Using Facebook’s local awareness ads to target Small Business Saturday customers

A smarter way to advertise

Small Business Saturday® is just around the corner and if you aren’t using Facebook’s local awareness ads to bring in customers, it’s time to start.

Local awareness ads have the potential to bring in foot traffic that your business might otherwise miss out on.


They target customers who are in close proximity to your business and invite them to your sale or event. And, when the average U.S. adult spends 20 minutes per day on the platform, it’s a no-brainer. Facebook is a treasure trove of user data: where we live, where we work, where we went to school, what we like, and where we are.

Since first introducing ads into the network, Facebook has continually evolved its ad platform to allow businesses to more effectively target consumers. In October 2014, Facebook introduced local awareness ads, which allow businesses to target nearby consumers by placing ads in users’ News Feeds.

Facebook Local Awareness AdsFacebook has said local awareness ads are great for:

  • Encouraging people to shop in store.
  • Increasing local brand awareness.
  • Helping specific stores meet their sales targets.
  • Telling people about new store locations and grand openings.
  • Getting the right people to your event.
  • Telling people in the area about things happening now.
  • Building buzz by rallying local communities.
  • Spreading the word about local promotions.

Love it or hate it, Facebook is here to stay and it’s time to start using it to your business’s advantage.

Small Business Saturday Promo
Photo: Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council Flickr via Compfight cc

How do local awareness ads work? It’s easy!

Assuming you already have a Facebook Business Page, all you have to do is go into your ads manager to create your ad and set up your criteria.

Click on your Page’s profile image to get started. You will need to have a business address that Facebook will recognize for you, a radius that you would like to target, as well as an audience to target. You can include people who either live nearby, or have recently been near your business.

The added bonus is that in September, Facebook launched dynamic ads specifically geared to brick-and-mortar retail stores, allowing them to create specific product ads for available items in store.

Potential customers will actually know if an item is available before they even set foot in your store. Talk about foot traffic!

Tips for using local awareness ads to bolster traffic on Small Business Saturday

What are you waiting for? Use these tips to bring more customers through your doors on Small Business Saturday:

1. Attract the highly desired walk-in customer

As mentioned above, foot traffic is key on Small Business Saturday. With any brick-and-mortar business, simply targeting your Facebook ads to people in your city or state, like you might do for a basic Facebook ad, would be ineffective because the net is too wide.

The better option is to use extended location targeting.


With this function, you’re able to send a quick message to people who are in and around your area to alert them your business is just a few minutes away.

If you add contextual cues to your messaging, you can make an emotional connection with people to drive slightly higher interaction. For example, if you own a café, you might try these contextual cues to drive traffic:

  • If it’s a cold day, ask people to stop by your store for coffee or other refreshment.
  • If you live in an area that is mild in the winter, invite people to stop in for iced coffee or a baked good to refuel while shopping.
  • A few hours before lunchtime, send a targeted message to people promoting your lunch special and asking them to stop by to eat.

2. Find a landmark where your target audience will be near on Small Business Saturday

If your business is near a mall, set your targeting to include the mall on Black Friday. Easy. Or, if you’re near a stadium, airport or university, target your ads to reach specific interest groups.

If there is a sporting or music event on Small Business Saturday, and your business is nearby, a stadium provides a great opportunity to focus on a specific short engagement event with a defined audience. With stadiums hosting fans from two specific cities or schools, or fans of a specific sports team or music genre that is heavy in one demographic, a business can pinpoint its exact target customer while they’re at the event.

3. Take advantage of geographic-specific events

Leading up to Small Business Saturday, you can use geographic-specific events — such as the weather or traditional local holiday celebrations — to target consumers. You might know about some events in advance, like if your city is kicking off its annual Christmas festival. You can’t anticipate others, like freak snowstorms in the south.

Local Awareness Ads Retail
Upon forecast of a blizzard, a hardware store might target consumers with Facebook ad content promoting snow shovels or snow blowers.
Photo: borderstan via / CC BY

The week before Small Business Saturday, a clothing store might promote its deep discounts for finding that perfect gift. Either way, these events will spike demand for particular items and are a great opportunity to boost sales.

Be relevant

The entire purpose of local awareness ads is to be as relevant as possible to nearby users. It is critical that the ad be compelling and actionable, ideally including information such as special offers, events or upcoming sales. The No. 1 Facebook marketing tactic to influence a user to make an in-store purchase is an offer that is redeemable in-store. Happy targeting!

View the free checklist: 5 ways to get more local customers

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Image by: D1v1d via / CC BY

Mar Andras
Mar Andras is a Philadelphia-based business owner and writer. A former community journalist and photographer, Mar has worked behind the scenes as a ghostwriter and social media/content marketer for nearly a decade. When she’s not giving tips on how to use social marketing for business, she spends her time writing essays for likes of VOX and is penning a memoir about Alzheimer’s and her childhood. When she’s not doing those things, you can find her on Instagram or Twitter posting gratuitous photos of her cat.