On the surface advertising on Facebook may seem to be a straight forward proposition. You create an ad, select an audience, and pay Facebook to show it.  In fact Facebook has been encouraging businesses to take the advertising plunge for quite some time with a pop-up recommendation to “boost” a post. Simply put, you select content that you’ve posted on your page, decide how much money you want to spend and Facebook will distribute that content to more people. Though this falls under the category of advertising, it’s just scratching the surface of what can be done with this very powerful ad platform.

Where To Begin
To take full advantage of the Facebook advertising platform, there are some preliminary steps you should take. The first is to set up something called Business Manager. This provides an environment where you, the Facebook business page owner, can invite others to collaborate on your advertising campaigns. Whether it’s personnel in an internal marketing department or an outside advertising agency, Business Manager will allow you to provide access while maintaining ownership (and control) of your Facebook assets. The next step is to place a tracking “pixel” on each page of your website. This is easier than it sounds but unless you have earned your “geek” degree, you may want to leave this task to your web developer or someone who is knowledgeable about website architecture. The pixel facilitates the capability to monitor the activity of website visitors that arrive from Facebook.  This will allow you to do things like, count conversions, set up re-marketing campaigns, or create new targeted audiences based on the demographics and qualitative profile of the visitors to your website from Facebook. These are called “lookalike” audiences and we’ll explore that in a future article. After Business Manager is set up and the pixel is installed on your website pages, you may begin to create sophisticated advertising campaigns, each with it’s own goal.

Process Overview
In most cases advertising begins with exposing a new audience to your product or service. You help create Awareness or what is also referred to as top-of-the (sales) funnel activity. Audience interest is indicated by visits to your website or interacting with your ad by liking or sharing it with others. This engagement indicates you are getting the audience’s Consideration in the middle-of-the-funnel stage. When convinced that the product or service you offer fits a need, want or desire, the audience can be encouraged to visit a store or make purchase online. This Conversion is at the bottom-of-the-funnel and is the ultimate goal for advertisers. As is implied, a lot of volume goes into the top of the funnel and a much smaller amount comes out of the bottom. For this reason early stage advertising campaigns are designed to reach a large number of potential customers with a more general informative message and later stage campaigns appeal to a more targeted group with messaging intended to   drive an action like complete a form, schedule an appointment, or make a purchase.

How It Works
The following steps are done in the Facebook Ads Manager, a tool for creating ads, managing when they will run and which associated properties they’ll run on (i.e. mobile newsfeed, desktop newsfeed, Instagram or the Audience Network). You will also be able to view and create reports to track how your campaigns are performing.

Step One is to select the objective for the Campaign you want to run. There are currently 11 objectives to choose from and they fall into 3 categories. You guessed it, Awareness, Consideration and Conversion. These 3 categories represent the journey an individual makes on their way to becoming your customer and typically begins with an Awareness campaign.

Step Two is to create an Ad Set. This is section in Ads Manager where you select everything from audience targeting and geography, to run dates, budgeting and more. There are enough intricate decisions to be made and tasks to complete in the Ad Set section that we’ll need to cover it in a separate article.

Step Three is creating ads. There are several ad formats to choose from ranging from static images to slide shows or video. If you do not have a video, there is a creative tool you can access in the ad creation section to make one from images that you already have.  One format option called Instant Experience is designed for mobile and allows you to build what is essentially a landing page right within the ad itself. These ads are designed to capture the complete attention of your audience. They can watch engaging videos and photos, swipe through a slide show, read ad copy and explore lifestyle images with tagged products—all in a single ad. After creating your ad you may preview how it looks in the desktop and mobile newsfeeds as well as on Instagram and the other placement options in the Audience Network.

Facebook reviews all ads to make sure they comply with their advertising guidelines. Once approved your ads will begin to run on the day and time selected in the Ad Set. Simple, right? As with all advertising, the devil is in the details! Now that you have an overview of Facebook advertising, next time we’ll take a deeper dive into some of those details pertaining to campaign objectives and targeted audience development.