Are Facebook ads worth it?

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Do you run a business? Or perhaps you offer a service? Have you checked out Facebook Ads, but are left with little understanding of how they work?

You’re not alone.

Facebook Ads, as a casual observer, are a little flummoxing. They seem to offer so many options without taking the time to explain what any of them actually mean.

Perhaps you’ve tried an ad campaign and were none the wiser as to whether it had any impact.

It’s about goals. Recognising the success of a campaign is all about achieving the goals that you identify before you hit “Boost”.

Do you want more “Likes” on your business Page? Or perhaps you want conversions – visits to your website or a user’s email address. Or you’re selling a product and you want someone to buy it.

You’ve just identified your goals. Job done.

A framework for success

If you don’t create a framework for acknowledging outcomes at the start of your campaign, then it’s a real challenge to actually make a value judgement regarding whether the money you spent was worth it.

There’s plenty of evidence to suggest that Facebook offers, quite possibly, the most cost-effective platform for advertising on the internet, and that’s partly because of what it knows about its users and how it uses that information.

Our information is everywhere

OK – so, this is where we have to acknowledge that, maybe, Big Brother really is watching. Think about it. Between Google and Facebook, our entire lives are online. You need to find a recipe for prawn toast – check Google, and a little algorithm somewhere in cyberspace watches, listens and learns. That little folder with your name on it just got a tiny bit bigger.

You like Chinese food. You eat crustaceans. You use a frying pan. You enjoy cooking. You’re an aspiring foodie. You eat bread. You don’t mind cooking in oil.

They probably already know about your ethnicity, your location, your search history, your spending habits. Now they can make more assumptions about you from your search.

You’re in the queue

You’re waiting to buy your coconut-caramel-mochaccino, with a mozzarella and pesto panini and (because it’s Friday) a chocolate-chip cookie.

You check Facebook. Your Like/Love/Haha/Wow/Sad/Angry response to a shared article on Facebook, or to a friend’s text update of their bad day has just told Facebook exactly how you feel about something – with a sliding scale from passion to repellence.

You were ‘angry’ that the trains made your friend late for work. You ‘loved’ that article about kittens knocking over Christmas trees. You were ‘angry’ when you read that article about Brexit. You thought ‘wow’ when your friend shared their pictures of their fabulous day at the top of the Empire State Building.

You’re at the till

You use Apple Pay, you go and sit down, eat and browse Facebook. Let’s not even go there with what Apple has just found out about you.

You’ve just given Facebook your preferences

You’ve basically just confirmed that you rely on public transport, you have a cat (or are interested in cat-related posts), you’re a passionate Remainer and you have aspirations to travel.

Think about all of the information we give away about ourselves practically every waking second of every waking day.

Don’t panic.

This may be a bit worrying when you give some thought to it, but all that personal information makes Facebook Ads one of the most potent ways of precisely targeting your advertising.

Social targeting

So, Facebook has a huge amount of personal information about us. Let’s get over that fact and move on.

They could probably predict your preference for anything before you can make the decision for yourself. And they’ll probably get it right.

They know that you enjoy yoga, you listen to Ed Sheeran, you buy vinyl from Amazon, you love gadgets, you follow Jeremy Corbyn, you go to festivals, you eat in expensive restaurants, rather than spend money on fancy clothes.

And a sponsored post for a Travel John magically appears on your newsfeed.

Just think, your camping trips (at those festivals, where Ed Sheeran might be headlining) will never be the same again; you’ll never have to get up in the middle of the night and trudge over to the toilet block ever again.

You click on the picture, which sends you to Amazon; you buy it for £14, it arrives.

You’ve just been targeted

That click probably just cost someone considerably less than a dollar (or a Pound). In fact, according to AdEspresso, the average CPC (Cost Per Click) for a Facebook campaign is $0.27.

Compare that with Google AdWords – the average CPC is $2.32; some even cost up to $200!

The outcome

Your £14 purchase made someone a profit of around £13. So, it works, but you have to understand it.

What do you want?

Facebook provides a report that shares the data outcomes of your advertising campaign.

But it’s meaningless, unless you identify, for yourself, what it is that you want to achieve from your advertising campaign. Pit your hard-earned cash against specific results.

So, if you want Likes, set yourself a reasonable target. Go for 50 new Likes. If you want conversions, aim for a specific number. If you want sales, have a target.

The question to ask yourself is this – it’s all very well having a cheaper CPC (Cost Per Click), but did your Facebook campaign produce high-quality clicks that manifested progress towards your target? And did that spend warrant the profit?

What do you want your campaign to do?

You might want to increase traffic to your website, increase attendance at an event, generate new business leads, expand the reach of your content, boost engagement, raise awareness of your brand or new product.

It seems so obvious, but creating a plan will help to define the shape of your campaign – and it will help you to get the most out of your investment.

Awareness

Raising and generating awareness might take the shape of:

  • boosting your posts
  • promoting your page
  • reaching people close to your business
  • expanding upon your market reach

If your budget is small, an awareness campaign can be effective – Moz concluded that for $1 a day, you could develop your audience by 4000 people.

