Facebook Ads for Beginners

Alright Facebook Ad noob, let’s learn some stuff…

The other day, I explained why boosted posts suck. Today, I’m going to give you an introduction to “real” Facebook Ads. Honestly, I could write a manuscript on Facebook Ads and, by the time I was done writing it, the entire thing would likely be obsolete. The intricacies of Facebook Ads change very frequently. This is both a good and bad thing for the advertiser. Bad because there is constant studying and experimenting to be done, good because of the reason for the constant changes — the Facebook engineers are constantly making the way ads work smarter. Why does this matter to us? Because the users that are targeted will be more or less likely to take certain actions that matter (sales, visiting our sites, etc.) based on how your ads are created. Read on; I’ll explain.

When you go to your Facebook Ads Manager (click the little down arrow at the top of your Facebook screen and select “Create Ad”) you’ll see a screen inquiring about your ad’s objective. When I mentioned that Facebook Ads are getting smarter, I mean that they are becoming more and more objective-driven. Do you want increased brand awareness, website traffic, sales conversions, engagement, or video views? Facebook will serve your ads to certain users based on the criteria you select and their general online behaviors. Let’s explore these.

Brand Awareness — Exposing your brand to people who are likely to be interested in it. This means your objective is to have your ad placed in front of people who fit the demographic you’ve defined. With this option, you are basically paying for maximum impressions, meaning having the maximum number of people see the ad. These people may or may not click on your ad, with this objective, Facebook does not care about whether they click. They care about whether people are likely to look at it. Many business owners don’t really care for brand awareness campaigns because they often do not generate instant results. That being said, they do serve the purpose of warming up your audience. Many consumers need to hear about a brand/product a number of times before they even care to learn more about it, let alone make a purchase. Brand awareness serves the purpose of letting consumers know you exist. Now, is this step imperative? Well… it’s helpful, but with today’s methods of retargeting (serving additional ads to users who already visited your site, clicked on your ad, or watched a video you promoted), it’s not really needed anymore… at least not in the way that this ad objective works.

Engagement — Targets users who are most likely to like or comment on your post or RSVP to an event invite. Boosted posts are ads with engagement objectives. These essentially target the cheerleaders of Facebook, AKA the folks who like and comment on almost everything in their feed. If you are trying to create some social proof around your brand, these are great for increasing interaction with your posts. Monkey see, monkey do. However, if you’re really striving to reach people who are likely to buy, this is not your ad objective and these post-likers are likely not your future customers.

Traffic — Getting clicks to your website. We all want people to go to our website and learn more about our businesses. When an ad is created with the Traffic objective, Facebook serves it to the users who are most likely to click on your website. This is a great start! We can guess that the user was curious enough about our ad to click on it. But did they look through our website and learn about us? Did they make a purchase, or fill out a contact form, or call us? Or did they just close the site almost as soon as they opened it? As you may be able to tell from these questions, getting traffic to a website is nice, but it certainly doesn’t guarantee a sale and we are left without a lot of information. This type of ad is best used in conjunction with some other strategies like website analytics (like Google analytics), an opt-in form with an offer to collect users’ contact information (so you can reach them yourself in the future without relying on an ad to reach them), and a tracking pixel (like Facebook’s pixel, so you can retarget them later, or HubSpot Marketing’s pixel, so you can monitor their activity anytime they’re on your site — super creepy, I know… and now you know companies are doing it to you too).

Conversions — Targeting users who are most likely to make a purchase on your website based on their past behaviors. As you can probably guess, this is one of the most powerful Facebook Ad objectives you can use once you’ve really nailed down how to create a great ad and how to monitor and optimize it. They are also one of the more expensive ads to run, meaning you’re often charged with a higher cost per click. However, if you know that you’re serving an ad to a user who is more likely to purchase from you, you’ll probably find that it’s worth paying more per click. That being said, make sure you really have your ad strategy, offer, and landing page locked in tight before investing in this or you’ll blow a lot of money.

Video Views — Targeting users who are most likely to view the video you’re promoting. This is an interesting one. A lot of business owners and marketers are intimidated by creating video. It does take some planning, strategy, and an artistic eye. However, videos receive a higher priority in the Facebook timeline than still images do. When you’re paying for an ad, a video ad will get more views for the price than a still image ad. Here’s where it gets really good… you can later serve more ads to the users who watched your video and you can segregate these users by the amount of time they spent watching your video… a few seconds, a minute, the whole thing, etc. This is another form of retargeting and you don’t even need to mess with a Facebook pixel to do it. You can even create a Facebook live video, promote it with an ad, and then retarget the people who watched it.

There are even more ad objectives than these but, like I said, this is just an introduction. By the time you’ve finished reading this, the Facebook Ad gods may have already change these objectives, so take what knowledge you can from this and party on. Good luck with your advertising!