On Facebook, you can create an ad (learn how) or do a “boost” of a post – here’s how:
How to Boost a Facebook Post
Create the post
First, log-on to your Page, and write a Post, as you normally would. (You could also choose to boost an existing post. If you already have one particular post that got lots of good engagement from your followers (lots of likes and shares), you know it’s a good post, and is likely to get good response if you boost it.)
Write engaging text that would be interesting to people who don’t already know about you and would make them want to know more. Keep it as short as you can to convey the key information. A Facebook post can be up to 63,000 characters long. But it shouldn’t be. Research shows people are less likely to engage with longer posts. Some have found that the highest engagement is at 120 characters. But how long a post you need to convey enough information to interest readers may vary by your product.
Try writing a first draft, checking its length and then keep editing it down until you feel like it’s right. (To see a sample of this editing process, see this PDF.
Before posting, click to add a photo – posts with images get a lot more attention than those that just have words. (You could simply add one photo, but for this ad, I chose “Create slideshow.” I set image duration at 2 seconds, and faded between images.)
Boost the Post
Then, after you’ve posted, you’ll see a button below the post saying “Boost Post.” (To see an example, look at the image at the top of this page… you can click on it for a bigger image.) Click on Boost Post. It will open up a window like this:
Where it says “post button” – click there. Add an action button like “learn more” or “sign up.” Then type in the address for the web page you want them to go to when they click to learn more. (Learn here about essential info to include on your website.)
Targeting – who do you want to see your ad?
Under Audience, click on “People you choose through targeting.” Then click on “edit” to target your ad. Choose whether you want to reach men, women, or all. Choose your age range. (Note: I know that both men and women sign up for our classes, and that people younger than 23 and older than 45 sign up! But, I target this ad to the most likely demographic – the people most likely to be interested in our services.)
Choose your location: when you type in a city, it will automatically offer a radius (for example, it will say “Bellevue, WA + 25 mi”) A 25 mile radius would be useful if your business is in Cheyenne, WY, and you think folks would drive in from Burns. It is not useful in Seattle where I can almost guarantee no one will take a ferry, then drive through Seattle to get to Bellevue for a 2 hour class. Next to the “25 mi” you’ll see a triangle pointing down. Click there, and you can either turn it down to a 10 mile radius, or you can choose “current city only.” I choose current city, and add all 7 cities we serve. Yes, this means the ad won’t reach folks in nearby cities, like Kirkland or Newcastle who would happily drive a couple miles to our classes, but again, I want to prioritize reaching the people most likely to sign up. (Note, if you wanted to target very specific areas, you can also type in zip codes, and they would do only the portion of Kirkland that fell in 98033.)
Then, under detailed targeting, you can make more choices about the kind of person you’re targeting.
You can basically target demographics or interests. For example, if I click on Browse, then on Demographics, then Home, then Household Composition, I could target working women, or veterans in home and so on. Facebook has attempted its best guesses for each user about your household composition based on what you’ve chosen to share. If I click on Browse, then Interests, then Family and Relationships, then I can choose parenting.
Note: I will tell you that the interface for targeting is one of the most frustrating user tools on the internet! In both Chrome and Edge, I find that I pull up the browse list, I start to scroll down, and then it pops me back up out of the list and I have to start all over again. If you find this happens to you, I don’t have any solutions, but you can know that you’re not alone in this experience. 😦 I find using the down arrow to scroll through menus means this happens less than if I try to scroll with the mouse/cursor.)
There are also demographics categories that I know exist that don’t show on the browsing menu that I can see. So try typing in something like “parents with preschoolers” and they will show up.
In Facebook ads (versus post boosts), you can target “behaviors” like people who have recently purchased baby food or children’s clothing. Learn how.
Audience Definition Meter
Keep an eye on the little “audience definition” meter that tells you the “potential reach” of your ad. As you narrow it down, it will tell you how many people fit that description.
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’d prefer 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 wouldn’t reach them all, but I’ll reach a good percentage of them. Unfortunately, although Facebook used to allow me to target down to as few as 3500 people, in the “promote your page” window, it tells be a potential reach of 35,000 was too specific and I needed to be broader! (That’s disappointing, as the more specific your targeting is, the better.) In Ads Manager, it didn’t require the audience to be this big – it let me target an ad to 4700 people.
Save that. That will take you back to this page. Scroll down in the left panel till you get to the choices about instagram (I usually opt out) and budget.
Set your budget for what you can afford. For duration, if your budget is small, you may run through the budget in one day, but I usually tell it to run the ad for up to three days, in case if doesn’t use up all the money on day one.
Click boost, and it will take you to payment.
Enter your payment details. Click Continue. It will tell you it’s pending approval to ensure it lines up with Facebook policies and will then run. To be honest, the only time I’ve had one denied was that if there was too much text in the image. And now, I notice that they automatically block me from the option of boosting posts that would violate that rule.
Note: these instructions were written in August 2018. Facebook may change how ad design works at any time, so they may not exactly line up with your experience!
You are only charged when someone clicks on your ad or possibly takes another action (likes post, shares post). The ad will run for as many days as you set it to run, or until you get enough clicks to hit your maximum budget, whichever comes first.
My most recent three boosts had these results:
For $15.00, reached 3503 people, for a cost of 8 cents per engagement. Engagements were: 9 reactions to the post (e.g. likes… the more reactions something get the more often it will show in people’s feeds), 1 comment, 6 shares to their own pages, 24 clicks on the link to my website, and 4 new page likes (people now following that page.)
For $35, 4612 reached, for a cost of 7 cents per engagement. (273 reactions, 1 comment, 31 shares, 21 clicks on link, 8 page likes)
For $40, 3986 reached, 43 cents per engagement (24 reactions, 2 comments, 3 shares, 64 links, 11 page likes)
So, using that last one as an example, it was a boost to a blog post I had done on DIY STEM Summer Camps, and for $40, 3986 people who may not have known my blog exists, saw a mention of it, which raises awareness. 3 shared it with their friends, who would otherwise never have seen it, 64 people clicked through to read the post, and 11 people are now following my Facebook page, so my posts will continue to appear on their newsfeeds.