What to Consider Before Running Social Ads on the Facebook Network

People come to Facebook to be entertained, not to be sold to. Running social ads on the Facebook platform is a lot like running TV ads. By nature, Facebook ads attempt to distract the viewer from whatever they’re viewing. So if your Facebook ad is going to come between a viewer and her cat video, it had better be worth the interruption. This blog, while not exhaustive, highlights factors we take into consideration when we run ads on Facebook.

Facebook AdsPlacing ads on Facebook and expecting instant sales from those ads is a common mistake resulting in wasted marketing dollars. Potential customers need to get to know you first. To foster familiarity, you will need to lead someone down the path of wanting/needing your product. This means not asking for a sale right away. Instead, try entertaining or educating someone on your product or service.

The purpose of your Facebook marketing is to place an ad that interrupts your potential client’s normal browsing behavior like the updates from their friends and family or those cat videos. Your ad should capture their attention, literally stop them scrolling in their tracks!

Let’s start by understanding how your potential client buys your product. That’s right, we use the psychology of buying products or services to help guide the social ad process. We form a hypothesis about what will work, implement the strategy, watch the data, and optimize our ads based on that data. We begin by scrutinizing the sales process.

How to Develop a Funnel for Your Buying Process: Awareness, Interest, Decision, Action

When you obtain a customer, generally that customer goes through several steps before they commit to buy from or work with you.  For example, once a customer becomes aware of you maybe they read more or get a sample before they buy. The steps were taken by your customer prior to making a purchase reflect your customer’s buying process. We often refer to this process as a sales funnel. Defining your funnel will make creating effective digital marketing.

Next, You Want to Determine the Types of Audiences You Should Target on Facebook

There are plenty of ways to demographically target on Facebook. One can target on interest, behaviors, titles, education incomes, etc., etc. Facebook has a vast amount of information you can pull in for targeting purposes.

However, despite a wealth of information, the reality is you might not know enough about your buyers YET. However, you can certainly test which targets work and which don’t work. You shouldn’t go into this with preconceived notions. You are simply making a list of possible targeting options to test in Facebook.

Running Facebook ads means you are constantly testing and adjusting all of these options to see which ones work. Essentially, you are taking your best guess.

Facebook will indicate whether different targeting methods worked or didn’t work. Remember our conversation about funnels? Don’t forget to compare outcomes with your customer’s journey when judging if a certain ad worked. What was the goal of your ad? Was it to get to the first step of the funnel, second or the final steps?

Then Examine The Different Ways to Target Your Audience in Facebook

Here Are Some of the Ways in Which We Have Targeted Audiences on Facebook:

Developing a Warm Audience to Target: Those That Have Interacted With You Before

Let’s take a look at your current website traffic and how we harness this into sales. After all, the average website converts at 5%, so there’s a lot of traffic you could be moving into the next stages of buying – moving through your sales funnel. This is where you can take advantage of Facebook’s ability to develop audiences based on interactions people have had on your website.

Figure out where in the sales funnel your audience resides. This is where the real fun can be. If you’re a data geek like we are, you can start to develop audiences made up of people that are in your funnel because they’ve been to your website before.  Here are some samples of warm audiences:

  • A general audience  of  people who visited your website but did not convert
  • People who have taken a specific action on your website like downloading a PDF or watching a video but didn’t convert
  • People who have interacted with your Facebook page by liking, commenting, or sharing
  • People who have watched 25%, 50%, etc of a video you have posted
  • You can upload a list of clients that you have now and Facebook with match their profiles on Facebook

Tracking and defining your audience allows you to make decisions about the content your audience needs to see from you next. That content can be used to deliver a better Facebook ad. What can you do to keep your warm audience interested? In-depth planning and deference for what your customer needs can make your Facebook ads very successful. Pro tip: Use Facebook’s audience insight tool to see the makeup of an audience. You can see what the characteristics are of people who have visited your website.

Use the insight gained from your warm audience to guide you in building cold audiences. Understanding the traffic that already has gotten to your website by another means will make it easier to reach out to an audience that hasn’t heard of you yet.

Developing a Cold Audience to Target: Those That Don’t Know You, Yet.

Let’s go back to the thought process of developing funnels and apply it to audiences who don’t know you yet or cold audiences. Think about who typically buys from you. There are several targeting options on Facebook and they are constantly being updated. Our team has to stay up to date on Facebook changes particularly when adding new cold audiences to target.

