How to Use Facebook Ads to Promote Your Page and Business

  •    Freelance writer focused on web development, email marketing and baseball. He lives in Los Angeles, but wishes he lived in Tokyo.

Every business needs a Facebook fan page; it's a great way to interact with both customers and potential customers in a place where many of us spend way too much of our time. The question is, how do you grow this page beyond the initial wave of likes you get from your friends and relatives? And how can you ensure the likes you do get match your audience so the exact right people see your posts, interact with your page and visit your site?

Unlike with TV or Newspaper or any other classic form of advertising, Facebook enables very specific targeting. If you want to just reach people between the ages of 25 and 60 in the three zip codes nearest you, you can do that. If you'd like to reach only people who like Die Hard or When Harry Met Sally, you can also do that.

What are the basics?

Facebook ads can be used for a variety of marketing goals: to get more visitors to your site, to drive sales, to get social posts in front of more people, to retarget people who've previously visited your website or to gain likes for your business page (among other options).

Each goal has a generally expected cost attached to it, based on how difficult is to for that goal to be achieved. An ad whose goal is to lead directly to a sale will be more expensive than an ad whose goal is just to get someone to see a post, since you'll make a direct profit from the first while the second provides an indirect value.

Generally costs come out to an average of around $0.20 per like (for a campaign to get more people to like your business page) or $0.28 per click (in a campaign to get more visitors to your site). Keep in mind that these average costs are brought down by large companies with efficient marketing departments; your own costs will vary depending on the quality and effectiveness of your advertising message.

A great thing about FB advertising is you can set a daily budget, whether it's $1.00 a day or $100 a day (or more) that ensures you never spend more than you can afford. And that ensures you can test your marketing out before you start pouring money into it.

How to get started?

Start by going to the Facebook Ads Manager. Anyone with a Facebook account can run an ad from here.

Click on your name, and then click the Create Ad button. This will present you with a variety of options:

Facebook Ads Manager user interface

If you're just getting started with Facebook ads, then it's best to keep this simple and focus on one of two kinds of campaigns: Traffic (to send people to your site) or Engagement (to gain FB page likes). Let's continue using Engagement as our focus since it leads to a tangible benefit: more likes and followers for your FB page, providing you with an interested audience to continue marketing to as your business grows.

Selecting this brings up three options, the second of which is Page Likes. Select that one and continue.

Now you'll create your campaign. First choose which of your FB business pages you'd like to advertise.

Then select the audience you'd like to target. This starts with every FB user in the U.S. (or your country) over the age of 18. This is not a particularly targeted audience, so you'll want to narrow it down. Even if you think everyone in the world would benefit from what you're selling, you, at least, will benefit from focusing in on a more specific group.

Let's take a coffee shop in San Francisco. Arguably every single person in San Francisco, and cities in San Francisco's metro area like Oakland and Berkeley (since many of these folks work in SF), could be interested in stopping through. But the people most likely to stop through will live nearby, so why not focus on the zip codes nearest your business?

Facebook Ads Manager user interface location

Then why not narrow this down even more to people in this area who've shown a strong interest in buying and drinking coffee?

Facebook Ads Manager user interface targeting

Now everyone who sees your ad will stand a good chance of being interested in what you're selling.

If you have a website with a national audience, be creative in how you think of targeting. Would people with specific interests be more likely to buy your product? What about people who like certain TV shows or movies? Don't ever target everyone.

Now set your budget and the start / stop time for your ad. Your daily budget can be whatever you like, but if you want to notice activity from the ad, you should likely keep it to at least $5 a day. You can keep it open ended or set an end date. If you set an end date and are happy with the results, you can always extend it, so maybe limit it to a week if this is your first campaign.

What's your message?

Now that you have your audience, you have to create an ad to entice them to like your page. This should be an image and a short message to get viewers to click that Like button. The same principles that always apply to crafting a strong call-to-action apply here: use positive and actionable language, and be direct with your message. No need to beat around the bush. People like to buy things. You're selling things. Tell them.

And you're all done! Your campaign will begin running on your start date and time.

Now what?

Your page has a lot more likes now. So what? What good does it do anything except your ego to have 2,000 people like your business page?

Well, for one, now you have a reason to keep your FB page continually updated. Run special deals and messages for people who follow you. Don't just let them sit there. They liked your page. They know that doing so means there'll be posts from you in their feed. Have a picture, a message, a greeting, a daily menu, something nice to remind them you're there. Now they'll be more likely to visit your site or swing by your coffee shop, and tell other people about you. And that's what business is all about.