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Disrupt Your Industry, Dominate Your Niche: How to Advertise on Facebook in 2020

Fifteen years after introducing the concept of a social network to the world, Facebook remains the social network to beat. 

Don’t believe it? Think about how much time you’ve already spent today scrolling through your Facebook feed. Now think about how many other people while away a few minutes (or an hour) here and there doing exactly that. 

Facebook has the reach, which means if you want to advertise your business, it’s the perfect place to be. But you have to know how to use it. 

That’s where we come in. Here’s everything you need to know to advertise on Facebook like the ruler of your niche (because really, that’s exactly what you are). 

Why Facebook Ads?

Look, we hear you. With changes afoot in Facebook’s algorithm, organic reach is basically dead in the water and intrepid businesses like yourself have no choice but to invest in paid ads. Coincidence? Maybe not. 

That said, don’t turn the page on Facebook quite yet. 

Here’s the thing: Facebook still has 1.63 billion daily active users. That dwarfs most other major social networks, including Instagram (500 million), Twitter (139 million), and Snapchat (210 million). It’s the most widely used social network by a huge margin, and that means it has incredible reach with your potential customers. 

Plus, Facebook users are more engaged than users on any other social network. 

In plain English? If you have an audience of any kind, there’s a better than fair chance that they’re already on Facebook. 

That user power shows in Facebook’s advertising functionality. The beauty of Facebook advertising over other social media networks is that you have incredible power to be precise, ensuring that you reach exactly the audience you want to reach (and thus see more conversions). 

The question isn’t why use Facebook Ads? The question is why aren’t you using Facebook Ads already?

Before You Get Started

Before you skip off to find the Wizard, though, you first have to find the yellow brick road. Facebook’s advertising is only as powerful as your ability to use it, so if you’re fumbling along without any sense of direction, you won’t make much headway. 

So, before you log your first Facebook campaign and wait for results, you have to get organized. 

Know Your Audience

It all begins with your audience. Even though Facebook has 1.63 billion daily active users, you’re not going to target all of them. The power of Facebook advertising is its ability to target specific groups who are most likely to buy–only those who are most likely to buy. 

That means a far better ROI for your marketing dollar…if you know who’s most likely to buy. 

To that end, get to know your target audience first. Specifically, get to know your target audience on Facebook, which is different from your target audience on any other social media network (or any other form of marketing). You may be having great success with a target demographic you don’t even realize. 

If you’re not sure who they are, no worries. Now is the perfect time to learn your target customer. A lot of new marketers have the urge to broaden their appeal. Resist that instinct. You should know your target customer so well that you could pick them out of a crowded city street based on their appearance, age, and what they’re doing. 

Know Your Strategy

Once you know the audience you’re after, you can develop a strategy to target them. Remember, advertising tools (including Facebook) are only as good as your proficiency at using them. If you come in knowing exactly what you’re trying to achieve, you stand a much better chance of achieving it. 

Otherwise, you’ll open up Facebook Ads and be so dazzled by options that you’ll wind up with an ad that doesn’t do anything to help your campaign. 

Start by asking yourself the basics, such as: 

  • What are you trying to sell? A product? A service? An event? Be specific. 
  • Who are you targeting? 
  • Why are you targeting them? 
  • How will they benefit from what you’re selling? 
  • What’s their pain point? What would prevent them from spending? 
  • Where are they in the sales funnel? 
  • Are they a warm or cold audience
  • What result do you want from this campaign? Conversions? Traffic? Be specific. 

As with your target audience, the more specific you can get, the better off your campaign will be. 

Know the Right Type of Ad for Your Goals

Once you’ve gotten that far, it’s time to ask what type of ad is best suited to your goals. Hint: it’s not one-size-fits-all. 

As in most things, Facebook Ads offers you a beautiful array of ad format options, including: 

  • Photo
  • Video
  • Slideshow
  • Carousel
  • Dynamic product ads
  • Lead form ads
  • Collection ads
  • Instant experience ads
  • Messenger ads
  • Stories ads
  • Stories augmented reality ads
  • Playable ads

Each of these ads can be broken down into one of four main ad categories: 

  1. Mobile newsfeed
  2. Desktop newsfeed
  3. Right column
  4. Instagram

How do you choose just one? It’s simple: go back to that strategy, objective, and target customer we asked you to identify. If you’ve done your homework, you know your audience, and you know what would best speak to them to achieve the results you’re hoping for, the type of ad best suited to the occasion should be an easy choice. 

Know Your Creative Material

Once you know what type of ad you’re creating, it should be that much easier to zero in on your creative materials. Don’t think this is an in-and-out situation, though. 

We told you to be surgically precise with your customer details for a reason: what clicks with customers (i.e. what convinces them to click) is highly specific, which is why Facebook Ads are so highly targeted. If you don’t design your ads with almost microscopic attention to detail, your creative material may miss the mark completely. 

