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Facebook advertising: a complete guide for small businesses

Stephanie Ozuo
by Stephanie Ozuo
Published on 8 June, 2018

Facebook is the largest and most popular social network, home to over 2 billion users worldwide. Businesses on the platform can tap into the huge potential audience by promoting their offerings through a Facebook advertising campaign. 

However, due to changes in the platform’s algorithms, organic posts are not as effective as they once were, and now appear much lower down in the newsfeeds of consumers. Research shows that the average number of engagements with Facebook posts created by brands and publishers has fallen by over 20% since January 2017 with publishers on the platform seeing up to a 52% decline in organic reach.

A way to counter this is by investing in Facebook Ads to effectively market your business through sponsored ads that reach your target audience and customer base. The platform has inbuilt analytics that let you see the performance of each post and the success of the campaigns executed. It is very easy and simple to set up once you have clear defined objectives (more on that later!) but there are a few myths surrounding it which deter small businesses owners from benefiting from the service.

Facebook Advertising Myths

Myth #1: It’s too complicated for someone with no expertise

You don’t need to be a marketing professional or social media whizz to run successful ads on Facebook! Setting up a campaign on Facebook Ads is a step by step straight forward process that over 5 million businesses use each day.

Myth #2: Facebook ads are too expensive

Facebook ads cost less than other online marketing channels with a minimum spend of £1 per day. You set a budget for each campaign, be that £5 or £500 and only pay for returns.

Myth #3: I need a huge audience to begin with

False! Your business page doesn’t need to have tons of likes beforehand for you to advertise on the platform before you start putting out ads. The great thing about Facebook is that you already have a huge potential reach. Facebook will gladly serve your ad to any of its 2 billion users. All you need to do is tell Facebook what sort of person you want to target and you’re good to go!

Benefits of advertising on Facebook

Now that we’ve debunked some myths, here’s a rundown of 3 key benefits for investing in Facebook Ads.

Targeting your audience

A major benefit of Facebook Advertising is its ability to target your exact audience by age, interests, behaviour, gender and location. Think of who your average customer is you can use Facebook Advertising as a way to really engage with them on and offer them products and deals they can hardly refuse!

For example, if you own a salon your Facebook Ad can target people who have shown a specific interest in hair and beauty. This means your Ad will pop up on their Facebook newsfeed and you’ll be appealing to people who would be more likely to purchase from you.

Another example is that Facebook Ads can target users specifically in your local area. For instance, if you run an electronics shop then Facebook will target customers in your chosen geographical region near your store.

Real time measurements

Facebook ad campaigns are measurable, giving you the ability to assess if they’re a worthwhile expense. You have insight into how many impressions, clicks, and conversions each ad brings and you’re able to see these stats in real time. The advantage here is you can adjust your ad immediately based on their current performance.

Drive customers to your physical store

Facebook advertising can also drive offline sales. A recent report found that Facebook ads drive up to 27% of in store customers. Customers engage with paid social media ads on the platform and  follow up with purchases in physical stores. This is a great benefit for small businesses who mostly operate out of physical stores, you can run ads that encourage customers to visit them.

Setting up your first campaign

Step1: Launch Facebook Ads Manager

You can access this via a direct link at facebook.com/ads, or by clicking “Manage Ads” or ‘Create Ads’ in the drop-down menu on your Facebook account.

 

 

Step 2: Choose your objective

For a campaign to be successful it is important to have clearly defined objectives and goals for what you want to achieve. Do you want more people to know about a new product you’re launching? Download the latest e-book you created? Sign up to a free trial?

When you click to create a Facebook Ad, you’ll go to a page where you choose the objective for your campaign.

There are different types of campaigns which you can run including:

App installs: Encourage installations of your mobile or desktop app.

Brand awareness: Introduce your brand to a new audience.

Conversions: Get people to take a specific action on your website (like subscribing to your mailing list or buying your product).

Engagement: Expose a post to a wide audience to increase the number of Likes, comments, shares, or photo views; increase your number of Page Likes; promote an event.

Lead Generation: Get new prospects into your sales funnel.

Reach: Expose your ad to as many people in your audience as possible.

Product Catalogue Sales: Connect your Facebook ads to your product catalogue to show people ads for the products they are most likely to want to buy.

Store visits: Drive customers to your physical store.

Traffic: Drive traffic to a specific webpage.

Video Views: Show your video to a large audience to increase brand awareness campaign.

Step 3: Define your audience

One you’ve selected the type of ad you want to run you now need to establish the audience you want to market to. This step is extremely important for the success of your campaigns. The audience for your ad can be customized based on all the following demographics:

  • Location-starting with a country, city and refining even further with a mile radius
  • Interests- activity, the Pages they like, and closely related topics
  • Behaviours-purchases, intent as well as device usage etc.
  • Connections-option to show the ad to everyone or just those connected to your Facebook business page.  

