Have you tried Facebook Ads?

Were you happy with the results from your campaign?  Or are you convinced that Facebook Ads don’t work?

If it’s the latter, you’re not alone –  many small businesses have tried Facebook Ads and been unimpressed with the results. But the fact is, they don’t know how to do things the smart way!

You’ll have seen that tempting, in-your-face “Boost Post” button sitting there waiting to trip up unwary Facebook page managers.  To be fair, it does have its uses, but it should never be your sole route into a Facebook Ads campaign.


Boosting Posts Isn’t Always The Best Strategy

In fact, the “boost post” option is a lot better than it used to be when you could only target people who liked your page and their friends.  However, you aren’t able to use one of Facebook’s most powerful targeting tools – Custom Audiences. Your budget options are also limited.

Let’s look at a better way to do this.

The Facebook Ads Manager

Even if you use “Boost Post”, the resulting advert sits within your Facebook Ads Manager dashboard and this is where you can view your progress and results

FB ads manager


The image doesn’t show the full range of metrics but you get an impressive set of analytics to show just how your advert is performing as well as keeping track of your spending.  It’s all valuable information.

Creating an Ad

Contrary to popular belief, Facebook does care about businesses, and is particularly keen to support small business.  The Facebook advertising platform is continually evolving and it’s now far more straightforward to use than previously.  They really are trying to make it easy for us!  When you click that green “Create Ad” button, this is the screen you are presented with.

FB ad results

That looks a bit more flexible than “Boost Post”, doesn’t it?  Let’s assume you want to promote something on your website.  Here’s a tip: DO NOT simply enter your domain URL. Always enter the URL of a specific page on your site – make it as easy as possible for people to reach the desired destination in a single click.   For example, here I’ve used the landing page for one of my free downloads.

FB ads clicks to website


Your Ad Creative

By “creative” I mean the actual design of your ad (text and image).

On the next screen you’re able to add images (the default is the image on the page you’re linking to, but you can change it if you wish) – and you can enter text for your ad too.  There’s also the VERY cool option to add a “Call to Action” button to your ad.  If you know anything about marketing, you’ll be aware of the importance of calls to action (CTAs) and the fact that you can include clickable CTAs in your Facebook Ads is amazing! Below is an example – I’ve added a “download” CTA.


FB ads CTA


As you can see, on the right of the screen you get a preview of how your ad will look, and this updates in real time as you edit the text, image etc.  Note that you can also select the placement of your ad – the default is desktop news feed, desktop right column and mobile news feed.  Each option has a “remove” button.

Your Target Audience

The next section is for Audience Selection and this is where you’ll begin to see the advantages of using the Ads Manager rather than “Boost Post”.   There are more selection criteria here, including the “Custom Audience” option.  Custom Audiences are one of the hidden gems within Facebook Ads – an absolute goldmine for marketers.  It’s possible to create Custom Audiences from your email subscriber list, your Facebook Page fans, your website visitors and if you’re an app developer,  users of your app.

Why is this powerful?  Because these people are already “warm leads” – they’ve signed up to receive information, visited your website already, downloaded your app or liked your Facebook Page.  With Custom Audiences, you can show your ads to these prospects with a far higher chance of conversion than if they hadn’t already expressed interest in your products / services.

FB ads audience selection


Your other targeting options are Interests, Behaviours and Connections (i.e. other pages liked by your target group, and their friends if you so wish). I’ve done a quick example above. As you can see, you get a real-time “dial” showing the size of your selected audience.  Tip: aim to make it around 200,000 or less for best results. Think carefully about your targeting!

Campaign, Bidding and Pricing

One of the recent changes to the Facebook Ads platform was a revision of the campaign structure.  A new level “Ad Sets” was added, and even more recently amended again, so that the whole thing looks like this:

C:\Users\master\Desktop\new FB ad structure Sept 2014.png


This may look complicated at first glance, but it’s actually an improvement over the previous format.  You can now organise your campaign setup for specific objectives, ad sets corresponding to different audiences, and individual ads within each ad set (useful for split testing).

This is how it looks within the Ad Manager. You’ll probably want to change the name of your ad set to make it memorable.  Set a budget that you’re comfortable with – it can be as little as £1 per day – and whether you want the campaign to run continuously or for a specific time period.  In the “Bidding” section you have the choice of optimising for clicks (CPC) or impressions (CPM, cost per thousand impressions).  If you’re new to Facebook Ads, I’d recommend sticking with the default setting to begin with. (see below)

FB ads campaign and bidding

Give Facebook Ads A Try!

If you were one of those small business owners saying “Facebook Ads Don’t Work”,  I hope you’re beginning to see that Facebook Ads can be a powerful , cost-effective marketing tool for your small business. As with anything new, you’ll  have a learning curve to become familiar with the platform and the different targeting options.  The best thing is that you’re free to try out as many ads as you want –  once your budget is set,  Facebook will never spend more, and you’re always kept informed of progress via email.

In this post I haven’t even mentioned the very best way to set up and manage your ads – Power Editor.  This is an add-on to the Facebook Ad Manager that’s only available in the Chrome browser. It offers more options, including “Lookalike Audiences” whereby you can create a new audience of similar people based on an existing Custom Audience (think about that for a minute!) – and “Unpublished Posts”, which are Facebook Page posts that never appear on your page but instead are shown as adverts in the Newsfeed.  Watch out for a future blog post about Power Editor.

Have you been successful with Facebook Ads?  I’d love to hear what has worked for you – go ahead and share in the comments.  Please share this post to your networks too!

This blog was brought to you by Naomi Jane Johnson

Naomi is a freelance social media consultant and trainer living in north Notts. She also dabbles in web design and SEO. Her longterm hobby is breeding, showing and judging pedigree cats. A Fairtrade supporter, Naomi promotes the use of eco friendly/organic products wherever possible. Follow Naomi on Google+ and other social networks, and download her FREE Facebook Marketing Cheat Sheet

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