How to Advertise on Facebook

Following our feature in Digital Marketing Magazine, we’ve put together a more in depth guide on Facebook Ads.

In 2016, Facebook reported an astonishing $6.5 billion in advertising revenue, up from 2015 $4.3 billion which is no surprise since as of December 2016, Facebook stated there were 1.23 billion daily active users on average. With such an enormous user base, disregarding Facebook shouldn’t be an option when it comes to your marketing strategy no matter what business you are.

So, where should your business start with Facebook Ads? Digital Allies have put together this guide to help you utilise the tool as part of your company’s online marketing strategy.

What are Facebook Ads?

Facebook advertising allows businesses to promote custom ads or content targeting an incredibly specific audience. Cost varies on the reach and engagement that each ad receives. Facebook ads appear within your target audience’s News Feed or right column on Facebook.

When you start using Ads, you will gain an insight into your current and potential customers The data collected allows you to improve your ad targeting for a more efficient and engaging advertising experience.

Step by Step process of how to advertise on Facebook

1.     Create a Facebook Business Page

If you haven’t yet created a Facebook page for your business, then you will need to do that before you can run any ads. These work in a similar way to your personal profile, but the key difference is that users can ‘Like’ your page to receive updates from that page in their news feeds.

Facebook provides you with plenty of opportunity to include information about your products and services on your page, so it is extremely worthwhile taking advantage of this.

Keep these best practices in mind:

Choose an Appropriate Category

One of the first things a user sees when they visit your Facebook page is your category, so make sure you choose one that best describes your business. Bear in mind that you can change your category at a later date if you wish.

Name Your Page

Pretty self explanatory, really.

Describe Your Business

Use the ‘About’ section to inform users about your business. You are allowed a maximum of 155 characters to describe your page, which appears near the top of your page on both desktop and mobile. We would always recommend keeping your descriptions consistent across all your social media channels.

A Relevant Profile Photo and Cover Photo

Your profile photo should be your brand’s logo, which makes the account recognisable. For your cover image, this can be anything from an image of your shop, individual products or something to highlight a current marketing campaign. Whatever image you opt for, make sure it helps to convey the positioning and style of your brand. The image specifications for profile and cover photos are listed below:

Profile Photos

Desktop – 170 x 170 pixels

Mobile – 128 x 128

Cover Photos

Desktop – 820 x 312 pixels

Mobile – 640 x 360

Call To Action (CTA)

At the top of your Page you should add a Call To Action (CTA) that directs your audience to do something, such as visit your website or phone your business.

Nice To Haves

Once you completed the key bits of information and your page is live, you should also spend some time filling out the rest of your profile. To do this, click ‘Settings’ then ‘Page Info’. The more information you include within your page the better, this presents your brands story effectively. The key things you should look at including are:

  • Start Info
  • Address
  • Long Description & Mission
  • Opening Hours
  • Contact Details

2.     Create Goals For Your Ads

Now that’s out of the way, you can then set about actually promoting your business on Facebook. However, before you dive straight in, we would always urge to to think about what you want your ads to achieve.

Whether you want to increase brand awareness, drive people to your website or get people to visit your stores, you should always have this in mind when creating an ad campaign. We also urge you to set SMART goals for your ads; namely goals that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-based. Setting objectives in this way gives you something to focus on, measure, and work towards, which generally provides a better ROI.

To illustrate, if you were hosting a Digital Marketing exhibition, you might set a realistic goal to acquire three hundred additional page likes in one month. Having this goal in mind will help to guide your Facebook Ad strategy and help you decide on the right type of ad format, as well as messaging, value proposition and creative.

3.     Choose an Objective For Your Ad Campaign

Once you have settled on a particular goal for your ads, you then need to choose a suitable objective for your ad in Facebook Ads Manager. The objectives break down into the three stages of the customer purchase funnel: Awareness, Consideration and Conversion.

Using the example goal above, if we wanted to increase page likes for our shiny new Facebook page, the Facebook Ad objective we would choose is “Engagement: Page likes.” Alternatively, if you wanted to drive people to your latest blog post, then you would choose “Traffic” as your objective.

For a full breakdown of the various ad objectives available, Facebook has a comprehensive guide that you can check out here.

4.     Choose Who You Want To See Your Ads

This is arguably one of the most critical parts of Facebook advertising. If you have a solid understanding of who your ideal customer is both in terms of demographics and psychographics, then this will inevitably increase the chances of success.

One of the main reasons that Facebook generated over $6billion in advertising revenue last year, is because it provides businesses with some of the most advanced ad targeting options known to man.

You can show your message to the people most likely to help you achieve your objective, by refining your audience by basic demographic targeting options such as location, age, gender and language. However, where Facebook really comes into its own from an advertising point of view, is its ability to target audiences based on their interests and behaviours.

