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How to Effectively Use Social Media Ads for Small Business


Social media is great for businesses, especially small ones. It is a phenomenal way to identify your fans, entice new ones and interact with your community. But it only works if you have followers, and on major social media sites, those are harder than ever to come by these days. If you have a business page that was once booming with likes, shares and fun activity, you may be wondering why it has come to a screeching halt.

Social media advertising is to blame. You may have heard this already, and admittedly it is a hard pill to swallow, but the same dastardly villain that has stalled your social momentum is also the one that can save it.  Once Facebook, Twitter and the like decided it was time to show their hand and start making money off of businesses on their platforms, they realized the only real way to get this done was to slow organic engagement. It doesn’t matter if you are a company of 10 or 10,000, to get in front of a large audience these days you have to pay to play.

There is good news here! Social media advertising is pretty inexpensive and when done right can draw business and new fans for your brand. If it hits just right, social media advertising can launch you into the viral stratosphere. On major platforms you can target your audience not only by age and location, but by their interests, profession, income, home ownership, movie preference and so much more. First thing’s first: set your budget, identify your goal and know who your target audience is! Here is how it’s done on Facebook.

Facebook Social Media Ads 101

Facebook started this whole advertising rigmarole and they are the masters of the market. If you want to understand social media marketing, this is the place to get educated.

Step 1: Choose a campaign objective.

You can choose to:

  • Boost your posts (expand the reach of a popular post or promotional post)
  • Promote your page (get likes)
  • Send people to your website (make sure it’s the corresponding page)
  • Increase conversions on your website (use pixels for contact forms and the like)
  • Get installs of your app or increase engagement in your app
  • Raise attendance at your event (for Facebook events you have already created)
  • Get people to claim your offer (make sure it’s an actual offer)
  • Get video views

Step 2: Identify Your Audience

You also want to have a firm idea of who you are looking to reach and what their likes/dislikes are. If you have access to research on your industry or company that gives you these profiles, use them. Your targeting options aren’t quite limitless, but are pretty close. You are able to target by who likes your competitors, who likes your page or even exclude people who already like your page if your goal is to only reach new prospects.

Step 3: Advanced Targeting

If you want to get granular, which can be beneficial in not wasting ad spend, look at interests. For example, if you are a home goods seller, you might target people who are really into HGTV shows, magazines, new home owners and the like. Be careful, because sometimes you can get too specific and Facebook will let you know if your ad isn’t reaching enough people for their tastes. Play with this a bit and when you get it right you’ll be able to spend very little for big results. You can even target with custom lists, meaning you can use your opt-in mailing list in some instances as well.

Step 4: Setting Ad Spend and Run Dates

Pay close attention to a few things when you are putting your ad together:

  • When setting your spending, ensure you have adjusted the location to fit your target area.
  • Use the detailed targeting portion, don’t just skip it. Start with a few choices and then expand as you become more familiar with the ad system.
  • Make absolutely certain that you have chosen the appropriate type of budget, either daily or lifetime. This is very, very important! If you decide you want to spend $200 for the ad to run for a month, then make sure you aren’t setting your budget at $200 daily. Facebook isn’t going to make sure that’s what you meant to do and they will make sure your money gets spent.
  • As important, if not more so, set a start and end date unless you absolutely know that you want to run the ad continuously or will remember to turn it off when you want to do so. Otherwise it will just keep going and going, ’til death do you part. Depending on the type of objective you have chosen, there may be a daily spending minimum so your lifetime budget may only get you two weeks’ worth of exposure, but that really is all you need.

Step 5: Get Creative!

Once you’ve determined your demographics, ad spend and run dates, you get to move on to the fun part (more fun for some than others), designing your ad! Facebook is nice enough to provide you with a large library of stock photos you can select by search term or you can use your own images. Customize your message to entice your target audience to click, like, share and respond. You are limited on the amount of text you can use, so get your creative juices flowing.

Step 6: Review Your Ad and Choose Display Options

When the heavy lifting is done, you can review your ad in all its glory and in all the forms it will appear. I strongly recommend reviewing what the ad looks like on the newsfeed in desktop and mobile, as well as the right hand newsfeed. You want to be sure that it looks appropriate and gets your message across no matter where your audience is viewing it. A game-changing feature that Facebook added recently is the ad push to Instagram and third party websites based on your demographics. Your reach is exponentially expanded with these options.

Many of these tips can be used when targeting on Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram as well. Your message and imaging should be similar, but make sure the language and presentation are appropriate for the platform you are advertising on. Here are a few tips to run with on other major platforms:

  • Twitter is younger, faster and likes its messages short and sweet. Eye-catching images are key.
  • LinkedIn should be delivered in a professional manner. While LinkedIn better serves a B2B setting, ads for professional services for job seekers, education or career development come in handy as well. LinkedIn is sneaky in their ad set-up and you have to expand the setup menu to reveal the option to set an end date.
  • Instagram is all about images, forget the text and get visual. Find something stunning and original that will make folks stop and take notice among all the other eye-candy they are sorting through.

If you follow these tips, invest the time and work through the kinks in identifying what works best for you, then you will find your second wind in engagement for your business page. If all of this seems like a little much to tackle on your own, you’re in luck! We’re experts and we LOVE putting together eye-catching, engaging campaigns for our clients. Contact us today to learn more about what we can do to breathe life back into your social media!