Despite the growing popularity of other social media platforms and advertising options, Facebook still remains one of the best ways to reach new and existing customers. It’s an incredible source for customer data and insights; leveraging this power for your business means increased exposure, new leads, better traffic and more sales. And luckily, learning how to advertise with Facebook doesn’t have to be an advanced or overly complicated process.
In this article, I’ll be providing you with important information and actionable steps you can start taking immediately.
I’ll really be focusing on the #1 overlooked thing when it comes to running successful Facebook ads: Understanding why your customers are there in the first place and what their state-of-mind is.
- Introduction: Why Advertise With Facebook Anyway?
- 1. Knowing & Building Your Target Audience
- 2. Understanding Why People Spend Time On Facebook
- 3. Facebook VS Instagram
- 4. Your Offer & Facebook’s Objectives
- 5. Campaign Creation
- 6. Retargeting
Introduction: Why Advertise With Facebook Anyway?
If I were to ask you who exactly, or rather, what demographic of people were on Facebook, would you know the answer?
Well, I won’t hold back, literally everyone is on Facebook.
In fact, as reported by Jackson (2019) for Sprout Social, Facebook has over 2.3 billion active users on the platform!
So despite the upward trend of other social media (such as TikTok or Instagram, the latter of which is actually owned by Facebook), Facebook still commands unwavering attention.
The old adage of go where your customers are has never been more relevant.
So where do your customers spend most of their time? Well, online and using various social media platforms. And one of the largest platforms with the most active users is Facebook.
So by ignoring the opportunity to affordably market on Facebook, a business is potentially leaving thousands of dollars on the table and missing out on genuine, relationship-building communications with prospects and customers.
Remember, go where your customers are and since Facebook has over 2 billion active users spread across virtually all demographics, regions and interests, you can rest assured that your target market is most likely there.
Now you just need to find them and introduce yourself with a non-intrusive ad.
1. Knowing & Building Your Target Audience
Before running effective ads on any platform, you must have a clearly defined target audience.
Remember, since Facebook is used by billions of people worldwide, it’s one of the most efficient and powerful ways to gain customer insights and find hyper-relevant, highly targeted prospects.
So let’s jump in to your Facebook Business Manager account and walk through how to build your target audiences!
And no worries if you don’t have an account set up yet, it’s completely free to join and takes just a few moments. You can set up a Facebook Business Manager account here!
And one more thing, after you create the audiences, they’ll be saved and you can simply add them directly into your campaigns later (this is covered in the Campaign Creation section below).
Building Saved Audiences
This is how you’ll be building and targeting new, cold traffic audiences.
Building a saved audience means you’ll be creating an audience based on demographic information and detailed interests and behaviors.
The level of targeting and *interest-based layering you can do is impressive.
*Interest layering means narrowing your targeting by adding interests on top of each and/or excluding certain interests.
- For example, you can narrow your targeting for people interested in basketball by further layering another interest criteria on top of that main one
- Such as people interested in basketball but also interested in tailgating
Narrowing your target audience is done easily by selecting the narrow or exclude people option when building a saved audience.
This will bring up a new detailed targeting box to layer onto your previous one.
This feature is incredibly helpful for managing your audience size, which you can monitor in the upper right of the saved audience window.
Ideally (unless you’re targeting a hyper-niche group or running ads in a local area), I recommend keeping your audience size between 500,000-3,000,000.
Once you’ve narrowed your interests down and you’ve filled in the other details (such as location, language and an appropriate name), you can simply finish by selecting the create audience button and it will be saved in your Audiences tab forever.
From this point, it’s recommended that you build multiple audiences so you can test different groups to see which perform best.
Here’s a quick breakdown of the steps to build a saved audience:
- Go to the Audiences Section of Your Facebook Business Manager
- From the Create Audience Dropdown Menu, Select Saved Audience
- Fill in the Name, Language, Gender & Location
- Scroll Down & Add the Interest(s) of Your Target Audience Under Detailed Targeting
- Use the Narrow Audience or Exclude People Options to Adjust the Audience Size & Degree of Targeting
- Select Create Audience
Let’s Talk Strategy
Finally, I’d like to briefly talk marketing strategy for using saved audiences.
Since these audiences are cold traffic and will be people who have never heard of you, it’s important that you focus first not on selling but rather on building trust and a relationship.
You want to focus on introducing you and your brand by providing free value, entertaining/interesting content or some highly beneficial, irresistible offer.
Don’t expect sales from your first campaign to cold traffic.
More often than not, you must send retargeting ads to convert prospects into buyer. This is done by building a custom audience, the topic of the following section!
