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It’s fast becoming a reality: In order to do well on Facebook, you’re going to have to spend money. Now that there are so many advertisers on the social network (more than 1 million), it’s nearly impossible for a page to get noticed organically. There’s too much competition.
It’s unfortunate, but I can’t really blame the social network — it’s got stockholders now, and stockholders tend to avoid displaying loyalty when you’re not producing revenue. Like it or not, in order to increase your exposure, you’ll need to fork over some cash.
Perhaps you’ve known this and you’ve been putting it off. It looks confusing, you say. CPC or CPM? Targeting? And what in the world does “bidding” mean? Better just to avoid the whole thing.
Sorry, but keeping your head in the sand is a terrible approach, and you’re not doing your business any favors. Hopefully these five steps can get you started through the process.
Step 1: Design your ad
Though Facebook has recently streamlined its ad options, there are still a few different types. Certain types of ads work better with certain types of audiences. Sponsored stories, for example, work much better with huge audiences that produce enough interaction to create content.
The easiest type of ad to work with is a simple Facebook ad, which will appear off to the side of a user’s News Feed. Facebook will let you edit the copy, but you’ll have a small number of characters in which to express a lot of sentiment. If you thought Tweeting was tough, try fitting your message into 90 characters! Obviously, you want to make sure everything is spelled correctly and that you have a good eye-catching image. Finally, see if you can include some type of call to action, such as “Visit our website,” or “Call 515-INFO for more information.”
Step 2: Select your target audience
The best thing Facebook advertising can offer is the ability to hyper-target a select group of people, based on location, age, gender or interests. This is the easiest step because you probably already know your audience’s characteristics. Don’t hesitate to get a little creative with the “Interests” category; just realize the larger the group, the less targeted you will be able to make your ad copy. It’s easier to write an ad directed at “men between 25 and 35 years old who like Chevrolet” than “men who like cars.”
You can also choose what type of user you want to target. This depends on your goals. If you’re trying to increase sales, it may be better to target only users who have “Liked” your page. If you’re trying to get more Facebook “Likes,” it makes more sense to target “Friends of Friends,” which will add that extra social proof factor.
Step 3: Set a budget and decide between CPC and CPM
CPC stands for “Cost per Click,” and means that you only pay Facebook when someone actually clicks on your ad. CPM stands for “Cost per Mille,” and means you pay Facebook by the 1,000 impressions, regardless of whether or not users are clicking on the ad. Each has its own benefit:
- CPM is best for: Experienced Marketers. If you have a really great ad and you know that people are clicking on that ad all the time, it’s cheaper to pay by the impression than by the click through rate. Perhaps you can recycle a banner ad you’ve used elsewhere and tested with Google Analytics.
- CPC is best for: First Timers. (Since you are reading this blog post, I assume that means you.) This option works best if you have a bunch of ads to try out. Since you only have to pay Facebook for actual clicks, you won’t waste your money on ads that don’t perform well.
When creating a budget, Facebook will allow you to pay it either daily or by what’s called “Lifetime,” which means you’ll pay the network a lump sum at the start. In either case, once your budget has been reached, Facebook will no longer display any of your ads. There’s no need to worry about any kind of overdraft fees.
Step 4: Enter a bid
If there’s one confusing thing about Facebook advertising, it’s the bidding process. Essentially, you’re competing with other advertisers to bid on advertising space. Though it may sound scary, remember it’s not entirely necessary to understand the ins and outs of the process; Facebook makes it easy to bid an appropriate amount.
When you get to this point of the payment process, Facebook will give you a suggested bidding range, based on how much other advertisers for similar products are paying. If you’ve never tried Facebook advertising before, I’d recommend that you enter a bid that’s the exact middle of the suggested range. Facebook gives you detailed analytics for each ad, and you can adjust your bid as you move through the analytics process.
Step 5: Analyze
Facebook’s advertising analytics are really top notch – it’s easy to tell the company wants advertisers. There are a myriad of things you can see measured, including how an ad performed in certain demographics, but a few key metrics you’ll want to take note of:
- The performance of an ad: If you’re just starting out in Facebook advertising, you’ll probably want to try out multiple ads. Make sure you’re monitoring your ads’ performance, and then shift your payment options to allocate more of your budget to those that succeed.
- The cost per ad: Facebook will also tell you how much was actually spent on each click or 1,000 impressions. If it’s well below your maximum bid, you can think about lowering that number. Also, if you know your conversion rate, you can accurately report your advertising ROI.
One last thing to note: If you’re directing traffic from your ad to your website, as opposed to your Facebook page, you can also use Google Analytics as a tool. Facebook recently released a How-To guide for this process.
The sooner you jump into advertising the better. Similar to Facebook marketing in general, you’ll quickly learn and adapt to the process. Make sure you’re creating quality ads, targeting the right audience, and most importantly, analyzing the effects. Once you’ve got that down, you’re well on your way to being an online advertising pro.
About the author: Joseph Havey is the Director of Social Media for the Triangle-based Shelten Media, LLC, a start-up company specializing in social media marketing. He is a member of N.C. State’s PRSSA chapter, and writes for the school newspaper, Technician. In his free time, he trains for triathlons.