More and more unions are using Facebook to advertise, but chances are if you’re boosting your posts or advertising on newsfeeds, you’re using the standard “Self Serve” Facebook ad manager.
This is potentially a big mistake, and you could be wasting time and money.
I’ve long argued that social media and Facebook in particular is useful for unions because it can help identify and mobilise activists, engage members, and encourage people to become activists.
The key is that ultimately your social media campaigning needs to encourage real people to do real things in the real world.
Facebook advertising is increasingly an important part of the union social tool-kit.
This is especially the case because changes to the Facebook algorithm means that “organic reach” (that is, your union page posts appearing in fans’ newsfeeds) has been reduced. This is a decision by Facebook to encourage page-owners (like unions) to use advertising to reach their fans.
And an increasing number of unions are advertising on Facebook.
But most unions just click the “boost post” or “Get more Likes” button. This makes sense. The Self Serve ad manager in Facebook is easy to use, the default option, and for most union communicators and campaigners it is more or less intuitive.
Unfortunately, you’re not getting the real benefits of social advertising by using the default Self Serve manager, and you could actually be wasting your time and money chasing vanity metrics.
The Facebook Power Editor is what you should be using for all your Facebook ad creation.
The Power Editor is a special browser plugin that allows you to use all the advanced tools to create and manage ads.
I’ll be up front. Power Editor has a very steep learning curve, and it’s not particularly user friendly. It is more complicated to use than the Self Serve tool. But, if you’re starting to spendany money on promoting posts and advertising on Facebook, then you should dump the Self Serve tool and start using Power Editor.
Here’s five reasons why.
The promise of advertising on Facebook is that it allows you to use the vast array of social and personal information that Facebook has, and let you target the most relevant audience possible. Using the Self Serve tool, you have some targeting options, but they’re actually relatively limited.
Power Editor’s targeting tools look very similar to the Self Serve, but are more granular.
I mentioned in an earlier post about Facebook’s custom audience feature. Power Editor lets you use that, and create “lookalike audiences“. Lookalike audiences let you create a target audience of completely new people who are likely to be interested in your union or its campaign because they’re similar to the custom list you’ve previously uploaded.
If you’re trying to grow your pool of potential new supporter leads, but have reached the limits of your existing custom audience, then the lookalike audience tool could help you grow.
Power Editor also lets you target people using “Partner Categories” — that is, categories of people managed by massive data-storage companies like Acxiom. While at first look this may appear useful only to for-profit businesses, it can be useful for unions’ political campaigns. For example, the AMWU could target “car buyers” in Victoria with ads about job losses at Ford and Holden, or the Fair Wear/TCFUA campaign could target “fashion-conscious” shoppers with ads about garment workers in Bangladesh.
Using the “Boost Post” button gives you almost no control over targeting. If you use Power Editor, you can focus your efforts on a much more specific, relevant audience.
2. Advanced Features
The Self Serve tool is a simple tool that makes advertising on Facebook easy and fast. As a result, the features are fairly limited; most of the advanced features are rolled out either to Power Editor, or to the API (which are used by third-party tools that you need to pay for). While some of the advanced features eventually make it to the Self Serve tool, many do not.
I’ll be honest. The Power Editor is more complicated than the Self Serve tool. When you first start using it, there is a steep learning curve. But you really owe it to yourself, your members and your goal of winning your campaigns to use the advanced features that are available.
The list of features is changing regularly, so I’ll just list a few that are currently available when I’m writing this.
- Custom Audiences (I’ve written about them here)
- Lookalike Audiences (see the first reason above)
- Saved Audiences (a real time-saver, lets you re-use audiences you’ve previously built)
- Partner Categories (see the first reason above)
- Conversion Tracking (this uses the pixel tracking, which I’ve touched on here)
- Conversion Specs (this lets you optimise your ad bidding based specific objectives, such as clicks, web clicks, etc)
- Domain Sponsored Stories (lets you promote when someone shares or likes a page on your website)
There are reasons that unions should be using every one of these advanced features. But the main one is improving your relevance and conversion rates.
Self Serve lets you create ads that appear in the side-bar or the newsfeed, but it’s still fairly limited. Power Editor gives you far more control over where your ads will appear and on what kind of device (e.g. desktop or mobile).
One of the major items in recent news is the Facebook sales revenue, which has jumped largely on the back of mobile ads.
Using Power Editor, you can create ad creative specifically designed for Facebook’s mobile apps. This means text and images can be customised for mobile, rather than using the same images for both desktop and mobile.
With an increasing number of people using Facebook on their mobile phone, it’s mad not to create variations of all your ads which are designed solely for mobile.
4. More control over bidding
The Self Serve bidding system is like a black box — it’s impossibly to really know what’s going on, especially if your choose the “your bid will be optimised to get more likes”.
Power Editor gives you much more finely tuned control over your bids.
Why is this important?
Because your budget is likely limited, you should be interested in getting the maximum conversion for your union’s money.
Experimenting with various bidding options, whether it’s Cost per Click (CPC) or Cost per Mille (CPM or Cost per 1000 impressions), will mean as you grow more familiar with the tool you should lower your costs.
5. Bulk ad creation
Self Serve lets you boost one ad at a time, or create one promoted post or ad. This can be good for a once-off, but if you’re managing an ongoing campaign with multiple themes or targets, it can a nightmare to use Self Serve.
Power Editor lets you create scores of ads. You can duplicate ads and use saved audiences, which allows you to tweak ads, images or audiences without going through the entire ad creation process. Think of all that saved time not having to re-select the same countries, languages, ages, interests and so on.
Are you using Power Editor already?
Most unions that I’m aware of use the Self Serve tool — and why not? It’s the default option. But I’d be very interested to know if there’s unions out there already using the Power Editor. How are you finding it, and what kind of results are you seeing?
Let me know in the comments.