Facebook has become one of the most desirable advertising platforms for the modern business, from brick-and-mortar to eCommerce. For many years, companies have enjoyed the “Freemium” version of social media to help grow their business, but organic results aren’t what they used to be, and now our challenge is to maximize results and reap the benefits of boosting a post as a paid ad.
1) Who are your best customers?
What do the majority of your followers/customers have in common? There are many answers, and they usually differ across to your range of products or services. If you’re just getting started, look at your competition. If you have a store, observe who walks in the door, and who buys something. What did they look at first? What did they purchase? What was the average transaction value? Your product fits into a lifestyle in very specific ways. They are not simply between the ages of 18-65+ and living in your city. Are they retired? Do they have young kids? Are they fashionistas and foodies? Athletic? Home-owners? Drivers? Dog owners? Do they like the page of your biggest competitor? Do they work in a specific field? Are they from the country that your products are specialty imports from? Do they fall within a certain income bracket?
These are the types of things that Facebook has been in trouble for, but showing people something relevant to them is usually a more positive experience than something totally irrelevant that doesn’t suit them. This sociology applies to everything you have ever seen advertised, own, eaten, inquired about, or received as a gift. The demographic wording also changes frequently on Facebook, so you will need to recreate audiences periodically as some targeting becomes unavailable, and replaced with something similar. Don’t rush through this part. You can also put multiple boosts on a single post for different audiences it might appeal to in combination.
Another very important thing to note: People who already like your page are not going to see your new posts. You need to target them separately, and it will often cost much less for the results than acquiring brand-new page likes and customers. The reduction in engagement and sales from organic posts over the last few years isn’t really a reflection of reduced quality, but here’s another article on organic Facebook techniques for 2018. Try this before firing anyone, and read on…
2) Get Exclusive
Just because they like hockey, doesn’t mean they cheer for your team. Just because they’re between 18-65+ and live in Vancouver, doesn’t mean they watch hockey at all. Once you’ve chosen many characteristics to create an audience, and now your potential reach is 3 million, start narrowing it down by “excluding people” from your audience. For example, if you are advertising a steakhouse, your audience might include people who like “BBQ”, “food”, “meat”, but you’re still including people who like “food” so here you can refine it further, to exclude “vegetarians”. Not only does this put your dollars to better use, it also prevents people from seeing it who might become upset, which makes it a better experience for all, including your complaints department, or the lifespan of the ad if it gets flagged as offensive.
3) Select the Right CTA
A CTA is a Call-To-Action, often taking the form of a labelled button. What action do you want your viewers to take? Visit your website? Send a message? Like your page? This depends on the type of business you are, maybe you need to provide estimates and book appointments. Maybe your company is new and you want more people to just know about it. Maybe you need them to come to the physical showroom, because they can’t buy your products online. Maybe you don’t even have a website and they can purchase your products directly through Facebook. Maybe you know that your email newsletter sells way more than your other media, so you want them to sign up to receive more of the useful blog info that this Facebook post is linking to, or you’re a book author and they can sign up to receive an excerpt from your new novel about to launch.
4) Have an Effective Landing Page
If the post is advertising a certain product, make sure this “Shop Now” button isn’t just going to your website, but actually straight to the page that product is on within your site. If it’s a time-sensitive offer, or an exclusive offer only available to your social media followers, consider creating a separate website as a landing page, so it won’t be part of your normal navigation. Install your Facebook pixel into the analytics portion of the website(s) in order to capture some stats about how successful that post was in driving traffic to your site, or making a purchase of that item (unless they left and came back later). A common rule of thumb is to try and make the desired customer action able to be completed within 3 clicks, or 3 loaded pages.
Example: FB post of a new purse in stock <Buy Now> Website shows bag, colour gets chosen <Buy> Billing and shipping info gets entered <Submit> Your purchase was successful!
