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Understanding Facebook Advertising

While online advertising has been in the advertiser’s toolbox for some time now, social media options like Facebook advertising might be unchartered territory for some. As an agency, we provide clients with options and recommendations to reach their audiences. More and more, we find ourselves talking about Facebook advertising as a targeted and economical tool to consider, but often clients are less than familiar. There’s a ton to learn if you are a first-timer, but once you’re well-versed you can start getting creative and trying ideas like taking advantage of new Facebook advertising features or  animated cinemagraphs to captivate your target audiences. Maybe that was jumping a little ahead. Let’s stick with the basics to get you started.

Boosted post or Facebook ad?
There are a few options to understand before you start spending on Facebook advertising. First, you can promote an existing post in your brand’s page timeline to increase engagement (likes, comments, shares) by boosting the post. Boosted posts are a bit simpler to set up and may be a good option to get your feet wet. It offers great targeting options but is a little more limiting than using the ads create tool, which allows you to create an ad separate from your page’s timeline and provides many more customization options.

Facebook Advertising - Boost Post

One easy way to boost a post is to look for the “boost post” icon below your post.

Choose an ad objective
Before you choose your direction, consider your objective for advertising. Facebook offers several options including obtaining page likes, clicks to a website, app installs or views for a video, among others. Facebook automatically optimizes the ad to meet the chosen objective.

Choose your audience
Audience targeting is where Facebook advertising really shines. Ads can be hyper-targeted to reach very specific audience segments – from the basic demographic parameters of location, age and gender to targeting specific interests and hobbies. Facebook can even hone in on a wide array of behaviors like what type of mobile device a person uses, a person’s travel preferences and activity, if someone is a homeowner or if someone owns or leases a vehicle to name a few.

There are countless targeting combinations, and every setting tweak will impact your potential audience reach. Generally, more targeting filters used will result in lower total reach. Pay attention to the Audience Definition meter to make sure your search doesn’t become too narrow. Facebook recommends defining an audience of more than 10,000 people for the best performance.

Facebook Advertising Audience Meter

Here is an example of the Facebook Audience Meter for a targeted ad promoting a grant entry period for high school baseball and softball programs within specific eligible Michigan regions.

Set your budget and timeframe
A common theme I hear from clients is Facebook advertising wasn’t budgeted for. The good news is a small budget can make an impact and result in a high ROI with the people you really want to see your information. You’d be surprised how far a few hundred dollars will get you.

In setting up an ad, you can choose a daily budget or a lifetime budget. The daily option controls how much a campaign spends each day – ads stop running once you hit your daily limit – while a lifetime budget allows you to set a ceiling for spending over the course of your full campaign. If you choose the daily option, setting a start and end date can help manage your budget as well. I prefer the lifetime option because it offers more flexibility. You never know which day during your campaign will spike a lot of activity and I’d hate to see my ads stop running due to a daily dollar constraint during a time with high potential to deliver results.

Create your ad
If you’re just boosting a post that already exists, this step is pretty much done, but if you are creating an ad from scratch, this is where you customize the look and feel of your ad, optimize it for viewing newsfeeds on a desktop or mobile device and for placement in the right column. You’ll also be able to tweak and preview your ad until it’s to your liking. Be sure to check Facebook’s ads product guide for optimal image sizes based on your objective.

Track your ad performance
After your ad is published, be sure to check in on your ads performance. Within the ads manager tool, you can see real-time metrics including clicks, cost per click, reach and budget status. These tools can be great to determine which objectives and targeting options work best for reaching your audience.

Hopefully this gives newcomers a good idea of the basics of Facebook advertising. For those who have some experience, feel free to share any tips and tricks you’ve learned in our comments below.

Joe Ferlito is an account manager at Franco Public Relations Group. You can reach him at (313) 567-5031 or ferlito@franco.com.