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Agent to Agent: Facebook Advertising: Take Control

Langrock Spencer 143x200.jpgBy Spencer Langrock

Facebook is one of the greatest success stories of our generation. What began as a project to make a social network site called HarvardConnections, solely for Harvard students back in 2003 is, according to Forbes as of May 2015, worth $231.6 billion. How did a site designed only for one college turn into a global juggernaut? The answer is simply word of mouth.

Word of Mouth Marketing

Facebook succeeded because of how it got many people to talk positively about it with their friends and build interest among the public. So how does this relate to Facebook advertising? Now that Facebook is THE social media site it has made word of mouth marketing significantly easier through built-in tools for posts, like “Shares” and “Likes.” It makes it easy for complete strangers and friends of friends to learn more about you and your agency.

After realizing the power it was holding, Facebook has made some major changes to its News Feed algorithm that heavily impacted the outreach of business pages on Facebook and boosted the value of Facebook advertising.

Facebook’s Algorithm Changes

In December 2013, Facebook released a News Feed algorithm change that significantly punished brand pages. On average, this caused the organic reach (advertising-free views) of business pages to decline by 44%. This was not a one-time change. In January 2015, Facebook made another algorithm change that has further dropped the outreach of business pages.

How Do Businesses Regain Their Reach?

These changes to Facebook, while stated to benefit their members, has provided a big boost to their advertising revenue. That is because Facebook advertising is now the best method for businesses to connect with the 864 million daily active Facebook users. Through the robust tools made available by Facebook, businesses are able to reach thousands of users and potential consumers on Facebook and turn them into profit.

Facebook has forced many businesses to adopt their advertising platform into their marketing strategy with the algorithm changes. But this has actually boosted the profit margins of many businesses that would have otherwise not given Facebook advertising a chance. They’re now targeting look-a-like individuals who share very similar interests to people that currently “Like” their page as well as people who share an interest in their industry. Their outreach is much larger than ever before and the cost is significantly lower than other marketing mediums. For example, the cost to reach 1000 people using Facebook ads averages $0.25, whereas the cost for a newspaper ad averages $32.00. That is the power of Facebook’s targeted word of mouth marketing.

Beginning an Effective Facebook Ad Campaign

Hopefully, learning some of the history of Facebook has helped explain why Facebook’s advertising platform is so important nowadays. While it is not the only advertising technique you should be employing, it should be a major contributor to your marketing.

There are many advanced techniques that can be used in Facebook ads to increase your outreach, including day-parting, ad-refreshing and front-loading budgeting. But we’re going to focus on the fundamentals because it is important to get your feet wet before you dive right in.

The Basics

Before you can create an ad you must first have a Facebook Page. You can create a Facebook Page by visiting www.facebook.com/pages/create.php. Once a page has been created and updated it is time to start your ad campaign. You can begin your campaign by visiting www.facebook.com/advertising. After clicking “Create Ad” on the top-right, you will want to select “Clicks to Website.” There are many options available, but the true goal is to get people to your agency’s homepage to contact you. Sending people to your Facebook Page does not share the same impact as getting people to your website.

Design an Ad

Facebook ads should include a simple, but eye-catching image to go along with the text. It is always better to use professional photography over stock photos, as they can appear “fake.” PIA member Chris Paradiso recommended during a recent PIA-hosted marketing webinar to contact local community colleges or photography schools to get photography done. They need to complete projects to graduate and will often work with you for free or at a low cost.

The text should appear as though it is something you would naturally write. It is off-putting to consumers when the text reads like an advertisement. Here are some tips for what you will want to write or select in certain sections:

  • Connect to the Facebook Page you created.
  • Headline: Always include the word “free.” You might only be offering free tips, but this draws people’s attention.
  • Text: Provide a reason for the reader to care about what you’re offering. Keep it brief.
  • Call-to-Action: Select “Learn More.”
  • News Feed Link Description: This is under the “Advanced Options” section. Here you should write a short call-to-action that provides even more detail. The idea is to not have too much text in any specific section.
  • Remove the right column ad. Doing so will cause your ads to appear more frequently in the body of the page, rather than in the less seen right column.

 

Determine Your Market

Facebook will allow you to select broad interest categories to send your ad to. DO NOT select any of these categories. Facebook’s goal is to make money off of you by sending your ad to whomever is most likely to click it, but that often does not correlate to the best conversion rate. Instead, you should spend time researching your own agency and competitors’ pages to determine your target audience by age, gender, location and interests. You want to have a target audience of less than 10,000 when you’re starting off so that everyone that sees your ad and clicks it should be more likely to also purchase a policy from you.

Determine Your Budget

When starting your first campaign it is important to start small. It is recommended to set a daily budget of $3.33 per day and “bid for clicks” at a maximum bid of $0.75. The high maximum bid per click is just to get your ad started and can be lowered later in the process. This creates a low risk first attempt at a Facebook Ad campaign where you can easily monitor how successful your campaign was.

Get Started

The sheer amount of people that can be reached through Facebook makes it a valuable and affordable marketing tactic for independent agencies. Consumers will see friends of theirs that have liked your page and will be more likely to visit your website or ask their friends about you. Take advantage of this social, non-invasive advertising platform. Facebook is here to stay and growing strong — it’s time to jump on board!