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What Are Social Ads and How do They Work?

Category: Social Media / 8 minutes to read
Author: Stephanie Heitman
Published: September 16th

What Are Social Ads and How do They Work?

Category: Social Media / 8 minutes to read
Author: Stephanie Heitman
Published: September 16th

Social media is a popular place. With nearly 1.6 billion daily users, Facebook provides businesses with the opportunity to get in front of a huge and captive audience. 

While most of us are familiar with how to set up a personal Facebook account, there’s more to know about the platform if you’re going to use it for advertising purposes. Let’s take a closer look at exactly what social ads on Facebook (and Instagram) entail. We’ll walk you through the types of ads, how they work, and what they can do to get you noticed by new audiences. 

What Are Facebook Ads? 

Because most of us are Facebook users, you’ve likely interacted with Facebook ads. These ads appear when we log into our Facebook account or open up the app on our phone. The ads may be integrated into our News Feeds, or if you’re browsing on a desktop, you may see ads on the right-hand side of your screen. 

Facebook allows businesses a lot of flexibility when it comes to creating their ads. There are a variety of ad types to choose from (more on that below!), plus the ability to get specific about the audience you want to address with your ads. There is a Facebook ad type for just about anything you could want to share about your business and any consumer you might want to reach – from brand new prospects to return customers. 

Types of Facebook Ads 

Different types of Facebook ads can help you achieve different marketing goals. In fact, the first step to creating your Facebook ads is defining your objective. This can be anything from raising awareness to generating more conversions (we'll cover these a bit more down the page). 

From there, Facebook will take you through the process of creating an ad in one of their various formats. All Facebook ads include an image (or video), but the type of ad and placement of the ad will vary depending on what your selected objective is. 

Facebook offers image ads, which feature a still image and can run on either Facebook or Instagram. Video ads can also run on both Facebook and Instagram and – as their name implies – feature a video. Slideshow ads can showcase multiple still images or video clips and can be used with any advertising objective. 

Carousel ads are similar in concept to slideshow ads, in that they allow you to feature up to 10 images or videos. The difference here is that each image has its own link. This is a popular option for e-commerce brands selling various products. 

Collection ads give your audience the experience of browsing an online catalog without having to leave the Facebook app or page. And finally, Instant Experience ads are designed specifically for mobile users and have special features like pre-filled forms and interactive photos with product tags. If you want to learn more about the various ad types, check out Facebook’s page highlighting their offerings

Do Your Homework Before Diving In 

Before you begin setting objectives on the Facebook advertising platform, you want to do some work on your own. Define objectives and set goals offline. Get specific about what you hope to achieve. 

While Facebook will ask you to select a general objective, like “increase brand awareness,” your team should have specific KPIs attached to that objective. Do you expect to see an uptick in website traffic? And if so, by how much? Understanding your specific expectations for the campaign will help you analyze results and gauge success. 

It’s also a good idea to set your budget before getting into the weeds of creating your ads. A marketing partner can help you determine the best budget for your business and your marketing goals.

Targeting Capabilities with Social Ads 

One of the greatest benefits to advertising on Facebook and Instagram is that you can get incredibly specific in the audience you’d like to reach. You can target advertising based on demographics, interests, location, and more. That’s why it usually feels like the ads you see are meant just for you – because they basically are. Don’t you want your prospects and customers to feel that way, too? 

If you’re a local business, set your ads to run with people in nearby cities and towns. If you’re a children’s clothing store, you can direct your ads at parents. If you manage a music venue, you can run your ads to people who have liked the pages of certain bands or musicians. 

Facebook also makes it incredibly easy to target lookalike audiences – those people who are most similar to your existing customers. Using your existing fan base as a guide is a smart way to quickly hone in on those most likely to be interested in your business. 

Attracting Attention with Bold Visuals 

Like we mentioned, all Facebook and Instagram ads include a visual component, either a still photo or video. Visuals establish your brand identity with consumers early on. Visuals that are in line with your brand colors help consumers quickly identify the ad as yours and recognize your name and brand more easily. 

It might be helpful to think about the types of ads you like to see – are you drawn to big visuals or videos? You can also ask your current customers for some examples of businesses they’ve seen on Facebook and Instagram that they like to get ideas of what they’d want to see. But, if you work with a marketing partner for your social ads, they can help you identify and create the best visuals based on data and what’s performed well in the past (**cough** LOCALiQ **cough**).  

Generating Brand Recognition & Building Trust 

Building brand recognition and awareness is a key part of social advertising. A smart bid strategy allows you to get your advertising seen again and again by those most relevant consumers and develops name recognition for your business. 

It’s an age-old marketing truth that a consumer needs to see a business’s name at least seven times before they register awareness, and that number has actually started to increase. Because most users are on Facebook or Instagram each and every day (and some multiple times each day!), running ads on these social platforms allows you to consistently get your brand name in front of your desired audience. 

Driving Users to Your Website 

Social ads not only introduce new consumers to your brand, but they also empower you to drive traffic to your website. Your website is the home of all your online marketing, and a well-designed website can drive casual browsers down the funnel towards becoming happy customers.

A landing page that’s designed specifically to accompany your social ads – one whose messaging speaks directly to the content of the ad – is key to generating conversions. From there, your new prospect can poke around your website and learn even more about all of the amazing goods or services you offer! 

Ready, Set, Go! 

Once you’ve done the work with your team or marketing partner to settle on your goals and intended audience, then you can get to the fun part of actually creating and running the ads. Defining your objectives on Facebook will help you identify the ad type that makes the most sense. 

Next, you set creative for your ads. This includes creating a compelling image, writing eye-catching copy, crafting a call to action that draws people in, and establishing a landing page on your website that’s designed specifically to handle traffic coming from your ad.  

Track Your Results 

Once you’ve put in the time to set goals, define KPIs, identify budget, and create ads, you want to make sure all of your hard work is paying off. That’s where analytics and tracking come in.  

Facebook provides marketers with tons of specific data on how their campaign is performing. Armed with this information, you or your marketing partner can tweak your ad campaigns to generate even more attention or take the most successful elements from one campaign and replicate them elsewhere. 

Because Facebook is so ubiquitous these days, it’s a great place for businesses to advertise. And while organic social media is key for building relationships and boosting engagement with existing fans and followers, social ads are a great way to meet a whole new audience of prospects who are likely to be interested in your brand. 

If you’re looking for help integrating an effective social ad campaign into your broader marketing strategy, we would love to help. We’re a proud Facebook Marketing Partner and would love to share our expertise with you. Why not give us a shout

Related Articles

Social Ads vs. Social Media Marketing: What is the Difference?

How Social Media has Impacted the Way we Market Our Businesses

 

Why You Need Social Ads for Your Local Business

Elements of an Effective Social Ad

 

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