Chances are if you’re reading this, you may be one of over 60 million businesses maintaining a Facebook page. Businesses in all shapes and sizes have a Facebook presence, all the way from Starbucks (36,782,707 likes as of press time) to Harvard Business Review (5,314,482 likes) and even Mama Crockett’s Cider Donuts in Lynchburg, Va. (64,091 likes). In 2020, a Facebook business page is the modern-day equivalent of a website. Any digital marketer will tell you, there is no doing business without one. If you’re a business owner, you’ve got to learn how to promote on Facebook Ads.
For as many people who say they hate Facebook, even more love it and use it every day. By the end of March , the number of daily active users was 1.73 billion (out of over 2.4 billion users), and Facebook was the fourth most downloaded non-gaming app after Tik Tok, WhatsApp and Zoom. An average visit to Facebook is 58 minutes—longer than it takes to shower (though Facebook-owned Instagram is gradually taking up almost as much of the world’s time). Simply put, the best part of waking up isn’t Folgers anymore—it’s Facebook.
Facebook has not only transformed the morning rituals and behaviors of much of the world’s population, but they have also transformed how business does business.
Powering today’s Facebook Business ecosystem is one of the most powerful and successful ad platforms there is. There are 8 million active advertisers on the social platform. Facebook reported a 17% year-over-year growth in ad revenue in Q1 of 2020 with nearly $70 billion in ad revenue by the end of 2019. Though the demand for ads took a major hit at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the numbers are starting to stabilize.
This figure helps to illustrate the phenomenon of Facebook advertising. But what does it mean for you as an entrepreneur and business owner? How exactly does one learn how to use the Facebook Ads platform?
Facebook Advertising is a paid platform to get your business in front of the right people and connect them to your business or brand. The overarching idea is to reach your customers where they already are: actively engaged with family, friends and the day’s latest news in the feed—the constant stream of messages, pictures, videos and posts.
When you hear “Facebook Ads,” it’s referring to paid advertisements that run within Facebook and show up in your feed, also called the News Feed. These ads can take on a variety of formats, from text to videos to slideshows. They can also show up as sponsored posts in the News Feed on a desktop or mobile device, on an Instagram feed, on Facebook or Instagram Stories, in the Messenger inbox or even what is referred to as the Audience Network: a community of Facebook partners, including apps and websites, who get paid to show your ads outside of the Facebook platform.
In terms of expense, ad budgets run the gamut. As long as you are the admin of your Facebook Page, you can spend as little as $5 a day to promote your page or create an ad set to get your business in front of your ideal customer. Size doesn’t matter; small mom-and-pop shops like Mama Crockett’s Cider Donuts can place ads just like Starbucks can, though budgets for larger enterprises run into the thousands, even millions of dollars.
What makes these ads so powerful isn’t their popularity or the money being thrown at them, but in their ninja-targeting abilities. Let’s explore some of the platform’s unique targeting abilities, so you too can harness the power of and learn how to use Facebook ads.
Only a few short years ago, advertising a business online meant bidding on keywords or phrases that consumers would use to search for products and services, primarily on Google. For example, I might type the words “Digital Marketing Consultant New Jersey” within the Google Search box if I were looking for a Digital Marketing Consultant, like C-Suite Social Media, in the New Jersey area. I might also type this same string of words within the search box on Facebook, too. But then I would have to navigate to the “Pages” or “Places” tab within the navigation to filter my results further and search to find the business or businesses that best match my personal preferences. That involves work and a lot more of my time.
What if we flipped this model on its head, and rather than me finding the business, the business finds me? In a nutshell, that is exactly how Facebook ads work and only part of the ninja-ness of the ads platform. The biggest, single-handed, Jackie Chan advantage to Facebook ads is their ability to target even the most niche of audiences.
This happens during the ad creation phase within Facebook Ads Manager as you, the advertiser, creates an audience. Simply put, an audience is the segment of people who see your ad. Facebook even provides a gauge (resembling a speedometer) that estimates the size of the audience based on the specific variables you select.
Remember, you cannot run a Facebook ad without first defining and mapping a specific audience to see those ads. Audiences are built using a specific set of criteria: basic targeting and detailed targeting.
Basic targeting includes fields of information, i.e. basic information you might normally expect such as city, state, zip code, age range, or gender. Following is a basic explanation of each category:
Detailed targeting is where things get very interesting with Facebook Ads. Advertisers can use behavior and interest targeting to build an audience of Facebook users most likely to buy their product or service.
It works like this: Facebook collects information on its users based on information they have added to their timeline, the posts they like, keywords in their status updates, apps they use, and any ads they have previously clicked. Facebook then assigns these groups to high-level interests. An advertiser will use or select these specific interests to curate an audience of people most likely to click their ad.
For example, if I were a boutique athletic shop, I might target college students living away from home who take spin classes and like the brand Lululemon. This just scratches the surface; the combination of interests an advertiser can target is endless.
As if that weren’t cool enough, Facebook also provides an advertiser the ability to select an audience based on their existing customers and website traffic. This assumes certain conditions are met, such as how data imports are formatted and the installation of a Facebook Pixel.
When your business is ready to harness the full power of Facebook, these five types of audiences are a great place to start and may even provide your Facebook Ads with a competitive advantage:
Here is a final word on how to promote on Facebook using Facebook Ads for new advertisers. It is important to note that first and foremost, audience selection is critical to the success of your ad. With so many different configurations, the process can be overwhelming at first. But with time, patience, and even a little bit of help, a business of any size can reach the people most likely to become customers. It is in this way that a business can harness the full power of and learn how to use Facebook Ads.
[Editor’s Note: To learn more about this and related topics, you may want to attend the following webinars: Which Marketing Channels Should You Use and Why? And SEO/Social Media & Other PR 101. This is an updated version of an article originally published on February 5, 2018.]
©All Rights Reserved. June, 2020. DailyDAC™, LLC d/b/a/ Financial Poise™
Tina Powell is the founder and CEO of C-Suite Social Media, a digital marketing and social media consultancy for the financial services industry. C-Suite Social Media builds multi-channel marketing campaigns for RIAs, independent financial advisors, and organizations leading the financial services industry.
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