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A small business guide to Facebook Ads

With over 2.7 billion daily active users, Facebook can prove to be an extremely effective advertising tool for small businesses – when carried out in the right way.

As more and more social platforms move towards presenting users with the most relevant posts, as opposed to the most recent, businesses are now finding it difficult to achieve the same organic reach as they may have been able to 2 or 3 years ago.

Facebook in particular has been fraught with controversy over the past couple of years with regards to privacy, and as a result, the way in which businesses can market to users has changed dramatically. But Facebook can’t be ruled out of your marketing strategy, simply on account of its vast reach. With excellent targeting capabilities that allow you to appear in front of very specific audiences, social ads are the next logical step for a business to incorporate into their plan.

Now is the best time to get started with Facebook advertising, while the cost is still relatively low but high returns are delivered. Facebook spend is expected to be in excess of $20 billion over the next 12 months, but these costs won’t stay low for long, so taking advantage of this platform is a must. Take a look below as we navigate you through the world of Facebook Ads:

The 3 stages of your Facebook Ad

Your Facebook adverts will be set up through the Ads Manager platform, and will be broken down into 3 separate stages:

  • Campaign – As the name suggests, this will hold all information involved with a particular campaign (e.g. lead generation for New York student housing – July 2019)
  • Ad sets – You will have different ad sets for each audience that you target within a campaign (e.g. ‘school leavers’ or ‘Columbia University Students’)
  • Ads – Within your set, you will have your ads; you are able to have multiple if you wish

Your strategy

First and foremost, you should establish a strategy for your Facebook advertising. What do you want to achieve? Who will you be targeting? What will you be promoting? Once you have the answers to these questions, it’s important to consider how your target audience will benefit from this. Remember to think about their journey; decide on where you will take them, and ultimately what happens after they become a lead.

Get to know the Ads Manager platform

The ever-changing nature of Ads Manager means that it can be tricky to get your head around at first. We recommend taking your time to become acquainted with the platform before starting any campaign. Once confident, simply click the green ‘create ad’ button to get started.

Your objectives

The first step in creating your ad campaign will be to choose your objectives. Facebook will ask you to choose this so that it can present the most relevant ad options moving forward. There are 11 objectives to choose from including: brand awareness, reach, website traffic, app installs, video views and more – so think carefully about what you want to achieve when selecting as this will determine the rest of the ad process.

Your audience

Selecting your audience is one of, if not the most important stages of creating a successful ad. This will ensure that your campaign is seen by your target audience, thus making your ad more cost-effective by improving conversion rate. The functionality of Facebook’s audience targeting is vast, allowing you to target by a number of factors including location, age, gender, languages, interests, behaviors, language, education, life events and so many more. As you work through your selections, Facebook provides a handy ‘audience definition’ tool which will provide a potential reach for your ads (e.g. 1,000,000), as well as whether your audience is too specific or broad. But the platform’s audience capabilities don’t stop there, you can also define your audience using:

  • Audience Insights – This is a great research tool that can be found in the Ads Manager menu, allowing you to carry out demographic and behavioral research on your potential audiences (i.e. what groups they like, what brands they follow, etc.).
  • Facebook Pixel – Installed on your website, the Facebook Pixel tracks visitors on your site (from your ads or otherwise) and advertises to them. This is a great opportunity for businesses wanting to run an in-depth remarketing campaign to those that have shown interest in your brand.
  • Lookalike Audiences – This will look at qualities from an audience already defined and expand upon it to increase your audience reach, while retaining its relevance.

Where will your ad be displayed?

There are many facets to Facebook, which means there are many different places your ad can be displayed (including Facebook-owned Instagram). Facebook will provide a comprehensive list of these locations for you to choose from, including user feeds, the right hand-side column, within ‘stories’ and in Messenger – you even the option to exclude desktop or mobile devices.

Budget

You can define a ‘daily’ or a ‘lifetime’ budget, which one you choose will depend entirely on how you would like your ad to run. In choosing daily, you will set a maximum spend and Facebook will spread this cost throughout the day. With a lifetime budget, you will schedule a start and end date and, again, Facebook will spread the cost throughout this period.

Now for our ‘advanced options’ (you can choose to leave these as their default settings if you are still getting used to the platform). Here you can choose if you would like to bid on ‘impressions’ or ‘link clicks’; this simply changes the way you will be charged, and also sets a cap on how much you are willing to spend per action. As well as this, you can select how your ads are delivered. Choose between standard ad delivery, which will pace your ads throughout the day, or accelerated ad delivery, which will show your ad to your audience as quickly as possible – however, this runs the risk of spending your budget very quickly with little result.

If you are unsure of how much budget you should assign, test it out for a week or two and see where your budget goes. You can then return to your campaign and make the appropriate amends.

Creating your ad

Now for the creative part. As with the rest of the Ads Manager platform, Facebook will provide you with many different options for your ad; from simple image and text, to carousels (multiple images) and even video. There are 2 main areas that you should focus on when creating your ad:

  1. Copy – Keep it simple, engaging and with a clear call to action. As audiences become ever-more aware that they are being advertised to, telling a story and portraying an ‘authentic’ voice makes your business seem more personable and ultimately encourages your audience to want to learn more. And don’t forget to check your spelling and grammar!
  2. Visuals – This will draw the eye in and attract your audience to read your advert, so it needs to be colorful and branded. As with your copy, we would suggest avoiding stock images and using real images of your team in your visuals to add that personal touch. And last, but certainly not least, don’t forget to size it correctly.

You’re set!

With your engaging ad created, your target audience set and your budget defined, you are now ready to go live at simply the click of a button. Once you set your campaign live, Facebook will take some time to review and approve your ad; they’ll need to determine that it meets their strict policies (this will take a maximum of 24 hours). Once your ad has been running for a few days, revisit Ads Manager and review its progress to ensure you are getting the most out of your budget – this should be monitored closely throughout the time your campaign is running.

And there you have it! Our guide to Facebook Advertising for small businesses. Of course, as you may have guessed, there are many other factors and opportunities that you can include in your campaign once you are confident in navigating Ads Manager. Practice really does make perfect when utilizing Facebook Ads, so take your time exploring and testing its capabilities. You can view even more guidance on Facebook Advertising for businesses here.

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