Because you sell your products and/or services online, you have a Facebook page for your business.

And, because you have a Facebook page for your business, you use Facebook ads to reach prospective clients…right? Right?

You don’t?! If I was wearing pearls, I would be clutching them right now.

I’m a huge fan of using Facebook ads to drive engagement and awareness, because:

1. You can start off with a relatively small budget

2. Facebook ads are hugely flexible and customizable

3. You can play around with the creative as much as you like

4. Facebook offers very robust audience targeting

But, while Facebook ads certainly represent a more cost-effective strategy than most traditional media, you only get bang for your buck if your ads perform well in the following two areas:

  1. Reach, i.e. how many people actually see your ad(s), and
  2. Engagement, i.e. the number of people that interact with the ad(s), for example liking your page or clicking through to your website.Before we get started checking out my tips for increasing Facebook ad reach, it’s important that you understand the different kinds of ads available on Facebook. These ads are, broadly speaking, classified according to your objective; in other words, what you want to achieve.

Page like ads

facebook like photo

As the name suggests, page like ads encourage Facebook users who see your ad to like your Facebook page. If your goal is to grow your online community, then this is a good place to start.

Web click ads

Web click ads drive traffic away from Facebook and to a landing page on your website. If you’d like to get more hits on your site, a web click ad should help you get there.

Boosted posts

Whenever you post on Facebook, the algorithm is set up so that the content is only served to a very small percentage of your followers (this percentage varies, but it’s seen a sharp decline over the years. In other words, fewer and fewer of your followers actually see your posts).

Facebook’s reasoning is that they don’t want to bombard their users with promotional content – at the end of the day, it is still a social network – but boosted posts make for a big chunk of the social giant’s revenue.

When you “boost” a post, you are basically paying Facebook to remove some of the filters that they have in place and “open up” the post to more people.

Lead generation ads

Facebook ads

The last ad category that I’d like to just briefly touch on is the one pertaining to lead generation.

Lead generation ads are intended to collect data such as email addresses and/or phone numbers from people you’d like to communicate with in the future. This data is usually collected via a sign-up form, and oftentimes advertisers offer something in return, for example an eBook or gift voucher, to compel users to submit their details.

Okay, now that’s out of the way, let’s take a look at some of the ways in which you can increase the number of people that are exposed to your ad content.

Use eye-catching imagery

Do you know what’s neat about eye-catching imagery? That’s right! It catches the eye!

You know how busy Facebook newsfeeds get, what with all the criminally misspelt memes addressing someone called “fam” and the images of decorative coffee foam.

With so much stimuli competing for attention, it’s important that your ad features creative that will compel Facebook users to stop scrolling and look at it.

Best practice is using actual people in your ad creative, preferably using your product or service.

You can also use color to make your ad stand out, but don’t use Facebook colors as doing so is likely to make your message blend into the background and get lost in the Facebook newsfeed environment.

Use a compelling headline

Great imagery can only take you so far (which, to be fair, is pretty damn far).

Having the right mix of stunning graphics and winning copy will launch that sucker straight into the stratosphere, so you may want to pay attention for this next bit.

Because you are severely restricted in terms of how long your ad headline can be, you need to really triple down on how you use the limited characters available to you.

Below, I’ve listed the characteristics of a truly great ad headline:

  • It’s clear, concise and unambiguous
  • It addresses a need or solves a problem
  • It contains a value proposition

If you just get those three things right, you’re well on your way to getting some great mileage out of your Facebook ad.

As an example, here’s an ad proposal that I designed for my friend’s non-profit organisation, The Gem Project:

As you can (hopefully) see, the ad tells the audience exactly what the organization is about, while simultaneously dangling a nice, juicy carrot in the form of a monetary reward system. Yum!

Use split testing to see what creative works

Facebook ads

One of the most powerful features that Facebook offers marketers is the ability to conduct split testing.

For those of you who aren’t au fait with the jargon, split testing means that you can test different combinations of your creative (the copy and imagery) on different segments of your target audience to determine what works best and for whom.

For example, you can show one headline and graphic to both men and women, aged 25-60, and then mix it up with a different combination (a different headline, a new graphic) and serve it up to women only.

Using Facebook’s built-in analytics, you’ll be able to get a very good idea of how to tailor your ad creative and audience targeting.

Use lookalike audiences to target people with the same characteristics as your current followers

It’s very likely that people who follow your page will have the same or similar interests, and chances are that you’d like to attract more followers who share traits in terms of demographics, interests, behaviour, hobbies, etc.

That’s where Facebook’s lookalike audience feature comes in handy.

Using this method of targeting, you can effectively “mirror” your existing audience and Facebook will serve up your ad to users who have profiles similar to your existing followers. It’s certainly one of the more reliable and effective ways to go about targeting.

Get the Facebook Ads Manager app

This free app is a real lifesaver and helps you keep track of ad spend, view analytics as well as make changes to your audience selection, budget and even alter ad creative.

Go ahead and download the app for your iOS or Android device. It’s like having a digital marketing agency in your pocket – and who doesn’t want that?

Import a database

This is yet another way of creating your ideal audience.

If you have a database of existing contacts that you’d like to reach out to on Facebook, you can actually import the entire list of email addresses (saved as a .CSV file) into the audience targeting environment.

Facebook will then serve up your ad content to the members of this custom audience that it is able to track down using the data that you provided.

Obviously, not every person on your list will have a Facebook account, and not everyone would have signed up to Facebook using the email address on your list.

Still, importing a database is a great way to reach the right kind of people. Go on, give it a try!

Get to know your audience

Open any marketing textbook and you’re guaranteed to find some permutation of the following message: if you want to sell your stuff, you first have to know your audience.

To prove my point, I am going to quote from the textbook that I have in my hand right now, called Essentials of Marketing (Fifth Edition), edited by Michael Cant:

In order for marketing communications to be effective, there needs to be a clear idea of who the business should be targeting and the possible audiences in that target market. (Cant, 2016)

It’s Marketing 101, really.

Fortunately, Facebook makes it super easy to learn about your audience, thanks to the powerful Audience Insights Tool.

To access the tool:

  1. Navigate to Facebook Ads Manager, and open the Facebook Ads menu residing in the top left-hand corner of the screen.

Facebook adsFacebook ads2. The full tray of tools won’t be instantly visible, so you need to move your mouse cursor over All Tools in order to expand the tray.

Facebook ads

3. Under the Plan column, click on Audience Insights.

Facebook ads

Et voila, you now have access to a wealth of information about your chosen audience, including their gender, where they live, their technology of choice, and even the average household income of your followers. It’s powerful, powerful stuff.

Facebook ads

Having this kind of insight into your audience will enable you to tailor your content for maximum reach and engagement, and will also help you to reach the right kind of people, i.e. those that are most likely to buy your product or use your service.

Want to know more about creating winning Facebook ads? Drop me a mail at, and let’s talk!

Posted by Charl Mijnhardt

Charl Mijnhardt is an established freelance writer with a special interest in wellness and mental health. He is also an experienced technical writer with many years' experience writing for the security industry. He currently lives in South Africa with his wife, Nastasia, and his cat, Gizmo. Hire him to write engaging copy for your website, blog, e-book, newsletter or marketing communications.

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