Here are some basic questions to ask when determining the attributes of your typical customer.

Digital Marketing AdsDemographic info:

  • Age brackets?
  • Gender?
  • Language used?
  • Income brackets?
  • Job titles?
  • Education levels?
  • What are they interested in?
  • Are there any life events that happen that make buying your product or service more likely?
  • What Facebook pages might they have liked?
  • Any websites you can think of that your clientele might have visited?
  • Are there any particular household compositions? (new parents, grandparents, parents ect.?)
  • What are your buyers purchasing behaviors? Do they also typically buy…(fill in the blank)
  • Are any cultural aspects ( White, African American etc.)

Developing a Lookalike Audience

One of the big benefits of setting up audiences on Facebook is the ability to create lookalike audiences. Lookalike audiences share the same attributes as your original audience.

According to Facebook, they build these audiences with the same interest, demographics, etc. We love the etc. part. What does that even mean Facebook? :) The lookalike audiences allow us to get to more people who could potentially buy your product or service. The building of these audiences can become quite useful when you set them up for the different stages of your funnel based on the audiences that are already a good fit for your offerings.

You can create lookalike audiences for those that have been to your website before, those that viewed certain pages of your website, subscribed to your email list, those who have converted before, those that have watched your video views both on your Facebook profile and on your website, page likes, and more.

You have huge capabilities with lookalike audiences to reach large sets of people who have never heard of your brand, product or service

Next, Determine the Goals of the Marketing Campaign

The goals of the ad campaign can help guide the next steps in creating a successful ad. There are many options to choose from and they should be led by the funnels and audiences that you have discovered above.

Each different type of campaign available on Facebook; awareness, consideration, and conversions has its own set of available marketing objectives.

  • Awareness
  • Brand awareness
  • Reach
  • Consideration
  • Traffic
  • Engagement
  • App Installs
  • Video Views
  • Lead Generation
  • Messages
  • Conversion
  • Product Catalog Sales
  • Store Visits

We know right off the bat you are thinking, why wouldn’t I just choose conversions! While that might seem like the obvious answer, it’s not the best one to choose if you are just getting started.

For this method to work best, Facebook needs to collect data from your website to understand what a person that will convert looks like.  The Facebook pixel helps Facebook do that. The Facebook pixel is a piece of code that is installed on your website.

As you are building funnels for marketing to your client, you are allowing Facebook to understand who is more likely to convert. Your Facebook pixel, if set up right, is gathering data on those that complete your desired conversions. If you have enough of those conversions, Facebook will be able to properly expand and find more people just like the ones you have. So if you try and go for conversions without properly allowing your Facebook pixel to understand who your target audience is, then you’re likely to come up short on that objective.

The number of options you have to choose from can be quite overwhelming especially if you’re trying to test what works and what doesn’t. Planning your ad is a crucial step. There is limited ad space, so Facebook, just like Google, only want to show ads to people who would be interested in your product or service. When you first start off both you and Facebook are making educated guesses on who to show your ad to. Even if you have a potential audience of say 1,000 people a day that doesn’t mean Facebook will show your ad to all 1,000 people. They are deciding, just as you are, who to show that ad to.

As people engage with your ad, Facebook may choose to show the ad to more people aligned with your desired settings for the ad. You will also be rewarded with paying less per interaction on those ads. This is the optimization process and can take a longer or shorter amount of time depending on how much ad budget you have to spend. Social ads just like any marketing take patience to test and get the best results.

There are over 400 data point sets you can examine to determine what direction to take with a Facebook ad.


To some degree, Facebook makes it easy to spend money on Facebook social ads. It’s tempting to throw up an ad, cross your fingers and hope that someone converts. Unfortunately, guesswork like that will cost you more money in the long run. Make better ad choices by preparing data in advance of buying a Facebook ad.

Have a thorough understanding of how customers progress from initial contact through to purchase with your company. Use this information to map out your sales funnel. Matchup the various kinds of information you will need to provide your customer as they progress through that funnel. Using the vast amount of data available on Facebook, consider your audience characteristics and behaviors as it relates to where they are in the sales funnel. Make it easy for Facebook to show your ad to the right person.

Ultimately, Facebook ads should be measurable and easily aligned with your business goals.