How to Do Facebook Marketing

The original request was a simple one, and something that I’m sure most people working in advertising have seen dozens of times.

Do you know of a rock star who knows everything about optimizing a large spend on FB? We’ve moved from an agency to in-house management of our performance marketing spend and I could really use some help/insight/advice

When brands move paid media in-house questions like these are inevitable. I think the core reason for this entire dynamic is a difference in how channels “succeed” as they mature. The platforms get better at making it easy for someone to just start marketing. The interface is more intuitive, the guides and help articles are better, and there are just more people who have done this.

I’ve been workshopping some deeper on thoughts on this with a few really smart folks and will hopefully be able to get this hammered into a sharable thesis soon.

But in the meantime I want to share the thoughts that I sent back to the CMO.

I’ve edited this to make it a touch more generic, but hopefully it helps anyone else wondering what they should be doing with Facebook performance marketing.

• The best thing you can do to make Facebook ads successful is ensure the Facebook pixel tagging on your site is as thorough as possible. Track every standard event that make sense, in the ways they are supposed to be used. FB knows how to value each of these and can use it to identify the best targets for you to market to.

• Building out tagging is really easy to do with Google Tag Manager, so I’d recommend getting that installed. This will let you make updates on the fly without having to go through a development cycle.

• Building out a lot of custom events CAN work if you have really specific needs, but it isn’t going to be optimal for most folks. This is a legacy solution from before FB really built out their standard events tracking.

• When it comes to optimizing your campaigns, experiment with which event is best for you to optimize towards. You can choose to optimize for any event you track in conversion-focused campaigns, but if you can’t drive 50 conversions per week for that event then Facebook is going to struggle to optimize for it.

• Trust the algorithm to do your targeting. It’s smarter than you, your team, me, all of us on the email combined. I promise. Just empower it with the data it wants, which can be done through correct tagging of your site.

• In general, Facebook is better for exclude-based targeting than include-based. In other words, don’t try to identify your perfect customer segment and only market to them. Keep out folks you know aren’t good targets (geographic restrictions, age restrictions, current customers, etc) but don’t try to over-target into your ideal customer. See the note above.

• Wide net targeting with lookalike audiences and website retargeting is always going to be a great place to start. Experiment with various %-match on lookalikes and different look back windows for retargeting to figure out where you have diminishing returns.

• You should also test the seed for each of these audience types. For instance, folks you have tracked as taking a high-funnel action, or those who have visited the site 3 or more times, or visited at least 5 pages.

• Refresh at least 50% of your creative every 2 weeks. Or faster if you see results such as engagement and conversion rates dropping after you reach a certain average frequency. You don’t have to replace your top performers, keep those going as long as you can.

• Similar to how Facebook knows whom to target, Facebook knows which ad formats they are likely to engage with. So use as many different ad unit variants as you can (static, carousel, video) and resize for Instagram and Stories placements.

• Foundational testing (like lifestyle vs graphical imagery, or CTA text, for instance) can take a long time and you will want to split it over a number of creative treatments: 5-10 of each. Comparing the sum total results helps ensure that one execution doesn’t just happen to perform better.

Turns out I wasn’t the only person thinking about this lately because in the last couple weeks we’ve also had a very good Medium post, and thought-provoking Twitter thread on very similar topics. I don’t agree with everything said in these two pieces, but I’m glad that more smart people are starting to really dig in to the nuts and bolts of what you have to do to make Facebook advertising work. It’s not just as simple as hiring a couple folks and letting them run.