With over a billion users, Facebook is arguably the internet success story of its generation, creating as much of a buzz as the development of the World Wide Web itself. Already prolific and growing at an astounding rate, the original social network presents a range of advertising opportunities for businesses short of budget, priced out of AdWords or time poor when it comes to managing an online advertising campaign. See Parts 1 and 2 of this series for more information.
While that isn’t to say that it’s not possible to invest a huge amount of time and money in Facebook advertising, it hasn’t yet reached the epic proportions that have seen many small businesses simply priced off the front page of Google paid search listings and unable to dedicate the hours a day needed to set up, fine tune and maintain a PPC campaign.
Getting started with Facebook advertising is straightforward and requires nothing more than a page, an advert title, a line of text and an image. In parts one and two of this series we looked at how to create a page, decide on an advert goal and write the advert text. In this final part, we look at how to select targeting parameters and offer some thoughts on setting a budget for newcomers to social media advertising.
One of the things that makes Facebook advertising such an attractive prospect is its billion strong user database. As a social network, Facebook is all about likes and dislikes. Its users discuss hobbies, like the pages of their favorite sports stars and brands, create fan pages for their preferred TV shows, check in to locations in their neighborhood and further afield, list relatives and maintain a friend’s list. All of this data makes it a minefield of metrics for the advertiser who can tap into this virtual profile to create the ideal set of eyes for the advert being created.
When the advert text has been written and the image uploaded, Facebook gives you the option of specifying exactly who should see your advert. Much like a PPC advert is targeted using keywords and then region, Facebook ads can be directed at users meeting specific criteria. You can begin with the very broad category of location, typing in the countries where users should be located. You may wish to show your ads to only users in the USA for example or, you might want to make them available to Facebook users in America and the United Kingdom. You can be as specific as state, city and zip code. With each refinement, Facebook will give you an estimated audience figure.
After you have decided on location, you can then choose to restrict views by both age and gender. Using one click radio boxes you can pick either male or female and set maximum and minimum age ranges.
Step three in targeting is to specify precise interests. These are the things that the users in your indicated location, between the indicated ages and of the preferred gender must list as likes on their Facebook page in order to see your advert. Facebook queries connections on the user’s page to determine these precise interest categories.
You can then refine even further and specify broad interest criteria. You’ll be able to choose from a list of wider interests such as activities and family status.
All of these targeting options are presented on one screen, can be selected with tick boxes or radio buttons and allow you to build a profile of your perfect customer. Refining your targeting shouldn’t take more than 10 minutes or so and means that your adverts will show to only the most relevant of Facebook users – those you have defined as being most likely to want to connect with you and buy from you.
Now you have an advert and know who it should show to, you’ll need to set your campaign budget. You can choose by daily spend or select a maximum amount to spend over a set period of time. You can set start and end dates and give your campaign a clear and specific name, which makes it easy for you to keep track of multiple adverts.
Much like in AdWords, Facebook will also provide indications as to whether you’re bidding enough based on other advertiser spend levels targeting the same audience.
The standard payment structure is to pay by impressions, so you’ll be debited each time your advert is displayed but, you can change this to a cost per click if you’d prefer in the advanced settings tab.
When all this is decided, your advert will be sent for review, a process which can take 24 hours to complete, and then go live on your selected date / time.
You can make subtle changes to your adverts at any time to optimize their performance. The usual advert testing rules apply which is to make one change, monitor its impact, and then make revisions or corrections as necessary. If you want to change the image for example to see if a different picture leads to more page likes, don’t do that at the same time as you change your advert title. Make one change, allow it time to settle in and results to accumulate and then make a second change.
Facebook advertising can be a tricky thing, especially since the property seems to change its policies and procedures fairly often. However, if you plan your optimal approach ahead of time and stay tuned to the changes in Facebook that occur with some regularity, you may find it to be another advertising opportunity that brings a different dimension to your business.
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