Just starting out marketing your venue? Here is everything the beginner Facebook advertiser needs to know about business marketing on one of the world’s most popular platforms. Not a beginner? You still might learn a thing or two.

Let's Face(book) It

Like the majority of the planet, I have a Facebook account.

Having said that, I mostly use (well, used) it for checking in on people I went to Highschool with, birthday reminders and receiving cat pictures from old relatives, naturally.

But reading that over 16 million business pages were made from May 2013 to April 2017 made me realise I needed to learn everything I could about this medium, and put it to good use for marketing my bar.

It turns out that 91% of marketers polled by Buffer admitted to investing in Facebook Ads in 2017.

That means that the professional marketing agencies are getting big bucks for designing campaigns for a platform that even amateurs have free use of.

Great news for the little guys.

Facebook advertising for hospitality 1

Statistics provided by SocialBakers Analytics [2017]

It also means that the professionals have done their research and concluded that Facebook is where they need to be to get results - we just get to jump on the coattails of those findings.

I'll be honest; the idea of competing with professional marketers, and companies that have a full-time employee whose sole job is to run their social media was a little intimidating to say the least. Especially as when I say that I was a beginner, I really mean it.

But I figured that the journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step so wanted to share with you exactly how easy it can be when you actually know what you're doing.

So without further adieu, here is my very literal 'Beginners Guide to Facebook Advertising' in 8 simple steps....

Create a Business Page

Pages are different to profiles.

All business accounts have to be linked to an authentic, personal account as they act as the page's admin.It isn't essential to creating a Facebook ad, but definitely means you can get more out of it.

If you choose to place an ad without making a page you have less choice over ad placement, the amount of images you can use, the format, the objectives - all kinds of stuff.

Syncing my bar's business page to my personal account also meant I had access to metrics, and engagement rates like how many times people clicked on a post, how many people saw it in total ('impressions') etc.

To create your page, make sure you're armed with some high quality photos, as well as all of the basic info for your business e.g. opening hours, location, contact info, a short company bio and any helpful links like your website or blog.

To get started, all you have to do is click the downward arrow in the top right corner of your Facebook screen, and select 'Create Page'. That will take you to this screen:

Facebook advertising for hospitality 2

Here, you select the category most appropriate (for a bricks and mortar store, your best bet is to select 'local business or place', that way the geo-settings allow people to get directions to you.)

It's also worth noting that the category is actually visible on the page, so don't just click anything. It is how you will be categorised, and shown to similar audiences.

Once I had filled in all of our business' info, much like a regular Facebook profile, I was ready to get started on my first ad.

You might have noticed that the drop-down where we found 'Create Page', also houses the 'Create Adverts' option, so head back up to the top right hand arrow to begin designing your first ad campaign.

This will take you to your 'Adverts Manager' dashboard, where you must...

Select an 'Objective'

The first part of any campaign is to determine: 'what is our endgame?'

Facebook asks you to pick one of 3 objectives: Awareness (to generate interest in a product/service), Consideration (to get people thinking about your business and look more into it) or Conversions (to act, visit, sign-up, follow, purchase etc.)

Each one is detailed further in the 'Help: Choosing and objective' guide.

Facebook advertising for hospitality 3

You might be interested in upping your social following, or want to let yourself be known to a certain group of people. We personally wanted to focus our efforts on engagement and page views, so we could drum up interest before a big event we had planned for the fall:

Facebook advertising for hospitality 4

Facebook's adverts are extremely intuitive, luckily, so just select the result you're looking for and it will tailor make your campaign for you.

Once your objective is outlined, you then need to tell Facebook a little bit more about who you're hoping to target for the best response. So the next step is to...

Choose your Audience

This can be defined by age, location, gender, workplace, education... It's extremely thorough, so I made sure to spend a good amount of time pinning down our exact demographic to really use the ad to it's full potential.

Firstly, we needed our ads to be geographically relevant so I set the location exclusively to the USA, specifically NYC + 40km just incase. That way we were still visible to people venturing a bit further out on day trips and so on.

I opted for it to be visible to those from the age of 20+ so those soon to turn the ripe old age of 21 might consider us for their birthday celebrations. I set the higher end of the age range to 45, just as a guideline.

