As a small business owner, you have probably thought a lot about the best way to advertise online. Paid, organic and social media advertising are all effective ways of increasing brand awareness and conversion rates for small businesses on a tight budget. That is why so many small business owners start to look at typical advertising channels like Google, Facebook and Twitter when developing the next phase of their advertising strategy.

Facebook, in particular, has become one of the most popular forms of social media advertising since it allows small businesses to combine paid and organic marketing efforts seamlessly. For a comprehensive digital presence that includes a mixture of paid advertising and native social media posts, Facebook makes it easy to run different campaigns that are interconnected at the same time.

If you have never used this social media platform before, it can seem a little overwhelming at first. If this is your first time trying your hand at any form of social media advertising, this can be even more difficult. Rest assured, however, that there is a shallow learning curve when it comes to creating your first Facebook ad.

Here is a brief guide on the steps you should take when creating this first advertisement. Take them step-by-step to make sure you get off on the right foot from the start.

Step 1: Get the Content and Strategy Down First

Before you even start to touch any button on Facebook, it is important to make sure you get the basics of advertising down first. This means having a good strategy and theme behind your advertising efforts before you actually start creating the specific advertisement.

Basic advertising strategy includes knowing your target audience and how you intend to communicate to them. Facebook will give you plenty of features to filter out certain types of audiences based on basic demographic information. In order to use these tools effectively, you should know beforehand the type of audience you are trying to reach. Quite often, this audience coincides with your existing consumer base. If you are still building a typical customer profile, you can use this research and information as a basis for how to narrow down your target audience as well.

Think about the strategy of the advertising campaign as well. You can be straightforward and simply share the basics of your business, products and/or services in the ad. If you want to get creative and use more subtle, indirect forms of advertising content, this is an option as well. Try crafting a few different content possibilities to share around with friends, family members and representatives of your target audience. Get feedback and refine the plan before starting the campaign.

Good advertising strategy is about refinements. Since no plan will stay effective all the way through a campaign, you have to adapt and revise as it goes along. Unexpected issues will come up. New goals will present themselves. As long as your strategy continues to evolve to match and address these changes, you will be in a good position for continued success.

Step 2: Choosing the Type of Facebook Ad

One of the best things about Facebook as a paid advertising platform is the amount of options it gives you when determining how to reach your target audience. There are various forms of advertisements available to Facebook users and businesses, some that are more effective than others given a specific goal or purpose.

Figure out what the main focus of the advertisement will be. Do you want to promote your website? Perhaps a particular product or service? Are you trying to create a greater social community around your brand? Different types of advertisements will help you achieve different results.

Domain and multiproduct advertisements, also known as carousel ads, are the most direct ways to advertise to your target audience. If you want something more indirect and native, offering ads, video ads and branded content on your Facebook page will all create a subtler marketing effect. Finally, check out some of the options for advertising on the Facebook app on Android and iOS devices. Interactive marketing, such as canvas ads, can get people to spend more time with an advertisement than normal.

Step 3: Set Up the Basics

If you have not already done so, the first step you have to take with Facebook is setting up an advertising account. Traditionally, this is done through an existing Facebook account, most likely the one you use with any existing company content such as a brand page. The Facebook help guide and directions are the best place for up-to-date, current information on how to do this.

Once you have the basic account set up, the next step will be to start a new campaign. A campaign can be a single ad running for a short time or an entire series of advertisements running concurrently for months. The number of ads and the duration of the campaign are up to you, the size of the target audience and the potential for mistakes you are okay with.

For each ad you create, you will have to supply the necessary content depending on the ad type that you choose to use. Straightforward domain ads and boosted wall posts, for example, will only need some pictures and text for the content. Video ads will obviously need more in-depth multimedia files to work. Make sure you have the content created ahead of time so this process is quick and easy.

Step 4: Pressing the Magic Button

Eventually, you will reach the point of starting the campaign. When this happens, any ads you create will automatically be live for customers to see. Depending on the settings of your campaign, including the filters you use for the target audience and budget you have set, the ads will be displayed a certain number of times over a certain time period.

The best way to make sure the ad or campaign continues to run and be successful is to monitor it closely. Use Facebook’s plethora of marketing metrics and feedback to see how many people are viewing and engaging with each advertisement. Make changes as necessary to keep your marketing efforts as successful as possible.

Author Bio: Jim Rulison serves as the CEO for Media Loop LLC (formerly the National Center for Pain Inc). Jim oversees the day to day operations for all lead generation accounts, with concentration in the health care industry. Before joining Media Loop, Jim was the CEO of PME Home Health and was the founder of one of the nation’s first virtual call centers. He lives in Rochester New York area where he and his late wife raised their two children. Jim spends his free time with his family and enjoying cooking and his two dogs.

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