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Try creating an ideal customer avatar sheet to help you get organized and to clearly identify your target audience.
You can use this free downloadable sheet from the Digital Marketer to get started!
Building Custom Audiences
Building custom audiences allows you to build audiences of existing customers, website visitors, email list subscribers and other prospects who have engaged with you or your content previously.
This is also how you can create a retargeting audience of prospects who engaged with or showed interest in a previous ad campaign.
This is an essential skill to master because remember, the bulk of your sales will come from retargeting campaigns and sending ads to people that have shown interest.
Follow the steps below to build a custom audience:
- Go to the Audiences Section of Your Facebook Business Manager
- From the Create Audience Dropdown Menu, Select Custom Audience
- Choose the Data Source You’ll Be Using to Build Your Custom Audience
- Website: Traffic from your site; requires the Facebook pixel to be installed
- Customer List: Email list; can upload a file
- Video: Can retarget people who viewed your previous videos; click here for a full tutorial on video retargeting!
- Follow the Steps & Fill in Appropriate Information
- NOTE: It can take up to 24+ hours for this audience to populate, so sit tight while the algorithm goes to work for you!
Building Lookalike Audiences
Finally we come to the third available audience type you can build with Facebook ads. Lookalike audiences are essentially what they sound like: Lookalikes from existing data.
Facebook can create a new target audience by using the data from an existing custom audience, email list or website visitor data.
Facebook will go through the data on these people and create a whole new lookalike audience of similar, like-minded people that would also be interested in your product, business or brand.
This is an incredibly powerful tool and yields high returns and engagement.
However, you’ll need to have data from at least 1,000 people for the Facebook algorithm to be able to make a good lookalike audience.
So if you have existing customer data (such as a large email list), then you can start using lookalike audience straight away!
Otherwise, you’ll need to first run ads and/or collect visitor data for a little while. Either way, lookalike audiences can play a big part for most successful digital marketers looking to reach new people and increase conversions.
Here’s a quick breakdown of building a lookalike audience in Facebook:
- Go to the Audiences Section of Your Facebook Business Manager
- From the Create Audience Dropdown Menu, Select Lookalike Audience
- Select Your Lookalike Source Audience From the Dropdown
- If there are no sources, you can then choose to Create New Source of existing customers first
- Select the Audience Location – If Appropriate – Otherwise, Leave Blank
- Select Audience Size – This Means How Closely the Lookalike Will Match the Original – I Recommend Creating 3 Sizes For Testing
- 0-1% Lookalike
- 1-3% Lookalike
- 3-5% Lookalike
2. Understanding Why People Spend Time On Facebook
It goes without saying, but most people are not visiting Facebook (or any other platform for that matter) to see the ads.
It may seem like common sense, but easily forgotten when we start crafting our offers and content strategy.
What this means is it’s essential that you match your content to the specific platform you’re advertising on.
Consider YouTube or Google. People often visit these sites to have their problems solved or their questions answered. So the marketing on these platforms is based on user intent; certain types of content, such as educational videos can perform very well here.
But on Facebook, that same content style would not convert nearly as well. Why is that? Let’s consider an example.
Imagine running a YouTube ad targeting someone that searched the term “how to market with Facebook” with a short tutorial-style video that gave free valuable information, but at the end, offered a premium Facebook marketing course.
This ad would be hyper relevant and would be based on the user’s intent of searching for a specific answer to a specific problem.
This would naturally perform way better than sending that same ad to targeted users on Facebook who are just generally interested in learning about Facebook ads but probably not in the intent-based state of mind.
So unlike YouTube or Google, people on Facebook are usually not looking for educational, tutorial-based sales content. They’re simply not in the same buyer state of mind.
So what this means for us is we need to match our audience’s state of mind and understand why they’re on Facebook in the first place.
And this is pretty simple actually! People usually go on Facebook to connect with their family and friends and to consume content that is interesting, funny and/or entertaining.
So if you can keep in mind why your audience is using Facebook in the first place, then you can more successfully customize your ads to match the specific mindset they’re in while on the platform.
When running ads, we must match our audience’s intentions based on the specific platform they’re using.
OK great – so what does all this mean for my marketing content on Facebook?
Well, for starters, you should be making ads that are either entertaining or something that people would enjoy sharing with their family and friends.
For example, you may consider creating a quiz-style advertisement that’s naturally engaging and could reveal some interesting point about the quiz-taker (i.e., “Only 10% of People Can Spot the Difference Between These 2 Images. Can You?”).
If you can tie the quiz content back to your business, core offer or brand, then that’s ideal.
