For many people social media is the internet

Yes they may use Google to look up recipes, directions and a variety of other things but it is on social media, and mostly Facebook, that the majority of us spend our downtime. Whether it’s chatting with friends, organising events, sharing photos or reliving memories – Facebook is where we relax.

According to its own statistics Facebook has one billion active monthly users, 58% of whom visit the site daily. Even without the knowledge of these (albeit – fairly impressive) stats most businesses would admit that Facebook as a channel has a huge potential reach. 58% of one billion people visit the site daily? That’s a lot of engaged potential customers.

Facebook advertising offers a great opportunity to reach specific audience segments within Facebook. It uses likes, groups and activity history to ensure adverts are shown to a segment of users the advertisers believe are likely to want their products. Of course, success depends on how well these companies know both their products and their customers but if the research has been done there is potential for great success.

If a Facebook advertising campaign is run well it will not only bring value and improved
ROI to the advertiser, (depending on their objectives) it will also add value to the customer as adverts for things they might like are shown to them rather than irrelevant content which does not interest them. This often proves to be a double win for brands, as even those customers who do not click are potential future customers and having seen a particular advert they may recognise the brand at a later date (brand awareness anyone?).

However, setting up a Facebook advertising campaign is not all plain sailing. Yes, it’s easy enough to implement and press ‘start’, but to truly reap the benefits those starting out should follow some straightforward best practices.

Here at Experian Marketing Services we have been helping advertisers with our Alchemy Social platform for quite some time and our experts have created the following 10 best practices to help:

 1.       Tone of voice is important

Facebook ads, like any ads, should be an extension of your brand and should be continuous with your brand message and tone. If you are showing adverts to Facebook users you believe are potential customers you should not forget how important brand building is. Even if someone sees your ad four times but never clicks it doesn’t mean that ad hasn’t in some way affected them. They may well now know your name and what you do which could influence a buying decision in future.

Likewise, if somebody clicks on an ad with a particular tone/message but then lands on a Facebook page or website which sadly lacks that messaging they may well not be best pleased with the disjointed customer experience.

 2.       Don’t drag out small budgets

If you have a small budget it is better to shorten the length of time your ads run rather than spreading them out over time and diluting their effectiveness. While it may be tempting to drag campaigns out with smaller values often you can get better results in short spaces of time.

There are exceptions to this rule however – for instance if you are restricted by in-house logistics (e.g. you can’t make the products fast enough) then you can think about stretching out your ads. Just remember that the more you stretch your smaller campaigns out the less frequently your ads will be seen by the target audience.

3.       Ensure you have the best bidding strategy for your goal

Different bidding choices have different pros and cons so you should make sure you have your goals and objectives for the campaign in mind when selecting your strategy. For instance Optimised Cost Per Mille (thousand – oCPM) is great for reach but Cost per Click (CPC) is better for control.

4.       Use testing cycles and phases

With all testing periods it is important to make sure you have equivalent timeframes to compare. Otherwise you will never know if a particular set of results are due to an effectiveness of a creative or due to some other factor that figured during that time. A tactic to reduce the impact of this is to ensure you test in cycles and phases rather than individual one-off windows. In a similar vein, don’t be too hasty to write off a particular campaign. If you test everything once it’s hard to learn from that campaign.

 5.       Have a range of creatives

Multiple creatives mean you are continuously testing what works best and what doesn’t. It also allows you to target different segments with specific creatives. However, be careful not to overload if your budgets are relatively low as minimal results across many channels will not provide reliable learnings.

6.       Rotate your images

Having a number of different creative is important because of what we call ‘ad blindness’ which is where customers start to subconsciously not see your ads because they have seen them a few times before. This ‘burning out’ of images can be avoided by rotating the images within the ads groups. Having one or two images per ad group and switching them back and forth every now and then reduces the likelihood of ad blindness.

7.       Use naming conventions

We really can’t stress enough how useful it is to get this sorted from the beginning. If you choose a style right at the start which allows you to differentiate easily between audience, image and timings it will make every following action that much simpler. One example of this is that it will be much easier to tell at a glance which adverts are performing well compared to others – especially as displaying images in Excel can be a right pain.

8.       Think about device targeting

Facebook advertising allows users to target specific groups based on the device they are browsing on and with 600 million monthly active mobile users (again, Facebooks own stats) this is a large segment of users. However, if your website is not mobile friendly you should probably avoid showing your ads to mobile users. Otherwise, if they transition from Facebook (a generally good mobile experience) to your website (with no mobile friendly features) they are not going to have a good experience.

9.       Think about seasonality

Seasonality is an important factor for Facebook users. Christmas, summer, Halloween – whichever it is these are events that have an effect on their lives and having ads which tie into this experience is fitting. At the very least ensuring you are not running ads which clash (such as sunny photos in winter) is crucial as you don’t want your ad to stand out for all the wrong reasons.

10.   Track your performance

You should log in every day to check how your ads are performing.  Pause ads that are not doing well and replicate anything you can from ads that are doing well.

It is this monitoring and adjusting that takes up the time but it is also perhaps the most crucial element of running a campaign. So make sure you have the correct resources at your disposable before you start out.

Facebook advertising can work for pretty much every sector or product – it just needs to be run correctly. Following these best practices is a start but sometimes you’ll need more of a helping hand.

Experian Marketing Services offers two social media advertising solutions through its Alchemy Social product suite. First off, a subscription to the easy-to-use Alchemy Social platform helps clients save time and achieve their goals, while the Managed Service grants access to our industry experts who use their experience and understanding of all the Experian products and data to supercharge every aspect of clients’ social media advertising (including Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn).