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Managing successful online communities


How to grow your community with Facebook Ads

In the first of our expert series, we invite Martin Jolly-Jarvis to give us an overview of how Facebook ads can help drive traffic to your site.


Facebook Ads: are they the modern day ‘hilly billy’ California Gold Rush?

Rumors circulate about Facebook Ads being the MOST profitable way to advertise your business and everyone jumps on it to make a quick buck. 

Hence it’s quickly become the 21st century gold rush. 

And just like the gold rush, the people really profiting are the ones selling the tools to the prospectors…

AKA Facebook

But they’re still gold out there if you know where to look and what your doing. 

The purpose of this post is to give you a short introduction, so you know roughly how to make profitable ads.

It’s not going to turn you into an expert, but it might stop you digging in the wrong spot and spending BIG on things you should avoid. 

I’m not going to go into too much technical detail… Otherwise we’ll find ourselves like Alice down deep the rabbit hole. 

What Type Of Marketing Is Facebook Ads?

It’s important to define Facebook Ads as interrupt marketing. Someone is not actively looking for your product at the time of seeing your ad. 

So your ads need to be distracting and bold to literally GRAB attention. If people are more likely to be searching your products then should you choose Facebook Ads as a primary marketing channel? 

Why Does That Matter For Building Communities?

When you’re using Facebook Ads to build communities (especially off the platform e.g. not a Facebook Group). Your ads need to be eye catching and demand attention, with a clear benefit of the community AND call to action (what to do next).

fb-ads.jpg

If you’re community is big then use the size as social proof, people follow the herd and using this herd mentality when talking about the number of members etc will help you grow. 

Does Facebook Work For Every Business?

As a primary marketing channel? 

Absolutely not. 

If you have a business that people proactively search for that’s very transactional - like an ecommerce store then you’d be better using google adwords. 

Yet any business SHOULD 100% be retargeting website visitors with ads. It’s a great way to build rapport and make the most of your site visits. 

If your business is a business that’s heavily reliant upon growing a relationship then Facebook Ads is perfect. Big purchases, information products, service based businesses all do VERY well with Facebook Ads. 

It’s a great place to grow and build relationships with your audience. In my opinion this is the MOST powerful way to use Facebook Ads.

Do Facebook Ads Help Build Communities

Absolutely yes… Facebook Ads can help you build and grow your community. Be clear on your message and the benefits of the community. 

Having a good understanding of the audience will help too. 

If it’s a male audience of people who like Star Wars for example, there’s no point advertising to women or people who like football. 

There is merit in testing adverts to the same interests groups e.g. men who like Star Trek. 

How To Get The Most From Your Facebook Ads

Being successful with Facebook Ads is much more about relationship building than it is billboard advertising. 

One of the biggest mistakes I see is people using Facebook Ads as the internet’s ‘yellow pages’

I.E. The only adverts they ever place are “hey come buy my stuff” 

If you only use FB Ads for sales messages it’s going to be crazily expensive and ultimately ineffective. 

Still people ONLY want to pay for an ad when they have something specific. 

Instead, think of the platform as an extension of networking, with the same relationship interactions. 

Only your paying Facebook to have these ‘interactions’ and not having to do it manually.

The BEST Way To Do This Is Retargeting

Retargeting in the oldest & simplest sense of the word was when someone visited your site or product you identify them and give them adverts that are “come back and buy”

This makes things MUCH more effective. 

But here’s how you get a system that works…

You want to layer your retargeting… 

That means have multiple different offers that are layered one on top of the other. 

If you’ve heard the expression sales funnel (the process of ‘funnelling’ potential customers through your marketing into customers) then that’s essentially what you’re creating on Facebook all via your retargeting. 

Sounds complicated…

It’s not…

For example I could record a video about facebook ads and retarget people who have watched 25% of the video (because I know they’re interested).

Then I might give them the option of downloading a PDF to add them to my list…

Those that take the PDF could then be offered a webinar. 

At the end of the webinar is the option to become a customer. 

The layering of funnels takes time and is more work, hence most people choose the less effective ‘yellow pages’ method. 

I could go on and on about the nuances involved in advertising on Facebook. 

But here’s some dos and don’ts to keep you in check

Do

  • Treat the platform more like networking than the ‘Yellow Pages’
  • Focus on building relationships and meaningful interactions. 
  • Make sure you’re using retargeting, whatever business you’re running.
  • When writing adverts focus on the customer and their wants, needs, desires
  • Give value before you ask for something in return. 
  • Understand your maths and make sure it’s profitable. 
  • Layer your retargeting
  • Read the terms and conditions and make sure you’re compliant (otherwise you will get banned)

Don’t

  • Expect to become an overnight millionaire. 
  • Put big budgets in you can’t afford to lose until you know it works.
  • Copy everyone else ads.
  • Use boring stock photography. 
  • Try and cheat the system. 
  • Get too hung up with the technical 

It’s A Powerful Tool, Not A Panacea

There’s an epidemic out there (mainly from Facebook Ad Consultants) who push it as the panacea to all business problems. 

It’s not true… 

Facebook Ads is a super powerful tool that you could use to grow your community. Especially if you’re struggling to attract new members. 

It’s not a miracle cure.

If there’s a problem with your community messaging or attractiveness then Facebook Ads won’t fix it.

Instead Facebook Ads is more of a magnifying glass. 

It will highlight any problems. 

Which is very helpful if you don’t know where the gaps are in your community. 

Not so good if you’re expecting a miracle.

Final Thought

If you’re thinking about using Facebook Ads for your community then you 100% SHOULD!

