Will Facebook marketing ever rule the PPC world?

Facebook PPC advertising has changed a lot over the years.

At our digital marketing agency, we’ve seen several large shifts in the consumer use of social media, resulting in changing recommendations for something as “straightforward” as a Facebook ad campaign.

How Facebook PPC All Started

When Facebook was still a rather new platform, “Business Pages” didn’t exist, and some businesses had to create fake Facebook profiles in order to separate their business from their personal brand.

Once Facebook introduced a better way to keep Facebook “Profiles” separate from “Pages,” brand content started to blow up. It was relatively easy for a business page to gain organic reach, if their content had good engagement numbers.

At this point, it was very important for a Page to have a large number of “Likes,” as the size of a page strongly correlated with the potential reach of its organic content. Therefore, Page Likes promotion could have been the ad campaign of choice for a Facebook advertiser.

Once Business Pages started to gain traction, Facebook started reducing the reach of page-related content in order to showcase more “personal” content on their Feed (such as photos posted by your friend). It became more important to promote individual posts, as there was no guarantee that your content could reach fans that have Liked your page.

But, what kind of content? Even that has a history of Facebook optimization behind it.

Initially, when the majority of mobile users accessed the internet via WiFi or limited data, Facebook would prefer short content that had high engagement while requiring little strain on a mobile user’s experience. This resulted in a high demand for engaging photo content, and a savvy Facebook marketer could leverage this trend by creating high-quality branded photos that could then be shared by users.

Soon, Facebook became inundated with photos. Memes, reposted content, low-quality photos filled the Feed. Photo content started to become stale. As mobile usage continued to rise, Facebook shifted its content preference to video content as a short 1-min video or a .gif. 

The rise of videos on Facebook gave birth to both quality content and low-hanging fruit for marketers. Trendy marketers could create quality video content to engage users in a more consistent manner than with photos. Some marketers even created photo content, uploaded in video format with slight moving elements in order to take advantage of the organic reach available to video content, while keeping the content format straightforward.

So, Where Are We Now With Facebook Advertising?

Facebook is continuing to tweak and update their ad system every month – in fact, they recently revamped their entire Ads Manager platform just a couple of weeks ago. As they update their advertising capabilities, many marketers are lamenting the loss of older functionalities* while testing new features with fresh eyes.

*In the past, Facebook made it very simple to promote ads to a “Connected” audience, defined by “everything who likes [one of your pages]”. Now, they’ve updated that to be more specific, as to “everything who has “engaged” with your page in a given time period. Other options – such as targeting users based on their existing page interests, have also been slowly removed over time.

So, what’s left?

Currently, some of the strongest content on Facebook consist of news articles. Even with all the outcry with “fake news,” the truth remains that the strongest human emotions that draw the biggest engagement numbers are those related to “anger” or “concern” – which is why there is an alarming amount of negative content on social media at times.

At Cucumber Marketing, we don’t believe in scare tactics to draw in numbers. We endorse a brand-based approach, where positive relationship with a brand draws in engagement with a close-knit community of followers over time.

So, for advertisers that want to promote their content without “optimizing for the system” by focusing on scare-related headlines, what can we do?

Here’s How Facebook Advertising Works In 2019

Let’s recap what we learned from the “History Of Facebook PPC” section, above:

  • It is currently very difficult for business pages to reach an organic audience with their posts, so some promotion is necessary
  • Video content is more engaging than photo content, which is in turn more engaging than word content
  • News articles and headlines work best when they elicit an emotion.

With this in mind, some great advertising formats include:

  • .gif content – we’ve seen great success with this nifty format, which commands the engagement of video content without the time investment of creating 1+ minutes of video
  • News articles leading to one’s own site for additional traffic, lead generation and potential retargeting purposes.
  • Informative video content – taking blog content (above) and repurposing it as a video to take advantage of the format.

Selecting The Right Audience

There are 3 main audiences that you should be aware of for a Facebook campaign:

  1. Target Audience – this is usually defined as a combination of location, demographic information, interests and behaviour. For example, “females age 14-18 interested in bunnies located in the richmond area” could be a target audience for a line of clothing focused on bunnies. This is the audience you will likely be targeting for a group of people who haven’t heard about your business yet. You are attracting this audience at the Awareness stage.
  2. Custom Audiences – this is the “second layer” of marketing that goes in depth to cater to an audience that already knows you. This consists of people who have opted in to your contact list, engaged with past content, used your app, or visited your site in the past. This attracts an audience at the Consideration stage.
  3. The third audience is a Lookalike Audience that leverages Facebook’s powerful algorithm to find users that are similar to your top users. This combines the “retargeting” aspects of Custom Audiences, while finding new users similar to the Target Audience group.

Facebook PPC is stronger than Google in its ability to find like-minded users that use the platform – just take a look at the 2016 US presidential election, where a strong Facebook campaign helped Trump win the election. The results speak for themselves!

There are a couple rules of thumb when working with Facebook PPC targeting settings: 

  1. Never go too wide, nor too narrow with your targeting. An ad campaign with 30 million users or less than 1,000 users likely will not be able to perform consistently.
  2. Don’t attempt to mix multiple ad set parameters in an attempt to do everything at once

If you run too many parameters in your ad set, you won’t be able to know if something works out or underperforms.

Putting It All Together

Sorry, there are no shortcuts to great marketing.

To execute all of the above properly, you’ll need to know your customer’s story. Our marketing agency creates personas as a guiding point to improve the story of our marketing content. You shouldn’t rely too much on your personas, but you must create them in order to consider the most important aspects of your ad campaign.

These aspects include your audiences’ interests, behaviour and demographics.

You’ll Need Market Research

Before we get tactical with our ads, we need to get strategic. In order to create a digital marketing strategy, you should consider SEO research even if SEO isn’t your primary goal – this is because you want to be using the same content across all marketing platforms, from PPC through SEO and.

If your marketing agency can provide you with an industry report, competitive breakdown or personas, it will save you a lot of time in identifying your ideal custom audience settings.

Adding The Magic Touch

Even with all the changes, Facebook remains a powerful marketing platform through their lookalike audiences to find new users that are likely to convert as well as your best customers. With the right research, proper content and targeted parameters, you’ll be able to leverage Facebook’s most powerful features to scale your best marketing campaigns.

The best part about digital marketing is that you don’t have to attempt to do it alone. Our digital marketing agency is here to help! All you have to do, is reach out. Head over to our LinkedIn Page to share your thoughts and the most creative comment will be entered to win a free Brand Audit

Did this article strike a chord with what’s going on in your organization? Do give us a shout and set up a discovery marketing meeting, we would love to see if we can help, or stop by our marketing agency in Vancouver, we always have chocolate!