Creating effective ads on Facebook is a matter of effective images and tight copy. Here’s how to create two ads you’re likely to use in real estate: Page Likes and Clicks to Website.
I’ll start by walking you through the Facebook ad creation process. We’ll then change gears and look carefully at the ad management area where you can see how your ad(s) are performing. Since there’s really no way to explain all this without some first-hand information, I chose to go through the ad process myself.
A few weeks ago I created two Facebook ads of my own. I spent my own money and watched the whole process carefully. Everything you’ll see here is real and pulled from my own Facebook ad account.
Facebook Ads • part two of an occasional series • see part one
I’ll explain my step-by-step process as if I’m in your shoes; a real estate professional making marketing decisions. For the purposes of my little simulation here, I make two important assumptions about your business. First, that you already have a Facebook business page. Second, that you already have a website for your real estate business.
That’s a lot to cover, but once we’re done here I think you’ll have a much better idea of how to create a compelling Facebook ad and how to monitor its progress and the ability to determine Facebook ad success or failure for yourself.
OK, here we go.
Creating a Page Like Ad
You’ve probably seen this image below. This is the first stop in the Facebook ad creation wizard. Facebook conveniently invites you into one of eight strategic paths based on what you want to accomplish with your ad. By the way, while there are eight paths, I’m only going to dig into the “Page Likes” path and touch on the “Clicks to Website” path. Although there are more than a dozen formats for Facebook ads, I think these two are most commonly used by real estate agents and brokers.
The first ad I created was of the “Page Likes” variety. The ad is designed to to do just what you’d guess: accumulate Likes for my “Sample Company” Facebook business page.
Here you see the resulting dialogue when you select the “Page Likes” path. Facebook wants to know for which of your pages you’d like to build an audience. Again, assuming you’ve already created a business page, you’ll just select it from a list.
Next you’ll be invited to select an image (or images) for your ad. Notice that attaching images to your ads is not optional. You must use an image, and for good reason. Photos sell houses, right? Same principal applies to Facebook ads. You’ll want to choose a photo that tells your audience something about your business. A picture is worth 1,000 words as you know, and as we’ll see shortly, you won’t be able to write very much in your ad so a quality image really matters.
A few words of advice. Pick great images to show your audience that you’re worth their attention. Choose images that support your corporate marketing strategy. And whatever you do, don’t use your logo as your ad image. Logos in ads come off as self-serving and only show your audience that you really like your logo!
Don’t fret over the logo thing. Once they click to Like your page or click through to your website, they’ll get plenty of exposure to your awesome logo.
Since I make websites and marketing materials for a living, the image I chose for my “Like” ad (see the next screenshot) was a diagram of how my business can help turn online visitors into clients and ultimately fans of my services. This image is colorful, fits nicely into the layout and tells a great story. It’s eye-catching, gives an indication of what services I provide and it invites additional interaction.
As a real estate agent or broker, though, you’ll want to choose an image that reflects your brand and tells a story. While this could be an image of a house, it’s important that the image is of something that is narrowly targeted — meaning that if you specialize in selling lofts or lake houses, these would be good image ideas.
Think about the image as something that is specific and compelling, since you can use Facebook’s advanced targeting features to display your ads to just the right people. We’ll talk more about that in a minute.
Now things are getting exciting! This page is a preview page for your ad. Here you’ll write your ad headline and supporting text. As you edit, you’ll see your work appear right on your sample ad itself.
Facebook has strict limits on text length, which takes some getting used to, but don’t let these limitations frustrate you. Brevity in ads, especially the kind we’re creating here, is a good thing. It forces you to communicate clearly; to be direct and get right to the value in your message.
As you work in this area, finalizing your ad’s look and message, think about your own Facebook use. You skim through the newsfeed quickly looking for interesting things. Keep this in mind and realize that people simply aren’t going to read volumes about your business.
This is in an environment designed for quick-hit interaction. Naturally, Facebook understands this and places these text and space limits to give you the most out of your ad purchase by forcing you to write quick and simple ads.
Don’t Sell — Offer a Solution
A word of advice. Notice in this screenshot that I’m not really attempting to overtly “sell” with this ad. I’m outlining a common problem (useless websites) and offering a solution. Yes, the ad is low on details, but that’s on purpose. I’m only presenting the viewer with an idea and inviting them to take a closer look … to click“Like” in this case.
As I designed my ad, I’m imagining the viewer of the ad reading the line about websites and saying, “yeah, that sounds like my useless website”. Hopefully, they’ll respond to this connection by clicking “Like” to learn more about how to fix this problem.
Putting yourself in the mind of your audience as they view your ads is a critical step in ad creation of any kind, but especially in the fast-paced environment of Facebook.
