A complete guide to Facebook advertising, including three compelling reasons to do it, who you can reach, what kind of leads you can generate, the various ad types available and how to create your first campaign.
UK advertisers spend more than £1.28 billion on Facebook ads every year with eCommerce brands spending 65% of their ad spend on Meta (Facebook and Instagram). In this article, you’ll discover why brands invest so much in Facebook advertising and how to create your first campaign.
Facebook connects you with a completely different audience to other platforms like Google Ads, YouTube or Microsoft Ads. The platform also includes one of the most effective targeting systems in modern advertising, making it easier to reach audiences in meaningful ways.
When you consider how much users tell Facebook about themselves, it’s actually pretty scary. The latest products they’ve bought, where they’re going on holiday, their favourite hobbies and countless other consumer journeys are building up on every Facebook account.
People tell the network when they’re getting married, having children and, eventually, when their kids are getting married. All this info is voluntarily handed over by users – all of which you can use to target them with ads relevant to their needs and desires.
That huge mass of data is where Facebook’s advertising clout comes from. All of this data allows parent company Meta to implement one of the industry’s most powerful audience targeting systems across Facebook and Instagram.
Here’s a quick preview of some of the things you can do.
Facebook audience behaviours allow you to target users based on their recent purchase history. So, if someone’s just bought a car, for example, you know they might need insurance. You can also use audience behaviours to target consumers who show repeat purchase habits – like foodies, travellers, sports fanatics or DIY enthusiasts.
Life events have been one of the most powerful marketing hooks for decades. In the early 2000s retail giants were obsessed with predicting when women were pregnant – so much so one US retailer exposed a teen girl’s pregnancy to her parents.
Expecting mothers are marketing gold because of the purchase patterns that build up to birth and follow for decades after. A select number of life events define who we are and also dictate how we behave as consumers. Facebook not only allows you to target expecting mothers but also users based on a lifetime of key events, including: work, education, family, relationships, health and more.
New customers are great but repeat customers are even better. Facebook Custom Audiences allows you to engage directly with previous customers, web traffic or app users. The aim is to turn them into loyal, repeat customers who not only keep clicking the buy button but share your content across social.
Custom Audiences get even better when you turn them into Lookalike Audiences. These turn your existing lists into a set of new users that show similar characteristics and purchase habits. Using these two features, you can keep existing customers coming back for more and find new ones – the cycle keeps on going.
We’ve already looked at some powerful targeting options but this is where Facebook leaves other platforms in its shadow. With Layered Targeting, you can combine and overlap interests, behaviours, life events and various other data points to pinpoint incredibly specific personas.
After buying Instagram in 2012, Facebook didn’t take long to implement its advertising system into the platform.Now, parent company Meta manages the same advertising network across Facebook and Instagram with a combined active user base of almost five billion people: almost three billion on Facebook and two billion on Instagram.
Unless you’re firmly in the B2B advertising space, you’re not going to find a more powerful advertising duo than Facebook and Instagram, certainly not one you can manage from the same platform.
Facebook’s user base has changed a lot over the years, as early adopters grow older and younger demographics increasingly choose other platforms. At the global level, Facebook ads can connect you with over 2 billion people, more than a quarter of the world’s population. As of 2022, 43% of Facebook users are reported as female while 57% are reported as male.
The largest age demographic on Facebook is 25-34 years with 18.4% of all users being male aged 25-34 and 12.6% female in the same age bracket.
More importantly, users across all age groups spend huge amounts of time on the network. Globally, only YouTube clocks up more hours per month with the typical user spending almost 20 hours per month on Facebook – more than WhatsApp, Instagram and TikTok.
Given how long Facebook has been in the game, it’s impressive that it still has the largest user base and people continue to spend so much time using the app. Crucially, as the platform’s user base has grown, it’s held on to its older users and attracted younger ones at the same time. This means you can reach almost any audience on Facebook and the platform’s targeting system gives you the tools to pinpoint any audience with precision.
Related reading: Facebook targeting options explained
Another key strength of Facebook is its suitability for both B2B and B2C advertising. Twitter (now known as X) is the only other network that can really say this, but Facebook drowns X in user numbers, targeting options, CPCs and all kinds of other areas.
These two strengths combined leave Facebook in a unique position. Most social networks suit certain types of businesses targeting certain types of audiences, but Facebook is the network we can confidently say 99+% advertisers should be using.
