5 Facebook Advertising Tips to Help You Maximize Your Budget

Jan 30, 2018 9 min readSocial Media Marketing
Photo of Ash Read
Ash Read

Head of Content at Buffer

If you want to be successful on Facebook, you’ll need more than just incredible content.

In fact, Facebook marketing success is as much about distribution as it is content. Especially as organic reach in Facebook’s News Feed continues to decline for many Pages.

So how do you get your Facebook content in front of more people? And not just any people, the right people — your target audience.

In 2018, many businesses are turning to Facebook ads as a way to boost the performance of their content. In our State of Social 2018 report we found that:

  • 94% of businesses have invested in advertising on Facebook; and
  • 67% of businesses intend to increase their social media advertising budget in 2018.

Added to our findings, Forrester believes that the total US digital marketing spend will be near $120 billion by 2021, meaning investment is still on an upward curve.

So when it comes to creating the perfect Facebook Ads for your business, what factors should you consider?

Here are five Facebook advertising tips to help you get the most bang for your buck in 2018…

1. Think about who you’re targeting

With Facebook advertising, it’s not so much about reaching the most people as it is reaching the right people.

Sure, big numbers look awesome on your reports, but you need to reach people who are open to discovering your content, curious about your business and receptive to your message. And that’s probably fewer people than you think.

When it comes to targeting and reaching your audience with a super-relevant message, you need to understand:

  • What platforms your audiences use?
  • What types of language they use and how do they communicate?
  • What types of content they engage with most often?

More often than not, you can find the answers to these questions through data and research.

One of the best places to look to learn more about your audience is Facebook’s Audience Insights.

Audience Insights gives you the opportunity to learn more about a specific audience. For example, by checking out Buffer’s insights I was able to learn:

1. People in our audience also tend to like other ‘software companies’ like Moz, Mailchimp, and WordPress. As well as ‘internet companies’ like Hootsuite, ClickFunnels, and Salesforce. With this data, we begin “watching” these Pages to keep an eye on what’s working for them.

2. 35% of our audience work in management. This could help us to think about the language we use in out Facebook adverts as well as the story we tell.

3. People in our audience are more likely to click on an advert than the average Facebook user.

This only scratches the surface of what you can learn about your audience from Facebook’s Audience Insights.

To check the Audience Insights for your own Page head to: https://www.facebook.com/ads/audience-insights/ and choose the “People connected to your Page” option:

And then you can drill down your data even further using the options on the left-hand panel:

You can use these newfound learnings about your audience to create even more targeted ads and craft messages that you know will connect with your prospective customers.

For example, at Buffer, when we wanted to boost our podcast downloads, we created an audience of people we knew would be interested in our ads before spending a dollar. As Brian explains on his blog, we:

  1. Created a custom audience of people who had visited our blog or Buffer.com
  2. Added an additional layer of targeting to only deliver ads to people using iPhone, iPad, and other iOS devices
  3. Promoted our most popular podcast episodes as we knew this content would appeal to our audience

This approach resulted in 3,870 clicks to our podcast episodes for a spend of $922.

2. Tell a great story

Stories are an integral part of human communication. And storytelling — whether in-person, through the written word, or social media — plays an important role in building connections with others.

When you’re planning on creating Facebook Ads, stories are essential to capture the interest of your target customers.

Take Refinery 29, an independent fashion and lifestyle website, for example. The brand generated two different Facebook ad campaigns, both aimed at bringing in new subscribers to their website.

The first campaign featured some eye-catching creative and a clear call-to-action to subscribe. Whereas the second ad set guided the viewer through a simple narrative including an introduction to the brand, an article from the brand, and then a call-to-action to subscribe. Ads for both campaigns were served in News Feed to lookalike audiences.

Here’s a glimpse at how the ads looked:

Campaign #1 (creative + call-to-action):

Campaign #2 (with narrative):

The results were fascinating:

  • Among those who were exposed to the sequenced, narrative-focused ads compared with those who were exposed to the non-sequenced ads, there was an 87% increase in people visiting the landing page
  • There was a 56% increase in subscription rates among people who were exposed to the sequenced ads compared with those who were exposed to the non-sequenced ads

When you’re planning your Facebook campaigns, think about how you can create a narrative and tell stories within your ads in order to build a stronger connection with your target audience.

For more on how you can use storytelling techniques in your social media posts and ads, check out this guide.

3. Monitor performance and adjust in real-time

Social media has changed the world of advertising a great deal.

Back 10-15 years ago, if you ran an advert on TV, radio or even online, you didn’t really have any idea how it was being received in real time.

Now, social media enables you to monitor your ad performance from the moment you set the campaign live.

It might be tempting to set your ad campaigns live and then come back to check performance once each campaign is completed. But by doing this, you’re missing out on massive opportunities to enhance the performance of each of your ads.

