It almost goes without saying that nearly the entire planet is on Facebook. As of 2016, there are 1.65 billion monthly active users. BILLION WITH A ‘B.’ In Australia alone, there are 15 million of us on Facebook. So how do you tap into this incredible resource and start talking to the right audience for your business?
Facebook advertising is all about picking the right people out of that crowd and putting your ad in front of them – people who are more likely to be interested in your ad enough to click on it and engage with your page, business, brand, whatever you’re trying to promote. This guide will take you through the basics of Facebook advertising – how to make an ad, how to implement good targeting and much more – so you can take full advantage of this platform for your business.
Pretend for a moment (or maybe you won’t have to) that you are a thirty-something man interested in hiking, mountain biking and other outdoorsy pursuits. You’re scrolling through Facebook when all of the sudden you come across this:
You’re intrigued (come on, who wouldn’t be: it’s the chance at a free holiday!) but you’re a bit confused: you’ve got no idea who or what ‘icelolly.com’ is, and you’ve never so much as Googled the word ‘Greece.’
So why are you seeing it?
Find out by clicking the arrow at the top right and selecting ‘Why am I seeing this?’
What may come up is something like: ‘One reason you're seeing this ad is that icelolly.com wants to reach men ages 25 to 35 who live or were recently in Australia.’
Although this particular ad would probably do well because it’s advertising something pretty universally ‘cool’, only using a generic indicator like age, gender or location isn’t always the greatest strategy. This is because they give little insight into what that person’s real interests are: the fact that you’re a 34-year-old Aussie tells us nothing about your feelings on a Greek holiday.
An example of more specific targeting on this post would be: ‘One reason you’re seeing this ad is that icelolly.com wants to reach men ages 25 to 35 in Australia who have visited their website or used their app.’ Because you’re putting your ad in front of eyes who already know you or your brand, that leads to a better chance of that user becoming a customer.
Here are a few ideas for more tailored targeting techniques (say that ten times fast) to get you in front of the right people.
Targeting based on competitor fans
This strategy allows you to get your ad in front of users who’ve expressed in or liked pages similar to your competitor.
Insider tip: Capitalisation DOES make a difference. For example, the keyword ‘Online shopping’ has an audience of 859,896,820, compared to ‘Online Shopping’ which only has 3,395.
Targeting based on local awareness
Putting ads in front of users when they are within your business’ neighbourhood is a great way to connect with the local area, and could be a great way to promote an in-store offer or deal.
Insider tip: Facebook is introducing more effective ways to measure the success of a Facebook ad in driving in-store visits and offline sales. This not only has the potential to enhance user experience, it also has the potential for businesses to really see what’s working for them in a tangible way. Check out more from this article on AdWeek.
Targeting based on email lists
There are a few useful ways you can use email lists to create custom audiences for better results. By uploading your own lists, you can target towards individuals with an existing relationship who will be more likely to engage with your content.
Here are 3 possible ways to use your email lists to your advantage:
1) Abandoned carts
Most people who shop online often don’t buy on the first visit. Reaching out to individuals who already familiar with your products are more likely to go through with a purchase the second time around.
2) LinkedIn connections
LinkedIn has an invaluable audience of like-minded individuals, and it’s fairly simple to retarget them on Facebook.
Insider tip: you can even break this list up into different sections (say, by industry) to achieve more selective targeting).
Although these results might have a smaller reach than other campaigns, they’re more likely to have a better click-through rate and a lower cost per conversion.
3) Web traffic
Another great way to target relevant users is through a Website Custom Audience: by adding a Facebook Pixel into your site’s coding, you can track page views, when items are added to a shopping cart, when someone signs up to an offer or trial on your site and more (see chart below for specific codes).
4) Event sign-ups
Using the email addresses of people who’ve previously attended one of your company events – like a webinar, conference, networking session, anything – is a fantastic way to promote to a custom audience.
Insider tip: your existing audience group has to have at least 100 people in order to create a lookalike.
The great thing about Facebooks ads is they’re relatively easy to put together. Anyone with a Facebook page, a good internet connection and legit credit or debit card can create, use and benefit from Facebook advertising, especially businesses; it gives you another space to connect with previous or current customers and an effective way to seek out new ones.
Let’s pretend we’re building a lead generation ad for GoToMeeting.
Once we’ve decided on our country, currency and time zone, we need to set our audience:
‘Boosted posts’ can be a valuable means of advertising on Facebook, but what does it mean exactly, and how are they different from ads?
In the very simplest terms…
A boosted post is Facebook advertising at its most basic.
Here’s an example of how a boosted post would look if you were scrolling through your Newsfeed on your mobile:
Facebook ads are more advanced than boosted posts: they let you get more specific with different kind of ads, campaign goals and target audiences. You also have the option of adding a Call to Action button and – unlike a boosted post – Facebook ads aren’t housed on your business’ page.
So which one’s best for you and your advertising needs?
There really is no ‘right’ answer: it all depends on what you’re trying to do! If you just want to get in front of as many eyeballs as possible, try a boosted post. If you want people to do something specific (i.e. like your page, sign up to something, etc.), try a Facebook ad.
Interpreting Your Results: How Well Did You Do?
Once your ad campaign is over, it’s time to see how you did! This is especially important to learn what worked and what didn’t when creating new ads in the future, as things like messaging, image-to-text ratio and colour scheme could all affect your ad’s success.
You should also consider A/B split testing, or running two similar versions of an ad at the same time, to pinpoint potential problems and avoid losing extra money.
Here’s an example of how you can A/B test: we’ve kept the call to action the same on these two ads, but as you can see, they’ve got different messaging and imagery
When measuring the success of a particular ad, the following can help you contextualise your ad within your campaign, and help you refine your objectives for your future campaigns.
The number of times your post is displayed, regardless of if someone clicked on it or not.
Although these numbers can be pretty impressive, they’re not super informative as they don’t give any indication of sentiment around the ad.)
The number of people who saw your post
Likes, comments and shares received on a post
The total engagement (the added number of likes, comments and shares received on a post), divided by the total reach (or impressions, depending on how you want to calculate it out), multiplied by 100.
For a more complete glossary of ad terms, check out Facebook’s help section here.
These articles and guides are definitely worth a read.
‘By the Numbers: Facebook in Australia’ – a great post by Gavin Heaton with stats, facts and more
Moz’s ‘10 Things I’ve Learned While Learning Facebook Ads’ – super useful tips and tricks
Using the Pixel – Facebook’s guide to getting started with pixels
Think Tank Social’s ‘What Does That Even Mean? Understanding Facebook Metrics – Part 1’s about reach vs. impressions; Part 2’s about viewed content, page engagements and page stories (both are worth a read)