Facebook Advertising for Small Businesses

Unless you’ve been living under a brick, you’ve probably caught on that Facebook is not the same place it once was. Gone are the days of accessing the network to ‘stay in touch with friends’ (aka stalk your old high school crush), and hello to your personalised / friend endorsed content newsfeed. I spend my evening massaging my hand cramps as I scroll down the seemingly never ending rabbit hole of cat videos, trending news articles and the occasional celebrity advert which I can’t help but click on (seriously, I know that Facebook knows I like celebrities and I feel like I am caving in to their pressure when I click on a sponsored clickbait article).

Lately I’ve noticed a huge knowledge gap in the market and an undervalue for social media. The platforms are maturing and unlike in 2010, you may need a little investment from your side to ride the social wave for a little longer (at least as long as the audiences are there). Therefore, I’ve taken to this blog to start my crusade of the pro-social media movement… Starting with Facebook. It’s time to mature your social strategy and bring it up to speed with what’s going on. Social media is not going away anytime soon, bit like mobile friendly websites, eh? A lot of brands ignored that trend for a while too.

Here’s the downlow on what you need to know –

Organic reach is (pretty much) dead.

No longer can you publish on a brand’s business page and boom, likes / comments / fan engagement. Facebook 2009 – 2011(ish) was the dream – huge reach and customer engagement – all for free! Boom, 2012 Facebook goes public. Money is the name, advertising is the game.

I’ll explain the basics of Facebook advertising below.

To put this into perspective though – users are on Facebook to connect with friends or brands that they have ‘subscribed to’, and not to be advertised to via random brands that aren’t relevant to them. Facebook has really had to optimise its algorithm to ensure users are still happy on the platform and not feeling like they’re opting in to an advertiser’s haven.

Because businesses are increasingly competing for exposure on user Newsfeeds, organic content is being pushed out by brands willing to pay the price. In saying that, Facebook advertising is actually quite cheap. You can drive very targeted exposure to a relevant audience, and if your user base finds your content interesting and are engaging with it, Facebook will reward you with a lower price in the ad auction.

Number of fans is old school talk. Let’s move on.

As per my point about organic reach being dead, the value of your fans has also taken a blow. If your fans are quality i.e. haven’t been bought, are legit (don’t look fake / not from really random countries where you don’t sell your product), or through random competitions (a few years ago you brands would like-gate competitions, forcing users to ‘like’ their page before submitting their entry), then there is still some value in fans.

  • They’re cheaper to reach / more engaged than non-fans as they have shown some interest in your brand
  • Easy to reach and ability to limit paid advertising to this group of people (so very affordable)

At the end of the day, to drive brand or product awareness, it is a lot more effective to target users with content (promoted posts) than driving page like acquisition. Users don’t visit brand pages on their own accord – their time is predominately spent on the Newsfeed, engaging with content they see there. Therefore it’s much more valuable from a brand’s perspective to be there on the Newsfeed showcasing relevant content, rather than simply encouraging the user to follow your page.

Users be all like ‘content expectations’

Slapping a logo or text over an image is so 5 years ago. Users want content that is relevant, interesting and shareable.

  • Don’t talk sell, sell, sell at your fans. Engage with them.
  • Be relevant.
  • Quality > quantity – don’t waste people’s time with half-thought-out / low quality images or links. You’re wasting space on the Newsfeed.
  • Be relevant. Stay on point and don’t be tempted to go down the ‘random route’. Law firms should not link to a ‘funny’ video.

In my next article i’ll go into this in a lot more detail – including best practice approaches to content, remarketing practices to drive conversion and content and algorithm trends.

Getting started with Facebook advertising

Facebook is a huge opportunity effectively target your audience with quality, highly relevant content. Yes, it’s no longer getting the same levels of organic engagement it once did, but that’s just because of the amount of content competing to get into the Newsfeed. Facebook needs to balance the amount of business vs. friend content in a person’s feed and now with Facebook advertising, businesses can buy their way in – unfortunately pushing organic content out.

The targeting is super granular

I highly suggest going to your advertising manager and having a look at some of the targeting capabilities at your fingertips (start the set-up process, you don’t necessarily need to launch the campaign just yet). The trick with nailing your targeting on Facebook is that it needs to be relevant, but not too limited. If your audiences are crazy targeted (e.g. Nurses from Reading, UK with children under 3), it’ll be really expensive. Doable, but not recommended.

Targeting overview:

General demographics

  • Location (to city level, if required), gender, language etc
  • Additional demographics – work, life events, home, financial.. etc)

Interests – based on user activities, the Page they have liked and closely related topics  

  • Competitors (provided they have a large user base / follower) e.g. if I was a gym, I would consider targeting users in my city who are interested in Fitness First, Virgin Active, Pure Gym etc
  • Relevant interest topics – recommend keeping these fairly aligned to one theme, so you can ensure you’re targeting your target audiences with relevant content e.g. Interests in music vs. interests in sports

Behaviours – this targeting type is Facebook’s newest feature (and one that is quite developed in the US market, but still in limited release for UK). This targeting type allows you to reach people based on purchase behaviour or intent, device usage and more.

Remarketing – opportunity to retarget users have engaged with your brand:

  • Website remarketing: retarget users who have been to your website. (Will just need to add the Facebook pixel to your site).
  • CRM remarketing: ability to upload your email subscriber list to the platform, and if email addresses match user accounts, Facebook will allow you to target them.

Look-a-like audiences

  • Look-a-like fans: Facebook identifies users who look similar to the people who follow your page
  • Look-a-like website visitors / email databse: Facebook identifies people who look similar to your current customers

Reporting metrics to be aware of:

What I love about digital media is that it’s absolutely transparent in its performance. Generally you can tell within a matter of hours how your campaign is going – I won’t go into the basic reporting metrics, because y’all have to wait on another article so i can talk about them properly, but here are two less common campaign metrics you need to be aware of:

Ad relevance score:

Earlier this year Facebook released an ‘Ad Relevance Score’ on the creative level. This provides insights to advertisers as to how relevant their content is, to the audience that they are targeting. This is also indicative of the reward / penalisation Facebook is giving your creative in the ad auction.

A score of 10 means your creative is really relevant, your audience is engaging with it (clicking, liking, commenting etc), and Facebook is likely rewarding you with cheaper results in the ad auction. A score less than 5, means your creative isn’t quite relevant – consider tightening your audience targeting to make it really relevant, or changing your creative.

Frequency:

Another thing you should know when running a Facebook advertising campaign is the importance of managing frequency – the number of times you’ve hit someone with your ad. Facebook measures frequency at the campaign level, ad set (audience) level and ad (creative) level. This means we can identify the average time we’ve hit our audience and with what creative.

Frequency has always been at the heart of advertising – users need to see your brand / campaign multiple times before your message sticks. The fantastic  thing that channels such as Facebook offer is the ability to reach our audience a number of times but with multiple creatives, essentially allowing us create a better brand experience (less spammy by spruiking the one image over and over again).  

As I mentioned earlier, my next article will be about best practice content for Facebook. Let me know if you have any questions or thoughts in your comments below. Thanks!