For example, if you were a provider of luxury holidays in the UK, you would probably want your ads to be seen by males and females in the UK above the age of 25. So far, so basic. However, with interest and behaviour targeting, you could ensure your ads were only seen by males and females in the UK above the age of 25, who also met the following criteria:

  • Have a household income over £75,000
  • Have a high level of non-liquid assets
  • Are frequent international travelers
  • Regularly use a travel app on their phone
  • Regularly visit travel sites such as Expedia, Airbnb and
  • Returned from a trip 2 weeks ago

Ensuring your ad audience is highly targeted means you aren’t wasting valuable money on clicks from people who aren’t interested in your products and services. The best thing to do is start inputting a few targeting options and Facebook will automatically suggest additional targeting options that you may also find useful.

Another handy feature is that you will gain feedback on the potential size of your created audience, which will help to give you an idea of how many people you can expect to reach with your ad. Even more importantly, it will come in handy when determining how much budget you will need to reach ALL of your target audience.

Advanced Options

You can further customize by creating custom audiences to reach people who already know your business, or to remove them from your ad’s target audience so you can reach new people on Facebook. These custom audiences can be created through a customer list, website traffic, or app activity. 

5.     Choose How Much You Want To Spend 

Picking the right budget for your campaign is one of the most critical parts of your ad campaign. Here’s how to make the most of your budget.

There are a few key points that you need to remember when setting budgets; your Facebook Ad Account is structured with three distinct tiers:

  • Campaigns Correspond to your campaign objective e.g. Website Traffic, Leads etc.
  • Ad Sets Corresponds to a traditional marketing ‘segment’. You can have multiple Ad Sets within a campaign, each with their own budget and schedule.
  • Ads The creative you wish to show each individual Ad Set. Each Ad Set can have multiple ads featuring different Headlines, Imagery, CTAs and Destination URLs, which are all incorporated into the budget for any given Ad Set.

To illustrate using the previous luxury holiday example, we could run a campaign aimed at increasing brand awareness. We could have two target demographics for this campaign:

affluent parents over the age of 40, and frequent travellers between 20 – 30. So, each of these target segments could have their own corresponding Ad Set with a budget of £50 allocated to each, which would mean the overall campaign budget was £100. On top of that, you could create multiple ads for each target demographic at no extra cost.

There are a number of benefits of Ad Accounts being structured this way:

  • You can prioritise the majority of your budget towards your most important segments, which allows you to increase your chances of a positive ROI.
  • You can carry out hypothesis testing on segments that you think would be a good fit for your product or service by creating a dedicated Ad Set, and benchmark them against already well-established segments.
  • You can test a number of different value propositions within each Ad Set, which will allow you to see what sort of messaging and creative really resonated with that particular audience. 

6.     Choose What You Want Your Audience to See

Once you have decided what you want to achieve, who you want to target, and how much you want to spend, it is finally time to design your ad! The first thing you will need to decide on (and arguably the most important) is the visuals that you wish to use.

Ad Visuals

There are a number of options available to you when it comes to visuals:

  • Images
  • Videos
  • Slideshows
  • Canvases
  • Carousels
  • Product Showcases

However, for the sake of ease, we will just focus on images as they are the most common format of Ads you will come across.

As we have already mentioned, you can test up to six different images for your ads at no additional cost. In our opinion, this is one of the most important things you can do to improve the performance of your campaigns.

There are three different ways of incorporating images into your ads:

  • Utilise an existing image from your Facebook page
  • Upload a new picture from your computer
  • Search for images in the Shutterstock database

Facebook and Shutterstochigh-quality up in 2016 so users can access millions of stock pictures completely free of charge. This is perfect if you are a smaller business and haven’t got easy access to high-quality imagery, as you can immediately search for and use new pictures for free. However, some of the subjects that you search for can look a bit ‘cheesy’ so exercise some caution, but with a bit of digging you should be able to find some suitable images for your ads.

Ad Copy

Writing compelling copy to use in your ad is arguably one of the trickiest parts of your Facebook ad campaign. Writing captivating ad copy in such a small space is incredibly difficult, so you should definitely have three or four different headlines and descriptions ready prior to creating your ads.

For your ad copy, you will generally need content for the following four sections (the number of sections can sometimes vary depending on the objective for your campaign i.e. Page Likes):

  • Headlines – 25 Character Limit
  • Ad Text – 90 Character Limit
  • News Feed Link Descriptions – 90 Character Limit
  • Call To Action (CTA) – Choose from a predefined list

The key takeaway for writing compelling Facebook ad copy is to keep your value proposition short and incredibly clear. Remember, you are not trying to sell directly to users with your ad, you are merely trying to convince them to click on the ad to learn more about your products, services and solutions to use.

7.     Ad Placement

Now you have created the most captivating ad you could ever have hoped to create, you will then need to decide where you want your shiny new Facebook Ads to appear.

There is a plethora of different placement options available to you (some of which may not be available to you depending on your ad format or ad objective), which will help you to reach as many of your target audience as possible:

  • Desktop News Feed
  • Desktop Right Hand Column
  • Mobile News Feed
  • Instant Articles
  • In-Stream Videos
  • Instagram Feeds
  • Instagram Stories
  • Facebook’s Audience Network
  • Facebook Messenger Inboxes

With more and more people accessing Facebook on mobile devices, you would be wise to think that focusing heavily on mobile is the way forward. However, be wary of sending mobile users to your website if it isn’t mobile optimised as otherwise you will be wasting a huge proportion of your budget on poor quality traffic.