Before we move on and make decisions concerning targeting our audience, let’s recap. I’ve created an ad. I’ve selected an image and written some direct, well-crafted ad copy. Now the fun part. Facebook knows everything about us, so we can use that to our advantage!
In the next area (image below) I can target people by gender, age, industry or job description. Play around with the options here and dial in just the people you want to reach. The more focused your target, the more likely you are to have success with your ads. Again, better to shoot a well-aimed message to the right people that a hit-or-miss spray approach rife with “waste exposure”.
Demographic and Behavior Based Targeting
Let’s pause for a moment and fully take in what’s happening here. This is big.
Facebook is a marketer’s dream and it’s not because we made a nice-looking ad. Making ads is easy.
What I mean by big is in targeting. There may not be a more meaningful and innovative series of actions in marketing history than what you’ll do in these next sections. For centuries, marketers have longed for the power to make the kinds of selections you’ll enjoy. Appreciate this power and use it wisely. Marketing Jedi talk, eh?
Let’s move on to the next section where it really gets interesting.
Here I can narrow my focus based on behaviors. What? Yes, behavior. There is no clear explanation on exactly how Facebook has come to know (according to the image above) that 3.8 million people on their network are currently “Likely to move”, but as a marketer, this is beyond fascinating. This is down right amazing!
I spent a lot of time in this section, typing in random things to see what might pop up on a list of potential behaviors I might use to build my audience. You’ll no doubt do the same. It’s pretty captivating. Fun, really.
Quick note. This is market segmentation on steroids and it’s wonderfully exciting. Clearly, you can now create a series of different ads with various messages to pinpoint an audience with a message that speaks directly to them, quickly and for very little money.
Remember, a well-aimed message is infinitely more effective than one sent blindly in a crowded room. This is the area in the process makes that possible.
With these decisions made, I submitted a credit card and made my ad officially published.
Creating a Clicks to Website Ad
The second ad I created was to the “Clicks to Website” ad. It’s designed to entice people that see the ad to click through to my company website. For example, the ad runs within Facebook and, hopefully, people would be attracted by the headline and visuals, click on the link displayed on the ad, be directed to my company’s website and thus earn me a load of website visitors.
The process to create a “Clicks to Website” ad is almost identical to the “Page Likes” advertising path, so I’ll spare you another set of screenshots that would only show you similar options. Instead I’ll just ask that as you make your way through that set of options, creating your “Clicks to Website” ad that you keep in mind two fundamental things.
- Simply clicking “Like” on an ad is very low impact for your audience. Clicking through to a website is more of a commitment. Adjust your expectations accordingly.
- Despite being super simple to create, the best Facebook ads are based on research. More on this in a minute, but before you spend money (even a little money) on a Facebook ad, spend time thinking about your audience and what images and language might communicate your message most effectively.
Now let’s look at the analytics on my two ads.
Notice anything interesting? I’ll give you a hint. Neither of the ads did anything! Bupkis! My “Page Likes” ad resulted in exactly zero page Likes. Not to be outdone, my “Clicks to Website” received another goose egg. I spent a paltry $69.28 and only ran these ads for a week, which I’m going to assume had a lot to do with my lack of success, but I’m not claiming this a total loss. Actually far from it.
I think this test was incredibly valuable – worth the $69.28 just for the experience alone. If this were a real business, I’d go back in and do three things definitely:
- I’d start with one ad. The “Page Likes” ad.
- I’d make my budget somewhere north of $100 at least
- I’d adjust my calendar down. Maybe run the ad for just 2 or 3 days.
More money in and less time over which to spread the ad placement means that the Facebook ad system will be able to place the ad more often within a tighter window of time. I’d monitor the ad manager area closely during those three days and make another assessment when the final numbers were in.
Now back to my original purpose. I wanted to walk you through creating a Facebook ad (mission accomplished) and give you a glance at the ad manager area and provide some final thoughts and advice on my own experience.
I don’t know that I was completely sold on Facebook ads before I began writing this series of posts, but I certainly am now. If for no other reason, the targeting aspects of the ad process were downright exhilarating. No, I may not have blown the doors off with my initial results, but as a marketer, I have a clear path to using this powerful tool for very specific, very affordable marketing work.
I invite you to dive in with your own Facebook ad. Take it slowly, as I did, and find out what combination of investment and ad schedule works best for you. I appreciate that you’ve read this post and (hopefully) received some intelligence you might not have had previously, but nothing is learned without experience, so get out there.
Make a compelling ad based on the advice you’ve read here and tell me how it goes. I’d love to hear about your own experience with Facebook ads.