Consideration

Get people thinking about your business. These campaigns could involve:

  • sending people to a webpage, either through or away from Facebook
  • aiming to get users to download and install an app
  • increasing attendance at an event
  • encouraging video views
  • collecting and following business leads

Conversion

Campaigns that aim to get people to buy or use a service or product follow these objectives:

  • increasing conversions on your business website
  • boosting engagement with your app
  • claiming a special offer
  • promoting a product or brand
  • getting people to visit your online or geographical shop

Demographics

There’s no point in setting up an ad for your funky pulled-pork sandwich bar in Brighton, for it to be seen by a vegetarian, gluten-intolerant grandmother in Bradford.

You won’t convert her. And she’s not going to come all the way from Bradford to eat at your bar.

Facebook advertising allows you to pinpoint who sees your advert.

You can define your audience by location (within a mile!), by the activities they enjoy doing; by the types of websites they visit; by the subjects they “like”; by the Pages they Like and engage with; by the types of posts they’ve shared and Loved. The list is perpetually growing.

So, if you want value from your advert for your funky pulled-pork sandwich bar, you define your audience by region; by preference for meat; by people who eat lunch at diners; by people who spend more than £5 on a sandwich.

You’d be surprised at the demographic categories you’ll find. You just need to know who your customers are.

Define your audience and your budget

You can define by:

  • Location – country, county, city, town, postcode, street address
  • Age – defined in categories, i.e. 12-16, 17-24, etc.
  • Gender
  • Languages spoken
  • Interests – this is why it collects all of the things you love, find funny, and hate. You can define specific interest groups; the Pages the audience might Like; and whether they’re likely to Like related topics.
  • Behaviours – you can define the type of purchase behaviours you want your audience to have and how they use their devices.

Connections

You can choose to expose your campaign to existing Likers (who are likely to share), or those not currently connected to your Page.

Estimated reach

From the information you provide, Facebook Ad Manager will tell you what estimated reach you’re likely to achieve. You can change and fine-tune it at any stage before it goes live.

Set your budget

After choosing your target demographic, you can make a decision regarding how much you’re prepared to spend.

Obviously, the larger the budget, the further the reach. If your business is niche enough (say, a yoga teacher, trying to build up their class in a specific village), the advertising costs won’t be that high: the potential audience is also going to be somewhat niche.

You define the maximum amount of money you’re prepared to spend – that doesn’t necessarily mean that it will cost you this much – it can cost less, but won’t go over your chosen maximum.

You can set a daily maximum budget. Or you can define a lifetime budget – this just means that you’re defining the maximum you’re prepared to spend for the overall campaign.

Engagement

Social media marketing needs to be more than a nice image and a funky slogan. That’s a great starting point, of course, but Facebook is alive with millions of users who see nice pictures all the time.

Making sure that your advert employs a CTA (Call To Action) is essential, so that you can gauge how you’re getting through to your audience.

Competitions are an excellent engagement tool – they’re an effective way of getting your Facebook followers to actively engage in your campaign. Offer the chance of a prize for a share, or get people to send pictures or answer a question. Once you have their response, try and get them to sign up for a newsletter or Like your Page.

Quizzes are a fun way of getting an audience to interact – check out the offerings on Playbuzz – there are some really quirky ways of getting some interactivity from your audience.

Create your advert

You can use an existing post or create a new advert completely from scratch.

If you use an existing post, you’ll be sharing a post that’s already live on Facebook – presumably, it’s an announcement or a shared blog post you’ve written, or something you’ve spent a little time creating and you want more people to see it.

If you create a new advert, you can define how it looks. There are five current formats:

  • Carousel – an ad with two or more scrolling images or videos
  • Single image
  • Single video
  • Slideshow
  • Canvas – an immersive story, using videos and images

Define where you want it

You can choose to add your advert to the Newsfeed on the app or website. You can also request that ads appear on Instagram.

Facebook Ad Manager will give you a list of options, which may affect the CPC.

When you’re ready to go live, click Boost and let Facebook do all the hard work.

Some facts and figures

Every campaign is different – and every campaign is going to have different outcomes – however, here are some facts to help you decide whether Facebook ads are right for you and your business.

A recent case study by DisruptiveAdvertising.com revealed that a client who was using Google AdWords reasonably successfully decided to give the lower priced Facebook ads a go. They discovered that the CPC was 77% lower, the click-through rate was higher by 20% and the conversion rate was higher by 70%.

The Facebook ad campaign represented a 435% improved ROI than their AdWords campaign.

Facebook ads – are they worth it?

With some focus, a little understanding and a finely honed demographic, it’s reasonably clear that Facebook ads can undoubtedly work for some businesses. The evidence suggests that money spent on Facebook ads can be money well-spent.

With a little preparation and a clear understanding of your customer or audience, you can raise awareness, get conversions and find new business leads.