Unfortunately, there is no ideal mix of ad placements; where one advertiser’s right hand column ads could be a waste of budget, for someone else it could be a valuable source of conversions.

You will never know which ad types will be best for your ad campaigns without giving them all a try and seeing how they perform for you. 

8.     Making The Most of Your Budget

As the old adage goes: “take care of the pennies and the pounds take care of themselves”. This is especially true when it comes to Facebook Ads; a few simple pointers can help you to maximise your ROI.

  • If you are new to Facebook advertising, we would recommend you make use of Facebook’s automatic bidding and optimisation features (also referred to as oCPM). This method allows Facebook’s algorithms to analyse your campaigns and optimise them to target users that are more likely to carry out your desired action (e.g. click through to your website, add a product to basket, or fill out a lead form.
  • When you are a bit more comfortable with Facebook Ads, you will have a better idea of how much you are willing to pay to reach particular audiences. When you reach this point you can then experiment with manual bidding, which allows you to specify the maximum you are willing to pay per click or every 1,000 impressions.
  • When you utilize manual bidding, Facebook will provide you with a minimum and maximum suggested bid based on the targeting options you have chosen for your Ad Set.
  • One thing to remember with this option, is that Facebook Ads work like an auction system in a similar vein to Google AdWords or eBay; your bid is the maximum you are willing to pay, not the actual price that you will be charged.

In addition to bidding, you will also have the option to set either a daily or lifetime budget for your campaign:

Daily Budget

A daily budget is pretty self explanatory. By setting a daily budget, you can evenly spread spend across the entirety of your campaign. One thing to bear in mind, is that the minimum daily spend on a Facebook campaign is £5. You can get round this by using manual bidding on a CPM basis, but your overall reach is likely to be extremely low.

When you are setting your daily budget, Facebook will automatically give you feedback on how many people you can expect to reach on a daily basis. This is extremely handy when deciding how long you need to run your campaign for in order to reach the entirety of your target segment.

Lifetime Budget

Again, pretty straightforward; all you need to do is specify a start and end date for your campaign and assign a budget. However, one major benefit of a lifetime budget is that you can schedule your ads to be shown in your target segment’s timelines at certain times of the day, as well as on certain days of the week. This can be incredibly handy if your audience is more likely to engage with you at certain points e.g. on the commute to and from work or on weekends.

Based on your lifetime budget, Facebook will again give you feedback on estimated daily reach. However, they will also tell you whether your lifetime budget is too low in order to run for your desired timescale.

To illustrate, if you had a lifetime budget of £150 and wanted to run your campaign for a six months, Facebook would probably tell you that you haven’t allocated sufficient budget. In this case, you would either reduce the amount of time you run your campaign for, or increase your lifetime budget.

10.  What Dictates the Cost of a Facebook Campaign?

There are two main factors that influence the overall cost of a Facebook campaign: Audience Targeting and Ad Quality.

Audience Targeting

Two main factors influence the overall cost of a Facebook campaign: Audience Targeting and Ad Quality.

The main thing that directly affects the amount you pay for Facebook Ads is the audience that you wish to target. A common misconception with Facebook Ads is that you are only competing with other companies in your industry. In reality, you are competing with every other company that wants to reach the same demographic as you.

Using the luxury travel brand as our example, we may wish to target people who have returned from a trip in the last two weeks. However, they will also have a broad range of other interests and traits that multiple brands will be targeting uniquely. This means that we will all be pitted against each other to place an ad on this one, very valuable, very diverse customer’s timeline.

Although you are in complete control of who you want to target, you will be largely unable to know how much that particular audience will cost. However, we would never advocate sacrificing your perfect audience for the sake of a lower spend.

Fortunately, creating a high quality ad can help you to stand out form the crowd when bidding for an ad.

Ad Quality

Thanks to a high-quality ad, you could pay significantly less than your competition is paying to advertise to the same exact user. Facebook has implemented a metric that will help you to understand the relative quality of your ads: Relevance Score.

Relevance Score is a rating between 1 and 10, with ten being the highest. The metric is calculated based on the amount of positive and negative feedback that a particular ad gets. In a nutshell, the higher your relevance score, the less it will cost you to reach your target audience.

Although keeping an eye on the relevance scores of your eyes can give you an idea as to where improvements could be made, we wouldn’t recommend using it as the primary performance indicator for your campaigns. The most important success indicator is how well your campaign is performing against your primary business objective; whether that is traffic, reach or new customer acquisition.

11.  Putting Everything into Practice

Congratulations! You have navigated your way through over 3,000 words of pure Facebook Advertising gold!

After reading this guide, you should have a sound understanding of the various opportunities that Facebook Ads could provide for your business, including creating new campaigns, choosing the right objectives, create compelling ad creative, and aiming it at the right audience.

The only thing that is left to do from here, is for you to start creating your own Facebook Ad campaign and seeing what works best for you. As you will be well aware, there is no secret formula when it comes to digital marketing; never make the assumption that something will work just because it has worked for someone else.

Each and every business and industry is unique: although there is best practice and insider tips, it is up to you to take this information and effectively apply it to your own business!


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