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What are Facebook Ads and how do we use them?

Originally published on November 24, 2015. Updated on January 30, 2020.

Welcome to the dark side. We have cookies.

Back when Facebook Ads were first invented, they used to be called “dark posts.” They were designed so they wouldn’t show up on your business page’s normal Facebook news feed, but in the news feeds of the people who you chose to target. They were launched in 2007 and they were revolutionary.

As you can imagine, they’ve come a looooong way since then. Today, Facebook Ads are some of the most sophisticated digital marketing tools businesses can use, because they allow you to maximize your budget by specifically targeting the people most likely to go on and become leads.

In other words, you shouldn’t be afraid to embrace the dark side.

Why use Facebook Ads?

The biggest advantage to using Facebook Ads is the fact that you can be very specific about your target audience and you can deliver your key messages directly into their hands (or pocket, as the case may be).

For example, if you run an HVAC business, you want to target homeowners in your local area who have the means necessary to pay for boiler and furnace replacement and repair. You wouldn’t want to waste your budget pursuing improbable leads like people who are renting or still in age brackets that are likely to live at home.

The Facebook Ads Manager allows you to drill down and be very specific. Facebook collects an enormous amount of data about its users, which means you can optimize your ads to appeal to people in a certain location, in a certain age bracket, or with certain interests. In that sense, it’s much more effective than traditional advertising methods that cast a wide net in the hope or capturing the interest of a few potential leads.

To continue with the HVAC example, you could optimize your ad to specifically appear in the news feeds of people living in Anchorage, aged 30-60, with an interest in renovation. It’s really quite amazing.

Facebook Ads

Facebook Ads are based on a bidding system. Each time you set up an ad, you can set a campaign budget and then set the maximum amount you’re willing to pay for your campaign goal, and Facebook will give you an estimate of what your daily leads will look like. It’s essentially a cost-per-click model, which means you have a lot of control over the amount of money you are spending and the way in which you’re spending it.

You can also tweak advertisements to achieve specific campaign goals. Perhaps you want to raise awareness, in which case you may simply want to make impressions. Perhaps you want to build your community, in which case you may want to target engagements. Or perhaps the thing that’s of highest value is direct clicks through to your website. These are all options you can tailor according to your campaign objectives.

Trust us when we say it’s a powerful tool that should be included in every digital marketing strategy.

Convinced? Great. Call us today to set up a free consultation.

Optimizing Facebook Ads

Another great thing about Facebook Ads is that they’re agile. You don’t have to “set and forget” them as you would with traditional advertising methods, spending huge amounts of money on TV commercials, radio spots or full-page newspaper advertisements. You can jump back into the back end at any time and tweak your advertisement to optimize its effectiveness.

It’s important to remember that your audience has to come first. You might have a bunch of great ideas to raise awareness and generate leads, but if you start spamming your target audience, you may put them off and potentially lose them. At best, they can scroll straight past your ads. At worst, they can unlike your page or even select the option to start hiding your ads.

With great power comes great responsibility, so use it wisely.

(OK, we have to admit we’re actually quite enjoying the superhero puns.)

Facebook Ads

When you’re first starting out, you may find it helpful to try A/B testing. This is essentially when you try different variations of headlines, images, text and calls to action to see what’s going to work best.  Running two advertisements concurrently also allows you to target different audience sectors, which will help you find the “sweet spot” in the market that you can target in future campaigns.

It’s amazing how much the semantics of different combinations of words can impact the way your brand is perceived, and it may take a few tries to identify the perfect combination. A/B testing helps cut out a lot of the guesswork, because Facebook Ads Manager provides very clear reports both during and after each campaign that let you know exactly where you stand.

Not sure where to start? We offer social media marketing packages that will help you launch your campaign on the right foot. Set up your free consultation to learn more.

Understanding Facebook reports

Facebook really pushed advertising into the 21st century by taking the guesswork out of advertising. It’s no longer a matter of just placing a commercial in traditional media and waiting by the phone to see if it worked or not.

The Facebook Ads Manager homepage has a clear breakdown of results for each advertisement, looking at key metrics like results, reach, impressions, cost per result and amount spent. It makes it easy to see what’s working and what’s not so you can update your strategy and optimize your results.

(If you haven’t already guessed, managing a Facebook Ads campaign is a pretty hands-on process!)

Facebook 3

As you can see, it’s very clear and easy to understand.

This sample shows results for the “ad set”, but you can also click the different tabs to get an overview of how the campaign is performing as a whole and how each ad is performing individually.

If you’re a new company looking to advertise for the first time, or you’re new to the world of digital marketing, this is a great way to make sure you’re getting the maximum amount of bang for your buck.

Make sure you stay on brand

With all types of marketing, it’s important to keep messaging “on brand.” This means maintaining a consistent tone and style so your customers can feel like they are getting to know you. This is essential to building trust.

The other thing to remember is that social media is ultimately a fun and playful platform. It’s something people typically turn to in their spare time, not as part of their workday, so the information you provide needs to be valuable and entertaining. You’re targeting people, after all, not robots – don’t be afraid to inject some personality.

Hopefully this post answered most of your questions about Facebook Ads.

To quickly summarize the key points:

  • Facebook Ads are an incredibly powerful marketing tool.
  • Run A/B tests to see which combination of words and images is most effective.
  • Pay attention to your results and tweak things as you go.
  • Make your ads helpful and personable.
  • Remember the dark side is always much more fun.

Still have questions? Our friendly neighborhood social media experts would be happy to help you develop a strategy to grow your business through Facebook Ads. Schedule a free consultation.

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