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Although Facebook Ads may seem complex and intimidating, it is an excellent platform for promoting a business or brand. While there are many options, getting more familiar with the ins and outs of the program makes setting up and executing ad campaigns very easy and fast. Without further delay here’s a definitive guideline to targeting an audience on Facebook.

1. Create a Strategy

Having a strategy is the first step in the ad campaign creation process. You must have an idea of who you want to target and how you want to target them before you begin creating advertisements. This can range from selecting an audience’s location, demographics, or interest in topics closely related to your product/service.

Taking the time to outline these factors beforehand helps you avoid feeling overwhelmed and eliminates the worry of creating ads that do not target the correct audience. Before starting any campaign, make sure you’ve answered the following questions:

  • What service or product is being promoted?
  • Who is being targeted?
  • Is the target audience new to the brand, or is it familiar with the services or products?
  • How will the product be used?
  • What problems are being encountered by the target audience?
  • What is the campaign goal?
  • Does the business want site traffic, sales leads or more brand awareness?

Ads created without a specific goal will not be effective. Have your game plan laid out first, then start creating!

'Ads created without a specific goal will not be effective.' - George Eblacker, Internet Marketing Team Click To Tweet

2. Choose an Objective

Facebook optimizes ad campaigns by objective, which makes choosing the right one crucial for success. From brand awareness to store visits, there are a plethora of objectives to focus on throughout the duration of your campaign.

Traffic

This objective is best used when the goal is to get your Facebook audience to visit your own website. Traffic is best-tailored for content creation such as guest posts and blog posts leading back to your website.

Reach

The purpose of reach as an objective is to expose your ads to the largest number of people in your audience as possible. This objective works best with small audiences, as it is easier to accomplish higher visibility. With newer Facebook tools offering ways to limit the number of times a specific individual sees an advertisement, reach is a fantastic objective to set in Facebook Ad campaigns.

Engagement

Engagement is the perfect objective to choose if you’re looking to promote content that already performs well organically. Choosing engagement as your objective will allow your post to reach an even wider audience and achieve even greater engagement. Remember though, if no one is interacting with organically, this likely isn’t the objective choice for you.

Brand awareness

Tailor-made for larger businesses who have the financial capacity to run branding campaigns, smaller businesses will have a hard time fitting this objective into the budget, which we will talk about shortly. In the long run, smaller businesses will find it more beneficial to use other objectives instead.

Lead generation

This is best used for amplifying your signup process. Lead ads take an individual from Facebook to a contact form with pre-filled information depending on what the individual has shared with Facebook already. This does, however, allow for the possibility of out-of-date Facebook information entering your database.

Conversions

If you have a specific action that you’d like users to take on your own website, choosing conversion as an objective will help display your ad to Facebook users that are most likely to interact.

Video views

Relatively self-explanatory, this objective is centered around attaining more views for a product or service related video.

App installations

For those advertising an app, this objective is used for directing your Facebook audience towards the iOS App Store or Google Play Store in hopes of achieving a download.

Store visits

This objective is especially effective for those who have numerous business locations. If that is the case, store visits can establish strong advertising campaigns customized to each and every store location.

Catalogue sales

Focusing on those who have a product to promote, catalogue sales is a great way to enhance product advertisements and in turn, sales.

Messages

With over 50% of social media users preferring to use messaging channels, it’s no surprise that more and more businesses are choosing this objective for their campaigns. Facebook’s new “Sponsored Messages” feature allows businesses to re-engage in previous conversations, opening the door for retargeting opportunities that have been unavailable previously.

The campaign objective you choose should align with your overall marketing goals. Because objectives are action-specific, ask yourself whether that action will help you achieve your overarching goals.

For example, “Joe’s Electronics” creates a product video for one of their new TV models. They’re the most well-known store in town and their reputation is well-established; despite that, their sales numbers are down. If Joe decides to run a Facebook ads campaign, he wouldn’t want to choose Video Views. He would want to choose “Conversions.”

Video views are important and can help drive significant brand awareness; however, in Joe’s context, that’s not the specific action he wants his customers to make. Every campaign is unique, meaning that some may choose to focus on specific objectives over others. Having said that, objective selection ties back into having a defined strategy ready to go prior to creating a campaign, so that you know which objectives to target immediately.

