Regardless of your personal opinion on Facebook and its controversial founder, there are few who would argue its status as social media’s market leader. With almost 1.9 billion monthly active users, Facebook’s engagement levels dwarf those of rivals like Snapchat and Twitter. And despite increasingly being seen as ‘uncool’ among younger audiences, the majority of your customers are probably already on Facebook. That means you should have a presence there, too.
This presence doesn’t have to be limited to hopeful corporate plugs on your personal Facebook page. Creating a company page is almost as easy as setting up an account in the first place, and there are several ways of advertising on Facebook once a business page is up and running. The first method involves boosting a new or existing post, prioritising it in the algorithm that calculates in which order posts will appear on other people’s timelines. Unlike Twitter, Facebook doesn’t simply publish content in reverse chronological order. Choosing to boost a post gives you two options – to raise its prominence in the timelines of people who already like you (and their associates), or to display it to new audiences.
Another method of advertising on Facebook news feeds involves promoting a post. This operates along similar lines to the boost option outlined above, but with a wider range of targeting and pricing options. In both scenarios it’s important to know the parameters you want to set for any campaign. Do you have a maximum daily budget, particular demographics to target or an overall aim for the boosted/promoted post? Experts generally recommend targeting posts with a significant number of likes, comments or shares. This optimises the chances of other people liking it, maximising its effectiveness among new audiences.
Advertising on Facebook can also take the form of a conventional ad rather than a promoted post. With this method it’s necessary to define campaign objectives at the outset – anything from encouraging event attendance to driving traffic to your company’s website. It may be advisable to include an offer or incentive, while photos are also strongly recommended. Advertisers can either pay every time an ad is displayed, or for each click it receives. The former will achieve far higher distribution across Facebook, but the latter only costs money when it achieves an objective. Each ad campaign may require a different approach, depending on the targets being set and the revenue available to spend on it.
It’s possible to be very specific about who sees promoted content on Facebook, and carefully defining audience characteristics will maximise any return on investment. Criteria can include someone’s age and gender, their location or known interests based on their previous activities within Facebook. As with other online advertising platforms, ad performance reports can identify trends and allow you to refocus campaigns for greater impact or cost-effectiveness.
Measuring the success of advertising on Facebook often involves the Facebook pixel. This snippet of code is embedded into destination pages to track and record website conversions, so anyone running a campaign can determine how successful it’s been. While the idea of embedding Facebook-generated code into a third-party site may raise a few eyebrows, it’s the best metric for measuring responses. It can also help to establish whether Facebook is a worthwhile platform for your company to advertise on in future.
Finally, it’s worth bearing in mind that Facebook owns Instagram, another hugely popular social media platform. It’s perhaps unsurprising that one cornerstone of this $1 billion acquisition was the ability to target Instagram’s 600 million active monthly users. Timeline advertising on Instagram can take various forms, from conventional photo and video advertisements through to slideshows. The visual effect is less intrusive than on Facebook, even though adverts are created and managed through the parent website or app. Instagram audiences can be targeted according to anything from their age and location through to ethnicity and life events. And as with Facebook, it’s possible to run more than one Instagram ad campaign simultaneously, to maximise results.