How to Advertise on Facebook (as of today)
If you've seen "Social Network" then you know that from the beginning, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg resisted incorporating advertising within the fledgling social media platform. He preferred to grow the network and make it an integral part of people's lives, and figure out how to make it profitable later on. While Facebook did, ultimately, begin to offer businesses advertising opportunities, the network continues to explore and revise what those advertising options actually are. Currently, Facebook allows businesses to purchase ads, sponsor stories, promote posts, sponsor apps and sponsor events. We will review each of the major ad types and their uses and benefits for business. We will also go over some different aspects of Facebook advertising, like targeting, and some best practices.
Facebook Ad Types
These ads appear on the right of a user's Facebook profile and newsfeed. They appear as ads from the specific company, and have no social interaction component. This is a simple ad form that can send the user to an external page, or your Facebook business page.
This is probably the core advertising type and can be very useful for advertising a specific product or service, or to generate more traffic and likes for your Facebook Page.
A Sponsored Story is a post generated because someone interacted with whatever you're promoting. So if I promoted The Social Media Hat's business page, a Sponsored Story would be generated if someone Liked our business page. This story will appear in the user's friends' newsfeeds.
This ad type takes advantage of the social aspect of Facebook and builds on the premise that whenever someone is interested in something, it's likely that their friends may share those same interests. When coaching businesses on how to take advantage of Facebook, I often talk about expanding spheres of influence, and this is a perfect example.
Promoting a post that's already on your page can help you get more visibility for a specific offer, event, image, or announcement -- it sends the person back to the offer on your Facebook page, and helps increase engagement on these posts.
Due to Facebook's EdgeRank, not every post that you publish will be seen by every one of your followers. If you wish to make your posts more visible, you will need to pay to do so. I recommend a combination of organic methods to increase engagement (better posts, more pictures, more questions) and paid promoted posts.
If your business has an application on Facebook, you can also sponsor an app. You can also choose to have stories promoted about people sharing and using your app. Just like with Sponsored Stories of wall posts, these often show a higher CTR and lower volume, as they have the element of social proof and interactions with friends lending a helping hand. These also show up in the news feeds of friends who are using the app.
The last form of traditional advertising you can do on Facebook is a Sponsored Event. Here you can increase the attendance of your event by showing the ad to people who are likely to sign up for your event.
Facebook Ad Targeting
Unlike pay per click ads, like on Google, which are built around specific keywords, Facebook ads can and should be targeted to very specific demographic segments.
Now, one aspect that is the same as a standard PPC campaign is that you need to create compelling images and copy, and if the ad is for a specific product or service (not just to increase Page likes), you absolutely must use a landing page. Do not advertise a special you're running and send them to your Facebook Page.
Make sure that your ad targets the interests of Facebook users that make sense for what you're advertising.
Next, target specific geography where you will receive the greatest impact and response. While you might be tempted to choose "United States", it might be even more effective to limit your ad to specific geographic regions within the US, or perhaps run slightly different ads for different regions to take advantage of regional differences and preferences. If you are advertising for a business with a physical presence, this means that you can take the time to drill down and make sure that your Facebook ads only appear for Facebook users within driving distance of one of your locations.
You can then further designate male versus female or age demographics to refine your ad reach.
The first part of measuring a successful ad campaign is, of course, determing what you want to accomplish. Are you advertising a specific product or service, or attemtping to drive more visitors to your Facebook Page to gain Likes? Make sure that you have a specific, measurable goal in mind so that you can write your ad copy and create an appropriate landing page.
Once you have an ad created and approved, Facebook will provide you with access to a number of metrics to help you evaluate your ad campaign success including impressions, clicks and social activity.
If one thing is true about Facebook, it's that it's always changing. We will continue to revisit Facebook advertising and will include more advanced techniques over time. If you would like help setting up and monitoring your Facebook Ad Campaign, please contact us. We offer initial strategy sessions, implementation and setup, and ongoing campaign management.
By Mike Allton, Content Marketing Practitioner
Mike is a Content Marketing Practitioner, Blogger and Author in St. Louis, and the Chief Marketing Officer at SiteSell. He has been working with websites and the Internet since the early '90's, and is active on all of the major social networks. Mike teaches a holistic approach to content marketing that leverages blog content, social media and SEO to drive traffic, generate leads, and convert those leads into sales.
Mike is the author of, "The Unofficial Book On HootSuite: The #1 Tool for Social Media Management", "The Ultimate Guide to the Perfect LinkedIn Profile.", and "Blog Promotionology, The Art & Science of Blog Promotion."