Whether you're a blogger, a publisher or a content creator, you have to do a great job at content marketing. Growing your email subscriber list, your traffic or your facebook page likes has become a priority like never before. The problem is content marketing isn't just content creation.
It's not “If you build it, they will come”. As Rand Fishkin explains, it's a little more complicated than that. Once you have your great content, you need to optimize it and bring people to it.
A quick way to get your content in front of people is paid advertising. This comes in many forms – affiliate networks, Google AdWords, LinkedIn Ads and Facebook Ads. This guide is here to educate you on the benefits of using Facebook Advertising to amplify your great content and get people coming back.
Facebook Advertising and You
Facebook Advertising has been here for a while. Started in 2004, the ads were called Facebook Flyers and were meant to advertise college parties and opportunities (since it was a social network for colleges only back then). More than a decade later, it's an immensely complex and useful tool that we have at our disposal. Bonus points if you're in the U.S., as this opens up even more options for research and insights.
If you're familiar with online ads in general, Facebook Advertising adds a layer of social on top of the familiar elements of cost, clicks and budgets. If you haven't used online ads at all, here's a quick rundown:
Facebook allows you to access its vast vault of information (known as Graph Search or simply Facebook Search) consisting of people, pages, articles, posts, images and relationships. You can, for example, find out which of your friends likes Star Wars with a simple search “Friends who like Star Wars”. Couple this information with the power to target locations, interests, employment and much more and you've got one of the most robust and accessible online advertising platforms in the world.
I know that might sound like an overstatement, but seeing how Facebook had 1.35 billion monthly active users in the third quarter of 2014, chances are most of your readers (and customers) are among them.
On the technical side, you do have multiple bidding options – Cost Per Click (you pay only when someone actually clicks on your ads), Cost Per Mille (you pay when your ad has been shown 1.000 times) or Cost Per Action (you only pay when something you desire happens – clicks to your website, Facebook page likes, video views and so on).
The Benefits of Facebook Ads
1. Facebook Advertising are highly visual. Because they're very similar to regular Facebook posts. This means you will regularly be able to get good Click Through Rates, because users will think it's just normal content they can interact with – if structured in such a way that it provides value for the Facebook user, not simply asking for his money.
2. The ads in Facebook are social entities. Your users will see the connections and relationships from their friends – Your friend Steve likes this page – giving them more incentives to like it as well. Once a user interacts with an ad, that action will be seen by his friends, leading to increased reach.
3. You're in control with Facebook ads. You get to decide who to target, what their demographics are like, what interests them. If something doesn't go right, you can simply pause or delete the campaign and start over.
4. You get feedback from users. Most Facebook Ads come with the standard Like/Comment/Share options just like with regular Facebook posts. This means you might decide to advertise your new blog post and someone sees the ad, reads that post and can post a comment right in your ad, for others to see.
5. The system keeps getting better. With the introduction of Premium Ads, Conversion Tracking and Remarketing, Facebook Advertising is no longer just another online advertising platform. It's a force to be reckoned with. A piece of the content marketing puzzle that's hard to ignore.
The 3 Elements of Great Facebook Advertising for Bloggers and Publishers
If there's one thing I can leave you with after reading this guide, it's this: the 3 elements for great Facebook Advertising are Dark Posts, Custom Audiences and Remarketing. They might sound like tools of necromancers, but don't worry. I'm not leading you towards the dark arts.
A. Dark Posts – Test, optimize and repeat.
Dark Posts are a different type of Facebook post that's used for testing. It doesn't appear on your actual Facebook page. Regular scenario: You write a blog post called “The 7 Secrets of Using WordPress for Business”. You promote that with a post on your Facebook page, but notice a very low Click Through Rate.
Use scenario: Using Dark Posts you can create multiple paid posts, with different titles and descriptions. Once you have a winner – more clicks than the others – you can write/modify your blog post. And then use the winning title and description on your page.
Thanks to Facebook's targeting options, you can also decide to show certain Dark Posts to certain users. That way, you can improve your post even more, by being highly specific to your target audience.
B. Custom Audiences – Use your email subscriber list to target ads on Facebook.
If there's another buzzword going around besides “content marketing”, it's “growing your list”. Meaning getting more email subscribers. More subscribers = more newsletters sent = more free-ish traffic.
But email subscribers are useful in Facebook Advertising as well. Let's say you send a newsletter, telling your list about your wonderful new article titled “The Dangers of Weak Passwords in WordPress”. Since email marketing isn't perfect and your subscribers were busy that day, only a few actually opened the email. What if you could somehow promote your article in front of those subscribers that didn't open the newsletter?
Use scenario: Assuming the email address you have coincides with the one they use for their Facebook personal profile, you can use Custom Audiences to do just that. Not only is the tool easy to use, but you can also expand your Facebook user list with an option called Lookalike Audiences.
Basically your original email subscribers are transformed into the actual Facebook profiles. Then an algorithm tries to find similar users you can show your ads to. Best of all – it's a fast and free process.
C. Remarketing – Show your ads to specific website visitors.
Facebook Ads don't have to start on Facebook per se. The way Remarketing works is this:
A user visits your website -> a cookie is placed on their computer -> that user later visits Facebook and sees a very targeted ad, shown specifically for him.
Use scenario: Let's pretend you offered a paid course called “How to Setup WordPress for Clients and Get Paid Doing It”. With Remarketing you can show a specific ad on Facebook announcing that for the next 24 hours you can offer a huge discount on that course, but that the offer is only available if the user clicks on that specific ad.
The magic of remarketing is that once you set it up right, it's pretty straightforward and automated. The system (Facebook Advertising or a third-party) collects users and cookies, based on your specific needs – you can cookie people who saw the course page, but didn't buy it.
You can choose a more specific view – cookie the people who visited posts on WordPress Security. And then you would have a Remarketing Ad saying: “Are you interested in WordPress Security? Here's an exclusive free guide for securing your blog in 2015”. Once they click that, the user would go back to a guide page, where they would download it if they gave you their email address (thereby increasing your email subscriber list and growing your Custom Audience).
Read Part 2: Facebook Ad Types & Custom Audiences