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January 9, 2020

Beyond Boosted Posts: Choosing an Objective

By Ben Curnett

If you want to get business from Facebook and Instagram, you have to pay. That’s because social media is now pretty light on the “social” and heavy on the “media.” “Likes” are less important than they used to be, and that’s a good thing: Who cares how many “likes” a post gets? So, in lieu of gathering more “likes,” what we really need to focus on are the changes to these platforms that have let us directly target different audiences.

Beyond Boosted Posts

There have been a lot of changes in recent years. All open up channels (yes, paid channels) for business growth and get the touchy-feely part of social media out of the way. That’s valuable for your business, but to realize that value in the Facebook and Instagram advertising environment, you have to first go beyond boosted posts, which is where so many so readily turn.

Boosted posts are the entry-level ad product from Facebook. As such, the returns are also pretty much entry-level. They exist for only one reason: to get you, the potential advertiser, into the Facebook system. In other words, boosted posts work really well for Facebook, not so much for business owners.
The risk is that you stay there, boosting the occasional post—and often wondering why you even bother with social media at all. You will forever be looking at the platform as a necessary evil, paying to boost a post every so often so you don’t feel like you’re ignoring your marketing.

The next step then, and it’s a huge one, is to go a little deeper and create a social media ads strategy. In doing so, you’re going to have a ton of options that let you show your content to exactly the kind of person who should end up becoming a customer.

What Are Objectives in Facebook?

There might be no greater benefit to using social media ads than getting to choose an objective for the ads. Every advertisement in the history of the universe did one thing: deliver a message. Those messages were delivered a million different ways, but ultimately, that’s all they did.

Social media ads are different. They let you choose your ad’s objective, whether it’s broadcasting, improving engagement, or prompting an action like signing up for an email list. This is much, much different than creating an ad with a high call to action, like a coupon, or a low call to action, like an informational video.

What choosing an objective really means is targeting the platform behavior of an entire group of users. Because people use Facebook and Instagram differently, you can tell Facebook and Instagram you want to reach them according to how customers behave online.

Before you create any copy, upload video or even create your audience, Facebook is going to ask you what objective you’d like to use. There are currently 11 different objectives to choose from, divided among three different categories:

  • Awareness: Objectives that generate interest in your product or service.
    • Brand awareness
    • Reach
  • Consideration: Objectives that get people to start thinking about your business and look for more information about it.
    • Traffic
    • Engagement
    • App installs
    • Video views
    • Lead generation
    • Messages
  • Conversions: Objectives that encourage people interested in your business to purchase or use your product or service.
    • Conversion
    • Catalog sales
    • Store traffic

With these objectives, Facebook is asking, “What’s your overall goal?” That sounds simple enough. But in choosing the categories that work for you, you acknowledge that people use the internet differently, so even if users are in the same audience, they’re not necessarily going to exhibit the same behavior.

Suppose you have a “Girl’s Night Out” event coming up and you want to promote the event and allow people to register in advance. You have a registration form on your site, and anyone who registers in advance is going to get a bonus ammo bucket for half price.

Your target audience is local women who have shown an interest in self-defense. But you also want people to pre-register. That’s a conversion on a website, not inside Facebook, so we’re going to choose the conversion objective.

Here’s where the real magic is. Facebook is going to serve up your ads only to the people in the audience who have shown through their online behavior that they’re likely to convert. That might only end up being 10 percent of your total audience, but this ad strategy makes sense and is worth your investment because you aren’t paying to show ads to people not likely to convert.

Brilliant, right? All other ads distributed outside social media ever, no matter how perfectly created, went to everyone in the audience. But these categorized and objective-assigned Facebook ads? They go exactly to those most likely to respond.

The Objective of Objectives

It’s important to Facebook to make its users happy, otherwise, eventually they won’t come back.  It’s also important to Facebook to make its advertisers happy, both for the same reason and because Facebook needs to sell as many ads and be as profitable as it can be.

That’s a lot to balance, and to achieve that, Facebook continually fine-tunes those objectives. For you, that means thinking critically about choosing an objective (or even multiple objectives) in creating your Facebook ad campaigns and letting that lead the type of creative you’ll end up using to where you want your ads to be placed. The payoff is gaining a better understanding of how people behave on social media and who ultimately sees your ads, and that’s a huge advantage over other advertising platforms.

About the Author
Ben Curnett has been a marketer in the outdoor industry for 15 years as a copywriter and digital marketing strategist. After being awarded best campaign creative for Bridge Day West Virginia by the West Virginia State Tourism Board, Curnett became one of the first marketers in the outdoor industry to focus exclusively on social media marketing. He has worked closely with Facebook, Instagram and Twitter’s ads teams, helping to create one of the first Facebook Advertising case studies for small and medium-sized businesses.

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