Facebook Ads: What Are They? How Do I Start?

Facebook ads, post reach, impressions … all terms we’ve probably come across as bloggers and entrepreneurs. But how many of us really know what it all means and whether it is something we should be considering, investing in, or completely ignoring? As a blogger working in the field of digital marketing, I’ve had my share of experiences working with content and social campaigns. While I can look back at some pretty successful experiences, I can also say I’ve had my share of failures.

Aiming to learn more and share that knowledge with others, I’ve asked my buddy Gary who happens to be a rock star when it comes to FB ads, to help explain a few things that might still be unclear. Below he shares some wisdom (just some).

Side note: Contact info and more about Gary at the end of this entry. 

So much talk of FB ads for businesses, what is it really? What does it do?

Facebook ads allow you to surface your content natively within the Facebook ecosystem to a broader and more targeted subsection of users than those who already like your Facebook page. Basically, it’s one of the only ways to ensure your content is reaching the right group of people outside of your existing Facebook audience.

I’m a blogger … if I’m already promoting organic content, are FB ads really necessary?

In most cases, yes! There’s so much organic content running through people’s news feeds these days that only a small percentage of your audience will even see your posts – only about 10% of your total page likes on average. Without leveraging the extended reach of Facebook ads, the only chance your content has of reaching outside of your existing audience is if it goes viral or gets shared by a larger page.

Paying for ads seems like something big companies would do, can bloggers and entrepreneurs do it as well?

Definitely. Facebook ads have really leveled the playing field for the little guys trying to break through the clutter. Anyone looking to build more brand awareness, grow their audience, and drive traffic to their website should be utilizing the tools that Facebook ads provides. And the best part is that you can spend as little or as much as you want!

When do you know your content is “worthy” of FB ads?

This one really starts off with your gut feel. Put yourself in the mindset of your audience. Would you be compelled to read, watch, or click through to this piece of content? And when you do, is it interesting, entertaining, or informative enough to keep me around to consume all of it? And going further, are you including calls to action on that page to get those new visitors to complete the actions you’d like them to? You should always be thinking of the next step, like signing up for your email list, accessing a piece of premium content, following you on another social channel, viewing another related piece of content, etc.

How do I even do it?

Just start. What I WOULDN’T do, is press the “Boost” button in the bottom corner of your organic posts. Head into the Facebook Ads Manager and start playing around there. Browse the various campaign objectives, test out different audience targeting in your ad sets, and rotate in various images, video, and copy. Then, once you’ve gotten the hang of it, work your way up to Facebook Power Editor. That’s an advanced tool where you can really get granular with your audience targeting and ad creative.

On a budget, how much money do you need to invest?

You can spend as little as $1 a day, and how many people you reach really depends on the size of your target audience. I run a blog targeting craft beer drinkers in LA, and I budget around $10-25 per week depending on how much content we’re promoting at the time. The best part about Facebook ads is you can invest as little or as much as you want depending on the size of your audience, depth of your wallet, or desire for growth.

How often should I do it?

As often as you have content worth promoting. As a blogger, you know that consistency in your production schedule is key. The same goes for how often you’re appearing in front of your target audience. Utilize Facebook ads to keep your brand consistently in the news feeds of the people you want to reach. Rotate fresh content in and out of your active ad sets and be sure to check back every few days to make sure reach and engagement isn’t declining.

Do you have a secret to being successful with ads on Facebook? Can you share?

I have a bunch but I’ll leave you with the most important ones. Here they are:

  1. The first thing you should do after reading this is install the Facebook Custom Audience Pixel onto your site. This will start cookie-ing your blog’s visitors so that you can retarget them with your Facebook ads. While you’re at it, upload your email list to Facebook to create a Custom Audience with them as well. These two groups of people are the most likely to engage with your content, so you should include them in almost every Facebook ads campaign that you run. And be sure to frame your ad creative specific to these groups. They already know who you are, so no need to address them like they don’t.
  2. When you’re creating a custom header image for a piece of content (at 1200 x 628 pixels, of course), create another version that limits the text to only 20% of the overall photo. Facebook won’t let you run an ad that links to your website when over 20% of the link image contains text. Use their grid tool to see if your image is within the guidelines.
  3. As people start Liking and Reacting with your ad, click the link under your post that says “So and so and 5 others”, which will bring up a list of the people that have engaged with the post. If a person hasn’t already Liked your page, there should be an “Invite” button that appears. Click it. This button has a great conversion rate in turning non-Likers into Likers.Example - FB ads
  4. Be sure to utilize consistent naming conventions for your campaigns, ad sets, and ads. Once you’ve been running ads for awhile, the Facebook ads interface can get a bit cluttered. But they do have a really useful search function, so if you name everything properly, you should have no issues. I recommend “Post Description” as your campaign name, “Post Description – Audience Description” for your ad set name, and “Post Description – Audience Description – Ad Description” for your ad name.


About Gary

Gary MagnoneGary Magnone loves craft beer, cocktails, and coffee, but more importantly, people, he’s a digital marketing consultant and entrepreneur. He launched Highrise in 2012 and helps his clients drive traffic, leads, and revenue through digital channels. He also runs Hopped LA, a website that helps connect craft beer brands in LA with the people that care about them. He’s a friendly dude, so feel free to connect with him on Twitter or by email at gary@gethighrise.com.