3. Target an Audience

This step allows for the fine-tuning of your target audience. From education and income to gender and job title, there is an assortment of filters to comb through. Audience targeting is divided into the following categories:

Customized audiences

These types of audiences can be tied to your mailing list, those who interact with your company’s Instagram or Facebook pages, or even users that take particular actions on your website. Because this type of audience is created from your own customer data, this is a great choice for those looking to build relationships with those who have already shown interest.

Look-alike audiences

This is a fantastic way to reach new potential customers who share similar interests to your business’s current customer base. The size of your audience is interchangeable, although you will find that the smaller you make your look-alike audience, the more similarities they will have to your current customers. It’s important to remember that the smaller the look-alike audience, the lower the potential reach. Choosing too broad of a look-alike audience can waste your spend and yield low return, but too small of an audience could cut off your reach and leave your campaign dead in the water. The trick is to find the right balance!

Specific demographics

If you’re looking to target specific audiences of Facebook users, but not necessarily based on your own customer data, this targeting option allows you to choose from gender, job title, age, education, and much more. With many ways to filter your audience, Facebook does draw the line at some point by not allowing businesses to reach out to potential customers through their personal information.

Particular locations

Relatively self-explanatory, you are able to designate who your business would like to reach out to via location. This can be especially helpful for businesses with multiple locations looking to drive traffic or sales to individual locations.

Audiences based on behavior and interests

Targeting an audience based on their behavior and interests can be one of the most effective ways to yield higher conversions. With this targeting option, you’re able to choose from a variety of digital activities such as mobile device usage, interest in current events, traveling habits, and, most importantly, purchase habits. Because this method is so highly focused, it’s a perfect way to reach new customers that are ready to buy!

Connection audiences

Targeting a connection audience helps build new relationships with users that have previously interacted with you in some way, shape, or form. Maybe they liked one of your pictures; maybe their friend follows your page and they’ve seen your posts in their timeline. Facebook allows you to refine your connection search to specify which types of relationships you’d like to build, as well.

4. Set a Budget

Once you have a goal and an audience, the next step is deciding a budget. When it comes to Facebook ads, budgeting isn’t just about how much you want to spend, but also about how you want to spend it. Once you provide your total budget, you will need to decide on a schedule and bid type.

Facebook ad budgets can be either daily or lifetime; ads can run indefinitely or for a specific schedule. You may choose to bid by impressions, links clicks, or conversions, and you can set limits on how fast or slow your budget should be spent.

If this all seems intimidating, don’t worry. Facebook optimizes these values for you automatically; generally, it’s not recommended to change what Facebook has selected for you unless you’re highly familiar with the workings of the platform.

The right budget choices can absolutely make or break your ad campaign, which is why we recommend sticking with Facebook’s judgment until you’re ready to make those decisions for yourself.

5. Pick a Format and Get Started!

Finally, you’ll need to choose a format for your ad. These days basic text ads usually aren’t very effective, so understanding your multimedia and multichannel options is key if you want to achieve the best results. Facebook offers the following formats:

  • Video ads
  • Single image ads
  • Canvas ads
  • Carousel ads that provide a number of videos and photos
  • Collection ads that are optimized for mobile screens

Once you begin your campaign, be sure to monitor it closely and make adjustments along the way. Facebook Ad Manager provides all of the data you need at a glance, so you can watch relevance scores, frequency, CPC and actions taken on your ads.

Paid social ads aren’t a set it and forget it type of solution. They require constant care and attention. Keep your business goals in mind as you adjust and improve your campaigns, and follow the steps outlined above. Facebook ads don’t have to be intimidating!

George Eblacker

George Eblacker is an accomplished senior executive with 13 years of success across the digital marketing, domain advising, and website hosting industries. With extensive experience providing customized SEO marketing solutions for Fortune 500 companies, he is a valuable asset for companies going through a marketing crisis or looking to grow their inbound sales leads. His broad areas of expertise include SEO, social media, internet marketing, B2B, B2C, brand development, online lead generation, and reputation management.

George Eblacker is currently CEO of Internet Marketing Team, a leading SEO agency that focuses on generating inbound business leads in the digital world.