Facebook ads — do they work?

I had always wanted to try a Facebook ad. Suddenly last spring an opportunity arose when the school board decided – at the very last minute – to approve open enrollment (a new option in our state) for students who live beyond our boundaries.

With only a four-week application window, no advance notice and a tiny budget, I decided social media might be my only affordable option to get the news out quickly.

The process is easy: On your Facebook page, under the gear symbol, click “Create Ad.” Then, just follow the steps.

To create your ad, use a compelling picture, some bullet points that appeal to your target audience and include a link to your website. You can create several different ads if you wish, and the campaign will use them in rotation.

Can you afford this? Yes, because you set the budget up front. Facebook will not exceed the financial limit you set for your ad campaign. You can choose whether you want to be charged by the number of impressions (CPM) or by the number of clicks (CPC). Research on the helpful blog AllFacebook reveals that bidding CPC will have better success because Facebook tends to position these ads higher on the page, in areas that get more clicks.

You can select target demographics for your ad by geographic range, gender, age, education level, and even individual interests (e.g. crafters, museum-goers, sports fans, fast food eaters, book lovers, etc.). Looking at your page insights will give you some clues. For example, my fan base is 80-percent female, age 25 to 55.

Then choose your target dates and launch your campaign. Yes, it’s that easy.

Did it work? Yes, but definitely not in the way I expected.

I had hoped my ads would dramatically increase the number of applicants for open enrollment, but this did not happen. Attempting this over Spring Break definitely hurt this marketing push.

What did happen was that in just two weeks, I added 250 fans to my Facebook site. Total cost was $250 – just $1 per fan.

Because I purposefully targeted a broad demographic of students and parents surrounding our district boundaries, these new fans may become interested enough in the school district to move there, or transfer in when the time is right.

If you have not yet tried a Facebook ad, invest $50 and dip your toe in the water. With practice and strategy, this can be a useful tool in school PR.

4 Replies to “Facebook ads — do they work?”

  1. Thanks for the post – we are starting a Facebook ad on Saturday (Oct. 19) to drive traffic to our community survey as we try to engage non-parents. Got the idea from Doug Bray with Ritenour School District in St. Louis (Go Cardinals!). I will post again once the two-week ad ends and let everyone know how it worked … or didn’t.

    1. The results of our posting were nearly identical to Leslie’s as we did not a large number of people complete the survey due to the ad, but we gained a lot more friends through the process that we will be able to communicate with through Facebook. Leslie, thanks for the post.

  2. I tried Facebook ads a few years ago when they offered a $50 credit. It definitely helped getting new fans!

    For enrollment marketing I found that Google Ads worked better, targeting specific keywords that people might be searching for. Every ad, print or web, had a unique vanity URL (ie http://www.ourschools.org/kindergarten) that went to a landing page, so I could track how successful each ad was in getting interest and hopefully getting a new student enrolled.

    Welcome to the world of open enrollment! I wish I was still in a state that offered it.

  3. Reblogged this on Ameerah PR & Marketing Services and commented:
    I have used Facebook Ads for school-related campaigns as well as for other types of PR activities. They are a very cost-efficient way to drive awareness and exposure. Try them, but don’t limit yourself. LinkedIn, Twitter and Google PPC ads are valuable sponsored placements.

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