In 2016, for the first time ever, more than 50% of the US population will be Facebook users according to a recent eMarketer study. That being said, it's no surprise that Facebook is an excellent platform for brands to invest their marketing efforts into. With the increasing capabilities of the ad platform, advertisers have various means of advertising with Facebook to reach their target audience. I've compiled my advertising experience with Facebook into 10 tips that marketers should take into consideration when utilizing the platform to reach their goals. You'll find a few of the latest innovations within Facebook's ad platform, as well as some of the more traditional techniques that can help your brand effectively optimize social media marketing efforts.

1. Avoid Ad Drop-Off

To boost the effectiveness of a Facebook ad, specifically a direct response campaign driving a user to a landing page, you aim to limit the drop-off as much as possible. When users are directed from the ad itself to a campaign-specific landing page, drop-off often occurs for a variety of reasons. Maybe a user doesn't want to take an extra step by leaving the platform to complete a given action, or maybe the landing page provides an experience completely different from what the user was expecting. Driving a user to a landing page can be a fairly leaky part of the funnel, but there are ways to try and rectify this. Cue one of my favorite (and new) objectives of Facebook advertising - Lead Ads. This type of advertising allows a user to complete a specific form for lead capture without even having to leave the Facebook platform -and in only two clicks. This is a highly effective means of advertising that can avoid ad drop-off, increasing the success of your efforts. By streamlining this process and simplifying the conversion process for users, a user will be much more likely to take the desired action of the ad. Lead ads are fairly customizable and allow you to capture the information that would normally be captured within form fills on a landing page with a direct response ad. Another point to keep in mind when you're trying to reduce your drop-off rates - Make sure your content stays on brand. It is so important to give the user an experience that is clear and easy to understand, or you run the risk of them leaving.

2. A/B Test

Continuing on with ad drop-off, say you're having no problem driving traffic to the page, but your actual lead count isn't quite reflective of that. First, you must find out why this is occurring, and tailor your efforts accordingly to reach your campaign goals. A few things to consider: a. The overall look/ feel of the landing page. Is it on brand? Is it confusing for users? b. The form fields required for submission on the landing page. While you want to capture the information you need to qualify a lead or integrate a user into your sales funnel, you don't want to scare away users by asking for an overwhelming amount of information. In order to find out why this drop-off or lack of submissions may be occurring, try running an A/B test with multiple versions of the landing page, and compare the performance accordingly. This strategy will help you to discover what will prove to be the most effective with your target audience.

3. Leverage Life Events

Facebook holds an abundance of information about who we are as a user. By leveraging the depth of knowledge that the Facebook platform has on its users and integrating that level of knowledge into your targeting strategy, you may reach your target audience through Facebook's Life Events targeting. For example, if you're a moving company or a storage facility, you may want to target those within a specific life event who are likely to move, or have recently moved. If you sell products that are fitting for wedding gifts, you may target those that are recently engaged. These life events on Facebook can help create a more refined reach within your audience.


4. Simple and Seamless Experiences

Create a seamless experience that brings users through a journey that makes sense. This one may seem like simple logic, but you'd be surprised as to how many brands don't always consider this concept. If you're encouraging users to shop your sale, take them directly to the sale page. If you're promoting newsletter sign-ups, drive them to the registration page. Don't make users go and look for the action you're asking them to take - Keep the journey simple.

5. The Power of Objectives

Pay more attention to the power of objectives. While your campaign may find success with multiple objectives, there's usually one that works best. And hint-if you're not sure, A/B test it! An example of this would be if you're launching a local campaign to try and reach people in your geographic area. There are a few ways that you can achieve this. Try out the "reach people near your business" objective of course, but you may also find success with other objectives too, such as "send people to your website."

6. Analyze BOTH Paid and Organic Efforts

In this case, the cheese does not stand alone. It is vital that you analyze and optimize all social media marketing efforts-both paid and organic. We've all seen posts on a Facebook page go viral, (THINK - cute kittens, funny memes) often times without any advertisement spend behind them. Become familiar with your insights and consider why a certain post may have been successful (or not) and tailor your organic and paid efforts accordingly.

7. Use the Audience Optimization Tool

The Audience Optimization tool helps publishers to better reach and engage with their target audience by improving the relevancy of that post to viewers. For companies that may have multiple locations but one universal Facebook page, this tool is a must. For example, say that you have 25 locations across the United States, and your audience tends to vary by area, your messaging should be tailored to speak to each one. The Audience Optimization tool gives you the capability to make specific posts visible only to users within a specific area, interest, language, age, or gender, so that it may be shown only to the group that you have identified. When users within the selected interests/demographics visit your Facebook page, they'll see only messages that are relevant to them.

8. Try Remarketing

Let's be real here, placing all of your efforts into converting a user at the very first touchpoint isn't always a realistic goal. A user is much more likely to convert once they've been educated on your brand and have made an active decision that it is something that they are interested in. The remarketing capabilities on Facebook's ad platform allow you to reach users that previously interacted with your brand. By serving an ad to existing users as they scroll through Facebook, you'll stay top of mind as you interact with them once again. The ideal goal with remarketing is create another touchpoint between a specific user and your brand that results in a conversion, as the familiarity with your brand is already there.

9. Understand the New Facebook Pixel and Custom Audiences

To effectively track your efforts on Facebook, there have been a few changes that you'll need to know about the tracking pixel and custom audiences. Here's the lowdown: There is now 1 pixel that will go on every page of your site. What does this mean? Less back and forth with your development team. From there, you can build out your custom audiences directly on the Facebook platform. Keep in mind, this change will be final about halfway through 2016. Once this migration to the new pixel is final, the older pixels won't work, but if the code is left on the site, it won't do any harm.

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10. Optimize Regularly

It's essential that you are regularly monitoring the performance of your social media marketing efforts (both paid and organic) so that you can improve the effectiveness and efficiency of them. By gaining a better understanding of what works, (or doesn't) you'll achieve the best ROI on your ad spend and improve the success of your overall efforts on Facebook. Marketing on Facebook can be incredibly effective in helping to reach your audience, however if it's not done correctly, your efforts won't provide any real value for your company. Take the time to follow best practices while also staying on top of the latest innovations from the platform in order to produce the best ads possible.

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