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11 Facebook advertising tips for small businesses

Start advertising your business on Facebook with Vodafone's 11 pro tips to get the most from this sales-boosting social platform.

 

After the changes we have experienced over the last two years, businesses of all sizes need to be online to thrive. Building a digital presence allows your business to reach customers beyond your usuals. 
 
Facebook (now called Meta) is a great place to start your e-commerce efforts. Read on for insights on how to get the most out of advertising on this social media platform. 

1. Decide what your ad should achieve. 

 
On Facebook ads, you should design your campaign for one of three phases: Awareness, Consideration, and Conversion. (Ads that try to accomplish everything at once usually fall flat.) 
 
Awareness

The goal of Awareness, the first phase, is generating interest in your business in general. Whether or not this phase is right fit depends on your goals. If your operation is relatively new, let’s say, then you may want to focus on getting the word out before shifting your stuff. To gear your ad for Awareness, set its objective (in the settings) to Brand Awareness or Reach, which optimise for reaching the most eyeballs, when entering the campaign details into Facebook.

Consideration

The Consideration phase is for businesses hoping to stoke that initial spark of interest. This second part of the mix, when successful, nudges potential buyers to learn more about you. Set your campaign objective to Traffic (think: digital footfall) objective to create a campaign that encourages people to visit your website in this case.  
               
Conversion

The final piece – Conversion – serves businesses hoping to make sales, either from warm leads, or from Facebook users nearby your physical storefront. To show off your e-comm goods, for example, you can set your campaign objective to Catalogue Sales. 
 
For more information on which campaign objectives fall into each of these three phases, check Facebook here. 

The best way to set your set up for success on Facebook advertising is to define success. Are you trying to get your name out there, or are you trying to close leads? Figure this out first.

2. Figure out your budget, then calculate your Bid. 

 
Your available resources and present goals will determine the size of your spend. But, as a general rule of thumb, spending small makes more sense in the earlier stages, e.g. when you’re in the Awareness phase, warming up potential leads to retarget later with a Conversion post. Then double-down when you’ve already got folks interested. 
 
But, before doing anything else, you should decide what the maximum amount you can spend on Facebook ads, your Budget. 
 
Once you’ve arrived at this figure, choose your key performance metric. On Facebook ads, this metric is called the ‘Bid.’ The Bid is the amount you are willing to pay for the desired result of your ad, from impressions to click-through rate. 
 
But you need to make sure your budget and Bid are in agreement. 
 
Let’s say you’re willing to spend £5 for each conversion (in this case, clicks). Your budget needs enough room to reach the number of clicks you want. If your goal is 50 click-throughs to your website, for example, then your budget needs to be at least £250 at a £5 Bid rate.  
 
The total cost of your Facebook ads will depend on your bid. For a point of reference, let’s go over the average cost of an ad across all businesses on the platform.
 
If you’ve opted for like cost-per-click (CPC), the price averages £0.72 per-click. If you’ve instead chosen to pay by impression, as you might in an Awareness campaign, the average price is £5.32 per 1,000 impressions (views of the ad).
 
Lastly, plan to run your ad for at least one week for best results. 

Your bid will determine the how much you spend on each individual view (impression) or click (engagement) of your ad. Make sure your total budget leaves enough room for your Facebook ad performance goals.

3. Narrow your target audience. 

 
Facebook allows you to home in on exactly who you want to see your promotions. The basic taxonomy is as follows: you can decide to either include or exclude certain attributes, and then narrow the field by further distinctions. 
 
If you want to include or exclude only people who meet all of your criteria, you can use the audience-narrowing actions. For example, let’s say you’ve launched a new company that sells premium organic dog food. Here’s how you might hone your audience further using the Facebook tool:

                1. Include dog owners
                2. Narrow audience
                3. Include people interested in organic cooking
                4. Click ‘Narrow further’
                5. Include local University graduates
 
Once you’ve narrowed these fields, Facebook will tell you roughly the size of your available audience, so you can decide whether or not there are enough potential customers to reach with your ad. 

A word of caution: the more you narrow your audience, the more potential buyers you miss. So carefully consider the demographics of your audience and decide what distinguishes them at the broadest possible level. 

Choose a relevant audience, but don’t narrow the field so much that you exclude potential buyers who don’t fit into neat categories. Don’t underestimate the power of word-of-mouth promotion via social. Everyone is a potential spokesperson for your business.

4. Write short, focused copy that grabs attention. 

 
When you’re crafting an ad for Facebook, it can be tempting to cram everything about your business into a single post. But the best strategy is to see each ad as achieving one thing. 
 
Start with the call-to-action (CTA). Ask yourself: what do I want potential customers to do, ideally, when they see my ad? 
 
If the answer is to read or watch some marketing materials, then ‘Learn more’ is a worthy CTA. If instead your goal is for leads to book hair salon appointments, your CTA should be ‘Book now,’ or something to this effect. 
 
Once you’ve decided on the purpose of your ad, you can then begin crafting the rest of the copy around it. All of your communications should be consistent in tone and style. To figure out what yours should be, you should think about the way your target audience talks (or posts), and try to match that language. 
 
Remember: we’re only going to accomplish one thing with this Facebook ad, so let’s get to the point as soon as we can.

The shorter the better. According to Hootsuite, Facebook posts with 80 characters or fewer receive 66% higher engagement rates.

5. Select imagery that stands out, but also blends in. 

 
In the Facebook Newsfeed, it’s an all-out war for attention. You want to select arresting imagery with high impact.
 
