Facebook ads for local business: Read this first!

September 17, 2019

In this 6-minute read:

  • The problem with Facebook ads
  • Create and claim your Facebook business page
  • Try boosting Facebook posts before you pay for ads

“We need to get some ads running on Facebook!” How many times have you heard that from your business partner, employees, or even said it yourself? Facebook is astonishingly popular for private individuals as well as businesses, and it’s understandable to want to boost your business’s presence there. But there are some little-known issues you need to be aware of. Here’s what you need to know before you advertise your small business on Facebook.

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The problem with advertising on Facebook

Facebook’s massive popularity is also a potential sticky wicket for small businesses. 7 of 10 US adults (roughly 240 million Americans) use Facebook, and 74% of them check the site at least once every day. 97% of business-to-consumer marketers use Facebook. In short, everyone uses the platform. 

Why is that a potential problem? It’s a huge market and it’s hugely crowded. That’s a lot of eyes and a lot of high-value, fast-spending businesses clamoring for customers’ attention. Simply throwing “an ad” up “on Facebook” isn’t going to get you any local customers, unless you’re extremely lucky.

In fact, 62% of small business owners feel their paid Facebook ads don’t work. In another poll, half of small business owners don’t feel the time they invest in Facebook is worth it.

How can you help ensure the time and money you spend on Facebook will pay off? First, define your expectations, and have a plan.

Make sure you have a plan

First, think hard about what you actually hope to accomplish with your Facebook ads. Are you trying to build brand awareness? Convert more customers from your website? Get more in-store visits? Build customer loyalty for valuable repeat visits? Spread the word about a big sale?

Paying for Facebook ads with no plan for tracking goals, measuring success, or creating specific messaging for the result you are seeking is literally throwing money away. Facebook overall doesn’t have a stellar conversion rate (meaning how many “viewers” of ads actually end up purchasing). So you need to really think about what you are trying to accomplish, and have distinct ways to track and measure the success of your efforts.

If you don’t feel like you know exactly what you’re hoping to accomplish, or you aren’t sure which groups of customers you should be targeting in the first place, you might consider hiring a social media marketing expert or firm to get the ball rolling until you learn the ropes.

Go deeper: Here’s a fantastic, in-depth resource you might find helpful when considering Facebook advertising.

Try “boosting” Facebook posts first, before paying for ads

It might be a good idea to try “boosting” your company Facebook posts for a while to improve views and engagement, rather than spending on Facebook ads specifically. The most successful small businesses know how to use social media as “free advertising.” This can only happen once they have a large, loyal following.

When you pay Facebook to boost a post, you are essentially creating an advertisement that gets shown in the Facebook feeds of audiences you select. 

Have you seen “sponsored” posts in your online news feed? These are frequently boosted Facebook posts. 

With boosting, you choose a specific audience with location targeting, gender, age, financial profile, and interests. Then you set your total or daily budget, length of the boosting, and add in your payment information. It’s pretty easy and not very expensive. 

It can be useful to spend a little of your marketing budget boosting your posts to win more followers as a first step, and then use quality, high-interest, high-value Facebook posts as the primary means of “advertising” on the platform.

Create a Facebook business page

Obviously the first thing you need to do is create a business page on Facebook if you haven’t already. You will need to have your own Facebook profile to get your business page created. Here’s a quick tutorial to get you started. 

Make sure you include:

  • Your store’s name (this should be the same as what you list on your Google and Yelp business profiles)
  • Store address
  • Phone number
  • Open hours (including any special holiday hours)
  • Description of your store
  • Webpage
  • Email address
  • Profile picture 
  • Cover photo or video (a picture of your storefront or product spread would be perfect)
  • Product types and price range 

Create your own ad campaigns with Facebook Ads Manager

When you’re ready to try Facebook ads, you can either pay an outside marketing firm to create and manage the ad campaigns for you, or you can try it yourself first with Facebook Ads Manager. 

Ads Manager allows you to choose a goal for your campaign (like brand awareness, increased reach, getting more traffic, lead generation, conversions, or  store visits). Then you can set up your own ad with your created messaging, images, video, etc., and choose a target audience for the ad campaign. 

The budget is set in a similar way to boosting your posts. You can set a spend limit based on clicks, impressions, or by date.

Set up your Ads Manager account with these simple instructions

If you’re concerned about the time it will take to manage your online presence, consider reputation management software to help you respond to reviews and keep an eye on all your review site pages.

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