Monitoring your Facebook Ads campaigns in real-time enables you to know whether or not your ads are resonating with people and allows you to make adjustments as you go along. For example:

  • If your clicks are slightly lower than expected, it could be worth optimizing your call-to-action.
  • If your engagement isn’t where you want it to be, you could create a new ad set with updated creative.
  • If your reach is too low, try updating your audience targeting parameters.

You can view the performance data for your ads in Facebook Ads Manager:

By clicking on a particular campaign you can also view the performance of each individual ad within that campaign:

And to tweak a particular ad, click on “edit” link underneath the ad title and window will slide in enabling you to make changes:

You can make the following edits to your ads without creating an entirely new campaign:

  • Change your audience
  • Change your budget & schedule
  • Change your optimization & delivery choices
  • Change your placements
  • Change your ad creative

Chances are you won’t create the perfect ad first time around. It takes a lot of experimentation and learning to nail down ads that will deliver results for your business.

Ideally, you want to create several ad sets and ads before you start your campaign and then eliminate under-performing ads as your campaign progresses.

It can take a couple of days before you have enough campaign data to start measuring ad performance. Julian Shapiro recommends waiting until you have at least 2,000 reach per ad (number of people who’ve seen your ad) before comparing the performance of your various ads.

Once you’ve identified the ads that are performing well, then you can continue to iterate on those to get drive more value from your ad spend.

For example, in the below image you can see we:

  1. Started out with three ad variants
  2. Stopped running the under-performing ads
  3. Created an additional variation of the best-performing ad

Note: One of the factors that determines how Facebook will distribute your ads is how each ad is received by your audience. So if your original ad sets are completely underperforming across the board, it can be a better strategy to start a whole new campaign rather than tweaking your existing ads. The above strategy works best to tweak ads that are already performing reasonably well.

4. Track the right metrics for your business

Before you start thinking about launching any Facebook Ads campaign, I would encourage you to think clearly about how you will measure the performance of your ads.

For example, are metrics like brand awareness and email subscribers your #1 focus, or maybe you’re focused fully on driving leads.

In our State of Social 2018 report, we found that most marketers (42 percent) measure the success of their ads by how much engagement they receive, with leads (17 percent) and sales (15 percent) being the second and third most common measures of ROI:

Having a clear measurement of success in mind before you kick off any advertising campaign will help you to understand the performance of your ads and make any needed adjustments to ensure you’re delivering maximum value for your business.

Our State of Social 2018 report also uncovered that companies that invest in social media ads are more than twice as likely to say social media marketing is “very effective” for their business:

So if you feel that social media isn’t delivering the desired results for your business, it could be worth experimenting with Facebook Ads to see if paid social media marketing can help you get the results you’re after.

5. Think long-term

The important thing with Facebook (or any kind of advertising or marketing) is to have a long-term strategy behind your actions.

Let’s say you create an ad set targeting engagement. Awesome! But what’s the long-term plan here? How will you turn this initial engagement into something more tangible for your business?

For example, if you’re running a health and fitness business that sells online exercise programs, you might run a video ad showcasing a simple home workout. This ad would be aimed at engagement and getting as many people to view, like and share your video as possible.

But instead of being the first and final piece of the jigsaw, this could act as a starting point to get new prospects into your funnel.

Using the Facebook pixel, you could then create a custom audience for people that have watched more than 10 percent of the video. Then, you could run an ad towards those people for a class schedule that’s hosted on your website or a trial of your exercise program. So even engagement campaigns can fit into your long-term strategy.

Here’s a simplified look at that campaign might look:

  • Ad Set 1: A video ad showing a simple home workout for people in our audience who are interested in fitness
  • Ad Set 2: A carousel ad looking to drive clicks to our website and increase brand awareness amongst people who watched 10 percent of the video in Ad Set 1
  • Ad Set 3: A conversion focused ad aiming to get people who clicked the link in the previous ad to become customers of our fitness company

You should also consider your customer lifetime value (LTV) before jumping into ads. LTV is the amount of revenue you generate from your average customer in their lifespan with your company.

If you’re selling subscriptions to an online tool at $30 per month and your average customer stays for 12 months your LTV would be $360.

A general rule is that you should aim to acquire customers for no more than one-third of your LTV. So with an LTV of $360, you might want to set your customer acquisition budget at $120 per new customer.

Over to you

Facebook advertising has proven incredibly valuable to thousands of businesses across the globe and I hope these quick tips will help you to make the most of your advertising budget in 2018.

Has your business invested in Facebook advertising yet? I’d love to hear your experiences and any Facebook advertising tips you might have.

Huge thanks to Buffer’s resident Facebook Ads whizz, Brian Peters, for his edits and suggestions for this piece.

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