But again, aside from specific retargeting ads, we want to focus on first building a relationship and establishing trust through value creation, not sales.
Quizzes or other similar type of content are perfect for Facebook because it presents an opportunity for your audience to not only engage with it but also share it organically on their page with their friends and family.
Since it’s personal and something that pertains to their particular behavior, life or personality, people are more willing and ready to interact with your brand.
3. Facebook VS Instagram
As I mentioned in the beginning of this article, Facebook actually owns Instagram, so marketing and managing ads in both places is incredibly simple to do.
Still, these platforms are quite different from each other and therefore may require unique content to best suit their users.
One similarity I should note is users on both platforms (actually users on most platforms across the internet) visit the sites using their mobile device.
This means it’s crucial that you’re optimizing for the mobile experience.
However, should you decide to start using Instagram in your marketing – which I definitely recommend – you’ll want to be aware of some of the big differences in order to best optimize campaigns for the two platforms.
- Over 2.3 Billion Active Users (source)
- Can Give More Information About a Business or Product
- Facebook Business Profiles or Facebook Groups & Pages
- Active User Base Includes Higher Ratio of Older Demographics (13-65+) (source)
- More Ad Placement Options
- Newsfeed, Right Column, Facebook Marketplace, In-Stream Videos, Messenger Inbox, Stories, Facebook Instant Article, Facebook Search, Audience Networks (read more here)
- Over 1 Billion Active Users & Steadily Climbing (source)
- More of a Visual Platform (less informational)
- High-Quality Video & Image Display is Critical
- Users Want to Be Entertained & Engaged
- Higher Engagement From Users (source)
- This Includes Higher Engagement With Business Profiles & Brands
- Active Users Tend to Be Younger (13-30s) (source)
How to Customize Ads For Instagram
If you recall from above, you can change the placements for your ads (under Ad Placements from the ad set level of your campaign).
This is also where you can choose to include or exclude Instagram.
If you decide you’d like to advertise on Instagram and customize your campaign to suit the platform best, you can simply duplicate your campaign by first returning to the main campaign level screen of the Ads Manager.
From here, you can hover over your campaign and select Duplicate.
This will copy all the information including your target market, messaging and creatives.
From here, all you need to do is go in to the campaign and change the ad placement to only show on Instagram.
You can then swap out any details, creatives and/or messaging you’d like to customize for the platform as well.
I should note that you can also create Instagram ads and boost post directly inside the app itself.
However, you’ll have less control and less access to the powerful targeting and customization features compared to using Facebook Business Manager.
4. Your Offer & Facebook's Objectives
Facebook has a large selection of campaign objectives you can choose from. You’ll notice that they’re categorized by three main objectives: Awareness, Consideration & Conversions.
These are meant to represent a typical sales funnel and you can use them as a guide from your first cold traffic campaign (awareness) to your retargeting campaigns (consideration and conversion).
You should become familiar with these and choose the one(s) that best match your business and ad goals. Here is a list of the Facebook objectives you can use:
- Brand Awareness
- App Installs
- Video Views
- Lead Generation
- Post Engagement
- Page Likes
- Event Responses
- Catalog Sales
- Store Traffic
What you want to do is match your offer with your target audience (obviously) and also the objective, or sales funnel stage, of your campaign.
For example, if you’re sending ads to cold traffic, your first objective could be Brand Awareness.
So you may create an interesting, memorable and engaging video introducing yourself and your brand/image.
You want to think of how you can add value as well (such as creating an interesting and engaging video that also solves a problem for your target audience).
Next you could create a Consideration campaign for Video Views and retarget everyone that watched 75% or more of the first brand awareness video.
It may seem obvious, but anyone that watches over 75% of a video ad is likely interested in what you have to offer.
Recommended Read: Creative Marketing Strategies – Video View Retargeting
You could then send another video ad providing more value, introducing your brand more or providing some type of part 2 to the previous video ad.
Or you could simply send a lead magnet type of ad asking for people’s email in exchange for some type of free gift.
And finally, you can create a retargeting campaign for Conversions. This is when you can start to potentially make sales!
5. Campaign Creation
Once you’ve got your target audience, offer and objective determined, you can (more easily) create your campaign.
The steps below don’t go through every single option or button in detail but I’ve included the most important parts which you can easily follow as a quick and simple way to get started with Facebook ads.
All campaigns will have 3 levels:
- Campaign Level
- This is where you set your objective
- Ad Set Level
- This is where you choose/make your audience and ad placement (among other things)
- Ad Level
- This is where you create the actual ad, upload your images/videos, write your copy and headline and add your destination URL and call to action (CTA) button
You can jump into any of these levels at any time and easily adjust most of the details.
