How to Create Fab but Cheap Nonprofit Ads for Facebook

How Overcome Facebook Ennui by Investing in FB Ads

A Facebook ad from Kiva.
Kiva knows how to design a FB ad that works. Screenshot by JFritz

The Facebook News Feed is a very crowded place.

If your nonprofit consistently posts photos, updates, and announcements on your Facebook Page but only reach a small percentage of your fans, you are not alone.

AdWeek reported that the average Facebook Page only reaches 2.6% of its fans through “organic reach." 

The best way to succeed on Facebook today is to 1) consistently create great posts based on what your audience enjoys and finds valuable and 2) invest a little bit of money in promoting those posts.

There are no silver bullets in Facebook marketing, and there is no free lunch.

But don't despair! Nonprofits and social causes have a distinct advantage on Facebook over businesses, due to the emotional nature of their work. People do not go to Facebook to get a sales pitch. They want to connect, to showcase their beliefs and values, to find useful information, and to be entertained.

Your supporters love you because of what you do, who you help, and the impact you make. If you regularly remind them of how you change lives, more of them will engage with your posts, share your updates, and take action.  

Of course, merely reaching a high number of people should not be the main objective of any social media campaign. Getting people to take an action should be.

That is where advertising on Facebook comes in.

1. What are Facebook ads? 

Facebook ads boost your FB posts, get more Likes, increase views of a particular video, encourage website traffic, and entice people to take an action like donating or signing up for your newsletter.

A bonus is that FB ads work on desktop and mobile devices. And you can design the ads using your unique wording, headlines, and images.   

There are two types of Facebook ads that nonprofits use: Page Post Engagement ads and Call to Action ads.

Post Engagement: Use this kind of ad if you want to increase the number of people who see a specific post on your Page.

Promote a post that already has above average engagement to help nudge it into the stratosphere.

Warning! DO NOT pay to promote a post that has zero likes, comments, or shares! If that post did not work, it is time to move on.

Call to Action Ad: Using Facebook Ads Manager, your nonprofit can boost your posts, make your page more visible and get likes, send people to your website, get people to attend your event, or get more video views. Those are all choices you make in the ads manager.

2. Are Facebook ads right for my nonprofit?

There are three reasons I recommend that all nonprofits budget, at least, a small amount of money for Facebook advertising:

  • FB ads work well when there is a particular goal in mind. You cannot just sign up, plunk down $20 and “get a Facebook ad.” Facebook makes you do a some research and big-picture thinking. Why are you creating this ad? Who do you want to reach? What do you want people to do? What will success look like?
  • Your ads become a part of the News Feed. It is not like a television ad, where there are scheduled commercial breaks and people fast-forward their DVRs or head to the bathroom. Social media advertising means that your supporters are much more likely to click on your ads and take the desired action.
  • Facebook ads allow you to measure what you are doing. If you buy a billboard, how will you know who saw it, what they thought, and if they called you because of it? When you create a Facebook ad, you can tweak it as you go and discover immediately what is working and what isn’t.

3. How much do Facebook ads cost?

You can start running a Facebook ad today with a budget of just $5.  The cost depends on your goals and what type of ad you want.

Advertising on social media doesn’t work like traditional advertising, where you purchase an ad in a newspaper for X amount of dollars, and it runs for X amount of days.

 

Instead, you set your daily or lifetime budget for the Facebook ad and change it if it does not work. You can cancel or pause the ad at any time, even from your phone.

The way it works is that you  “bid” to reach your target audience. Facebook uses “optimized bidding. ” They bid for you (staying within your budget), at the lowest price per click, depending on your audience and what you want people to do.

That procedure may seem complicated, but it is the most efficient way to purchase advertising. You reach the people that Facebook determines are most likely to take the action that you want. Rather than paying hundreds of dollars for a traditional advertisement that may reach the wrong audience.

4. What do you need to get started?

The first thing you need is a Facebook Page for your nonprofit. Once that is set up and optimized, you can begin to create an ad campaign.

Second, identify the goal of your ad campaign. What are you trying to accomplish? Here are some sample objectives for nonprofit Facebook ads:

  • Get more “Likes” on our Facebook Page
  • Increase engagement (likes, comments, shares) on a particular Facebook Page post
  • Increase signups for our email newsletter
  • Get more people to our event
  • Ask for year-end donations
  • Get more views of our fundraising video
  • Collect signatures on a virtual petition

Third, choose a budget. If you have never run a Facebook ad before, this will be a bit arbitrary. Start out with a small amount and see if it works. FB makes it easy to measure the return on investment (ROI).

For example, if you are using Facebook ads to bring in donations, see what fits into your fundraising budget. If you are aiming for more email sign-ups or more blog traffic, use your marketing budget. Be clear about your goals and what they are worth to your organization financially. 

Fourth, select high-quality, unique images. You must have the rights to this visual! There are very detailed guidelines as to ideal image size and format in Facebook’s Advertiser Help Center. Make sure the image or graphic does not contain more than 20% text, including logos, or your ad may be rejected.

Take some time to create an eye-catching image. Research has found that images decide more than 75% of ad performance.

Fifth, pick your target audience. You can always create ads for different audiences. The more tailored the ad is to a particular audience, the more successful it will be.

Here are just some of the targeting options available to you when creating your ad campaign: 

  • Custom Audiences: You can upload your contact list into Facebook and target an ad to people who already know you. More about using Custom Audiences here.
  • Demographics: Location, age, gender, language Women are avid donors, so consider targeting them.
  • Interests: Choose the interests you want your intended audience to have. For example, “volunteering” or “community involvement” may work well for a local nonprofit.
  • Behaviors: Do you want to target users who access Facebook via mobile? Who make purchases online? Charitable donations is available for selection.
  • Connections: You can target your ad to your Facebook fans and their friends.   

To start your Facebook ad campaign, you will also need:

  • One or more people who create and monitor your ads..

    Facebook ads need to change regularly for better engagement. Facebook users log on multiple times per day.  They do not want to see the same ad more than once.  Change up your ads every three days or so. (Of course, if an ad is performing very well, keep it up until the numbers drop or plateau.)
  • A willingness to learn.

    Facebook and its ad platform change frequently. Committing to Facebook ads requires some time to read about best practices in the industry and to acquire new techniques.
  • Some Facebook know-how.

    You do not need to be a daily user of the platform, but knowledge of Facebook and how it works is essential to creating successful ads. What would you like to see in your News Feed? What ads do you like? Take screen shots of catchy nonprofit ads that you see.

5.  What makes a great nonprofit Facebook ad?

A great nonprofit Facebook ad has several characteristics:

  • It features an eye-catching, colorful visual.
  • It promotes a specific, measurable call-to-action.
  • It looks like it belongs in the Facebook News Feed.
  • It gets people to do what you want them to do

Check out some of my favorite nonprofit Facebook ads on Pinterest.