When I set up my Facebook page, I thought I had to have a presence on all the big social networks.
I didn’t really know what to do with the page. It barely had a dozen likes, it wasn’t getting any comments, and it wasn’t fun to manage.
My page was a ghost town.
I was close to deleting my page until I discovered Facebook ads, and finally experienced some success in building a Facebook following.
To explain my goals, I had no intention of using my Facebook ads as part of a conversion funnel, as a way to connect with clients or editors, or even as a traffic source back to my blog.
As you can see in the chart below from my Google Analytics, paid ads did make Facebook the biggest source of social traffic to my blog (see screenshot below). But that’s not what made me a fan of Facebook ads.
My goals for using the ads were to bring my Facebook page to life, get some engagement, establish my brand, and simply let the world know I exist. I wanted the page to be a cool destination for people to visit online.
This is the kind of page that many TV shows create. They’re not concerned with linking back to their primary content (they can’t), but the Facebook page provides a great tool for building an audience of engaged fans.
Unlike TV shows, I don’t have a huge budget, a mega network backing me, or celebrity appeal. Facebook advertising is a good solution to that problem. Even without celebrity status, unknowns like me can reach thousands of people.
If you’re curious, here’s how you can explore using Facebook ads with minimal investment.
Set your campaign’s budget and duration
Budget is the biggest concern for most people, and you can have high engagement on a low budget.
There’s a direct correlation between your budget and the length of time that you run your ads. You can spend as little as $1 per day on Facebook ads.
So, if you want to spend $10 to promote your upcoming product launch, you can run that campaign for a maximum of ten days at $1 per day. You could also run your ad campaign for four days at $2.50 per day. Get it? Good.
Here’s an example from my dashboard:
Now, here’s how you really get more engagement.
Target your audience
This step is crucial for getting a good ROI. For my first couple of ads, I made the mistake of trying to reach the broadest possible audience.
Facebook predicts how many people are in your target audience, and I was aiming for millions. It seemed logical to me that if I wanted more likes, I had to reach more people.
But the key, especially for ads with small budgets and short durations, is to target a smaller, more specific audience.
If you do nothing to change the parameters for your target audience in the United States, you’ll see over 100 million people in your potential audience.
If you specify people who are interested in a specific topic, like Zora Neale Hurston, you’ll see about 66,000. That’s still huge for a page like mine that only had 88 likes.
Let’s see some examples:
Here’s why smaller works better, especially on a low budget.
- When you’re creating an ad, the size of your target audience is really only your potential audience. Why? Because it costs money just for people to see the ad. So no matter how many people are in your potential audience, you’ll only reach a fraction of them depending on your budget. There’s no way I would have reached a million people on a dollar a day.
- If you don’t specify potential audience members who are highly interested in your offering, you waste a lot of money on people who see your ads, but have no interest. Remember, every person who sees your ad is eating up your ad budget, so make sure the right people see it.
Post the right content
For an engaged audience, posting the right content is just as important as targeting. My Zora Neale Hurston post was successful because I used multiple strategies that Facebook recommends in their Page Publishing Best Practices guide. I’ve condensed some of it for you here.
- Posts between 100-250 characters do better than longer posts.
- Asks questions, especially opinionated ones.
- Photos and videos get 100-180% more engagement than posts with just text.
- Post at least twice a week.
- Make the audience feel privileged by offering perks only to Facebook fans.
- Be timely and relevant.
For my post on Zora Neale Hurston, I strategically published it on her birthday, used a great photo of her, and used less than 250 characters to ask a highly targeted audience an opinionated question about her writing.
Take a look:
There were more comments, but I couldn’t fit them all in this screenshot.
Analyze and revise
This step will separate the successful Facebook pages from the ones with tumbleweeds rolling across the screen.
Facebook offers an overwhelming amount of data. Learn more by reading their Facebook Page Insights Guide. Use that information to adjust your strategy as needed. You can edit campaigns while they’re in progress, pause them, or delete them altogether if you see they aren’t working.
My numbers fluctuate because I don’t use paid promotion for every Facebook post:
Performance also fluctuates because some ads just aren’t as well designed as I could have made them:
In the end, your social media choices are all about your unique goals and social media style.
If your brand is limited to your website only, Facebook pages and ads may not be your first choice.
But if you’re willing to meet potential fans where they are, then you can use Facebook ads to grow your audience.
What do you think of using Facebook ads? Let us know in the comments.