Paid social: Guide to advertising on Facebook

James Mortimer

Paid Social Director

Facebook is the one platform your grandmother knows, but with so much competition, what are the reasons to keep spending your advertising money with the granddaddy of the social networks?

If you’re looking to supercharge the return on your investment, then here’s our expert eye on everything you need to know about running campaigns on the world’s biggest social platform.

Demographic factfile

Biggest audience: almost 1.5 billion active monthly users

Used by a wide range of ages, with 45% over 35 and above

Users over 55 on the increase

The iCrossing view: 

“With Facebook you have the option to reach more people than on any other platform, and the data on users is unparalleled, so you can be really specific with who you target. Not just gender, age – but how many children they have, or whether they’ve been on holiday recently. 

“Also, because of the way people use Facebook, we’ve seen that if you post useful content and target the right people, they’ll naturally tag and share with their friends – so you get far more people seeing it for free.”

Pros – what’s good

Razor sharp targeting: Go after users based on location, demographics (age, gender and education), interests and pages they like, and behaviours (spot early adopters, or specific phone users). You can even target based on connections – such as people who are connected to your page, as well as their friends.

Tracking conversions accurately: Use Facebook’s own native pixel tracker, or enterprise technology like Kenshoo, TagMan or Google Tags Manager to let you understand whether conversions came from paid or organic channels.

Pinpointing the journey to conversion: Spot exactly where someone who converted first saw your ad (mobile or desktop) – and where they ended up converting. This gives a truer picture of mobile ad spend ROI (which can otherwise look unfairly low) – and means you can see and attribute every touch point on the journey to conversion, across any platform. 

Low barriers, low risk: Get started from just £1 per day and see what works without risking lots of money. You can also either set a daily or a lifetime budget, and pay by impressions or clicks. A free bonus: when users engage with an ad their friends may see it, amplifying the message.

Auto optimisation: Facebook automatically optimises your ads, prioritising the best performing one. But you can still ‘split test’ – experiment with slightly different versions to pinpoint which combination of images, copy and targeting works best. Just remember to only change one element each time.

Demographic gold dust: Think you know who your customers are? Filter results in the reporting section by demographic – it often throws up surprises and can help with targeting for future campaigns, both on Facebook and elsewhere.

Cons – watch out

Limited copy space: Using Ad Manager for page post ads? The 90 characters allowed is even meaner than a tweet, so choose your words wisely (and don’t forget to clearly signpost what a user will get if they click through). Images have a huge effect on engagement rates, so make sure yours fits your goals. Include more text by promoting existing posts – these are great for engagement, but remember other ad formats drive greater levels of traffic. Pro tip: use Power Editor or a platform like Kenshoo to build link posts with more text.

Complex setups: Ad formats, targeting options and accounts… we know it can get pretty complicated. With so many options to choose from, where do you start – and how do you interpret all the information available in the reporting area? 

Which Facebook ad is right for me?

With so many available, which is the right format? You have three placement options: mobile news feed, desktop news feed and right column. Mobile and desktop news do like it says on the tin: appearing in the news feed among users’ own posts. Although they are marked ‘sponsored’, these ads appear very similar to the organic posts:

Meanwhile, those appearing in the right hand column are smaller and look more like a traditional ad:

Think about your objectives before choosing which type of post to run:

• Boosting published posts on your page is a simple option that will help increase impressions and engagement. 

• After driving traffic? You’re better suited to running unpublished posts (only visible to people you target – not on your Facebook wall) with a specific call to action. You can then optimise towards clicks rather than engagement, and send users through to your website.

Facebook Business Manager

In early 2015 Facebook introduced Business Manager to allow agencies and anyone who runs multiple pages and ad accounts to organise their workflows. Assigned users have access to all of their Facebook pages and ad accounts through one login similar to the way AdWords accounts are managed through Google MCC accounts. Business Manager makes the process of managing multiple accounts much more secure since there isn’t the need for multiple logins and passwords to be shared and saved with several users. 

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