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Facebook Ads: Magic or mischief?

Photo of Facebook Ad

Facebook Ads can help marketers target a specific audience.

Many clients have asked us about the value of advertising on Facebook—whether it is worth the expense. The ads are especially valuable when you want to target a specific audience. So how do you determine if Facebook Ads are right for you? Ask yourself the following questions—if the answer is “yes” to one or more of them, Facebook Ads may be worth pursuing.

Do you have a major initiative or program to push?

Facebook Ads are often worth the expense when you have a major initiative or program to promote that requires audience participation and will help drive your business or marketing efforts in some way. Do you have a Facebook contest coming up or did you just launch a new website? Are you selling a brand new product or offering a unique service? Or are you hosting an event and want to encourage people to RSVP? If so, Facebook Ads could be a great way to support the program and drive engagement by getting your audience to do something actionable.

Are you looking to reach a specific audience?

Consider your target audience. Are you looking to tap into a certain demographic or psychographic? Facebook Advertising allows you to target your ads by country, state, city and even ZIP code (in the U.S.). From there you can narrow your audience further by age, gender, relationship status, college major and general interests. You can target people who work in specific industries, and even people who work at particular companies or organizations.

As you enter your criteria, your reach (the number of people who meet all your criteria) will be posted automatically. For example, if you want to reach Facebook users in Maryland between the ages of 30 and 60 who mention liking seafood and are single, your reach is 26,400 people. Take the same criteria and replace liking seafood with liking crabmeat and your reach is 140 people. Now that is targeted.

Keep in mind that your results will be limited based on whether or not people are actually using those terms to identify themselves on their Facebook pages. For example, it’s safe to assume that in Maryland there are far more than 140 single people between the ages of 30 and 60 who like crabmeat. But if they haven’t listed “crabmeat” as an interest on their profile page, Facebook won’t be able to pull them into your ad audience.

Do you want your message to reach beyond your current Facebook friends?

The value of Facebook Ads versus a regular status update is that you can set Facebook Ads to reach not just your current friends, but also “friends of friends” and other people who aren’t friends of the page.

If you’d like to reach your existing customers who have done business with you before but haven’t necessarily “liked” you on Facebook – you can do that too. Last year, Facebook released an advertising tool called Custom Audiences, with which marketers purchase Facebook Ads to target existing customers in their email and phone databases.

It’s also important to remember that as of 2012, regular status updates organically reach only about 16% of your Facebook friends. In order to reach more people, you have to first ensure your posts are engaging, and also boost your posts (i.e., spend money). There are other paid avenues you can take that are also effective outside of Facebook Ads, such as promoted posts and sponsored stories. Based on your goals you can determine the best use of your dollars.

Do you have dollars to spend?

We all know advertising isn’t free. So be sure to take a good look at your budget and determine how much you’re willing to spend as well as how much you’ll need to spend in order to make your ads successful.

Are Facebook Ads right for you?

Here are some key things to keep in mind:

• Content is key: Between the headline and body copy, you’re only allotted about 110 characters to engage people with your ad. So make it direct and make it interesting. Encourage your audience to do something actionable, such as “like” your page, redeem a coupon or enter for a chance to win.

• Visuals are necessary: Since space is limited make sure you have an image that is clear, attractive and appealing to your audience on an emotional level. Your design firm can provide you with professional, custom images or can edit images you may already have available.

• Budget: Consider starting your campaign with two to four ads, each with a different picture and/or different copy. It is easy to set the amount you spend per day and to change that amount at any time if you find one ad is performing better than another. The cost-per-click or per impression is called a “bid amount,” and will be determined by Facebook. For keywords popular among advertisers, the bid will need to be higher. For instance, advertisements using the words “Valentine’s Day Gifts” will be more expensive in February than “Cheap Halloween Costumes.”

Once you have identified your promotion topic, defined your audience and determined your budget, you’re ready to create an ad.