In addition, with the Connections setting, you can choose advanced targeting, which lets you include or exclude people who are connected to certain pages, apps, or events. You can also further customize your targeting using custom audiences to retarget people who have already interacted with your business.

Here you can see the potential reach of people who may view your ad and a breakdown of estimated daily results, based on similar campaigns.

Step 4: Setting your budget

Once you’ve selected your target audience, you need to select how much you would like to spend on the ad. It’s important to remember that this figure represents the maximum amount of money you want to spend. You can also set your budget to either Daily or Lifetime. The former is the average that you’ll spend every day whilst the latter is the maximum that you’ll spend during the entirety of your advert set.

Step 5: Create your advert

Now it’s time to choose the images (or video) and text to accompany your ad. For the text, you get 90 characters to share a quick message that will appear above your image(s) or video.

There are two ways to create adverts; using an existing post or creating a new advert. Here’s a quick look at both options.

Using an existing post

For certain types of adverts, such as boosting posts, you can create your ad using an existing post that’s already been shared on your Facebook Page. To do this, select the ‘Use Existing Post’ option from the Facebook Ads Manager dashboard. From here, you can choose which Page you’d like to select a post from and pick an individual post from that Page to use as your advert.

Creating a new advert

If you’d like to create your advert from a blank canvas, the first task is to select the format you’d like to use for your advert. Facebook Adverts look slightly different depending on the results you want. Facebook currently offers 5 various formats for adverts:

Once the format is selected, you need to add the content to your advert (the images/ video and text) . This part is incredibly important to making your advert stand out in within Facebook’s or Instagram’s feeds. If your ad is going to be a success, you want your image and text to be enticing enough to make people want to on it.

Step 6: Choose your ad placements

Advert placement defines where your advert is shown and with Facebook Ads, you’re able to choose which locations your advert will appear in. Adverts may appear in Facebook’s mobile News Feed, desktop News Feed and right column. You may also create ads to appear on Instagram.

The picture below is how your ad would look on a desktop screen.

Step 7: Place your order

Now, your advert is ready to go. To submit your ad, click the ‘Place Order’ button at the bottom right-hand corner of the page. Once your ad is submitted, it’ll be reviewed by Facebook before it’s put live (you’ll receive a confirmation email from Facebook once the ad is live).

Successful Facebook Adverts (and why they work)

Example 1:

This ad from watch brand Larsson & Jennings takes on a different approach to a discount promotion, by offering exclusivity to drive the target audience to take action.

Why it works:

The text is positioned with the element of exclusivity (and the impression of scarcity (the sale period between the 1st and the 5th of September) that demands immediate action from the target audience. The product image is of someone wearing their watch as opposed to a picture of just the watch which is more enticing as you can see how it looks being worn.

 

Example 2:

This ad from Philips uses both video content and the carousel ad format. Each video demonstrates a use case of their new OneBlade razor.

Why it works:

The text is short and sweet outlining precisely the benefit of the product. Each of the videos in the carousel showcases the product in a different use case demonstrating the flexibility of the razor.

Example 3:

This ad from Shopify delivers value to the target audience, boosting brand awareness in the process.  

Why it works:

This short punch text excels at triggering curiosity with three one-word questions and then bridging the curiosity gap by providing the answers in the content that’s being promoted. Users are sucked in knowing that they are already using one of the loyalty ideas mentioned, either discounts, contents or VIP status but are they doing it right or are there more effective ways. The image is an interesting one as it appears to be rather random on first but evokes a nostalgic feeling because as a kid, ice cream used to be a treat or reward which links to the content of the article, reward programmes.

Top Tips

Make your ad visually appealing

Use clear images/video to accompany your ad that will engage your target audience and make them more likely to perform an action. You don’t need an expensive camera to take high quality photos and there’s tons of free photo editing apps and websites available such as Canva.

Include clear call to actions (CTA’s)

If you want your target audience to take a specific action, don’t forget to tell them to do so. The key to correctly using CTAs in your ads is to keep them consistent between what your target audience will read in the ad, the link or carousel card title and the specific CTA button that you use. The same goes for when they visit the web page you are linking to in your ad.

Measure performance

It’s important to use the inbuilt analytics tool to track the performance of your ads. These insights will enable you to optimise your ads for better results and show you what works (and what doesn’t) for future campaigns.

 

Stephanie Ozuo
Stephanie Ozuo
Stephanie Ozuo is a Marketing Executive and social media influencer based in London. She is passionate about social issues and politics and her opinions have been featured in Buzzfeed, RT, and Al Jazeera.
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