When the option of “boosting a post” first came out on Facebook, it caused a bit of a stir. The “Boost” option really only served to make sure that most of the fans of a Page would see the post, and that didn’t sit well with Page owners. The options in boosting a post have grown in the past few years, but compared to the Facebook Ads interface or Facebook Power Editor, it’s seriously lacking in options.

Boost Post: What You Get

You have three major options when it comes to boosting a post:

  • Only visible to people who like your page
  • Visible to people who like your page and their friends
  • People you choose through targeting

The first two are obvious, but the third option is a bit misleading. The “targeting” options you have through the Boost Post method are slim. You are limited to age, location, gender, and interests. If you’re new to Facebook Ads, that might sound like plenty of options, but once you learn the advantages of far more precise targeting, you’ll see there are better ways to ensure your money is well spent.

Facebook Ads Manager: Why It’s Better

Walking through all of the options is a bit easier if you have an example, so for the purposes of this article I’m creating an ad as if I am a wedding photographer.

This tutorial assumes that you have already set up a Facebook Ads account and are inside the Ads Manager. If you need help setting up your account, visit Facebook for Business to get started.

Choosing Objectives and Landing Pages

The first step to a successful ad is choosing the right objective for the ad. See? Already an option that we didn’t have with “Boost Post.” Ad objectives are important, and each are used differently. For photographers, I recommend “Send people to your website.”

There are multiple reasons for choosing that objective, but mostly, you want to direct them to a place where you control everything – the message, the experience, what they see, etc. Your website is the best option for that. Once there, they’re just a click away from contacting you.  Keep in mind that directing them to the right website page is also important.

“Wait, Annalise, you mean I don’t just send them to my home page?”

“No! Sending them to your home page means they have to click around and find things for themselves. You should send them to the exact page in which they are most interested.”

In other words, if you’re a wedding photographer who also shoots family portraits and boudoir sessions, you should be creating separate ads for all of those things. Your wedding ads should go right to the wedding-specific page, such as a your wedding photography portfolio. Your boudoir ads should go right to the boudoir page(s). And family portrait ads should go right to that part of your website. The overall goal is to get your prospect to the right page in the fewest amount of clicks.

Homing-in On Your Target Audience

Once you have your objective in place, it’s time to set up your demographic and psychographic targeting parameters. You’ll see an option for choosing a targeting pixel. That’s good to do, but we’ll talk about that in future posts. For now, skip it.

You’re probably familiar with the concept of demographics, but psychographics may be a new term. Basically, psychographic targeting is segmenting your audience into groups based on different personality traits, their behaviors, and their attitudes, interests, and the kind of lifestyle they lead.

Going back to the example of Atlanta Wedding Photography, we start with the basic demographics. WithinLarge Facebook Audience 50 miles of Atlanta (you can add more cities if they are outside the 50 mile range, but it’s better to do one ad for each region vs. one ad for all the cities and states you’d like to photograph). We’re doing an age range of 18-40. It’s a little wide, but that’s okay. We’re targeting both genders. That brings us to a HUGE audience of 2.4 million people and we definitely do not want that.

The next section of the ad targeting parameters is where things get interesting – “More Demographics.”

More Demographics

This area has a wealth of demographics to look at. As I am using wedding photography as my example, I’m going to choose “Life Events –> One year and 6 months and 3 months Facebook Ads Life Events EngagedNewly Engaged. That brings the audience of 2.4 million down to 58,000. That’s much smaller, but being honest, that’s not small enough.

One of the biggest mistakes advertisers make is going after an audience that is too large. You want to reach the MOST qualified prospective clients, not ALL of the people who COULD be prospective clients.

Even though this sample is much better than the options for Boost Post, and even though we’re now targeting people who have updated their status to being engaged, we all know that in wedding photography there are so many different styles of couples who want photography that best suits them.

Here’s the next part where I see photographers make a BIG mistakes in their ads. They go after ALL the wrong interests. They go after interests they, themselves, would like, and not what their clients like.

