Facebook Advertising: A Beginner’s Guide


Facebook is a powerful advertising platform with more than 2 billion users globally. As a business owner or marketer, you’d be foolish to ignore its potential. Almost every kind of buyer persona can be found on Facebook – and most of us spend a significant amount of time there. Yet as a form of advertising, it is still in its early days, which means that compared to some other types of digital advertising, it is fairly cheap. But it won’t stay this way forever – consumer attention is a commodity, just like everything else. So it’s worth making the most of (and getting familiar with) right now. There are lots of useful guides to Facebook advertising out there that cover all of the bases in detail. Here’s what you need to know as a beginner.


The difference between Adwords and Facebook Ads

Those who are new to the digital marketing game may find the range of advertising options confusing – and that’s understandable. There are many options available that work for different businesses, campaigns, and objectives. However, two of the most popular are Facebook Ads and Google Adwords, often (wrongly) thought to be rival platforms, since they both use a similar model and have a large audience reach.


The main difference between the two comes down to what the advertiser primarily wants to achieve: increased sales or brand awareness. People searching on Google are often seeking something specific, therefore ads are tailored to meeting that predetermined requirement. On the other hand, Facebook is all about niche interests – pairing users with relevant brands who they might not have heard of before.



Tailoring your Audience

User targeting is not just for search engines – you can also tailor your audience on social media. If you’re just starting out with Facebook advertising, you will probably have to experiment a little to find the right fit. Facebook’s targeting tool will be your best friend; this tool takes all of your specifics into account to give you an estimated reach.


You may be wondering whether it’s better to go with a specific audience or a much broader one. This all depends on what you’re trying to achieve. For pure brand awareness, or offers that are universally appealing, it’s fine to open up your ads to a more general audience. But if you’re looking to drive targeted traffic to your website, for example, then you should aim to be much more targeted. There are all kinds of variables to consider, all the way from age, gender and location, to lifestyle and political stance.


Facebook will also allow you to choose a custom audience – ideal if you want to reach people who are already in your database or have visited your website previously. You can even save audiences who responded positively to a previous ad set and retarget them with new campaigns further down the line.


Budgeting and Scheduling

As mentioned, once you tailor your audience, Facebook will then define your ‘potential reach’. The other variable that impacts your reach is your budget. Slide the budget scale up or down, and you will see the ‘estimated daily reach’ of your campaign. There are two Facebook budgeting options to choose from: daily or lifetime. The daily option is simple – you simply select the maximum you’re willing to spend per day. The lifetime option instead defines how much you will spend over the course of the ad’s existence.


This brings us to scheduling: you can choose either to run your advert continuously or limit it to a certain period of time. You will also need to select one of two bidding options: impressions or link clicks (CPC). CPC is often thought to be the better choice since you only pay when someone actually clicks your ad.



Designing an Effective Facebook Ad

Facebook has several recommendations regarding what makes a successful ad campaign. Here are some of the key points to remember:


  • Keep your message focused – too much information can lead to mixed impressions. This applies to both images and copy. If you have several images, try using a carousel format – but ensure they all share the same theme


  • Use very little text – keep clutter to a minimum to avoid distraction. Too much text can actually hinder the number of people your ad is shown to. A strong image with a small amount of accompanying text is shown to be most effective


  • Use high-quality imagery – pay attention to file size and quality on screen. If the image looks blurry or pixelated, it won’t reflect well on your business. First impressions count. See the following Facebook ad specs and image sizes


  • Show people using your product or service – images of people using a product are more engaging than just showing the product itself. It helps the audience to imagine themselves in that scenario and is more in keeping with the posts from family and friends that appear on either side


  • Experiment – it’s important to try a few different options before committing to ‘the one’. Hitting ‘preview’ is very important to get an accurate idea of what your ad will look like once live. Come up with two or three versions and gather external feedback before pressing forward


Testing and Adjusting

One Facebook advert doesn’t give you much to work with, in terms of learning what worked well and what didn’t. So if you want to get better at Facebook advertising in the future, split testing is very important. It’s all about trying out different variables.


Once you’ve created an ad in Facebook, try creating a second one using the ‘create similar ad’ option. Then adjust one thing – only one thing – so you can compare the performance of the two. It’s important to stick to the ‘one thing’ rule, in order to pinpoint the effect of every change. You can do this several times, perhaps changing the wording one time, and your choice of the image the next.


On seeing the results of your split test, you should be willing to bin the ads that aren’t working and run with your highest-performing advert instead. Most Facebook ads continue to perform well for around five days (depending on the size of your audience) – after which, ad fatigue often leads to lower engagement. At this point, you need to switch things up again.


Native ads are going to be big in future. Facebook advertising has the potential to be a powerful marketing tool for your business, boosting both your brand and your sales numbers. The key thing to remember is staying focused on your goals – you should always be clear on your goals in advance of any marketing effort for maximum results. Will you give Facebook advertising a try? Let us know how you get on.


About the Author: Gareth Simpson – Technical SEO & Startup Founder

Gareth is a digital marketing pro with over a decade in the industry. Once a digital nomad but now based in Bristol, UK, his specialisms are blogger outreach and SEO. You’ll find him at his desk, presiding over campaigns for a range of established and emerging businesses.

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