5) Choose the Right Image
Let’s say your product is more of a service. You might struggle to find the right imagery, in which case stock photos are a good option (though a bit expensive) - How do you choose the right one? The answer is simpler than you might think: Try to find photos that include the same colour as your logo, or other brand colours your company uses. Hire a photographer or designer to create a library for you. For a product, this will be a collection of images of your product specifically, or Photoshopped in. It will save you money on stock images and make your products look more presentable, increasing sales. Your website should have a “lifestyle” photo (staged situation where your product or service would be used) at the top of the page, followed by simple “product” images (white background) that can be clicked on for more information or to be added to a cart. Facebook posts and ads should have a lifestyle image, with tagged products pulling those product photos from your site.
6) Make Your Copy Responsive
What does that mean? When you draft a post, the written portion might get cut off because it’s too long to fit in the space provided. Often, you will be making these on a computer, but most of your users might be looking at it on their phone, or a tablet. If people enjoy the image or video, they might read the text, and if the text is intriguing, they might expand it to see the rest. You should try to make sure that the portion prior to that cutoff is putting the most important info up front, or best, entertaining them a bit with a punchline. Don’t use hashtags on Facebook posts, but do include a link at the end to a relevant page on your site.
7) Leverage Incentivized New Features
Facebook is essentially user-generated, but they still want to have a certain look and feel for their platform, and that often means that creating certain types of content will get you better results in the algorithm. Videos will get more results than photos, and photos will get more than text-only posts. They also want to showcase new features, so for example, creating the ability for customers to make purchases from your page through Messenger (PayPal coming soon), or right now it’s cheaper through their new WhatsApp integration. This is especially good for companies that are service-based, but increasingly for product sales as well. It might take traffic away from your website, but it might make the purchase easier, reduce dropoff and increase your sales. Facebook is running out of adspace, so they launch new features to create more. Read more about that here.
8) Choosing Your Budget
How is the cost of boosting your post calculated? As a freelancer I can tell you, the number that appears in “Boost your post for $(x) to reach #(x) people” varies drastically for different companies. One factor is how relevant/engaging your page’s posts have historically been to your audience. One of the most expensive rates I’ve ever seen was for a nonprofit, which definitely seemed evil, but it was because their donors came from so many backgrounds and were harder to profile for targeting. Similarly, if your photos and copywriting have been a little more handmade and not as polished, it might cost more to get started, and you’ll want to try and improve your quality. It probably also has a lot to do with how many people are competing for adspace in the same type of audiences and product categories you are.
A rule of thumb is that 10% of the budget for a business should generally be allocated to marketing. If you’re not sure where to start, try $30-50 on a post that’s already doing better than your other ones just to get some stats. If you have access to your website data, take a look at the conversion rate of how many people make a purchase (could be 1%-3%), and what their average purchase value is. This will provide a reference point to think about how much you spend per impression, or per website click, etc. An awareness campaign can bring people to your physical store or create word of mouth, so remember that those clicks might not be everything. Customers might be discovering it through Facebook, leaving your site, and then coming back later to make the purchase, but not through Facebook this time.
9) Timing & Duration
Take a look at the Insights section of your page. Think about the timezones your audience lives in and which portion of their day viewing your content is happening. For example, I worked with a province-wide insurance company (Canada, ayyy!), and found people were primarily on our page during weekday business hours. When I was at a food company (grocery eCommerce throughout North America), we were popular at lunch across many timezones. If you work with events, people in your city will usually be viewing it Friday evening, and Saturday afternoon. Try to post at the front edge of these waves, and since it can take a couple hours or a couple days for a post to be approved (or rejected), schedule a boosted post farther in advance to run at that ideal time. Run the same ad multiple times simultaneously, for audiences who are identical, except for their location, according to timezone.
10) Analyze the Data
If you’re just getting started with boosting ads, take a look at your Insights section to get a basic understanding of possible patterns. If you are just starting to boost posts, experiment with it by running one for a longer duration to gain data on when people engaged with it more, and then start to refine that into shorter duration campaigns, with timing based on the peaks you’ve observed. Try to categorize the types of posts, and try running some A/B split tests or other tests to identify subtle changes on the same post that will turn out to make a big difference in how effective they are.