Think Like Your Client, Not like A Photographer

Using our wedding photography example again, let’s think about what our prospects are up to if they are planning a wedding. They’re probably reading various wedding blogs, visiting wedding planning sites, buying magazines, or looking for things like a wedding dress or reception venues. Wearing your marketing hat, you have to think about where your potential client is in their buying cycle, and what that mindset looks like from their perspective.

In various groups, I see other photographers share ads that use interests like “photography,” “fine art,” and other terms that have to do with their business, but not interests that have to do with what their client likes or where their ideal client is in that planning/buying cycle. Remember, Facebook Ads are driven by the information provided in Facebook profiles. So unless your target client has an interest in photography or fine art – they’re not going to see that ad.

For our example, I’m choosing things my ideal bride and groom might like. Remember, the goal is to bring in your ideal, prospective client. For some wedding photographers, they might want that offbeat sort of couple who is everything but traditional. For others, a traditional couple might be their bread and butter.

Here are some questions to get you thinking about your ideal client. As you go through them, write down the answers that come to mind. Don’t worry about what is right or wrong at this point, just write down everything that immediately jumps out at you.

  • What does my ideal couple do in their spare time? Do they go to ball games? Do they hike? Are they more inclined toward concerts or theater?
  • What is my ideal client reading as he/she/they plan their wedding? Are they more likely to enjoy Martha Stewart Weddings or The Offbeat Bride? Do they like The Knot or Wedding Wire?
  • How have some of my favorite couples found me in the past?
  • What things in common have some of my favorite couples shared?
  • If my ideal couple were to show me a Pinterest board, most likely it would have Pins from these websites:
  • What designers are my potential clients likely to follow on social media? Monique Lhuillier? Jenny Packham? David’s Bridal? Alfred Angelo?

You can do this same type of exercise regardless of what type of photography your specialty fits into. If you’re a family photographer, think about what those favorite families have in common. If you shoot head shots for actors and models, think about where they’re going to learn about auditions and casting opportunities. Putting yourself into the shoes of your ideal clients is an enormous part of successful ads targeting.Facebook Ad Targeting

In the photo above, you can see that by just adding those websites, I have narrowed my audience down to fewer than 1,000 people in my target area. If I were to continue with this specific targeting, I would make sure to choose an image that emulates the popular images on those sites, and I would adapt the tone of my copy to the style used on those websites, as well.

There is nothing wrong with targeting such a limited audience – the more specific you get, the more likely you are to get the kind of leads you are looking for. That said, it is my experience that casting a slightly wider net usually yields aWedding Wire Targeting few more opportunities. So I decided to add an element that brings my audience of fewer than one thousand up to just under five thousand people.

You can see that by adding WeddingWire, I really bumped up the audience. Notice, though, that I have two variations of WeddingWire in my targeting. This is because people might manually add the kind of things they like, or there was a spelling mistake/variation at some point. You won’t see this all the time, but for compound names or celebrity names, you’ll see it a fair amount.  By adding the variant, I added 100 more people to the potential reach.

The Last Facebook Ad Parameters

Going down the line, the next sections are:

  • Behaviors – Can be good for family photographers or real estate photographers
  • Categories – These are generally third-party categories that you have requested access to and not applicable to most photographers
  • Connection – The last one you really need to think about

Connection targeting is the last area to decide before you move into your budgeting section. Do you want to target ONLY fans of your page? Do you want to target those fans and their friends? Or do you want to target people who do not already like your page? Or do you want to target everyone that meets your guidelines whether or not they have any connection to your page?

Generally speaking, I advise the last method, and leave the connection area blank. There will be exceptions. For example, maybe you’re offering a friends and family deal you don’t want available to the whole world. That would be a time to use connection targeting and limit it only to your fans and the friends of your fans.

Next up, it’s time to save your audience. I write THOUSANDS of Facebook Ads every year and I have close to one thousand different audience groups I’ve saved. Don’t ignore the importance of what you name this audience. The targeting will stay the same year after year, even though the people with the behaviors you’re targeting will change. This is just an efficient best practice.

