Facebook advertising 101

Facebook is really one of a kind in the world of advertising platforms. It can be frustrating for neophytes[r1] with its non-standard metrics, quirky interface and confusing options.

But for the ones who feel brave enough to overcome those obstacles, it is also a channel to an audience of over 800 million active users worldwide[1], 50% of whom log on to the website any given day. Those active users are not just exchanging messages and sharing media; they form a set of interwoven networks based on interests: an average user has 130 friends and is connected to 80 pages, groups and events.

So when should I use Facebook Advertising?

Facebook is naturally a good fit to advertise consumer products, and/or to generate a buzz around your company or a particular event.

  • Edit Post ‹ Mediative — WordPressDemographic and interest-based targeting options are available on Facebook. You should be mindful however, that your interest targeting will only be as accurate as the information put by Facebook users on their profile: while it’s a great place for users to talk about their hobbies and passions, you should rather rely on more professional networks like LinkedIn for your B2B campaigns as the professional information there is more likely to be accurate and up to date.
  • Network-based advertising: leverage your existing followers’ networks to get your message out and increase your follower/fan base. You can choose to target your followers only, or exclude them to only target friends of your followers (I’ll come back to this concept later in this post).

A variety of options

Facebook now offers a wide variety of advertising products. Make sure you pick the ones which align best with your marketing objectives:

  • The Classic Facebook Ad: Use this one if you want to direct traffic directly to your website (ideal for lead generation, e-commerce…).

The Classic Facebook Ad

  • Sponsored Like Story (Page Like Story and Page Post Like Story): These are great if you want to increase your follower base. When someone « likes » a post or your entire FB page, people in his/her network are made aware of it by the display of an ad (provided they are in your target demographics), and may join in and publicly like your page as well. This ad format takes advantage of your existing audience’s social influence and has the potential to spread exponentially through personal networks.

Sponsored Like Story

  • Page Post Ad: Use these ads if you want to promote posts from your Facebook page. This may be useful if your company page contains relevant and updated content. It’s also a good remedy against ad fatigue and ensures users are always presented with fresh content.

Page Post Ad

  • Facebook Ads For Pages: These ads promote your page to a targeted audience. Users will be able to become fans right from the ad. Users in their network who are already fans of the page will appear inside the ad, which helps spread the message through personal networks.

Facebook Ads For Pages

The metrics that matter

If this is your first time using Facebook advertising, the chances are that you might not be familiar with some of the metrics used in the reports. Here are some Facebook-specific metrics:

  • Reach: number of people who saw your ad. We are not talking impressions here, but numbers of unique people – someone seeing the ad several times only counts as one.
  • Frequency: average number of times a person saw your ad (Freq = impressions/reach)
  • Social Reach: number of people who saw your ad with the names of their friends who liked your page or post in it. This is only used for Sponsored Stories and ads for pages.
  • Connections: number of people who liked your page or post within 24 hours after seeing a Sponsored Story.
  • CTR : Okay, you all know what a click-through rate is, but you will notice that, unlike on most PPC advertising platforms, the Facebook one is displayed with 3 digits after the decimal point. The reason is that it is rare to get even close to a 1% CTR. Keep in mind that you will need to make some extra efforts to get people’s attention on Facebook. You are basically asking them to interrupt whatever they were doing to click on your ad and check out your page or product.
The Metrics that Matter

Sponsored stories: Grow your audience organically

It is obvious that a recommendation given by a person rather than an algorithm is more likely to influence a user’s decision. This is why product review websites are so popular and why search engines include more and more reviews and ratings in their search results. But if the person giving the advice is someone you know personally, then the chances are that you are going to pay even more attention to it. This is the brilliant idea behind the “like” button.

The system works like a pyramid scheme: as more people “like” your ad, their connections become exposed to your message through a Sponsored Like Story or even through their regular news feed. Because you share some interests with your friends (that’s the definition of a friend, right?) some of them might decide to “like” your page as well, thus adding their own contacts to your targeted audience and expanding your reach. This system has the potential of rapidly expanding your targeted audience over a short period.Facebook advertising ecosystem

Tracking conversions from Facebook

Tracking Conversions From FacebookFacebook can be a great tool for direct response campaigns too. Although Facebook doesn’t offer its own conversion tracking code that you can paste on your website (Boo!), there are definitely some ways to track traffic coming from Facebook.

At Mediative, we are big fans of Acquisio. The tool offers an easy conversion tracking solution for Facebook with interesting cross channel attribution options as well as campaign automation rules.

If you’re not using a platform like Acquisio, you can always rely on the web analytics solution of your choice and tag your destination URLs by yourself.

Remember that in the case of a sponsored story containing a link to your website, it may be difficult to identify whether the click originated from an ad or regular news feed.

In conclusion

Facebook provides plenty of advertising options for advertisers who are ready to get over the learning curve. Keep your FB page engaging and actively manage your community.

Facebook releases new features on a regular basis so make sure you always check for new options – the next one might just be the perfect fit for your advertising strategy.


[1] http://www.facebook.com/press/info.php?statistics