Over the last six months, I’ve spent a lot of my time looking at Facebook’s ad platform, for a variety of purposes from job adverts to event promotion. What I’ve discovered is that it can be a costly business, but there’s a lot of potential for finding new audiences. Here are a few tips I’ve learnt that might be useful for my fellow arts marketers:
Create ads through the power editor
Aghh, my head hurts! You may think this too after seeing power editor for the first time, but once you’ve learnt all about it, you’ll be able to create and edit ads so much quicker. Plus it gives you the ability to start creating an ad and come back to it later. And it does make sense fairly quickly, I promise.
Be clear about your objectives for your ads
You need to know why you’re advertising on Facebook. This has two benefits: 1) if you’re not clear about what you’re doing, you can’t measure it properly and you will waste money, and 2) clear objectives make creating your ad easier.
Audiences should be small, but not too small
I’ve found that a lot of our ads work best with 50-70,000 people. I did experiment with many audiences sizes – one issue with some really small audiences, around 6-10,000, was that when it’s that few people you can’t always guarantee enough of them will see it in one time period for any kind of social effect to happen. But this is my experience – you need to test and measure your own ads to find out what works.
Don’t use automatic placement
When you create an ad you get the option to set where the ads appear manually. The options are: Facebook newsfeed, Facebook righthand (desktop only), Instagram, Audience Network. Ideally you should choose this yourself, as ads that work well on Facebook often won’t translate well to Instagram and vice-versa, firstly because the visual format is different, but also because they may demand different writing styles.
Organic still works
Organic posts are still important, although Facebook is very clearly geared towards making money these days and you will almost certainly need to put money behind anything for which you want to have a reasonably-sized audience. But even when creating an ad, an organic-feeling post will usually work better than an obvious bit of marketing. This means ultimately your ad will cost you less money for the same effect.
They are worth doing
Although they can be expensive, time-consuming and tricky, Facebook still represents one of the most direct and effective ways to get in front of new audiences and build or grow your organisation’s following. You just need to be prepared to spend some time doing it – only a structured approach over time will achieve this. While I was focussed on using ads and boosted posts, hopefully you would be doing both ads and conventional posts.
These are some of the most useful things I’ve learnt and I hope they can be useful for you, too. Thanks to the AMA for giving me the opportunity to take part in the DMA programme, and especially thanks to my brilliant mentor Sara Devine, who helped me work through my ideas and gave me lots of great inspiration for future projects as well.
Header image courtesy of Roundhouse © Ellie Pinney Photography