Small business guide to Facebook advertising

7 min read
Quentin Aisbett

There’s no denying it — Facebook is the most popular social media platform on the planet. It’s no different in Australia. The latest research from Roy Morgan found that 83% of Aussies (aged 14+) visit Facebook in an average four-week period. Which is why so many businesses invest in Facebook advertising.

But it’s not all good news for small businesses.

The problem?

Facebook’s organic reach for business pages — in other words, advertising you don’t have to pay for — has been declining over recent years. The average organic reach is now just between one and 6%.

Facebook has become a pay-to-play platform for large and small businesses alike.

But don’t be discouraged, Facebook has some terrific products and they’re all within your reach.

Let me introduce you to …

5 types of Facebook ads (and who they’re suited to)

This is by no means the complete list of Facebook ad products, there are many more available. But it’s a great list to get started with.

  1. Boosting your posts.
  2. Traditional image/video ad.
  3. Carousel/collection.
  4. Lead ads.
  5. Messenger ads.

After we explain your Facebook advertising options, we’ll walk you through the process of actually creating an ad or boosted post.

1. Boosting your posts

There’s creating ads and then there’s simply boosting your existing Facebook posts with a little extra promotional budget.

Boosting is the simplest way to get your posts in front of more of your target audience.

You can choose to target:

  • People who already follow and engage with your page
  • New followers to grow your base

Read this for how to post without being a boor.

Suited to: Any business wanting more people to see their content.

2. Traditional image/video ad

This is essentially creating a basic post (e.g. “How to select the freshest produce”) but with the additional intention of it being an advertisement that won’t appear in your feed. Craft your message, upload your image or video, and then select the people you want to see it.

Facebook Advertising Woolworths Video

Suited to: Any business that wants to target one or more audiences with different messages that won’t be published to their page feed.

This is similar to a traditional Facebook ad, but in this case you can upload up to 10 images or videos to better communicate your message.

Suited to: Retailers wanting to showcase multiple products in one ad.

4. Lead ads

Lead ads are only available for mobile devices. They include a call-to-action button that opens up a form to be completed without leaving Facebook.

This point is important because it makes the experience faster and leads to more signups.

You can customise the form — even use the audience you gather for later retargeting or email marketing.

Suited to: Business-to-business or service-based businesses wanting to generate new leads.

5. Messenger ads

A whopping 13 million Australians use Messenger each month.

That’s more than half our population, so it’s a great place to advertise.

Messenger provides you with a couple of advertising options:

  1. Have your ad placed within the Messenger app itself.
  2. Have your ad, including a call-to-action button (e.g. Buy now!), show in people’s Facebook feeds. Once they click the button, it starts a Messenger conversation with your page.

Suited to: Any brand or business that can respond to Facebook Messenger in a timely fashion. You don’t want to leave potential customers hanging, so if you can’t respond quickly don’t opt for this one.

How to start a Facebook advertising campaign

Like anything else, Facebook ads get easier the more you do them. Here’s how to start:

1. Head to Facebook Ads manager

You can do this by going directly to Facebook Business or by clicking the Ad Center tab from Facebook.

Facebook Advertising Hands Holding Smartphone

2. Choose your objective

You’ll be asked ‘How would you like to grow your business?’ Your options are:

  • Get started with automated ads
  • Boost a post
  • Promote your ‘Send Message’ button (Messenger Ads)
  • Promote your ‘Shop Now’ button
  • Promote your business locally
  • Get more website visitors
  • Get more leads

Choose whichever one best describes your end goal.

3. Setting up your ad

This next step will differ depending on your objective. Below are some examples. (For objectives not listed here, you can skip straight to Step 4.)

Boost a post

You’ll be shown a list of your recent posts with the option to select one to boost. From there, you’ll have the option to choose a specific objective and the button you’d like, and you’ll be able to enter the URL where you’d like to send people. Then it’s about defining your audience (more on this in step 4).

Promote your ‘Send Message’ button or your ‘Shop Now’ button or Get more website visitors

You’ll craft your ad, including your image/video, headline and text. Then it’s about defining your audience (See step 4).

Get more leads

This is where you can customise your lead form. When it comes to selecting ‘Customer Info,’ click Show more options.

4. Define your audience and placements

As you can imagine, getting your target audience right is your best shot at launching a successful campaign. If your ad is shown to people who are never going to buy from you, you’ve wasted your time and money.

Your audience options include the following:

People who like your page

This option is great if your goal is to communicate exclusively to people already connected with your page.

People who like your page (and their friends)

This can be powerful because your advertising will show new users that their friends follow you. We humans are inclined to trust our friends’ judgement.

People in your local area

This is perfect for businesses that serve a local audience. Simply choose to target people within so many miles of where your business is based.

Facebook Advertising Row of People Looking at Phones

Your custom audiences

This option allows you to create specific audiences, but I suggest waiting until you’re a little more familiar with Facebook ads before you try it.

People you choose through targeting

Here’s where you can select an audience based on specific characteristics including:

  • Gender
  • Age
  • Location

You can even target people with specific interests or behaviours. Once you’ve chosen your factors, Facebook will show you the potential audience size for your ad.

For some ad products, you’ll also have the opportunity to choose where you want your ad placed, whether it be as a message, in-article, in-stream, on Instagram, via specific devices and more.

5. Set your duration and budget

You now select:

  • How many days you want your ad to run
  • When to launch it
  • Your total budget

Facebook will define how many people your ad should reach per day based on this information and the audience you have chosen.

Once you’re happy with everything, hit the Promote or Boost button, and wait for your ad to be reviewed and confirmed.

One final tip: test everything!

As you can imagine, there’s a whole range of recommendations to improve your Facebook ads. I recommend that you test everything. Run each ad for three to four days before deciding whether to stop it or continue running it.

Facebook advertising makes it easy to test a range of campaign elements to improve our performance and inevitably our returns. So test your:

  • Target audiences
  • Visuals
  • Ad formats
  • Placements
  • Messaging

You can even test your offerings. Watch them closely and identify where you’re getting better returns — then do more of that.