Facebook advertising is a powerful tool that every business with a Facebook page should be using. It's deep, providing plenty of metrics and audience-tracking tools, yet still easy enough to use that you don't need a digital marketing degree to utilize it successfully for your business.
According to a Facebook analyst call in early 2017, there are more than 65 million businesses on the network, 4 million of which use Facebook advertising. Facebook advertising can be an incredibly effective way to advertise your business, promote an event and boost followers on your brand page.
There are a few basic mistakes I've seen businesses make time and again with their ads on Facebook, but fortunately, with a little knowledge and effort, they're easily preventable.
Let's take a look at five important aspects of an ad that companies often misuse or neglect.
Arguably the most important part of your new Facebook ad is the audience. You could have spent weeks crafting an ad that represents your business perfectly, but if you're not showing it to the right audience, you probably won't see much of a result from it.
Facebook offers an almost scary number of audience metrics for you to choose from. You can break audiences down by age, gender, interests, buying habits, location, website visits and dozens of other highly specific metrics that make it easy to find what suits your business best.
Advertising a new app? Craft an ad targeted to people who recently downloaded a similar app on Android or iPhone (and yes, you can target a specific OS as well).
Promoting an event? Target people on Facebook who recently visited the area, have attended similar events or are interested in the event's topic.
It's also important to rein in your audiences. When you're making an ad, Facebook shows your potential audience on a bar graph. It can be tempting to add in a bunch of different interests or other metrics for each ad to boost the reach, but we've found our ads are much more successful with more specific targeting. Don't overdo it.
Remember the phrase "image is everything." The image in your ad is the first thing people are likely to notice when scrolling through Facebook, and you want it to be something that gets their attention immediately.
I've come across too many ads with a generic, flavorless stock image, and the first thing that comes to my mind is that this company is lazy and unoriginal. Stock images aren't inherently bad, but it needs to be something that is at least unique or used in a creative way.
Keep your ideal audience in mind when finding an image for your ad. Take note of how you use Facebook on a personal level. What's something that would make you stop and click on an ad while scrolling through your news feed?
Facebook has a few rules for ad images, so be aware of those for your image. Stick to their recommended ad size to avoid resolution issues, and don't cram a bunch of text into a photo. Facebook will reduce the reach of an ad that features an image with too much text or even stop it from running altogether. Instead, add any necessary text into the content section of the ad. This leads me to my next point …
3. Content length
The text in an ad may not be the very first thing people notice about your ad, but that certainly doesn't mean it isn't important. I've often seen businesses use too much text for an ad, causing it to cut off.
The biggest thing to remember here is to keep the text short and sweet. For most ad formats, a sentence or two will do. Introduce your business or event, and summarize everything as concisely as possible.
Let's face it – as Facebook users, we're assaulted from all angles by ads, promoted articles and dozens of other posts demanding our attention every time we open the app. If your ad is too long or doesn't grab their attention right away, chances are your targeted audience will just skip right over it.
4. A/B testing
A/B testing is one of the most important things you can do with your ads. For anyone unfamiliar with the term, A/B testing simply means trying two slightly different versions of the same ad to determine what works best with your audience. In the years I've been employed at Wholesale Lanyards, I've found that this is one of the most effective things I can do to make sure our ads perform at a high level.
One thing I've seen other Facebook advertisers mention is completely changing an ad if it's not performing well. While you don't want to continue spending money on an underperforming ad, you should test it before completely giving it the ax.
To set up an A/B test, design two (or more) ads with slightly altered features. Keep the same text in both ads, but change the image, or vice versa – or try testing the same ad with a different audience. There's so much opportunity to find the right-performing ad with the right audience.
This doesn't have to be something you only do with underperforming ads. This is a great habit to get into for all your ads going forward. You don't even have to spend more – just split your current budget between the two ads, then dedicate the full budget to the ad that's performing better after a few days of testing.
5. Ad variety
One thing I see from a number of companies is the same type of Facebook ad used over and over. If you've found a successful ad format, you obviously want to continue using it; however, the Facebook Ad Manager has a variety of different ad formats you can choose from.
Try changing it up a bit and going with a different format and reach an entirely new audience you may not have previously. Instead of a boosted post with a link (which is effective, just somewhat overused), try a video ad or a carousel ad with multiple photos.
As a copywriter and content creator, I know the struggle for new and fresh content is always there, but Facebook and other social media sites help breathe new life into old content. Reupload an old company video or share a post that performed well a year ago in a new format. Chances are you'll have a new audience to share that content with. It's easy to reuse older content in new ways with the variety of ads that Facebook offers.
Facebook advertising: Minimal effort, maximum results
I'll conclude with this: You don't have to spend a lot of time on your Facebook ads to make them effective. As of the second quarter of 2017, Facebook has 2 billion active users – more than YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat or any other social network. That user count has made Facebook incredibly efficient with its advertising tools, and it's easy to put them to use with minimal time and money investment.
Find the right ad format and audience for your business on Facebook, and you'll start seeing more followers, likes, clicks and views in no time.