A Beginner’s Guide to Facebook Advertising

Poker Night

Back in college, I was lucky to be a part of a weekly poker game with some close friends. Every Thursday night, I, along with about 20 others, would show up at 529 Union with a sixer (when we were all 21, of course) and a $5 bill and plunge into the exciting world of small-stakes gambling. Though it’s been years since we’ve dealt the cards, there are some related phrases that still stick in my head like “pay to play” and “skin in the game” and “you gotta spend money to make money.” These gambling phrases imply that you can’t win a dime unless you spend a few pennies.

Though my poker-playing days are (for the most part) far in the rear view, it’s interesting to hear these same phrases in the marketing and advertising world. Even on social channels, there’s no denying that putting money behind posts will inevitably give you better results. There’s one big difference though: this bet’s a sure thing.

In the world of social advertising, Facebook is the best place to start your playing strategy. In terms of sheer number of active users and the amount of traffic it drives, Facebook is so far unmatched in the social world. So where to begin your playing strategy?

There are enough options and strategies to fill an entire Facebook Advertising for Dummies volume, but we suggest a simple boosted post to get you started. It’s the simplest (and cheapest) form of Facebook advertising and the most practical for early-stage testing and a great way to get your content in front of more people.

Go With the Right Glimmer

To steal a term from Guys and Dolls, “glimmer” (money) is the name of the game. When it comes to Facebook ads, good content is the glimmer. So first, choose a valuable piece of content you want to boost. I suggest a blog or web copy that sends eyeballs to wherever you want to drive traffic (usually a website or a social page). If you have something specific you want to boost, excellent. If not, simply boosting an existing post that’s gotten a good amount of organic results is a good strategy as well. Curate your headline, image and brand voice headline, then click publish.

Facebook Real Estate Ad

At the bottom of that content is the ‘Boost Post’ button. Click it to bring up the Boost menu.

Facebook Advertising

Find the High Rollers

You’re given the option to expose this post to people who like your page, people who like your page and their friends and a custom audience. If this is your first boosted post or you’re trying out a new type of content, I recommend the first option. The folks who already like your page make the best test group.

Once you know the kind of content for which boosting yields strong results, expand the audience and even toy with creating your own custom targeted audience. You can target Facebook users in certain locations, age groups, genders and even interest groups.

Facebook Advertising Interest Groups

Facebook even allows you to save multiple audiences to make future targeting easier.

Place Your Bet

Next, you need to decide on your budget and the duration of the boost. As the term “pay to play” suggests, the more you spend, the better your results. But here’s the best part: There’s no gambling involved. You don’t need to play the odds or roll any dice. You know exactly what you’re getting for your money.

The duration you choose depends largely on what kind of content you’re boosting. If it’s a blog of yours that’s performing well, a week might be perfect. For content based on a trending topic or event, keep it less than a few days.

Collect Your “Winnings”

Once the duration of your boosted post has expired, you can track its performance just like any other post using the Insights tool.

Facebook Advertising Insights Tool


It shows you the total paid reach, the actions taken on the post itself and some demographics of the audience it reached. Not only is this powerful information to see how it performed, it’s also a great way to adjust your efforts for more future success.

Get Your Skin in the Game

The world of social advertising is a big one and certainly not without its risks. But Facebook has made it fairly easy to buy in with boosted posts. Now go test the waters yourself. Pick a good piece of content, throw $5 behind it and see where it goes. If I was a betting man, I’d say you’ll gain much more than $5 worth of insights.

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