Facebook Ads

NOTE: This post was written in 2014… Many ideas are still relevant, but some of the details about how to create Facebook ads have changed since that time, so this is only a loose guide – you may be better served by more current articles for how-tos.

How to Create Facebook Ads

First, if you don’t already have a page, create one here. (Here are some tips on pages for businesses.)

Then, log on to your page

Click on Create ad (it probably displays on your left sidebar under the heading “pages” or it might appear on the top right corner of your page)

It will ask you what kinds of results you want to get: choose ‘clicks to website’. Paste in the website address. (Make sure you choose the specific page you’ll want them to land on.)

Defining Your Audience

audience definition - click for larger view

There’s lots of variables you can adjust here. Each changes the potential total audience for the ad – the total number of Facebook users who fit the description you’ve chosen.

Keep an eye on the little “audience definition” meter on the right hand side, and also, at the bottom of that column, it will tell you “potential reach” of your ad. Make choices, and see what gets you to the number you want… it usually takes a little experimentation to get it just right. I have found that if I spend $10 on an ad, it’s typically going to be displayed to about 800 – 1200 people, so I’m looking to narrow my demographics down to a total potential audience in the range of 2000 – 4000 people who are the closest possible match I can get to who I’m looking for. I won’t reach them all, but I’ll reach a good percentage of them. This gives me the best bang for my buck. If you had a bigger budget, you would want higher numbers for potential audience.

  • Location. Where it says “Include”, type your city in. It will then offer to do a radius around that city (you’ll see that it says “Carnation+25 miles”). You can adjust that. Next to “+25 miles”, there’s an arrow for a drop-down menu. You can adjust the radius there. You can also exclude things. Like for Carnation, I want everyone in the Snoqualmie Valley to see it (the rural areas north, east, and south of Carnation). But, I know no one from Seattle, Bellevue, Kirkland or Redmond (urban areas) is going to drive to Carnation for a class! Note, when excluding cities, choose “no radius”.
  • locationAge. You can limit by age group. I’m trying to reach expectant parents, and parents of very young children. On the young side of the age range, although our programs would welcome teen and young adult moms, we find they don’t tend to sign up. So, since my advertising dollar is limited, I target to age 24 and up. On the older side, I set it at 46 or so. (There is an irony in this, since I’m a 48 year old mom of a preschooler…) Note: Ad targeting is NOT about who is welcome or not welcome in our classes!! It’s about focusing our ads on the type of people most likely to be looking for a program like ours.
  • Gender: It’s a stereotype, but likely true, that moms make more decisions about classes than dads do. I do both genders if that gets my audience to the right size, but if I really want to target my ads for best value, I limit to women.
  • Language: I generally leave blank. It will go to anyone in my area, no matter their primary language.
  • More demographics: there’s a LOT of choices here. Some examples: Home >> Household Composition >> Children in Home or Parents >> All Parents >> (0 – 12 months): New Parents or Parents >> Moms >> Stay-at-home moms
    • Note: when you write your ad, think about who you’re going to target. For example, if you’re targeting to “stay at home moms” vs. “parents 0 – 3 years” your ad might be written differently. SAHM might not click on an ad for a preschool if they think of preschools as a 5 day a week thing… so your ad might say something about it being ‘2 mornings a week – great opportunity for a little social interaction for you and your child’.
    • For childbirth classes, I might choose married or partnered. Again, I’m not trying to be biased here… single parents are VERY welcome in the classes, but again, if I have limited ad dollars, I know that partnered moms are more likely to choose to enroll in a class…
  • Interests: You could choose people who are interested in Family and Relationships, and that gets you people who have “liked” pages about Family and Relationships
  • Behaviors. Again, there are lots of things to choose from here. I have tried targeting a preschool ad to Purchase Types >> Baby products and had similar results (click-through rates) to when I targeted at parents of kids 0 – 12 months. Note: use EITHER the “more demographics” section OR “Interests and Behaviors.” If you use both, the ad will only go to people who fit all the descriptions in both sections, and that usually limits your audience too much.

How Much Do You Want to Spend

Then choose budget. I do the lifetime budget. I’ve been generally running $10-20 lifetime budget. Then set your start and end dates. I run ads for about 5 days.

budgetBidding and Pricing

I “optimize for clicks to website” and “get the most website clicks at the best price” and “run ads all the time” and delivery type standard.