Save Audience in FBFor this audience, I’ve chosen a name that works within my convention:

Location – Life Event – Interests 1 – Interests 2 – Age Group – Size of Audience

The next time I want to run an ad that is shown to this specific group, I’ll be able to choose that “Custom Audience” section up at the top of the Facebook Ads Manager, and skip all the rest of the targeting steps. It’ll do that for me.

Final Words

Once your targeting is complete, you’ll move into your budget and your creative – a/k/a images and copy – portion of the ad. While the budget aspect is one of the easier parts to figure out, I’ll be sharing some tips and tricks for that in future posts. Choosing images and dialing in the copy and creative is also a bit time consuming. But remember, you’re wearing your marketing hat, not your photographer hat. Photography is competitive and marketing to the right clients is an essential part of staying competitive.

Additional tips:

  • Don’t think one ad covers everyone. I can think of 10 different types of wedding photography audiences off the top of my head.
  • When your images and copy resonate with your audience, typically you’ll see more page likes, shares, and comments grow. This is a free benefit, because you’re paying for clicks to your website. You’re not paying for them to like your page or engage with the post.
  • Repeat after me: “More people doesn’t mean BETTER people.” Don’t get sucked into the idea that bigger audiences is better marketing. Do you want to hit 4,900 people who really align with your style and brand? Or 58,000 people who might have one thing in common with you?

7 comments

  1. AmyReply

    Thank you so much for sharing this information! I’ve just recently came across your site and I’m finding it so helpful!

    • annaliseReply

      Thanks, Amy! I love hearing that it’s helping others out. Thanks for visiting and if you run into any challenges, don’t hesitate to let me know!

  2. AmyReply

    Hi Annalise- As I mentioned above, I really found this article so helpful when it came to focusing in on my ideal audience with FB ads. One thing I struggle with is figuring out what my ideal daily budget should be. I’ve also noticed there is a section for advance budget options- such as paying for link clicks, etc. Any advice? Thanks so much!

    • annaliseReply

      Great question! I personally use the Lifetime Budget option instead of daily. I figure out what I want to spend on that ad as a whole and then set it for about 7-10 days to run it. A week is just long enough for Facebook to start pushing it out fairly fast, and I’ll see more quickly if it’s picking up momentum. If it’s doing well, I simply edit the lifetime budget to an increased amount and/or a longer period of time.

      I almost always trust Facebook to set my bid. I’ve tested both with that and without, as have many other sites and experts, and the general consensus is that it’s pretty spot on.

      When it comes to when you should pay – the answer really depends on what your ad is for. Assuming it’s to traffic for your site or any engagement-based goal, I typically recommend choosing the action – link clicks to website. I don’t really care how many people see it or how many people it reaches… I care about them coming over to my site. The exception there would be if you are doing a MASSIVE brand awareness play and I don’t think most photographers fall into that category. For example, I would consider paying for reach and impressions if I were a brand like Creative Live or 17hats and I wanted to show up A LOT in the News Feeds of photographers, so that they’d have “heard” about me.

      Lastly, the schedule. When you’re just starting out, I think having it always running is fine. As you start to run more ads and have more of a library of them to analyze, you can look back and see when your target audience tends to be most active and then adjust it to show during those times. I personally have found that running ads on the weekends when targeting couples, families, seniors, etc. is pretty solid. I like to reach mom and dad when the kids are in bed or at soccer practice, and they’re finally able to sit down and have their own time.

      Make sense?

  3. RachelReply

    Thank you for the post. I finally had time to set up an ad this week. I was amazed with the response and interactions that I got. FB has been a dead end for me, but this method contradicted all the times I’ve paid to boost posts. I had traffic to my site from FB! I say that excitedly because that has not happen with the methods I’ve used before. I still need to tweak my target audience and I agree that leaving the connection to unspecified is a good idea. The demographics and interests selections were so vast; holly cow!! I had no idea where to go this first time, and defining that more is my next goal. Without your post I would have never known about Ads Manager, I really appreciate it.

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