But you may also lose people if the imagery looks too much like an ad. Try and select graphics or photography that strikes a balance between professional polish and being too salesy. Speaking generally, you should avoid photography that looks posed – so find images that show how people can authentically enjoy your product or service in their day-to-day lives. Images with a strong sense of action are more engaging.
 
There are no hard-and-fast rules here, so we recommend trying different styles and images to determine what does the best job of catching your audience’s eye.
 
To source great free images, there are plenty of royalty-free photo libraries – like Unsplash. For tips on taking pictures yourself, discover our top tips for social media imagery.

Choose a relevant audience, but don’t narrow the field so much that you exclude potential buyers who don’t fit into neat categories. Don’t underestimate the power of word-of-mouth promotion via social. Everyone is a potential spokesperson for your business.

6. Boost a post that already has momentum. 

You can always test posts before deciding to turn them into an ad. 
 
Posting on Facebook without any ad spend behind it is free – it’s called an ‘organic’ post. You can post an idea you have for an ad organically, and then decide to ‘Boost’ it via Facebook advertising. 
 
Boosting a post that already is earning engagement in your “Feed,” the stream of posts on the platform, can give you some confidence in its performance. Plus, you’ll keep all the Likes, Comments and other actions will remain on the post, so your ad won’t start off cold. 

Boosting an ‘organic’ post (a non-advert) allows you to test and learn what kind of content performs best – for free. You can always decide to put money behind a post later, and posts that already have ‘likes’ are more likely to gain traction and be shown to more users. 

7. Sprinkle some pixel dust. 

 
The Facebook pixel is a bit of code added to your website. When someone visits your website and takes an action (for example, buying something), the Facebook pixel is triggered and reports this action. 
 
Using a pixel code gives you deeper insights into your customer base. It also allows you to target Facebook users who have already visited your website. 
 
Imagine a potential customer has gone to your website, filled the online cart with items to buy, but then dropped off at the checkout phase. The Facebook pixel allows you to serve up a specific ad to people who have completed these actions, so that you can remind them to make the purchase. 
 
You can even create a dynamic ad, so that the products the customer is shown are those he or she was about to buy. 
 
Learn more about setting up a dynamic Facebook ad here. 

Facebook can serve an individual user an image of a product that he or she has already looked at on your website, rendering the ad hyper-relevant.

8. Take advantage of Facebook’s cataloging tool.  

 
Facebook lets you assemble all of your inventory on its site, so that it’s easier to create ads. You can upload each item one-by-one or in bulk, including details such as images, descriptions, and prices. 
 
There’s a clear advantage to uploading all of the items you sell and all the relevant details. 
 
When you’ve got a fully uploaded catalog, Facebook can select the right image to resonate with each individual user. So if you’re a clothing retailer selling a pair of jeans, for example, the Facebook algorithm will ensure that product is shown to denim-lovers, and so on. 

Facebook can make sure that different users are automatically shown distinct images in their (respective) Feeds, depending on their demographics and interests. For a veterinary office, let’s say, cat-lovers see feline photos, whereas dog-lovers are shown pics of pooches.

9. Create a community page.

Community pages on Facebook are a fantastic way to build reach on the platform. Facebook users tend to be more active on these pages compared to those with strictly commercial aims. 
 
You should centre this community around something that interests your target demographic and also relates to your business. 
 
For example, if we again pretend you’ve got an organic dog food company, you might create a group dedicated to sharing the best dog-walking routes in London. Then you invite people to join and just let the conversation happen. 
 
Instead of promoting to this group directly on the Community page, you can use Facebook ads to target them separately. 

Community pages allow you build an audience of interested Facebook users.  

10. Post using the Facebook Story feature. 

Facebook Stories provide potential customers with more information about what your business is like. These kinds of posts – short, snackable videos that appear in a special Feed, called Stories – work best when they provide a behind-the-scenes view of how your business operates.
 
Stories are a casual way to engage your audience, so the less you overthink them, the better.  

Short, snackable videos – called ‘Stories’ – can provide an authentic, fly-on-the-wall look into how your business runs. Facebook Stories, a new way to share content on the platform, already has more than 500 million users.
 

11. Aim to crack 1%. 

 
Across all industries, the average click-through rate on a Facebook ad is around 1%. 
 
This may seem low but remember – clicking through is one measure of success. Many more people will see your ad compared to those who engage with it. And fostering familiarity is still a worthwhile endeavor. 
 
So: aim to do just a little bit better. Even if just 1% of Facebook users are clicking through your ad, you are performing above average. 
 
The lesson here is to set reasonable expectations, and to not beat yourself up if your first effort does not go exactly to plan. There are a phenomenal number of tools to further refine your Facebook advertising efforts, which we’ve touched on today. 

Don’t give up too easily. Small businesses who see the best results are the ones who stick with it. 

FACEBOOK BUSINESS GLOSSARY
 

Pixel: a pixel is a portion of code entered on your website, which allows you to measure the effectiveness of your advertising. 

Boost: a Boost Post is a type of paid advertisement on Facebook promoting an existing post from a business page.

Feed: the News Feed is the list of posts on your homepage, including status updates, photos, and videos, which refreshes automatically.

Bid: the Bid is the amount you are willing to pay for the desired result of your ad, from impressions to click-through rate. 

CTA: the call-to-action (CTA) is the prompt at the bottom of your ad, such as “Learn more” or “Shop now

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