Q&A: How do I start Facebook advertising and is it worth it?
Much has changed over the years. We have all been over-advertised too, particularly in Facebook where the algorithms and entire design of the platform is to sell to us. Our brains have quickly evolved to ignoring ads with our special in-built ad blockers. And with each change Facebook has made, we are getting less organic reach. Which means that if we do post on a Facebook profile with followers, fewer people are seeing what we post on our page (essentially forcing us to pay for our reach so Facebook shareholders get richer 🤑). No surprises there!
What we do know is the first hour counts when you post something on your Facebook page. Your post will only be served to a small percentage of your audience (say 5%). How much they engage with the content determines how many more of your followers will be served your post. So the better the content is, the more people engage, the more they engage, then the more people Facebook will serve your content too. The moral here is try to post unique, interesting and relevant content that your audience naturally cares about. 🤔
How should I start Facebook advertising?
If you think Facebook is a good avenue for your audience then my advice is to run some test campaigns first. For the best guidance on how to do this, listen to a good podcast on Beginner Facebook Advertising - I‘ve previously followed Amy Porterfield, Rick Mulready or John Loomer when it comes to Facebook, but there are many more out there - it might serve you better to find something recent given Facebook’s constant changes.
👉 In the meantime, here’s an outline of what you might like to do based on what I've learnt over time...
Use Facebook Advertising rather than boosting your posts.
You’ll need to deal directly with Facebook unless you want to give a third party supplier more of your money. There’s no getting better deals, negotiating with Facebook or working the system. But the advertising platform gives you more flexibility on content variations and audience options than just boosting a post.
What I do is run several split test campaigns first which sets me back around $100. Generally with $5 per ad variation, per day for three days.
Firstly I would split test a single creative (the same image and text content for each ad) across 3-4 target audiences to find out who resonates the most with what you have to offer. Be as specific as Facebook will allow, to define your target audience combining demographics and interests. If you only have $100 to spend, then you want to make sure it’s spent on the most likely people to take action for what you have to offer. The smallest possible group of people you can get away with. Facebook will let you know if it’s too narrow.
I would then take the winning audience from my first campaign and split test the creative (by creative I mean the image and words).
I would first test 3-5 images but identical text content and serve it to the winning audience from your last campaign, to understand which image works best. The image could make or break your ad. I have had a single image that works 10+ times better than all other images.
If you haven't already discovered Canva.com, this is a great place to create social media images with text overlay but try to keep your text minimal as Facebook will penalise you if your ad has too many words (sheesh!). I also use Pexels.com to acquire my images royalty free 🙌 (thank you).
👉 Back to the task at hand...
I would then take the winning image and create around 3 different ads with different headlines or text content and serve it to the same winning audience.
The combination of the best image, best text content and the most successful audience should give you your lowest cost per click or cost per engagement (click, like, comment or share). My target is to get this down to around $1 per clickthrough if I can, but it depends on so many different variables.
If you have an awesome product that your target market needs (i.e. you are solving a real problem and you’re saying all the right things - things that your target audience resonates with), you shouldn’t have to spend big bickies. But this is changing the harder it becomes to engage with a population of over-advertised and over-it audiences - combined with the increasing number of Facebook Advertisers attempting to shout at the same audience in the hopes they get heard. 😩
If you are in a competitive market, however, and you aren’t doing something differently, or you are really unique but have created a product or service that people aren’t deeply craving - then it could cost you thousands to build your audience.
So, what do I do if it doesn’t work?
Well, the good thing here is that with Facebook you can learn from what you are saying. Because Facebook tells you exactly how many impressions (number of times your ad is seen) and clicks or engagements then you can determine the level of interest. If there’s just not that much interest then maybe you need to look at what you are trying to sell or how you are selling it. And you can test these things, often with as little as $5 a day.
But there are so many factors at play here. It could be that you just haven’t hit the mark on your product or service in the first place or that people don’t trust you yet as you’re relatively unknown. Or it could be that you aren’t saying the right things. I’ve seen many good products or services fail to connect with their audience because they are talking about features and facts rather than heart, purpose and real emotional benefits.
How can I have more confidence in what I am doing?
The best way to know is to create a strong marketing foundation with a clear marketing strategy and test each element of your strategy with your target audience.
Ideally, in today’s world filled with clutter and a scarcity of trust, you would build your audience slowly based on making a stand for something. Based on a genuine purpose or passion. 💕
So if you were targeting retirees who valued out-of-the-box experiences then you could spend some time creating an audience through a blog and social media by talking to retires about adventure, personal/spiritual development or doing retirement differently. Then once you had hundreds or ideally thousands of retirees interested in what you have to say - and because you were putting a voice to what they are feeling or you were providing generous value in some way - then you would create a product or service that would genuinely fulfil their needs. Based on what they have shared with you that's important to them. When you drop this product or service in your pool of existing fans then it would create a ripple effect. Because you already had an audience that trusts you, there would be no need to try to persuade through costly advertising.
The other way around is much, much harder.
The old way of marketing - where you create a product or service you think people need and then put it out there in the hopes it will be received and talked about, works far less these days. It can work however only if you have very deep pockets or a unique product people crave and you solve a very real problem in a way that is embraced.
Is this different when I am marketing an event or something with a set deadline?
A new event with a deadline - and this goes for a course, workshop, retreat or speaking engagements, in my experience, requires a much larger budget if you are doing it the “old way” (meaning you don’t have a large existing pool of trusting followers). You are unlikely to make money the first time around. Successful events either have a large budget or they do whatever it takes the first time around, to get participants to experience their product or service (e.g. offer it for cheap or free or with additional value). The first time around is about building your profile, earning trust and hoping delighted participants spread the word afterwards, to create the ripple effect.
So long story short, how much you spend on Facebook advertising or how to tackle facebook advertising won’t affect your results too much, although testing and tweaks will get your best cost per result. The old way of doing marketing is a steep and often expensive hill to climb. Instead, real marketing is in the creation of the product or service in the first place. Real marketing is in the heart of what you are doing, the people you serve and the higher purpose that you are genuinely driven to achieve.
Libby Evans is a small business marketing coach who teaches online through The Authentic Marketing Course.