Bill's is totally inclusive and welcomes anyone - but it pays to be a little more specific in who you expect to actually act on seeing the ad. Our typical customer is generally between 22 and 35, so I gave it a little wiggle room on either side.

There's a huuuge catalogue of audience insights like purchase behaviours and interests to have a scroll through, so really try and pinpoint people who you can not just advertise to, but who would enjoy and benefit from your company.

The way that ad viewers are determined is by Facebook auctions, which is essentially based on making sure there is mutual benefit for the advertiser and the user. It's important to Facebook that they don't come off spammy but instead to be enhancing user experience.

For example, we now have a kick ass beer menu with some really rare and interesting draught kegs, so I used our ads to hone in on those that explicitly state their interest in beer:

Facebook advertising for hospitality 5

Once you've factored in other interests and filters like behaviours, language etc., you're left with a group of individuals who are - based on what they've declared on Facebook - your perfect shot at converting customers.

You can even select people that have an upcoming anniversary, which I can imagine would be very useful if you run a jewellers or a florist!

There's also a feature known as 'Lookalike audiences' which can do a lot of the legwork for you.

Lookalike audiences mimic the trends and qualities of your current fanbase or following to work out similar people to advertise to. Just select a source audience (i.e. People that already like your Facebook page, or current mailing list subscribers etc.) and Facebook casts a net (search) for matches.

Facebook advertising for hospitality 6

Source audiences require a minimum of 100 people however, and as our page was relatively new I decided to just tailor make a custom audience. Lookalike audiences are much more handy for the already established brand when there's already a lot of customer data to source.

I would advocate remarketing though.

Remarketing means targeting people that have already viewed or interacted with your page. By selecting that group as a source audience I could nab the customers that were interested but still a little hesitant. They're usually the easiest to convert to paying guests!

Once you've decided who should see your ads, next up is to decide where they see them.

Choose Ad Placement

Facebook have a 'family of apps' that they recommend using for the best results.

I opted for 'automatic placement' which meant they do an A/B split test of sorts. Essentially: see where the ads performs better, and put them there.

It's probably the easiest of the options unless you're some mathematically inclined marketing whizz it might not be worth overriding what the big dogs think is best for your business. It can all get very complicated.

Placement-wise, our options were:

• Facebook Feed (Mobile and desktop)

• Facebook Right Hand Column

• Facebook In-stream Video.

• Messenger (clickable ads that open a chat window for B2C correspondence)

• Instagram Feed

• Instagram Stories

• Audience Network (off Facebook ad placement)

• Instant Articles (clickable ads that take you to a relevant post or article)

We were looking to run a pretty traditional advert using images, so that eliminated Instream Video.

As a smaller brand, the core team deal with everything so having a chat option didn't seem too viable, and could actually hurt our cause if our response time wasn't fast enough. I opted out of Messenger ads - at least for now!

For those focused on engagement, Facebook recommends Facebook and Instagram placements where you can track the impressions and have something of a captive audience.

For ease of design we decided to go for Feed ads, and they came out a little like this:

Facebook advertising for hospitality 7

If you take a look at the reach, we certainly seemed to make an impression.

As for engagement, within the first week of our campaign going live our page likes almost doubled:

Facebook advertising for hospitality 8
Set a Budget

This bit was the probably the toughest for an unseasoned marketeer to figure out. How much is a reasonable investment? How much engagement is realistic to expect for a regional page just starting out?

Not only that, but the quality of your advert directly affects how much it will cost you.

You'd think quality is subjective, but Facebook actually gauges ad quality by its relevance to who you're marketing to.

You know the 'don't show me this ad' option on Facebook? Every time someone clicks on that, your relevance score takes a beating.

It's also calculated by 'click through rate', which is the number of people that clicked on the ad divided by the number of people that saw it overall. [Clicks / Impressions = 'Click-throughs']

Long story short, the more your ad is something a user might positively engage with, the lower the cost per click.

I also learned that campaigns running around what Facebook deems as 'peak season' - like The Holidays, Labor Day and Black Friday - will see the same ad cost you almost double.

You need to factor in all of this to work out how far your budget will go.

The control you do have though, is deciding how you want to pay Facebook for your ads.

For instance, budgets can either be daily or lifetime:

Facebook advertising for hospitality 9

That either means you commit to paying a set amount every day, or you fork out for the ad's entire scheduled run time in one hit and Facebook spreads them accordingly.