If you need somewhere to get started, lean into your funny bone: more than half of customers say they remember an ad if it’s humorous. Better still, be funny in video format, as customers are far more willing to pause scrolling for a funny video than read a block of text to catch the punchline. 

Set Up Your Account and Access

Once you’ve got your ducks in a row, you’re finally ready to get this show started and set up your account (if you don’t already have one, that is). 

If you haven’t already, sign up for a Facebook Business Manager account. This is what allows you to access Facebook Ad Manager, which will allow you to create ad campaigns and track your ad spend. 

Don’t forget to link to your business’s main page–otherwise, you won’t be able to manage ads for your business account. 

Once you’ve got your Business Manager account set up, direct your attention to the Business Manager Settings and click on “Add New Ad Accounts”. It will then prompt you to enter your payment information, so have your account information handy. 

From there, you’re ready to head on over to your Facebook Ads Manager Dashboard. You’ll notice four tabs: 

  1. Account Overview
  2. Campaigns
  3. Ad Sets
  4. Ads

Take a deep breath, because you’re about to get familiar with all four. 

Preparing to Advertise on Facebook

Once you’ve got your ducks in a row, rolling out your Facebook Ad campaign is mostly a matter of setup and monitoring. Fortunately, if you followed the steps we already gave you, you should be ready to march. 

Ready? Let’s do this. 

Choose Your Objective

The very first thing you’ll do when you kick off a brand new Facebook Ads campaign is to choose your objective. This is a fantastic advertising tool because Facebook will use the information you provide about your objective to tailor ad placements and optimize your marketing ROI. 

The key is knowing how to use it, which is why we told you to clarify your ad objectives, target audience, and end goal first. 

You’ll see three categories of objectives: 

  1. Awareness
  2. Consideration
  3. Conversion

Within each category, you’ll see a more specific objective. You can choose: 

  • App installs
  • Brand awareness
  • Catalog sales
  • Conversions
  • Engagement
  • Lead generation
  • Messages
  • Reach
  • Store visits
  • Traffic
  • Video views

Choose your objective wisely, because your ad campaign from this point forward will be geared toward the objective you select. Remember to be specific and choose an objective that best reflects your goals. 

Let’s say, for example, you’re running a video ad, but your goal is to boost conversions. In that case, select “Conversion” instead of “Video views”. It is possible to split-test objectives, but that requires a bit of strategy and planning if you want to see real results. If you’re a newbie, get comfortable targeting an ad campaign toward a single objective first. 

Creating Facebook Audiences

And now for the mother-lode, the thing that makes Facebook the one to beat: the audience. 

Facebook knows it has an enormous audience. It also knows that the audience is incredibly diverse, with a huge array of interests, life experiences, motivations, and pressure points. The crowning jewel of Facebook Ads is the incredible specificity of audience targeting. 

Facebook has three primary audience types: 

  1. Saved audiences
  2. Custom audiences
  3. Lookalike audiences

Custom audiences are your highest value target since they allow you to retarget site visitors and those who have engaged with your app or content in the past. Saved audiences are audiences you can define based on key characteristics. Lookalike audiences reach people similar to those in your existing customer database (translation: high conversion potential). 

You can combine custom and lookalike audiences for targeting, but again, learn to walk before you try to run a marathon. If you’re just getting started, keep it simple and focus on one type of audience first and figure out how you want to target them. 

You can target audiences in four ways: 

  1. Location-based
  2. Demographic
  3. Interest-based
  4. Behavior-based

Which you use and to what extent you tailor it will again depend on what your ad campaign is hoping to achieve. 

A word to the wise: targeting your ads is a necessity, but there are creepy and non-creepy ways to do it. The key is to use targeting as another means to focus on a highly specific type of customer and gain their trust through advertising, rather than reminding them that you’re using a disturbingly impressive array of marketing tools to pluck their data out of a crowd. 

Location-Based Targeting

Location-based targeting is based on the principles of location-based advertising, which is when you tailor your marketing efforts to people in a specific area. In Facebook terms, this means targeting certain people based on geographic information, such as: 

Fortunately, Facebook makes it easy to target the group you’re after based on location information. All you have to do is type in the desired location target. 

Plus, you can winnow down location targeting even further. 

The default option is targeting everyone in X location, i.e. the last updated location of a given Facebook user. But let’s say you’re a local pest control business and you want people to hire you to do work in their homes. In that case, you could target only people who live in the specified area. 

You can also target people who frequent the area by targeting people who were recently in the desired area (which is established by tracking mobile phone usage in your target location). 

On the other hand, if you’re trying to attract tourists or travelers specifically, you could target people traveling to your target area of choice. This option allows you to target users who visited the target area recently if the target area is 100 miles or more away from their home location. 

