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Understanding Facebook’s New Ad Structure: How a Community Manager Can Impact Ad Spend

facebook-ad 2Facebook is a cornerstone of most brands’ social media and marketing strategies.

Over the past several months, they’ve been reducing the organic reach of Pages with a significant algorithm change. Even if a person Likes a company or organization on the social network, they’re unlikely to see that Page’s content in their News Feed.

This is disconcerting to many brands who have poured time and resources into building their fan base. The total number of Pages Liked by the typical Facebook user grew more than 50% last year, mainly because the standard on Facebook has been get more fans, reach more people.

No one wants to pay for something they were getting for free, but the tides are turning and Facebook is charging.  Everyone is freaking out. Some are describing it as the “organic reach crisis.” What does it all mean? As our Community Manager found out at Social Media Marketing World 2014, companies feel that they’re at a crossroads–should they invest more greatly in paid content on Facebook, as they’re being pushed to do? Should they abandon the social network entirely? What does the new ad structure even look like?

The business decisions are your own, but we’re here to tell you that all is not lost.

Community Managers have a unique and valuable position in Facebook’s changing landscape. They understand the audience, know what content resonates, and use social data to continuously optimize their fan page strategy. This knowledge is even more valuable when advertising enters the picture; instead of creating a traditional advertisement on Facebook, great content is your ad.

In this post, we’ll give you the lowdown on Facebook’s campaign structure, and explain how Community Managers can engage fruitfully with their community (both old and new!) by understanding how to use it.

Facebook Ads 101

Facebook defines ads as “paid messages from businesses, written in their  voice.” They’re shown in the most engaging way possible, meaning they’re often paired with social actions that a user’s friends have taken. Don’t think of them as traditional, obviously “set-up” ads (like you might see on TV or hear on the radio). Do think of them as paying to enhance your organic reach and/or reach a new audience.

They can appear on the desktop or mobile News Feed, in Facebook’s right column, or in premium areas like the logout page.



Facebook’s New Advertising Structure

Facebook introduced a new advertising campaign structure this year designed to help advertisers organize and optimize their ads. Before that, everyone had developed their own system. This helps to standardize and encourage best practices, even with less advanced advertisers. The structure is organized into three levels, campaign, ad set, and ad.


  • Campaign: Should be organized by objective for better insight into optimization. Here are the options:

Page Post Engagement
Page Likes
Clicks to Website
Website Conversions (checkouts, registrations, leads, key web pageviews, adds to card, other web conversions)
App Installs
App Engagement
Event Responses
Offer Claims

Questions Community Managers Should Be Asking: What do I hope my campaign will accomplish? If I could have one (or two, or three, depending on budget size) of these categories at 100%, which would I choose? Which of these objectives is the most meaningful in building brand awareness and social media strength?

  • Ad Set: Ad sets should be organized according to your target audience. You can have multiple ad sets in a campaign, each with its own budget and schedule. Create ad sets for each audience to optimize your ads for each one and measure their response.

Questions Community Managers Should Be Asking: Who do I write posts for? What are the different personas I’m targeting? What does the data tell me about users who are most engaged with my brand–and who aren’t as engaged as I’d like them to be?

  • Ad: There are generally multiple ads in each ad set. They can feature different creative content, text, links, etc. Targeting, bidding, and placement are individual to each ad. It’s a good idea to create a bunch of versions of an ad, as Facebook automatically optimizes the highest-performing ads within each set.

Questions Community Managers Should Be Asking: What kind of content do our fans react the most strongly to — Videos? Photos? Links to owned content?

How do you buy Facebook Ads?

There are four ways to purchase Facebook ads. Facebook’s native solutions, Ads Create and Power Editor, are the most common. The Ads API is also useful if you’re an agency or big brand (as an FB Ad Buying Tool from a third-party vendor).



Questions Community Managers Should Be Asking: Which of my posts need money behind them? Which are still performing well and converting organically?

Why do it?

  • Huge user base: Facebook has over 1 billion users. That’s almost 20% of the earth’s population.
  • Advanced targeting options let you reach the people who matter:

1. Partner Categories let you target based on a user’s lifestyle and purchasing history, even those that aren’t your existing customers (yet).

2. Custom Audiences let you target existing leads from your CRM database (i.e. your email list, phone number list, Facebook UID list, and Facebook App UID list).

3. Lookalike Audiences let you take it a step further, creating an audience of users similar to the users within your Custom Audience or using your website visitors, app users, and existing Facebook fans.

  • It’s cost-effective: Compared to traditional advertising (like TV and magazine), Facebook Ads are extremely cost effective. There is a minimum spend of just $1 per day and Facebook had the lowest cost per 1,000 impressions in advertising history – just $.25 per 1,000 impressions. That’s only 1% of the CPM cost for TV.
  • It compliments Facebook’s algorithm. Using paid media lets you extend time decay so more people have the opportunity to interact with your content. In addition, high-quality and well-targeted content is more likely to drive an action, thus boosting a user’s affinity with your fan page and making them more likely to see your content in the future.
  • You gotta. As organic reach decreases, this is a necessary move for maintaining/growing Facebook presence–and Community Managers are on the front line of knowing what audiences respond to positively and are repelled by.

Lucy Hitz

I’m the Head of Marketing Communications here at Simply Measured, where I'm responsible for our content program, social media marketing, PR, and comarketing ventures. I love yoga, The X-Files, peaty scotch, hiking, and poetry. If I were a social media channel, I’d want to be Instagram, but I think I’m Twitter.

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