Don't throw your money awayFacebook Ads can be a great way to throw your money away. Based on many of the ads I see in my sidebar and newsfeed, I believe thousands of brands do just that every day. Picture, if you will, waded-up dollar bills and hands full of change tossed into a trash can (or more accurately, into someone else’s pocket).

Starting Your Ads Campaign Out Right

If you’re not actively working to improve your ads even before your first campaign goes live, you’re not using your ad spend at full capacity. No ad campaign is ever “done.” It should always be a work in progress, ripe for the tweaking and malleable to the touch. If your campaign is concrete, it will grow brittle and become a fire pit for your budget. In an effective, successful campaign there is no “set and forget.”

Targeting Your Audience Where Their Eyes Are

Even now, there is a shift on Facebook when it comes to ads. More than 50% of Facebook users are accessing the site on their phones—a place where the “traditional” ads in the sidebar don’t show up. As such, you’re going to want to focus a portion of your ad campaign in sponsoring posts and your brand’s page. These show up in your timeline, no matter your device.

After a disastrous IPO Facebook is obviously trying to monetize and steal away some of the growing portions of ad revenue that Google pulls in each year through its vast ads network. As announced recently, Facebook ads will be changing to accommodate the changing landscape and habits of Facebook and its users.

Because of updates to EdgeRank (Facebook’s algorithm for determining which stories and users show up in someone’s news feed) it’s difficult to reach a new audience in big numbers without utilizing ads. Luckily, Facebook’s ads are intuitive, easily targeted, and relatively inexpensive. Facebook’s ads are a great supplement to local/regional marketing campaigns on and offline.

Your Ads Strategy—(or, Driving Traffic the Organic Route)

With ads you’ve got a couple of different options in directing your audience depending on what your goal is. It’s pretty typical for people trying to drive traffic from Facebook to their site to send their audience off of Facebook to a landing page. My experience shows that this is not the best way to get conversions on your site. Instead, send your audience to your Facebook page.

Let people make their way to your site organically; use Facebook as a tool to qualify your audience. Engage them in conversation, teach them to trust your brand, deliver content to them that is valuable; do this, and you will create a lasting relationship with them—one you can’t create through an ad alone.

Maximizing Facebook Ads

At this point, they’ll make their way to your page on their own. They’ll want to learn more or find out about your classes. Those site visitors are better candidates for enrollment because they don’t feel like they’ve been sold to.

Qualifying Your Best Traffic for Your Site

In the past month, I’ve seen several new brands and no-name companies grow 100-800% in Likes by strategically spending a few hundred dollars on Facebook ads. I won’t say this is the case for every brand I work with. However, if you’re smart with the money you have and you create ads that your target audience wants to click on, this can be one of the best ways to extend a brand’s reach.

And from an extended reach and a smart social media campaign, you can grow your engagement, your loyalty, and ultimately your traffic to your site—and this isn’t just any traffic, either. It’s qualified traffic: people who are warmed up to you and interested in your brand’s ability to fill their needs.

In order to do this you will need a pretty careful understanding of your target audience: who they are, where they are in life, what they want, and what they value. It will make a big difference in your ads and can shed light on what works and what doesn’t when it comes to your ads. Then you need to let that show through in the ads—there’s too much clutter in media and online to waste those 90 characters on a lame sales pitch or to direct your message to the wrong person.

Playing the Game by Facebook’s Rules

Facebook does have some restrictions about the content of ads, both copy and imagery. If you run into issues with the copy, re-frame what you’re saying to focus on the benefit the brand provides instead of focusing on the assumed needs of the consumer. If the image is an issue, it’s probably either because Facebook doesn’t feel that the image matches the text or because there is too much text in your image (shoot for less than 30% text in an image if there are words in your ad’s picture).

Spend your money (and your time) wisely. These ads can be an inexpensive way to create lasting relationships with people in your target audience. Give them the opportunity to learn to love your brand. And don’t throw your money at Facebook. It’s wasteful, and you’re smarter than that.

Jamie Bates