As the world’s most popular social media platform, Facebook offers a lot of ways for small business owners to advertise their business. The key is to invest in Facebook ads.

how to advertise a small business on Facebook

With nearly 3 billion active monthly users, Facebook is one of the most popular social channels in the world. This type of reach and engagement makes Facebook ads an important marketing tool for small businesses to build your brand and promote your products and services.

Fast fact: Almost 96 per cent of social media marketers worldwide believe that Facebook provides the best return on investment (ROI).

Getting a good ROI only happens if you invest the time and money necessary to succeed. It’s a lesson many small business owners have learned the hard way.

According to a survey of 2,600 small business owners from web design company Weebly that was first reported in  Small Business Trends, 62 per cent of these online sellers report their Facebook ads aren’t hitting targets. Why? Research by U.S. local small business directory Manta found 58 per cent of small businesses are only spending an hour a week on their Facebook marketing efforts. Moreover, Weebly reports that 82 per cent spend less than $50 on a Facebook ad campaign. It’s a big problem and a missed opportunity.

Fast facts: 1.6 billion people are connected to a small business on Facebook. As a result, two-thirds of Facebook users around the world visit a local business page at least once a week.

Why small businesses should use Facebook ads

A few key stats tell the story of the potential impact of investing in paid advertising on Facebook:

  • Almost a quarter (22 per cent) of U.S.-based online shoppers are expected to make at least one purchase through Facebook in 2021.
  • 13 per cent of online shoppers in the U.S. are forecast to shop on Instagram (a Facebook property).
  • Facebook accounts for 80.4 per cent of U.S. social referral share to e-commerce and retail sites.

What are Facebook ads?

Facebook ads are paid online display advertisements that run on Facebook and its other properties: Instagram, Messenger and Audience Network. They are created on the social platform through Facebook’s comprehensive Ads Manager tool. The ads are displayed only to Facebook users selected by its targeting algorithms.

What Facebook ads can do for small business

Facebook’s Ad Manager is a one-stop shop for:

  • Setting campaign goals and budgets and adjusting as needed;
  • creating and modifying ads;
  • managing when ads run and who sees them; and
  • tracking performance.

How to advertise a small business on Facebook

Know the customers you want to target

Which key group of consumers will gain the most from using your products and services? Take the time to create detailed buyer personas (fictionalized versions of your ideal customer) for each of your market segments. The more information, the better. This will help you understand what motivates your ideal customers, the challenges they face and how to best influence their decision-making. Use this information to define your audience for precision ad targeting.

A quick word about Facebook targeting

Facebook’s deep knowledge about its users along with its three audience selection tools – core audiences, custom audiences and lookalike audiences – allow you to target campaigns by a combination of factors. These include gender, age, marital status, career, interests, behaviour and location.

Custom audience targeting make sure people who have interacted with your brand see your ads previously are able to see them. Just upload their email addresses to Facebook and the platform will match them to their Facebook account to show them your ad.

Look-a-like targeting works in much the same way. Upload your customers’ email addresses and Facebook will identify their interests and demographic information and send your ad to other people on the platform that are a match for these attributes.

Tip: To make the most of the power of Facebook advertising, run multiple campaigns and adapt your ads and images to target specific geographic regions.

Be clear about your business and marketing objectives

The first step to creating an ad in Ad Manager is to select the marketing goal you want to achieve. For example: what action do you want people to take when they see your ad? Most importantly, the goal you set should align with overall business objectives.

Tip: Make sure you align marketing goals with business objectives. This will help ensure the ads bring value.

Set an adequate budget

You can spend as much or as little as you want to advertise on Facebook. For example, you can choose to set maximum spends for each individual campaign or establish an overall limit for all campaigns. You control the cost of your results through your bidding strategy to place the ads. Facebook promises to show the ads to people who are likely to be most interested in them. You only pay when someone clicks on your ad. The more you spend, the more people you reach.

Make your ads engaging

Use everything you know about your target audience to create ads that share your brand story and how you can help. Here are a few key pieces of advice to get your started:

Be clear, concise and crisp with your messaging

Research shows the human brain needs just two to three seconds to engage with most desktop ads and trigger a positive or negative reaction. This drops to 0.4 seconds for mobile ads.

Use your ads to encourage viewers to talk to each other

Include questions underneath product photos. This creates a string of answers that readers can choose to respond to, allowing you to collect more information about people interested in your products.

Choose high-quality, high-impact images

Carousel ads allow you to use multiple images to boost interest. Use lifestyle images to help capture the interest of prospective customers and product images to engage repeat visitors to your site. Ads with movement are more likely to stand out in Facebook News Feed. The social media platform offers free templates that will automatically animate Stories ads.

Use photo editing tools

Free online editing tools such as Pixlr Editor, Snappa and  Canva can help you edit images for extra impact. For example, editing images can help you leverage negative space and vibrancy — two big difference makers when it comes to standing out on social media.

Use videos

According to the Mobile Marketing Association, video ads are twice as likely to create an emotional response than static ads. There are a few places on Facebook’s platform to share video ads: Facebook Video Feed, Facebook Stories, in the middle of other videos (in-stream) and News Feed. More than 1.25 billion people visit Facebook Watch to discover and share videos.

Include a strong call to action (CTA) in all of your ad campaigns

This is your opportunity to be direct with potential customers and tell them to do something specific. Include a CTA button in your ad will to reinforce the message and make it easy for them to do what you’re asking.

Test your ad designs, targeting and performance

Consumer behaviours are always changing. To make sure your ads are appealing and resonate with your target customers, and that you’re targeting the right people, create multiple ad designs, copy and images. Then test them. Facebook has made this easy by offering marketers the ability to split test ad campaigns made anywhere on its platform.

A split test, also known as A/B testing, allows you to compare ads to help you create high-performing ads. You can test creative elements and you can also test the same ad on different audiences.

Facebook’s Ad Manager also provides real time analytics. You can easily see the number of people who see and click on your ad and how much the ad cost.

Tip: Size matters. Stick to the recommended dimensions when it comes to designing Facebook ads. Otherwise they’ll be resized to fit its format and won’t look as good.

Facebook is an important marketing tool for small business owners to advertise their business. Invest the time and budget to be successful.