Demographic Targeting

However, there are plenty of people who visit a given location that may not be desirable for you as a potential customer. Young professional twenty-somethings with money to burn are an entirely different species from soccer moms who shop primarily for their kids. 

This is where demographic targeting comes into play. 

As usual, you’ll get a smorgasbord of options when you click on demographics, but the options are split into three key area codes: 

  1. Age
  2. Gender
  3. Language

For example, people won’t interact with your ads if they can’t read them, so it helps to choose language preferences if you’re advertising in a particular language. This can get tricky in areas where multiple languages are spoken, but it can also help separate your business by showing that you’re willing and able to work with people speaking different languages. 

However, you can get extremely specific in demographic targeting. You can target based on education, occupation, political views, generation, life events, relationship status, even based on a user’s parents (like we said: creepy and non-creepy ways to do this). 

Interest-Based Targeting

However, for businesses, one of the easiest and most effective targeting avenues is interest-based targeting, which is exactly what it says on the tin: targeting people who have specific interests that are relevant to what your campaign and organization has to offer. 

A few general interest groups you can target include: 

  • Business and industry
  • Entertainment
  • Family and relationships
  • Fitness and wellness
  • Food and drink
  • Hobbies and activities
  • Shopping and fashion

If you’re a yarn company targeting knitters, for example, the hobbies section is your jam. 

Once you tell Facebook what interests you want to target, it will pull data from users’ likes and interests, pages they’ve liked and visited, apps they use, etc. 

Here, again, it pays to be specific. You can target multiple interests to broaden your reach, but only select an option if it’s truly relevant to your campaign and your advertising goals. 

Behavior-Based Targeting

Finally, there’s behavior-based targeting, which is a more nebulous category than the other three. Unlike the previous categories, which focus on data culled from a user profile like their age and location, behavior-based targeting combines Facebook data and external data sets to target users based on things like purchase history, personal anniversaries, etc. 

A few behavior categories you can target include: 

  • Anniversary
  • Consumer classification
  • Digital activities
  • Expats
  • Mobile device user
  • Multicultural affinity
  • Seasonal and events

Be careful with this type of targeting. When it works, it’s tremendously useful, but it only really works in specific circumstances. You have to be precise about who you’re after to ensure that behavior-based targeting is the right fit. 

Decide Where to Display Your Ad

Once your targeting is winnowed down to the last possible detail, it’s time to target other things. Where to display your ad, for example. 

This is the moment when you move on to the ad set stage and tell Facebook where to optimize your ads. 

For example, you can choose to focus on mobile users instead of desktop users. Within Facebook itself, you can target feeds, in-stream videos, in-stream articles, right column, and suggested videos. You also have display options in Instagram, Messenger, and audience networks. 

You can even target a specific operating system if you’re so inclined. 

Technically, you can run your ad with every display option selected, but you shouldn’t. Again, the power of Facebook Ads is specificity. If you know your audience, chances are you can figure out where they’re lurking online and you’re better off targeting them there anyway. 

Set Your Budget

Take a deep breath and get ready to put your money where your mouth is. 

In the next section, you’re able to choose your budget, or rather, how much money you want to spend on the campaign. You can select a daily budget and select the maximum amount you want your campaign to spend each day, or you can create a lifetime budget which denotes how much money you want to spend throughout the entire campaign. 

If you select a lifetime budget, you’ll also have to provide a specific date range to run your campaign. Keep in mind that your budget isn’t used up based on arbitrary daily spend, so you could spend a lot in one month and very little in the next. You may not even spend your entire budget by the deadline. 

Facebook will run your ad until the date range runs out or the budget runs dry, whichever comes first. So be careful about how much money you realistically expect to spend. 

And no, you can’t run ads on Facebook for free. Facebook is a business, not a charity. You get charged by cost-per-click (CPC) or cost-per-thousand-impressions). No money, no ads. 

There is no minimum or maximum you have to spend on Facebook Ads to see results, nor is there a perfect timeline to see results. It depends on what works for you, which can take some trial and error (and attention to your advertising goal). 

For beginners, start with a baseline range based on what you know you can afford and what you reasonably expect to spend based on your preexisting data. Then you can scale up or down based on performance. 

Ready to Take Your Facebook Advertising to the Next Level?

When you advertise on Facebook, you’re not just running an ad. You’re building trust, establishing a relationship, showing customers why your solution is exactly what they’ve been missing in their lives. It’s a powerful tool, but you have to use it skillfully. 

That’s where we can help. 

We know the power of Facebook marketing, and more importantly, we know how to deliver results. Our goal is simple: crack your Facebook funnel in under 45 days and get you 5x or more return on your ad spend. 

1If that sounds like your cup of tea, pull up a chair and let’s get talking