It’s been a few months now since Facebook made the change that drastically affected organic reach, but many marketers are still reeling from the blow. Facebook has made it more and more clear that if you want to reach your fans, then you need to do more than just post to your page. This is where paid advertising on Facebook comes into play. Facebook ads are a great, relatively inexpensive method for reaching more of your fans. But recognizing the benefits of running ads and actually getting them started are two different things. There are many ways to gain an education in Facebook ads, but the best way is to learn from someone who has been doing it for a while, like us! Here’s the Big Leap crash course featuring the five most important things you need to know to get started in your social media advertising.

The Layout of Facebook Ads

Facebook breaks down advertising into campaign, ad sets, and ads. Campaigns include ad sets and ad sets include ads. Campaigns can have many different ad sets and each ad set can have many different ads. Budgets are determined at the ad set level and a recent change puts targeting at the ad set level as well.

Types of Facebook Ads

The second thing you need to know is that Facebook offers you a lot of different advertising options, more than you’ll probably ever use. The current options include page post engagement, page likes, clicks to website, website conversions, app installs, event responses, offer claims, and video views. The type of ad that you choose to create depends on your marketing goals. Do you want to increase public awareness? Go for page like ads. Is your website not getting enough organic traffic? Try click to website ads. Whatever your objective is, Facebook most likely has an ad that can help you.

In this article I’m going to focus on the most popular type of ad (page likes), but the creative part and the targeting are basically the same across all ad types. I break ads down into three parts: choosing a striking visual, writing an engaging message, and having precise targeting.

How to Get Started with Facebook Ads

Choosing a Striking Visual

Your image is the single most import part of your ad. If your image isn’t remarkable enough to get people to look away from the status updates, videos, and memes that clutter their newsfeed you’ll never get anywhere. Hopefully you have some images that you can use from your website or your company’s Facebook page, but if not Facebook offers Shutterstock photos at no additional cost.

Keep in mind that your image cannot be more than 20% text. Facebook won’t approve it. Facebook offers a tool to check your images. You can choose up to 6 images and it’s best to choose at least three or four because Facebook will do split testing for you based on the different pictures. Facebook chooses which ad to show based on performance so it’s in your best interest to experiment with what images work best. If your ad takes them to your Facebook page, make sure there is brand cohesion. In other words, if your client is a restaurant don’t use a picture of a lavish mansion or beach scene unless you create a clear connection back to your brand.

Some other tips to keep in mind are:

  • Be careful using shades of blue.If they’re too similar to Facebook’s blue your image will not stand out
  • Facebook recommends your image be 1200 x 444 pixels. Smaller images may still qualify for use, although you’ll see a sacrifice in image resolution
  • If your ad is larger than spec, you have options to adjust what is shown with basic image editing tools
  • Your display choices for your ad placement are desktop newsfeed, desktop right-hand column, or mobile newsfeed–make sure it looks good in all three
  • Images of smiling women, food, children, and pets typically do better than other images, but remember that there needs to be brand cohesion

With all that in mind, you are ready to move on to writing the ad copy.

Writing an Engaging Message

What problem or pain do you solve? What sets you apart from your competitors? Whatever it is, focus on that and make it catchy. Your ad copy needs to give them a reason to click on your ad and learn more. Even a great image can’t save boring text. If you have a special offer, highlight that!

Facebook gives you 90 characters to make your point and 25 characters to write a headline (note: the headline only shows up in right column ads). In my experience, right hand ads don’t add a lot of value to a campaign. It is far too easy for people to ignore them. Depending on the campaign, one trick I’ve used that has proven to be immensely successful is to turn off the right column ads and then separate desktop ads from mobile ads. This allows you to see what the most effective way is to reach your target audience. I have found that mobile ads tend to have a lower CPC than desktop ads, but seems to depend on the campaign. After your campaign has been running for a few weeks you can use Facebook’s ad reporting to determine where your likes are coming from (e.g. Android Smartphone, iPad, desktop, etc.) and adjust your ad types and copy to fit the data.

Key takeaways of writing your ad copy are:

  • Focus on the attributes that set you apart
  • Make your copy engaging and catchy, make it fun to read
  • Give them a reason to click on your ad
  • Tell them about your special offer, coupon, etc.

Precise Targeting

Now that you’ve selected your images and written your ad copy, you need to tell Facebook who you want to show your ads to. The targeting options that Facebook gives you are immense and it can be a bit overwhelming. For example, you can target people who frequently travel for business, people who are receptive to online mortgage offers, and much, much more.

Your levels of targeting include:

  • Geographic
  • Demographic (age, gender, language spoken, etc.)
  • And psychographic (interests and behaviors)

The most basic level is geographic. What geographic region are you trying to target? You can be as broad as countries or as narrow as ZIP codes. Demographics come next when you choose an age range, gender, and languages. Although these options are very basic they are vital for a successful campaign. There are advanced demographic options that include an individual’s relationship status, level of education, field of study, major life events, etc. Facebook gives you the option to really drill down to reach your core target.

Next are psychographics and this is where things get interesting. Choosing psychographics can be a difficult task because of the many options Facebook gives you. What are your customers interested in? What TV shows do they watch? What sports do they play? What is their favorite soft drink? If you have a clearly defined target audience this can be very valuable.

We’ve segmented the market based on location, various demographics, and the interests –now we target based on behaviors. What types of charitable donations do they make? Do they frequently shop online? What type of cell phone do they use? Facebook gives more targeting options than you’ll probably ever use. You can literally be so specific in your targeting that you can single out an individual and show your ad to only them. Facebook also gives you the option of targeting your current fans or those not connected to your page. Which option you choose depends on the type of ad you’re running. If your company has a target email list you can upload them directly into Facebook and if the emails have an account linked with them you can have even more control of who sees your ads.

With so many options, how would someone ever be able to create a targeted ad campaign? Someone new at Facebook ads could spend hours trying to familiarize themselves with the different targeting options and still only scratch the surface. Targeting by far takes the longest, but it’s what separates the amateurs from the professionals. Experience is key.

Other Facebook Ad Tips

Running an effective ad campaign takes a combination of knowledge, intuition, and continuous A/B testing. After your campaign has been running for a few weeks, determine which ads are succeeding and which aren’t. Turn off ones that aren’t delivering and try new variations. Using Facebook’s internal reporting can help you learn more about your ads. You can even export the data and run statistical analyses to better understand your ads.

If you’re serious about making quality Facebook ads you need to become a master at Power Editor. Facebook’s Ad Manager will get the job done for beginners, but experts use Power Editor for complete control of their ads. Power Editor lets you choose specific days and times to show your ads (i.e. dayparting) which can be very valuable if used right. If you’re targeting business professionals you might want to advertise during lunch times for example. Running multiple campaigns can be tedious and make tracking your results difficult, but in Power Editor you can assign tags to campaigns which can make your life a lot easier. My favorite Power Editor tool is the ability to save custom audiences. If you had to manually type in your targeting options every time you made a new ad it would take forever, especially when you know what works for your company. Through Power Editor you can save your targeting options and use them later on.

I believe that running Facebook ads can help any company in any industry. By incorporating the various ad types with the extensive targeting options, you can reach your target market in a way that works well with your overall digital marketing strategy. Making effective ads isn’t easy, but the results are worth it.