Three Things to Know About Using Facebook Ads

By Renata Mathewson, Maple Marketing

The beauty of Facebook advertising is that you are in complete control over how much you spend. Unlike other forms of online or print advertising that have set rate cards, with Facebook ads you decide how much you spend and how long you run an ad for.

So let’s look at a few ways to make your Facebook advertising strategic and targeted so you get the best bang for your buck. Here are the answers to three common queries that I see people asking all the time.

1.  What should you advertise? Should you try to sell something? What should you be using Facebook ads for?

Any ad campaign should start with the setting of some strategic objectives – being really clear about what you’re trying to accomplish. But to cut to the chase, I believe the key thing most businesses should be using Facebook ads for is … to grow your database off Facebook.

What? Shouldn’t I be using it to grow my Facebook community?

Yes, you should. But you should also be using it to grow your community of followers or prospects off Facebook as well – your community that you connect with through email marketing, your blog, your website, other social media, etc. As we know, Facebook changes its algorithms and rules all the time, and what is up on Facebook essentially belongs to Facebook. So if they decided to close their doors tomorrow, where would that leave your business? How would you get in touch with all those people who liked and engaged with your page?

Therefore, my advice is to use your Facebook community, engagement, and ads to attract people to your business off of Facebook as well. Use your Facebook advertising to invite people to sign up to your mailing list (eg. through a lead magnet or free resource that you give away) so that you develop a relationship with them through your own email marketing (that you do alongside your social media activity).

2.  Should you target people who already like your page or exclude these? What’s the point of paying to advertise to people who already follow your business on Facebook?

Now, I know you hate it when people answer a question with “it depends”. But in this case, it depends.

If you’re trying to grow your list of followers or prospects that you have a relationship with off of Facebook, then yes, you should target your Facebook advertising at both – people who do not already like your page as well as people who do already like your page. If you’re offering a free resource or lead magnet to grow your email list, then yes, target existing likers as well.

But as with all advertising, make sure that you are targeting Facebook users who fall into your target audience. Define your advertising audience as precisely as possible so that it best matches the ideal target audience of your business. There’s no point attracting followers to join your mailing list or to engage with your page if they don’t match the characteristics of the people that you best serve.

3.  Is there anything else I can do to target people with Facebook ads, other than just location, age, gender, languages – the usual demographic stuff?

If you want to get really targeted with your advertising, and make it more efficient (ie. a better use of your advertising budget), then there are other ways to target that we’ll cover briefly here.

The first of these is using the field called “Interests”. There are many ways you can use this field. You can enter simple things that your prospects have an interest in (eg. Sumatran tiger cubs). Or you can get more specific and enter the names of pages or groups that they might follow (eg. “natgeo”). For this, start with brainstorming what other pages your target audience may be following on Facebook. You need to type the page name exactly as it appears on Facebook. When you run out of ideas, do a search. In the Facebook search field, type in “Pages liked by people who like ‘natgeo’” to see what other pages these audience members might like.

The other way to create a targeted audience is by creating a “lookalike audience”. Facebook allows you to create an audience for your advertising that looks like your target audience, or your existing clients. This can be based on either the visitors to your website (by using a remarketing pixel placed on your website) or from a custom audience list that you upload to Facebook.

There is a lot you can do with targeting, so I encourage you to make use of the Facebook ad tutorials and help pages. Once you get into it, it’s fun to start exploring deeper – and it does become easier to understand.

It all boils down to two fundamental marketing guidelines: 1) be strategic by setting objectives, and 2) be targeted by defining your target audience before you advertise.

Let us know if you have any feedback or experiences with Facebook advertising that you’d like to share. We’re always eager to hear about what people are testing and working on.