In advanced options, you also have the option to choose how Facebook charge you - by impressions or by clicks, and how best to deliver your ads for your objective:

Facebook advertising for hospitality 10

Super complicated right?

All I knew was how much I was prepared to part with for advertising the fall event. Around 350 bucks, all in.

As a beginner, I was more than relieved to see that Facebook took the reigns here.

Facebook advertising for hospitality 11

For an easy life - and my first campaign - I decided to set a price cap and let the algorithms take care of the rest.

Choose a Format

This is where they ask you to select the layout of your advert, what it will contain and then see an ad preview before it goes live. It's different to placement but equally important for optimising click-throughs.

Format-wise, there are only 5 options which I was grateful for: Single Image, Video, Slideshow, Canvas and Carousel.

I personally am a fan of the traditional 'Desktop News Feed' ad which uses just a single image.

They are easily recognisable and don't overwhelm your viewers. The option is always there to learn more, and I felt that was an added incentive to click.

If it's too much information, it's counterproductive and people keep scrolling. We didn't want to detract too much from what we were actually asking our viewers to do: engage with us.

I wanted to make it as easy as possible to interact with the ad so the single image format was perfect for directing attention to our call to action buttons.

Typically, these would be things like: 'Contact us', 'Book Now' or 'Like Page':

Facebook advertising for hospitality 12

Calls to action aren't available to the Canvas format, and we're not at a stage where we're producing professional looking video footage just yet either.

Carousels, ak.a. The multi-product, are better used for companies selling products so I only ever used them when we were plugging bar merchandise, a bit like a virtual shopping experience. It also means that you hedge your bets by slightly increasing the likelihood that a customer will see an image they want to click.

For a smaller, emerging brand, a single image ad was the perfect fit.

Later on when we began plugging our Fall event, we took things up a notch with ads that not only linked people to our page, but offered them a redeemable discount voucher:

Facebook advertising for hospitality 13
Tips for Smart Campaigning

Reporting

Once I got the swing of how Facebook ads work, the more effective my campaigns were. This was because I studied the metrics that Facebook provided.

I could see that campaigns with images of people performed better than those with images of drinks. Ads that contained links to 3 social media increased our follower count... basically learning what kind of content got people clicking so I could make the right choices and omit the wrong ones in future.

Reporting also gave me direct links to people that our ad campaigns resonated with. I found that by viewing some of their other listed interests, I could use and edit together images or graphics of things that might catch their eye when scrolling. Things like Fitness equipment, Party games, Video Games, Fashion...

Get Offline Business To Make You More Discoverable Online

I used to incentivise people at the bar to 'Check in' by offering them a discounted refill. I did this because it made the Bill's Facebook page more visible to friends of our visitors, and therefore their friends would often click our page out of curiosity. 'Why?' you might ask. Because then they're hit by our remarketing campaign.

Exclude Current Customers and/or Subscribers

Once we'd upped our engagement rates, I was concerned about keeping it consistent. I didn't want to bug our followers with spam and risk losing them.

(There was the financial factor too, though. At the end of the day, why waste money marketing to people that were already Bill's converts.)

I did this by using a custom audience to exclude certain people from seeing our ads - for instance our mailing list subscribers. I used what is known as a 'negative list' by importing email addresses that made sure none of our lovely subscribers were bombarded with unnecessary advertising.

Of course we did have some subscribers that weren't Facebook followers, so what I did instead was put together a quick outreach email plugging our social channels, which was actually pretty effective. It was much more personal that treating them as a cold lead by having them see ads as if we were complete strangers. That's not the Bill's way at all.

Facebook advertising for hospitality 14
Why Facebook?

As a result of Facebook advertising alone we sold 270 tickets to our Fall event, increased our following by 240% and managed to entice a whole new crowd down to the bar that now happily call themselves 'regulars'. It's really flipped our whole social strategy on it's head.

It might be daunting to begin with, but Facebook do everything they can to support and guide you through the process as you go.

You've got nothing to lose, and everything to gain. Trust me.

About the Author

Ben Hawkins is a regular writer at Cluboid focused on helping large and small businesses achieve better bookings and reservations.

You can read more posts by Ben on our blog.

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