Create Your Ad

It asks “How do you want your ad to look.” Although the “multiple images in one ad” is interesting, let’s make it simple now, and choose “a single image”

Then it asks “What creative would you like to use”. Choose “select images”. It will automatically upload some pictures from your website, but if those aren’t the ones you want to use, you can delete them, and upload anything you want. You can choose multiple pictures, and it will randomly choose one whenever it runs an ad, so if you don’t have a single favorite picture, that’s a fine option. You can “crop” the images to make sure they’re displaying the part of the photo you want to display.

Text and links section - click for larger view

Text and links section – click for larger view

In the Text and Links section:

  • On Connect Facebook page, make sure it lists the right page
  • On headline and text, it may have auto-filled the title and description from your webpage. You’ll almost always want to change this for an ad to make them as appealing as possible.
  • Headline: usually this would be the name of your program (25 characters or less)
  • Text: Wants to be a clear, engaging overview of your program, with perhaps an invitation (join us, check us out, be a part, etc.). You’ve only got 90 characters, so make them count.

    Mobile Ad

    Mobile Ad

  • Note: On the mobile ads, all that appears is: name of your Facebook page / text / headline / web address. So, make sure that the text works well in this context as well as on desktop news feed. (Many more people will see your mobile ad than your desktop ad!! 48% of Facebook users access it ONLY on mobile devices; many more use a mixture of mobile and desktop) So, I make sure it includes location, age group – those sorts of key information that tell viewers whether the ad applies to them.
  • Call to Action: Choose one. I like “learn more” or “sign up”
  • Click “show advanced options”, and it will give you a box for news feed link description. You definitely want to use this, as it gives you an opportunity to provide lots more info for those viewing it on a desktop. It’s 200 characters. I use it for a longer summary of the program.
  • Once you’ve done this, make sure you look at the previews for desktop feed, mobile devices, right column display and mobile apps to make sure you’re happy with all versions of the ad.
  • Then place order.

What results will you get?

It’s really hard for me to predict that. It depends on what market you’re trying to reach, what your product is and so on. I also think that what results I’m getting in August of 2015 may be different in August 2016. I just don’t know how yet. Facebook ads are somewhat new, they’re REALLY easy, really cheap, and get good results. So, a lot of people are using them right now. If that use increases so much that Facebook users get sick of ads, we might see a backlash, and worse results, or Facebook may continue to evolve tools that get even better results. All I can tell you is what I’ve seen with my market, my product, in summer 2014 and 15.

I’ve been running ads for our program: classes for parents and babies, parents and toddlers, and cooperative preschools. For each audience, I’ve targeted as described in the directions above, with some minor adjustments. For each type of class I spent $10, and had a potential audience from about 2000 – 7000 people. For each of the ads, they’ve been displayed to approximately 800 – 1100 people. The clicks to the website ranged from 8 – 35 per program. Click through rates ranged from 1%. Cost per click ranged from 27 cents to $1.25. So, as an approximation, I figure can get about 15 clicks for $10.

I advertised my blog, More Good Days (www.gooddayswithkids.com) to a national audience. Married women, age 24 – 44, parents of kids 0 – 3 years old. That’s a potential audience of over a million. I knew I was only going to reach a very small fraction of those. But that was OK… I wanted to reach people all over, under the hope that maybe if someone in Minnesota liked it, she’d tell her friends, and so would someone in New Mexico and so on. I spent $30. Ad displayed to 5200, 79 clicked through. That’s a click-through rate of 1.5%, at a cost-per-click of 38 cents.

I did an ad for our program where instead of setting the goal of what kind of results I wanted to “clicks to website” I chose “Promote your page.” (For some programs, this is a better option than clicks… a click just gets them to look at your website once and take action or not on that day. But if they like your Facebook page, then every time you post something, it appears on their Facebook feed, so you get repeated exposures.) I targeted that ad to expectant parents and parents of kids 0 – 3 in 4 nearby cities. Potential audience of 17,600. I spent $14. Ad displayed to 2443 people (14% of audience). 11 liked the page (my goal), 2 liked the post. That’s a click-through rate of 0.7% and a cost-per-like of $1.20.

I primarily choose ads that are optimized for clicks to website. I find that some of the people who see that ad choose to go to our Facebook page to check us out, and some choose to like the page based on that. In one week of running ads, where our ads were displayed to 11,000 people, we gained 22 likes on our Facebook page as a side effect of those ads.

Facebook Boosts

There’s another mechanism for advertising on Facebook. I will describe it here (coming soon!).

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