There are a lot of gimmicks out there in the advertising world, most of which you shouldn’t bother spending your hard-earned cash on. Facebook advertising, on the other hand, has been proven to work extremely well and produce consistent results—it’s something that anyone interested in getting their word out should not overlook.
Just like with any sort of marketing campaign, Facebook advertising requires some critical thinking and decision making for it to work effectively. You will want to familiarize yourself with why and how Facebook ads work and what fundamental steps you can take in getting started with them.
Why They Work
Social Media Statistics reported in early 2012 that an average Facebook user has 130 friends and likes 80 different pages. With data like that, it’s hard to deny the opportunity Facebook has to offer when it comes to reaching out to people. Simply said, it’s like fishing with dynamite!
Of course, if you actually were crazy enough to fish with dynamite, you’d have to be fairly careful about how to handle your explosives (considering how expensive they are). The same thing goes with Facebook ads—you have to inject your cash in the right places if you want to see any results, otherwise you’ll just be wasting money. That’s where things get technical; the reason why Facebook ads work is because the people who create them are given tons of flexibility in terms of metrics, demographical targeting and creative drafting. Taking the time to learn how to capitalize on these elements is what will make your Facebook ads indefinitely effective.
How They Work
So now we can get down to the meat and potatoes—the step-by-step process of a Facebook advertising campaign! Facebook ads work in many interesting ways, but a campaign typically starts off with a substantial amount of research. Whatever word you’re trying to spread—whether it’s a product, a website, or a movement that you’re passionate about—you will have go hunting for relevant keywords and phrases that are trending on the walls of Facebook users. For instance, if you were starting a blog about creative writing and you wanted to drive in more readers, keywords that initially pop into your mind may include “craft”, “fiction”, or “creative literature”. These sound good at first, but after doing some research, you may find that people are more magnetized to simpler phrases like “writing a story”, “cool fiction books”, etc. (I honestly don’t know if this is the case; you’d have to find out yourself). The point is that Facebook ads are centered on trending keywords and phrases—not the ones you think are good, but the ones other users think are good. This is why doing a substantial amount of research is the first step in launching a campaign.
Secondly, Facebook ads rely on a particular degree of creativity. When you send out your ads, you’re in complete control of what they say to the users—you have to write the title and the body content, as well as include a picture. Facebook actually refers to the aggregate of your ad’s content as the “Ad Creative” (how clever).
There isn’t any sort of formula on how to design great Creatives. The trick is to actually experiment with multiple Creatives (you’d be wise to take some logical first-steps) and then test their performance. In fact, some of the most successful advertising gurus out there advocate the importance of testing Creatives as much as possible—you’ll never really know if you’re moving in the right direction if you don’t analyze your results. With that being said, here are some great tips on how to get started with Creatives:
- Keep them simple and direct. Facebook allows you 25 characters for the title and 135 characters for the body. That’s not a lot of content to work with so you’ll want to be simple and direct when getting your message across. Don’t make the mistake of trying to pack all of your product details into a single advertisement—that’s not going to lead to interaction.
- Call people to action. This is advertising 101! A call to action—even a simple one—is better than leaving users with nothing but a boring description of your product. Tell them why they should care and how they can get involved now!
- Change things up. Nobody wants to see the same ad over and over again. The likelihood of users interacting with your ad will increase greatly if you keep things fresh by changing the content of it regularly.
A final note about creating your ads—Facebook allows you to work with two specific types of ads: Facebook Ads and Social Ads. A Facebook Ad is a standard, branded ad that you have pretty much complete control over, while a Social Ad is one that, as indicated by the name, promotes social interactions. Social Ads also evolve (specifically the headlines) if people are interacting with the brand. You can use both of these ads as you please, but it is recommended that you hold off on the Social Ads until you’ve accumulated a substantial amount of followers.
Let’s move on to perhaps the most important component of how Facebook ads work: the metrics. As mentioned earlier, you’ll have a lot of control over the distribution of your ads and the manipulation of their metrics. This is all done via Facebook’s very own analysis interface, Facebook Insights. This will basically serve as your “headquarters” for drawing inferences from your advertising campaign and making much-needed adaptations. Here is a basic rundown of what Facebook Insights offers:
- Responder Demographics. This tool allows you to collect information about who is actually interacting with your Facebook ads. We’re talking about raw demographics here such as age, gender, geographical location (based on user IP, not actual geography), etc. When you initially launch your campaign, you’ll be targeting certain demographics (Facebook also works with you on this). The Responder Demographics tool is what will help you measure whether or not you’re actually reaching the audience you intend to reach.
- Responder Profiles. This tool collects additional information about the users interacting with your Facebook ads via their profile information. These elements include things like common interests, likes, favorites and other personality-based attributes that will help you learn more about who you’re making contact with.
- Advertising Performance Report. This is basically an exportable version of your metrics. It allows you to summarize your metrics on an account, campaign or ad basis.
- Account, Campaign and Ad Reports. These three reports enable you to examine your metrics on particular levels. You can see how well your Facebook ads are performing on an account-wide level, for a particular campaign or you can inspect individual ad performance.
This covers most of the fundamentals of Facebook ads. The last thing you will want to heavily consider is your funding—Facebook is very precise about how campaigners manage their budgets. At the start, you can inject a minimum of $5 into your account and a maximum $250 Daily Spend Limit. To say the least, don’t start with a lousy $5. You won’t make any progress that way and you certainly won’t harvest enough data for reasonable analyses. Inject somewhere in the ballpark of $200 so you can properly test Creatives and examine the success (or the failure) of your demographical targeting. From there, you’ll be able to increase your Daily Spend Limit depending on how much you actually spend each day and the success of five individual payments.
Also, consider how you will want to pay Facebook for your online presence. You can choose to go with CPC (cost per click) or CPM (cost per thousand impressions). The general consensus amongst advertisers is that you’ll want to strictly avoid CPM, mainly because it’s died out over the years and you can quickly run out of money even if your ads aren’t performing well. However, CPM can come in handy for people who are running thousands of ads on a daily basis and want to find out the lowest possible bid on ads.
 http://ads.ak.facebook.com/ads/FacebookAds/Top10_AdCreativeTips_10.7.pdf (Retrieved 5-11-2012)
 http://www.digitalbuzzblog.com/social-media-statistics-stats-2012-infographic/ (Retrieved 5-11-2012)
 http://subliminalpixels.com/facebook/how-to-set-up-and-track-facebook-ads/ (Retrieved 5-11-2012)
 http://allfacebook.com/cpm-vs-cpc_b18461 (Retrieved 5-11-2012)