Depending on your budget will decide if you get someone paid who knows what they’re doing (like me) or you run the ads yourself. 

If you do find someone make sure they’re realistic with the platform and what it can achieve. 

If you’re doing it yourself, then have a go… Try a traffic campaign to get you started. 

The WORST that can happen is you’ll spend a bit of money without getting anything in return. 

It’s only beginner tax… Or making a donation to the ‘Zuck Fund’ as it’s known in the industry. 

I’ve seen total beginners make 5 figures with their first ad…

It’s pretty rare, but I’ve seen it happen. 

The ONLY thing you can do is have a play and see what happens. 

It doesn’t bite. 

Martin Jolley-Jarvis is the owner of Full Spectrum Agency.


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One rule I follow, unless an advertisement is going to convert to a subscription, product purchase, etc. $$$, it's not worth it. You are better off building content and creating a facebook page/networking with groups and users. You'll end up spending a lot of money on facebook and google ads if you aren't careful, for the wrong type of visitor  just to try and grow your community. You are better off creating valuable content that organically grows your community by getting picked up by search engines because someone is looking for that exact content online. Forums will survive by offering what these giants don't. Answer the question, "what can they NOT get on facebook?" and forget building communities around "sharing stuff"...move towards a "support" style niche and you'll have a a better chance of surviving. Just my $0.02!

Edited by AlexWebsites

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I think the most useful bit is that you can retarget visitors who may have hit your site. It's a great way to reach people who already have some kind of interest in what you do.

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It sounds powerful and tempting, but I pass considering the privacy concerns. I don’t want to track every move of my visitors just to be able to place a retargeting ad on a different site they visit. 

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No idea how to do it properly. Have tried a few times, with a daily budget of £10. Got lots of clicks to the site and no sign ups. Started again this afternoon, same result.

fb.thumb.png.0f04835c1ad786b4cbecf831d0fd91eb.png

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2 hours ago, marklcfc said:

No idea how to do it properly. Have tried a few times, with a daily budget of £10. Got lots of clicks to the site and no sign ups. Started again this afternoon, same result.

fb.thumb.png.0f04835c1ad786b4cbecf831d0fd91eb.png

Thanks for sharing your testing. 

How finetuned is your marketing? How visually interesting is your ad? Are you selling your benefits? 

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6 minutes ago, Joel R said:

Thanks for sharing your testing. 

How finetuned is your marketing? How visually interesting is your ad? Are you selling your benefits? 

It targets people within 80km of the area where most of my visitors come from who also have an interest in what the forum is for

This is what the ad looks like

F61247B8-3FED-441E-AB3E-6027D9402987.thumb.png.bfc167f8c92137b9363af7b464d75c35.png

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7 minutes ago, marklcfc said:

It targets people within 80km of the area where most of my visitors come from who also have an interest in what the forum is for

This is what the ad looks like

F61247B8-3FED-441E-AB3E-6027D9402987.thumb.png.bfc167f8c92137b9363af7b464d75c35.png

It sounds like your targeting is good  One of the biggest takeaways from this article is relationship building. Is there anyway to change the text to something that's more relational instead of your current description Something like: 

"Are you a proud fan of Leicester City football? Will we ever rise to the top of the English Premier League again? Join FoxesTalk for the latest gameday updates and match discussion." 

(By the way, Im not a fan of football much less English football clubs, but hopefully this can inspire you a bit).  

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24 minutes ago, Joel R said:

It sounds like your targeting is good  One of the biggest takeaways from this article is relationship building. Is there anyway to change the text to something that's more relational instead of your current description Something like: 

"Are you a proud fan of Leicester City football? Will we ever rise to the top of the English Premier League again? Join FoxesTalk for the latest gameday updates and match discussion." 

Yeah something like that probably sounds better than what I've put, would that be best under where it says Sponsored or next to Learn More?

Edited by marklcfc

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You definitely want to hit hardest at the top (the "interrupted marketing" concept that Martin talked about), so make your text next to Sponsored the most compelling introduction you can make.  

Also, is there any way to get a better photo? One that's more visually striking, and that you customize with text? 

Edited by Joel R

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5 minutes ago, Joel R said:

Also, is there any way to get a better photo? One that's more visually striking, and that you customize with text? 

Possibly, just hard to know what photo to use for this purpose.

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Few things:

Get a picture of Vardy celebrating a goal. We humans tend to look for faces when scrolling. Also Vardy is Leicester's most well known player.

You could A/B test two headlines:

1) Is Vardy leaving the Foxes? Discover all the latest rumours and news on LCFC's #1 supporter community.
2) Who is coming to the King Power Stadium this summer? Find out on LCFC's #1 supporter community.

You're then be using language that Fox fans will instantly recognise (this is called signalling) and the intriguing titles make you want to click the link to find out.

I would also consider making the link go to a landing page which has a mix of your best authored content and community content. Don't just dump them into the forum index as people will likely bounce right back out again.

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In my honest opinion, Facebook advertising is the biggest lot of rubbish to have ever existed on the internet. It doesn't work. I have tried many times and this is what I have seen happening every time: 

1. You boost a post targeting a specific demographic for whatever you are offering (usually a link to a piece of content on your website).

2. You see people who don't fit the demographic (not even remotely) liking your post. Your post will get a lot of likes from these people. 

3. Facebook will ask you to increase your budget to reach more people. 

4. You look at your website analytics and you see no visitor sources from Facebook. None. 

In what universe is advertising on Facebook a good idea because either I am missing it completely, or somebody is having me on. 

The sooner Facebook dies (completely), the sooner we can get back to building trust in online communities run by real people. That day may never arrive if we keep reading BS articles like this one. 

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