time to start increasing the targeting size to gain even more data. Throughout these testing phases you need to keep track of each advert you have created. For example, what you changed, what was the decrease/increase in CPA.

Testing an advert to make sure you get the right one as well as the right targeting is not a quick or simple process. It can be costly. The main thing to remember is that as you continue to use Facebook advertising you will gain insight into what works and what doesn’t for your brand or website, which in turn will reduce costs on other campaigns.

Top takeaways

  • Test, Test, Test, Test – then test some more!
  • Don’t waste the target audience
  • If custom audiences can be applied to your advertising, go for it.
  • Social advertising is as much about looking after your community as it is getting the advert right.
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