However, remember to try not making any changes without testing your campaign for at least 3 days after they go live!
Creating A Campaign
- Navigate to the Ads Manager Inside Your Facebook Business Manager
- Name Your Campaign
- Double Check if You’re Creating a Campaign for the Special Ad Category
- Ads related to credit, employment or housing
- Leave the Buying Type as Auction
- Choose Your Campaign Objective
- Leave Campaign Budget Optimization On
- Facebook will automatically distribute your budget to the best-performing ads and ad sets
- Advanced Tip: Later, you can set a minimum spend on the ad or ad set level if you’d like more control over how and where your budget is distributed
- Set Your Daily Budget
- Fill in Ad Set Name & Ad Name
- Ad Set Name – I usually name this something related to my target audience
- Ad Name – I name this something related to the creative (image, video) I’m testing
- You can change these names at any time
Once you’ve filled in this primary information you can hit Save to Draft.
You’ll then be directed to the campaign editing screen. You can jump between the 3 campaign levels using the top links or the side bar.
On the Ad Set level, the first thing you’ll notice at the top is the objective you chose.
Depending on the objective, you may need to add additional information (such as a website URL if your objective is Traffic; or a Conversion Event if your objective is Conversions).
$$ Tip Jar
Dynamic Creative lets you test different headlines, text and images/videos automatically.
The Facebook algorithm will automatically test these variations and find the best-performing combinations!
After you set this, scroll down to the Audience section and under Use Saved Audience, you can choose the saved audience that you created from above.
- For future reference, you can also choose to create an audience directly inside the ad set
- I just prefer to build test audiences outside of campaigns because it helps me to stay organized
Keep scrolling down and you’ll find Placement. Here is where you can adjust your ad placement and include (or exclude) Instagram or other Facebook display areas.
Although you can explore and test how different placements perform, if you’re new to Facebook ads, you can just leave this option set as the Automatic Placements default.
The Facebook algorithm should optimize for the best placement on your behalf.
If you’re creating an Instagram-specific campaign, you can then select Edit Placements and select only Instagram placements.
You can now click over to the Ad level. First things first, you’ll want to choose your Identity. This is the Facebook (or Instagram) page you’ll be advertising from.
Of course, you’ll want to run ads from a business page (not a personal account), so be sure you have one created.
From here, you can scroll down and add your image or video, body text, headlines, call to action and destination URL.
You’ll also find that all of your edits are available for preview on the right-hand side of your screen (on desktop).
I won’t go through every single button or option, but most of them are either self-explanatory or have links with descriptions.
I recommend you spend some time playing around and testing the different features so you can become acquainted with creating ads here.
I wanted to include a brief discussion on retargeting simply because it’s such an important part of effective digital marketing.
Remember, prospects will rarely convert into paying customers after just one ad – i.e., after the first point of contact. They still won’t know you or trust you!
This is why it’s incredibly important that you start building retargeting campaigns to send followup communications to your most engaged prospects as soon as possible.
I’ve mentioned the power of video view retargeting, lead magnet strategies and utility of recognizing your product sales funnel.
I’ve also written a whole post on Facebook retargeting if you’d like to learn more!
So keep these ideas in mind when you’re crafting your offers and campaigns so you can stay relevant for your target audience and slowly work towards pushing them along your sales funnel, closer and closer to eventually making a purchase.
Want to have your Facebook ad retargeting campaigns totally automated and optimized?
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If you’ve implemented an effective lead magnet campaign and have started capturing email, this can be a free way to retarget prospects with customized communication directly to their inbox!
This post has walked through the most important aspects of running effective and profitable Facebook ad campaigns.
I’ve highlighted the importance of understanding the Facebook and Instagram platforms (compared to other platforms) and why people spend their time on them.
Among other strategies, crafting your offer to match your audience as well as your objective is a crucial step to recognize when creating campaigns.
Facebook ads fall under three main objectives: Awareness, Consideration and Conversions. These steps represent a typical sales funnel and the customer journey.
Matching your campaigns by utilizing retargeting ads and value-giving methods will ensure you’re optimizing your digital marketing efforts.
Ultimately, effective Facebook ads require a decent budget, good targeting and retargeting, irresistible offers and a strong focus on giving value.
However, getting started begins with understanding your audience, their problems and how you can helps solve those issues.
That’s all I’ve got for you today, thanks for reading!
Let me know in the comments: Have you ever tried Facebook ads before? If so, what problems did you experience? If not, what’s been holding you back from trying?