Marketing Director | Feb 27, 2020

Use Facebook Likes Campaigns as Testing Grounds for Audience and Demographic Experiments

Thinking outside the box with social media advertising tools

Every day that goes by, social media websites - especially Facebook and Instagram - push businesses to rely more and more heavily on paid advertising over organic posting and networking. Combine that with the consistently more stringent guidelines of protected audiences and interests, and digital marketers are put in situations that become sometimes overwhelmingly uncertain. Prices are going up and the "silver bullets" of social media advertising are becoming less viable... So how do you decide who you want to market to?

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Over the last year or so working with 50+ clients, running all sorts of ads for countless industries and conversion goals, I have found my favorite tool: Facebook Likes campaigns.

Think about it. Having as many Likes as possible on your Facebook page may not be as viable for organic engagement as it was even a couple years ago, but Facebook is becoming a huge player in how users research and make decisions about the companies that they are interacting with and give their money to. For that reason, it’s important that business owners don’t completely lose hope and move on from organic social media. A page’s content, consistency, professionalism, and (most often overlooked) credibility are incredibly important aspects of a company’s digital footprint. A business’ number of Likes plays a pretty big role in how they are perceived while being researched. If you have more Likes and followers, you must be a popular option, right?

Now, why should we use Facebook Likes campaigns for audience testing? The answer is simple: they’re cheap (if done correctly), and they’re incredible valuable for the reasons outlined above.

"It takes a lot of work out of market research and, more importantly, it allows me to show some sort of tangible results to clients that are notorious for getting caught up in ROI."

More and more often, I encourage clients - especially startups - to run indefinite Likes campaigns. The idea is to run them forever keep adspend relatively low in comparison to other marketing campaigns; I usually suggest between $150 and $200 per month for small local businesses and around $500 for larger regional or national brands.

Once these campaigns are running, I set the total budget at the Campaign level, which allows me to create all of the audiences I want for testing; Facebook will automatically allocate the budget to the Adsets that are performing the best. This functions as my own little A/B testing process that allows me to make decisions on audiences that I would like to run conversion-based ads to (recently I’ve been a big fan of Messaging ads, but still often use Lead Generation and Web Traffic goals).

As a real world example, a client that we recently began working with had absolutely no social media presence, but has been working to transition their company out of B2B and into B2C sales. It’s important for the client, which provides health-based biometric and genealogy testing, to have a substantial following - especially when we are planning to be using Facebook as a primary source of sales and web traffic upon the launch of their website and consumer products.

While the client is getting everything organized on their end (website, packaging design, etc.), we’ve spent the last few months working on laying that groundwork so they are ready to begin funneling sales at launch. While doing that, it’s also very important that we do all of the market research we can prior to launch so we can make the most effective use of our time and their money. This is where the Likes campaigns came into effect.

We put together a simple, 30-second animated video outlining the company and ending with a simple "Like Our Page" CTA. With less than $300, we have acquired over 1500 Likes and with confirmed a handful of audiences that we were curious about targeting. Using the same video and only a few hundred dollars, I already know several audiences that I am going to begin marketing to on the day of the launch (bonus: these audiences are already built and saved in Ads Manager, so my build time is drastically cut as well). We were also lucky with our initial research that all of the audiences I have tested so far are realistically viable, but during that hunt, we found several that are insanely cheap and convert at surprisingly high rates.

So how can you, a business owner or digital advertiser use this information?

Just try it.

Again, like most things in digital marketing, there is no "silver bullet" and every marketer has their own strategies; this is just one that I have found to work really well with my own workflow and the client base that we work with. It takes a lot of work out of market research and, more importantly, it allows me to show some sort of tangible results to clients that are notorious for getting caught up in ROI... especially when it comes to paying an agency to do the messy work for them. We as marketers all know how difficult it can be to manage expectations of a client when most of the work is done on the back end and they are unable to really see the work that is being done.

How do you feel about this strategy? Is it something that would work for you? Do you have a similar but different process for your own audience testing? Send us a message @bahlrmedia on Facebook or Instagram and let’s talk about it!