Editor’s Note: The following is a guest post from Anthony Piwarun, an interactive strategist and search marketer from Milwaukee, WI.

In February 2004, Facebook launched itself as a unique and innovative way to help college students keep in-touch with their recently graduated counterparts across the country. Seven years later, and now no longer exclusively for college students, this burgeoning website with more than 500 million users has become a full-fledged social networking platform. As Facebook’s popularity, and reach, has grown, so has the likelihood that members from your target audience will be on Facebook.

Facebook logo
Image via Wikipedia

This in itself has expanded the opportunities advertisers have to market their products or services efficiently and to the appropriate audiences. You have, literally at your fingertips, a whole new level of online marketing ability. On top of this, Facebook’s advertising platform is easy to use. The analytics dashboard will help you to better integrate this into your overall marketing strategy, allowing you to track and measure your investment. The following guide will help you to lay the foundation of a successful Facebook marketing strategy.

Identify Your Goals

In order to measure the success of return in Facebook advertising, you must fist establish your advertising objectives. Before you even create your ad, decide what your intended end-result for these efforts will be. This goal does not have to be complex; in fact, some of the goals I’ve seen in the past have included: generating revenue, increasing cost per sale, or simply promoting your brand by maximizing visibility. Setting a clear goal before undertaking the advertising action will allow you to accurately measure your return and decide if it has been worth the time and resources.

Design and Develop

Ad Copy and Creative - Once you have indentified your Facebook advertising objectives, it is now time to create the ad itself. Facebook advertisements appear in the far right hand column of the screen, after the user navigates away from the newsfeed.

Facebook ads are composed of a headline, brief copy and imagery to go with your theme. The imagery should be compelling and on-topic. It is strongly recommended to use imagery featuring a person’s headshot when advertising online. Headshots they tend to perform better than an object or lesser-known brand logos. In terms of copy, titles can be up to 25 characters in length and the body copy of the ad can be 135. Keep your copy short and to the point; hence the importance of the imagery.

Landing Page – After clicking on your advertisement, the user is taken to a landing page where they will decide whether or not they will buy your product. Facebook ads can link to either a Fan Page or an external website. Based on my experience in managing online ad campaigns for numerous clients, I have found that an external, campaign-specific landing page is more effective than linking to your brand’s Fan Page. In addition, it is essential to keep brand messaging consistent between the creative and the landing page. If your ad uses a logo or object as imagery, add it to your landing page so the user feels confident that they clicked on the right advertisement.

Target Your Audience

One of the many useful features of the Facebook advertising platform is the ability to target your advertising to specific segments. On Facebook, it’s possible to target:

  • Location
  • Age
  • Sex
  • Keywords
  • Education
  • Workplace
  • Relationship Status
  • Relationship Interests
  • Languages

The ability to target your audience using this much detail can make advertising even more effective than PPC or traditional online display advertising. With a well thought out goal (think: step one) and proper targeting, you’ve already qualified traffic to your landing page.

Define Cost Structure

Defining goals, developing effective creative, and targeting your audience is standard procedure when launching any new advertising campaign. Where advertising on Facebook — or anywhere online for that matter — differs from traditional media buying is in the cost structure. There are two ways to manage your ad spend when running media on Facebook:

  • Cost Per Click - You pay every time a user clicks on your advertisement. It doesn’t matter whether your ad was served 100 times or 1 million times, you only pay for every click.
  • Cost Per Impression - You pay for a set number of impressions, or, ad views. This is measured in multiples of 1,000 and is called a CPM or “cost per million” ad spend.

Choosing a price structure that’s right for you is critical to the success of your campaign. There are a few things to keep in mind: if your goal is to simply increase brand recognition, and you don’t have any commercially-tied reason to drive traffic to your landing page other than to promote your name, choosing a CPM model would be the most cost effective. If, however, your success is measured by the number of sales you get via the landing page, starting off with CPC and calculating return is your best bet. If you’re interested in learning more about the geeky metrics behind choosing a model, be sure to look at an article I wrote on choosing CPM or CPC for Facebook advertising.

Launch, Measure, and Repeat

After deciding which cost structure is best suited to your goal, it’s time to launch. Facebook allows you to regularly monitor your ad via their dashboard under the “Ads and Pages” tab. Here, you’ll get detailed information on metrics such as bid cost, the number of clicks, average cost-per-click, and more. Narrow down your dashboard by selecting monthly, weekly, or even daily statistics, and dig deeper by exporting reports into csv format and analyzing historical trends.

After running your ad for a few days, revisit your creative concept. Tweak your copy or swap the image, then run both the original and updated advertisements concurrently. This will allow you to determine which advertisement works best for your audience. Even after you find an advertisement that works for you, understand that this too will constantly need to be tweaked and updated. Doing so will help to ensure your audience does not become too used to your ads, keeping it fresh and noticeable.

As with any online marketing campaign, the key to success lies within careful observation and analysis. Monitoring impressions, click-through rate, and conversions is only half the battle. To make the most out of your Facebook advertising dollar, you need to act on your observations and tweak the campaign to limit cost and increase ROI.

Anthony PiwarunAnthony Piwarun is an interactive strategist and search marketer from Milwaukee, Wisc. In his free time, he moonlights as a WordPress designer dedicated to helping startups and small business build their brands by developing user friendly, conversion-oriented websites. Read more on his blog, follow him on Twitter, or learn more about his seo consulting services.

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About Jason Falls

Jason Falls

Jason Falls is a leading thinker, speaker and strategist in the world of digital marketing and is co-author of two books, No Bullshit Social Media: The All-Business, No-Hype Guide To Social Media Marketing and The Rebel's Guide To Email Marketing. By day, he leads digital strategy for Elasticity, one of the world's most innovative digital marketing and public relations firms. Follow him on Twitter (@JasonFalls).

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