Getting started with Facebook ads

Running an ad campaign on Facebook is a great idea. Facebook is massive, and all your customers are (probably) on there.

You can use Facebook to make a ton of public posts, and ask your friends and customers to share them. That’s often a successful strategy for small businesses! But, if you want to really get an edge over your competition, fully-fledged Facebook ad campaigns are a must.

Facebook wants your ads to succeed, so it gives you a lot of great ad-creation tools. Using these tools properly will help the Facebook algorithm to help you.

But where should you start? Let us take you through the basics:

What is an algorithm?

In its purest form, an algorithm is an equation. That probably doesn’t clarify much, does it? OK, think of it this way: an algorithm is a set of rules or conditions that must be met to achieve a certain outcome.

For example, if you want someone to crave bacon, you might use an algorithm like this:

Bacon craving=smell of bacon cooking+hunger

Facebook’s algorithm is a lot more complicated than this, but it essentially does the same thing: establishes a set of rules that must be followed to achieve the desired outcome. 

So, in the case of your Facebook ads, the algorithm will do a set of things that make your ad convert. For example, showing your ad to specific audiences, at specific times.

The algorithm can’t do this all by itself, however. It needs some input from you. To return to the bacon ‘algorithm’ for a second, if your customers are the person you want to crave bacon, you need to give the algorithm the tools it needs to succeed. 

For example, you need to provide a frying pan, a heat source, delicious bacon, the cooking oil, knowledge of when your ‘customer’ will be hungry, knowledge of when and where your yummy, sizzling bacon will waft most enticingly to their nose…

Here’s how you give the algorithm the tools it needs to succeed:

1 – Come up with a campaign strategy

Before you even click into Facebook ads, you need to have a campaign strategy.

Whole books have been written about marketing strategy – it’s a big topic, and worth looking into! 

If you haven’t got time to dive into all the theory, however, here are some basic things to think about before you fire up Fb Ads:

  • Where is your brand now?
  • Where would you like your brand to be at the end of this marketing campaign?
  • What are your goals and objectives for this campaign?
  • Who is your audience?
  • What kind of content is your audience most likely to respond to?
  • What resources do you already have to help you with this campaign, and what resources do you need?
  • What platforms will you be using?
  • What is your budget?
  • What will success look like, and how will you measure it?

1a – Goals

Before you get too out there with the ‘goals and objectives’ part of your strategy, a word of warning: Facebook only offers 11 ad goals.

The algorithm will do its best to help you reach your chosen goal – but if your goal falls outside Facebook’s list of options, your campaign is going to struggle.

So, try and make sure that your campaign goals are compatible with the algorithm.

The 11 categories are:

  • Brand awareness. The algorithm will share your ad far and wide, to increase your brand’s profile and bring in new audiences.
  • Reach. The algorithm will share your ad with highly engaged audiences, to encourage shares and increase your organic reach (not a euphemism!)
  • Traffic. The algorithm will drive traffic to your webpage or app.
  • Engagement. The algorithm will help you to build a community – i.e. to get people chatting in the comments, liking your posts etc.
  • App installs. The algorithm will try and get people to download your app.
  • Video views. The algorithm will get people watching your stuff.
  • Lead generation. The algorithm will nudge people into your sales funnel.
  • Messages. The algorithm will encourage people to message your page.
  • Conversions. The algorithm will encourage a specific action (for example, subscribe to your newsletter)
  • Catalogue sales. The algorithm will connect people directly to your catalogue, and the products they’re most likely to buy.
  • Store traffic. The algorithm will encourage people to visit your specific bricks’n’mortar location.

The right goal gives the algorithm a fighting chance of helping your ad to succeed. 

For example, if you set your objective as ‘store traffic’, it will show your ad to people who may be interested in your product and are within easy geographical reach of your premises. If you set your objective as ‘Video views’, it will roll your footage for folk who may be interested in your product and who love to watch vids. 

1b – Budget

Facebook is pretty reasonable with its ad fees, but costs can rack up quickly – especially if your ad is going to be running for a while. So, it’s worth setting a clear budget from the get-go! 

2 – Come up with ad creatives

Your ‘creative’ is the content of your ad. It might be a set of graphics, a video, a set of image slides, or a combination of media. Whatever it is, you should have it ready to go before you start negotiating with the algorithm.

At this stage, you will need to think about the format your ad will take. Facebook is pretty flexible when it comes to creatives – you can run video posts, text posts, image posts, carousels, and/or slideshows as ads – but you will have to fit your creative into one of three formats:

2a – Boosted post, regular ad, or automated ad?

A boosted post is a regular Facebook post that can be ‘boosted’ for a small fee. When ‘boosted’, Facebook will ensure that it shows up more often, and in more newsfeeds. It’s useful for getting out important information, and it can be good for audience-building, but it doesn’t work in quite the same way as a regular ad.

Regular ads are more customizable and can achieve more complex goals. For example, rather than just getting your content in front of more eyes, you can set an ad with specific objectives (lead generation, for example, or app installs).

Automated ads are, on the face of it, less customisable than regular ads. When you pick automated ads, Facebook will offer you fewer customisable options. It will also suggest preset objectives, audiences, and so on. Automated ads take away a lot of the hard work that goes into setting up regular ads, so they’re a good choice for those who haven’t much time and/or experience. 

Think of it like this – a boosted post is like a quick bacon snack. It’s quick, easy, and good at keeping your hunger at bay for a bit.

A regular ad is like a perfectly crafted bacon butty, with the bacon fried just as you like it, the bread soft and fluffy, HP sauce, ketchup, the works. It’s very satisfying, and you can make it to your precise taste – but it does take a bit more time than the other options.

Automated ads are like a bacon butty you get from a food stall. You get what you get. Often, what you get is exactly what you want, and sometimes it’s even better – but there are no guarantees!

3 – Make sure your profile is verified

In an effort to cut down on political chaos (thanks, Cambridge Analytica!), Facebook now requires that advertisers are verified before they can run certain types of ad.

Facebook’s verification system is complex. Sometimes you need to be verified to post ads, and sometimes you don’t. As a general rule, we recommend getting it done. That way, you’ll be covered for advertising now and in the future. 

To be verified by Facebook, you will need to fill out this request form. It’s not a difficult process, but it can be time-consuming. For example, it took Facebook a week to verify us! So, if you’re not already verified, get on it!

Contact an expert if you’re not sure

Here, we’ve covered the basics you’ll need to get started with Facebook Ads. Next time, we’ll take you through the process of launching an ad campaign on Facebook.

However, if this all seems a bit daunting, don’t worry! We’re very happy to offer advice and expertise. Give us a shout, and we’ll see what we can do for you.