I wrote last month about my latest foray into online sales, Facebook advertising. I’ve spent time on Facebook for both my art career (including the Facebook Group, “Plein Air Painters“) as well as for work at Wells Fargo, where I manage their Social Media team*.

I think Facebook is doing a lot of smart things, and their new ads are no exception. Unlike many sites, Facebook contains a lot of information about their users, including their interests, gender, age, home town, etc. I know this worries some people, but not me. If by providing this information I see ads that are more appropriate to me, great. I’m going to see ads anyway, why not see ads that meet my interests?

Although I only started November 18, I do have some results to share that seem interesting. I’ve never purchased online ads (for my art career) before, so I don’t have much experience to benchmark, but I can calculate a “back of the envelopeROI that seems pretty good.

When you start a campaign on Facebook, you can define a set of ads and see their aggregate click-through on a chart. This is mine (click any image to enlarge):

The more interesting information is shown in the Ad Campaigns tab:

The Ad Campaigns pane above shows my 6 ads running for this campaign. I was able to define very specific target user demographics for each ad I created. As you see below (left side of the screen shot), and ad consists of a small image and text. For example, in “Women Still Life Campaign”, I created an ad with a still life painting, introduced myself as the artist selling the work, and targeted women between the ages of 35-65, college educated, who like art (as defined in their profile).

When you define an ad target and enter the user demographic you want to see the ad, Facebook will tell you exactly how many people are in their community that meet your criteria. This is really helpful. In one case, I tried to get too targeted, and found there were less than 1,000 people that would see the ad. So defining your demographics is an art in itself: make it narrow enough to reach the people you think will connect with the ad, yet make sure the population is large enough so you’ll get ad impressions on the site and have a large enough pool of people to see it. For the seascape ad, I targeted both male/female, 35+ and selected only upper class coastal towns in California.

Here’s a campaign that’s doing particularly well, one that doesn’t feature my art, but my headshot (see the ad preview in the far right of the screen shot):

With my limited experience so far, I’ve found there are at least three key factors that make Facebook ad successful:

  • Fine tune the $ CPC. You need to experiment with the CPC (cost per click) you’re willing to pay. I started at 0.11, and found I got very few impressions. The Facebook system will obviously choose to display ads at the highest CPC possible, so if you’re underbidding other advertisers seeking the same user demographic, you won’t get impressions, which means you won’t get clicks that can then lead to sales. As you can see above, I’m paying between 20-30 cents per click.
  • Be creative. My ad that targets hikers has been particularly successful. I just thought, when I’m out painting, most of the people I run into are hikers and they seem the most interested in nature + art. Not surprising, right? For my still life ad–sorry in advance for being sexist!–I targeted older, college educated women. I’ve found that they’re the most likely to buy my floral still life paintings, so I transfered that practical experience to online ads. The great thing about their system is you can create lots of ads and experiment, see what works.
  • Select the right image. The image you can select for the ad is around 100×80 pixels. Small! So, pick a painting (or fragment) that is really easy to “read” at that size. Also, perhaps not surprisingly, my most successful ad (in terms of % click-through) was the one that featured my headshot, not my paintings! I don’t know what to take that! Other than the fact it IS a SOCIAL network, so people are there to connect with others. If you present YOURSELF first, it appears people are much more receptive.

Have the ads been successful? I’ve spent $82.96, and I’ve received three email inquires and had a sale of two studies for a total of around $400. Bottom line, I’m not sure. I guess it was worth it. I had $400 in sales by spending $82. What do you think? I’m going to try this a few more months and see how it trends.

Also, thanks to Donald Neff for this article that also looks at how artists can use Facebook to target buyers.┬á It doesn’t talk about specific results (as I do here), but provides a good overview of how the system works.

* I should mention that my opinions expressed on this blog are mine alone, and not that of Wells Fargo. Disclaimer over!

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16 thoughts on “Facebook Advertising Update

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