The Facebook advertising world can be a daunting world to navigate. And with about two to three updates a week, the road can often take unexpected twists and turns you’ll need to watch out for. But these detours can lead to new and exciting ways to reach your business goals. So, we’d like to offer up a road map to help you navigate through all the statistics and demographics and algorithms (oh my!) that can leave you stranded, wondering how to even take the first step.
First thing to know: it’s a trip worth taking. Because Facebook is huge. It’s the second biggest website in the world (just behind that one you use, y’know, for ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING.) The numbers are staggering. Just last June, Facebook surpassed 2 billion users worldwide (and is steadily growing at a rate of around 17% a year). These 2 billion people are spending an average of 50 minutes a day on the site. It’s like a little over a quarter of the population of the world is just standing on the street outside your business, waiting for you to invite them in.
Plus, Facebook has tools to help you not just advertise bigger, but advertise smarter. Since it’s a digital platform, you can use all those ones and zeros to collect useful information, such as age, location, and even pretty specific interests, that will help you to focus your energy on people most likely to be interested in your product. (More on that in a bit.)
So back to that question of where to begin. Simple: start with a goal. What do you want to accomplish with your ads? Sell items or services? Well, okay, yes. And you can just get right in there and do that. But, say you’re interested in a steadier approach, the “scenic” route. Brand awareness? Consumer engagement? Increasing your page’s audience? There are many roads to that ultimate transaction, and Facebook provides a variety of makes and models to get you there.
First, you want people to know who you are. So let them know with Facebook Brand Awareness ads. These ads are not that much different than a post on your personal profile of that beach in Costa Rica you’re on but your friends are not. It consists of a photo, a video, or a series of photos called a carousel and some text. The goal here is not to sell the product or service you’re highlighting, but to use dynamic images and clever copy to get people to check you out.
Traffic, Engagement & Leads
You can send them to your website with a click of the mouse. If you’ve got bricks & mortar, thanks to Facebook’s location data, you can let them know that they live in the same neighbourhood you do with the Store Visits feature. Throwing a party? Create Event Ads to get people hyped up and, most importantly, through your doors.
Or keep it simple. Just ask folks to give you a Like. Facebook makes it easy with a button you can put right on your ad. As you build up Page Likes, you build up your audience, giving you a more robust demographic with which to share all your important company news, updates & product information in the future.
You’re cultivating interest. Your audience are now active players. Now you have the lead-ins—to leads. Lead Generation ads help you convert those Likes into information you can use—particularly emails, which provide another avenue to advertising. Previously, leads like this were obtained on external sites, making the user leave your Facebook Page to do it. It was a time-costly experience that could turn away good leads. Facebook makes it easy for a user to “sign up” to your brand, using the information they’ve already given to Facebook. One click and a form is auto-filled and sent to you, the marketer. Easy on both sides.
Now that you have an attentive audience, it’s time to start getting more from them. That’s where Facebook’s Conversion Ads come in. With this feature, you can encourage people to take specific actions on specific pages on your website: sign up to a newsletter, take advantage of a free trial or special offer, get a quote, browse your menu, purchase a product or service – the list goes on.
We can hear it already. This is a lot to manage, and you’re busy. Maybe you could stand to have someone else take the wheel for a while. Facebook can help you there, too, with their Dynamic Product Ads feature that can essentially drive your consumer marketing in the background. All you need to do is provide Facebook with some product details, add a pixel to your website to track user activity, and let their magic algorithm machines take care of the rest.
Armed with all this new data, it’s time to put your money where your mouse is. Because in order to put Facebook to its best use, you’re going to have to spend a little money (Facebook is a business too, after all). Previously, you could bet on the organic reach of your posts. They’d probably get to your target audience, eventually. But now, there’s just too much radio noise. An average user’s News Feed receives 1,500 posts per day. Of those, a user actually sees about 300. How to get into that 300? Boosted Posts.
When you boost your posts, you do just that. You push them up the News Feed scroll, so that they get in front of your audience’s eyes before they got lost in a YouTube-hole of late night clips (or their thumb gets tired, whichever comes first). The more you shell out, the sooner your ad will appear. But you’re not just throwing money at the wind. Remember all that info that Facebook has collected for you? Now you are presented with a variety of targeting options that will dictate where, when, and to whom your ads will be boosted. It’s a nice cyclical feature of advertising on Facebook: as you advertise, you collect data, then you can use that data to advertise better.
Now, amidst this varied terrain, Facebook offers a number of formats to control how your ad will appear on screen, both desktop and mobile. Standard ads will use one photo, or maybe a video, and look not unlike a regular post. However, you may want to add a bit more dynamic content to your presentation.
Carousel Ads allow you to string up to 10 images in a slide format in one ad. As the images move from right to left, you can showcase multiple products from your catalogue. Or highlight separate aspects of a single product, such as the features of an app. You can get creative in as many ways as you can tell a story, as that’s just what Carousel Ads are designed to do.
Advertising on mobile devices with Canvas Ads takes carousel dynamics to whole new level by interacting with the user directly. Canvas Ads present a panel on which users can swipe, tilt, pinch and zoom all over the collage you spread out before them. The possibilities here are in the umpteens, and are just starting now to be explored.
Another factor to consider is where your ad will appear. So far, we’ve talked about ads in the News Feed specifically. You can also choose to put your ads in the right-hand column of the Facebook site, on Instagram, or in the Facebook Audience Network of websites and apps that Facebook has approved to show ads.
Not all ads will work in all placements (for example, Right-Hand Column ads have size restrictions, and you can’t encourage mobile app installs from a desktop), so it takes some prior thinking. Thankfully, Facebook has an Automatic Placement feature, that optimizes placement for you based on your budget and ad goals – just be aware that your copy should be concise to avoid being truncated in some of the placements.
So there you have it. Hopefully you have a better idea just how the landscape of advertising on Facebook is laid out. It’s vast, but not unmappable, especially with Facebook’s auto-pilot features. Feeing overwhelmed? Start small – there’s no minimum budget. There are a lot of ups and downs, and a few learning curves ahead that take a little trial and error to master. But, like any good road, that which makes it challenging to drive, makes it exciting to travel.