How to Make Facebook Ads Work for Your Business

Many people can be intimidated by the thought of spending money on Facebook advertising. Yet business owners' biggest complaint about Facebook is that getting measurable results is extremely challenging. How do you get more fans? How do you get fans to interact? And what happens then?

It comes down to strategy, and advertising should be part of yours. Here's a look at three effective strategies for increasing page "Likes" and fan engagement that can help you get started on your own advertising effort.

1. Turn a status update into an ad to boost engagement and showcase services.
Fan engagement is critical to Facebook success. If people aren't clicking, liking and commenting, you won't see results.

One of the best strategies is to turn a post on your Facebook page into an ad to increase that engagement score. From your advertising dashboard, select your own page as the ad's destination, select "A specific post on [Your Page Name]," and then choose one of your recent posts from the dropdown menu. If you're choosing a post to advertise something specific, try targeting "Only people who are fans of" your page already (under Connections in your ads dashboard) to keep costs low and produce better results.

Related: 3 Ways to Supercharge Fan Engagement on Facebook

Make sure the post you create an ad from offers a clear benefit to those who click. For example, I chose a post that contained a call to action to watch an embedded short video (also in the post) for an upcoming webinar, with a link for more information.

How to Make Facebook Ads Work for Your Business
Turn a page post into a Facebook ad campaign

Because people can watch the video, click "Like" and comment right from these ads, you can quickly increase your "Talking About This" score and generate visible results. On this ad alone, I received more than 500 clicks at 11 cents per click, and a 72 percent opt-in rate. That's almost unheard of in most online advertising campaigns.

2. Reduce costs and increase conversions by targeting your existing fans.
Consider starting with a campaign that targets only existing fans if you have a fan base of 1,000 or more. Facebook charges less per click for such ads and you have the added benefit of increasing engagement with your fans and getting them talking again.

Of course, it can be tempting to use advertising to try to attract new people to your page, but that's harder to do and more costly. Take advantage of your built-in prospects who are already there waiting for a compelling reason to engage with you, sign up for your list or check out a new product.

Related: New Facebook Features Help Businesses Better Manage Their Pages

3. Use engagement ads to get more fans.
If you need to attract more fans to your page, consider using engagement ads. These are ads that keep users inside Facebook, meaning when someone clicks the ad it will take them to a Facebook page vs. an external website. And because they advertise destinations within Facebook, users can simply hover over the ads to "Like" your page, add a comment or share in their News Feeds.

One approach is to include a "Like" statement in your ad, such as "Click Like if . . . " When creating the "Like" statement, make sure it will resonate with your audience and encourage people to take action. 

How to Make Facebook Ads Work for Your Business
When users click "Like" inside an engagement ad, they become an instant fan of your Facebook page

Use Facebook's "Precise Interests" feature to include people who have "Liked" your competitor's pages, but not yours. Targeting people already interested in your type of business should result in a higher ROI.

And rather than drive ad clicks to your Wall, consider creating a custom app on your Facebook page with a value-added download as the destination (think eBook, video series, webinar and the like). On the app, you can ask your potential new fans for their contact information and/or "Like" in exchange for your content. Giving new fans value upfront helps create a stronger connection.

Related: What You Need to Know Before Advertising on Facebook (Video)

As you get started, keep in mind a few basic points that can influence clicks:

• Always incite action with your headline and ad copy
• Grab users' attention with a compelling image or video
• Measure performance and try adjusting copy, photos or even the destination to get better results.

Once you're comfortable with Facebook ads, you can build them into your overall strategy and deploy them whenever you need to ramp up engagement, call attention to a new product or expand your reach.