The great strength of advertising on search engines like Google is that you can target users with great accuracy, based on the search terms they use. This allows you to target high-intent leads looking to buy now, low-intent leads to nurture and everything in between.
You don’t get this same benefit with advertising on social networks, which means you’re somewhat limited to targeting lower-intent leads and then nurturing them along the buying process. However, you do get a different benefit from advertising on social media – being able to introduce your brand to people who aren’t actively searching for it (or what you’re selling).
Social advertising gives you reach that search ads can’t really match and this is crucial if you’re looking to significantly grow your customer base.
Facebook has a secret weapon that helps you turn “lower-intent” leads into paying customers faster too. We mentioned Facebook’s targeting options earlier and this is where the magic happens with Facebook advertising campaigns. Thanks to all that personal data users hand over, you can layer targeting options to pinpoint the most specific audiences – e.g. people currently planning a wedding, currently travelling in specific locations or couples who are about to welcome their first baby into the world. You can also use interest targeting to deliver ads to people with a proven interest in your products or services, even if they’re not at a point where they’re going to search for them specifically in Google.
Crucially, this allows you to get your brand seen by potential customers before they even realise they’re interested in buying from you. Thanks to Facebook’s targeting options, low-intent leads from the network can be as valuable as the highest-intent leads you’ll generate from Google Ads.
Facebook advertising costs vary, depending on the audience you’re targeting, the quality of your ads, your marketing objective and a lot of other factors. The best way to find out is to give it a go, start small and work it out from there based on your own campaign parameters.
There are several studies that show average CPCs being between £0.39 and £0.79 – you can read more about this here.
Based on these studies, this puts Facebook advertising well within the most affordable social advertising platforms, another reason why this network remains so popular among advertisers. In terms of effectiveness, flexibility and affordability, Facebook still comes out on top.
As things stand, Facebook offers eight different ad formats that you can use for different advertising goals and markets.
There are eight key ad formats available on Facebook Advertising and they’re all image or video-centric:
The next thing you need to know is the campaign goals you can select in Facebook Advertising.
Getting results with Facebook advertising starts with understanding your goals and creating the right campaigns types.
There are 11 different campaign objectives you can choose, each one designed to help you encourage a different type of action from your target audience.
Depending on the objective you choose when you create a new campaign, Facebook will use this information to deliver your ads to the most relevant users – people who are most likely to complete the action you require.
Now you’re ready to create your first campaign. Luckily, Facebook’s advertising platform guides you through the necessary steps, making it actually quite easy to get your first campaign up and running.
Here’s a quick preview of the process.
The most complex stage of this process is choosing your targeting options but, to put things in context, this is much less time-consuming than keyword research for Google Ads. And, while this can make Facebook campaigns longer to set up than other social platforms, the results are more than worth it.
There’s been a lot of praise for Facebook Advertising in this article but no platform is perfect and, as always, there are some weaknesses worth considering. The main challenge with running effective Facebook campaigns is creating the visual content required to engage audiences. With Google Ads, you can get results from text ads but you’re going to need to invest in quality images, videos and visual content formats to make things happen on Facebook.
That said, if you compare Facebook to other social networks, this aspect is far more demanding on platforms like Instagram, YouTube, Snapchat, TikTok and the vast majority of alternatives. At this stage, every business needs to be creating the kind of visual content that makes great Facebook campaigns (at least) so this isn’t really a barrier to advertising on the platform anymore. If it is, you’ve got bigger problems.
The other main downside to Facebook has always been organic reach, which has basically plummeted to zero by this point. However, the same thing has happened on almost every network by this point, so – again – don’t let this put you off.
If you want to start advertising on Facebook or you’re struggling to get results, our social advertising team can help. Call us on 02392 830281 or drop us your details and we’ll get back to you.
Zoe’s keen interest in digital marketing has been present for as long as she can remember and was only fuelled further by her Media and Cultural Studies degree which heavily focused on consumer behaviour.
In her previous marketing role, she was responsible for the company SEO and PPC. She very quickly found herself eager to specialise in paid-search as it utilises both her analytical and creative skillsets. Zoe joined Vertical Leap in 2017 and has since built strong relationships with a number of clients, including luxury brands. She most enjoys digging into the data to understand the customer journey, landing page optimisation and building display ads across a variety of platforms.
In her spare time Zoe enjoys watching documentaries, reading, and attempting to kayak at the beach.
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