Facebook may be the largest social network in the world, today. And it can be a surprisingly effective advertising platform for local businesses. Facebook Ads are successful because they provide affordable access to highly targeted demographics. And they can be used to raise awareness, not just respond to direct queries, as is the case with Google AdWords.
Here’s a brief step-by-step guide to setting up a successful Facebook Ads campaign.
Build an active Facebook Page
Before jumping into paid advertising, spend some time building up a track record of posts on your Facebook Page, first. This way, if a user sees your ad and visits your page, they learn more about your business rather than being greeted by the sound of crickets chirping. Ideally, spend a month or two regularly posting content to your page until you have a list of interesting posts. But if you’re in a rush and want to publish 10 posts all at once to give the illusion of long-term activity… well, it ain’t pretty, but it works.
Clearly identify your target audience
Facebook’s ad targeting allows you to be very specific, so take advantage of this. Specific targeting increases the effectiveness of your ads by avoiding paying for impressions with the wrong audience. And it’s generally cheaper to reach a specific audience than to compete for the attention of a broad spectrum of Facebook users.
Not sure how to reach your target audience? Pro tip: Watch a few episodes of Criminal Minds. No, your ideal clients probably aren’t sociopaths. But pay attention to the questions they ask and the logic they use to profile their “unsubs”. Then ask the same questions about your target audience. Looking to reach owners of established businesses? They’re probably financially stable and have been in their community for a while. So focus on homeowners who have lived in their current residence 6+ years (both valid Facebook targeting options). It’s not a perfect target of course, but it narrows your field, which increases your conversion rates and reduces your costs.
Experiment, analyze, repeat
Run small-scale tests of your ads first, until you find a winning combination. For most local businesses, a $25 ad buy will give you a good sense of the reach and conversion rate of your ad, before you launch a full campaign. Take a look at the ad’s results, tweak if necessary, and try again. Be prepared to go through a few iterations until you find an ad that started delivering results. Once you have an ad that’s delivering results, then increase your budget and you’re off to the races! But keep iterating as you go – there’s always room for improvement.
Focus on engagement
Facebook gives you the option of advertising for clicks to your website, or for engagement. Direct clicks can work if you have a great “conversion pipeline” in place, but they tend to be more expensive for smaller reach. Advertising for engagement greatly increases your reach, and plays into the fact that Facebook was built for conversation on the site, not clicking away from it. And the engagement objective can result in users helping you find your target audience.
I’ve run several campaigns where users haven’t clicked on my ads, but have “tagged” their friends in the comments. This means users are identifying people for whom they think my ad may be relevant, and making sure they see it. What better way to get an ad in front of your target demographic in a way to which they’ll pay attention than to have their friends recommend it to them?