Use targeted Facebook ads segmented for your target audience to help your content marketing assets grow your audience.
With nearly two billion users, it’s not difficult to see why so many marketers flock to promote their content on Facebook. In fact, 95.8% of social media marketers said Facebook provides the best ROI of all social platforms.
But in order to use the platform effectively for content promotion, you’ll need to get a handle on the basics of how to use Facebook’s advertising tools to reach and effectively engage with your target audience. Here’s how to get started.
The easiest way to begin promoting your content on Facebook is completely free – simply copy and paste your URL into your status box and hit post. That said, over the last several years organic reach has declined considerably. If you simply share your posts on your Page, it’s likely only a handful of your followers will see them—with no opportunity to reach a new audience.
Like Google AdWords, Facebook’s algorithm is designed to benefit the user, which is why you see a mix of posts from friends and family alongside the occasional ad. Unless a post has a ton of natural engagement, business content that hasn’t been promoted by ad spend gets lost in the shuffle.
The good news is Facebook offers some of the most effective and affordable ads around. The platform also offers a ton of flexibility. You can drive traffic to your blog or a contributed article to help raise brand awareness among top-of-funnel prospects, or you can send potential followers to a gated landing page for the purpose of email collection.
You can also set budgets and timelines, perform A/B tests, and lower your costs by serving better content. Facebook calls this a “relevancy score.” The more relevant your content appears to be, the less you’ll spend. This means you want to serve your ads to the most receptive audience possible, which brings us to targeting.
Targeting the right people is the key to maximizing your budget on Facebook. You can build audiences using a wide assortment of parameters, including purchasing behavior, industry, and education level. For instance, if your business targets realtors in the Seattle region, you can promote a piece of content around choosing a mortgage company to individuals who match real estate-related professions within that specific geographic region.
You can also target followers of specific pages, like that of a competitor, or target a “lookalike audience,” which is a group of people that don’t already interact with you, but resemble those who do. Once you have established a following, lookalike audiences are some of the best performing ad groups, second to custom audiences.
Most marketers call this technique retargeting, while Google refers to it as remarketing. Facebook uses “custom audiences,” but it’s all the same idea – serving ads to people who’ve already connected with you. Any salesperson will tell you it’s easier to “farm” warm leads and existing customers than “hunt” for new ones.
There are two ways to set up custom audiences. The first involves uploading a contact list. While this option may seem easier, it’s not the best choice for many B2B marketers, since most people have different contact information for personal and professional use. The email addresses you’ve collected may not be associated with your followers’ pages.
The second way involves “dropping a pixel” on your website. It sounds a bit more complicated, but it boils down to pasting a small bit of code into your site’s HTML header. It’s an easy task for an experienced developer, and Facebook offers step-by-step instructions for those with nontechnical backgrounds.
Once the pixel is installed it will begin collecting data, and you’ll select “web traffic” when setting up a new ad. You can target everyone who has visited your blog, people who have visited (or not visited) certain pages, and followers who haven’t visited your site recently.
After you have your first campaign set up and have given the platform some time to serve your ads, you can begin analyzing your data using Facebook’s measurement tools.
For the beginner, it’s most important to focus on three key metrics: click-through rate, cost-per-click, and comments. I like to include comments because engagement impacts your relevancy score, and they also provide rare qualitative feedback from your audience.
Once you’re comfortable tracking these metrics, try experimenting with A/B tests, which can help determine what sort of content your audience prefers, when they are most likely to engage, and a host of other variables.
Last but not least, let’s take moment to talk packaging. Regardless of the content being promoted, the words, images, and formats you choose can make a huge difference in how your audience responds.
First and foremost, content marketing ads should differ from product or service ads. They should demonstrate expertise, as opposed to a hard sell describing features, benefits, or pricing.
In an ideal world, you would use a designer to create custom imagery but cost and timing constraints may make that unrealistic, depending on your business size. In that case, look into Canva, a free tool that makes it easy to produce beautiful content in a variety of formats. It’s also important to note Facebook’s algorithm prefers ad images with little to no text.
Finally, once you’ve had practice creating single image ads, consider playing with other formats. Carousel ads, for example, enable you to serve several images and links within a single ad.
Looking for more ways to build an audience on the web? Check out our free eBook, A B2B Content Marketer’s Guide to a Digital Distribution Strategy.
Kathryn Hawkins is principal and chief content strategist of Eucalypt Media. She has worked as a freelance journalist for media publications and managed inbound marketing and content strategy for corporate and nonprofit clients for more than a decade.
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