Improving Your Facebook Campaign
For your non-profit or small business, you know that exposure will generate interest. People need to know about your cause and a connection needs to be made to generate new donors.

Of course you’ve heard of online advertising; everyone is looking towards online marketing as an answer today, but its likely you don’t know where to begin.

First off, let me say: You’re not alone. Online advertising isn’t easy. Having a plethora of advertising platforms and services and agencies doesn’t make it any easier. There’s too many choices and too many ways in which you could throw good money at little return.

We don’t want that for you or your organization. So this article is here to introduce you to ONE way you can see an immediate impact on your organization’s online presence using tools that are freely available to you.

At Thought House, we serve many different franchises throughout the U.S. for their advertising and marketing campaign needs. One tool that we use often which has immediate and significant impact is the Facebook advertising platform.

There are several things we like about Facebook and it’s advertising tools: (1) It’s readily accessible to anyone. (2) When used well it can target your audience very precisely. (3) It uses programmatic ad buying very effectively (we’ll discuss that in detail a bit later, but for now read this article for an overview of RTB).

As we journey through the path of the programmatic buying (RTB), I wanted to share some of the key things that we do to improve ad campaigns, specifically with the Facebook advertising platform.

The three priorities we’ll discuss in this article are:

  • Beginning to collect customer data using Facebook pixels
  • Setting up look-a-like audiences using Facebooks advanced tools
  • Utilizing your customer emails  to create relevant targets using FB advanced tools

Be on the lookout as we publish how to improve your online ad campaigns for other programmatic channels like Google and Twitter soon.

Frequency is Irrelevant without Relevancy

In #Facebook advertising, Frequency is irrelevant without Relevancy. Click To Tweet

Before we jump into those topic, it’s important to understand a little about how Facebook uses its platform to serve up your ad to the audience you specify. This is important because a lot of online marketing advice says that you want your ad to be served up as frequently as possible. While frequency is really important, it quickly becomes expensive and ineffective if not coupled with relevancy. What you want is an ad that reaches the most relevant people as often as your budget can afford. Finding a balance is the marketing game we play.

Facebook is not as transparent as you may think and sometimes their language is confusing or contradictory. What we have learned about the platform is through extensive research in their documentation, Help Center, and our own experience.

For example, one question that non-profits often ask regarding their online marketing is about tracking and managing ad frequency. For instance, they ask, “Can I serve impressions frequently on Social to gain specific target market share?”

NOTE: think about Progressive or Geico TV commercials. Lots of frequency!

This question is asked often in the Facbeook Help Community. See the response here. As we see, even Facebook itself has a difficult time answering its frequency questions about the platform.

Since Facebook isn’t completely transparent about the issue of frequency, we decided to ask a different question:

How do we focus more on driving relevant traffic?” (new way) instead of

How do we increase frequency?” (old way)

Thing is, despite Facebook’s own confusion, Frequency and Ad Relevance are directly tied through a few different ways in their platform. Additionally, the media math of reach and frequency aren’t so relevant because every ad created on the FB platform should reach the hyper targeted audience.

There are, in fact, a few ways to control the frequency of your ad and focus on the new school approach (relevant traffic over ad frequency).  First let’s discuss setting up a campaign and what some of the main functions are to become a successful social media ad buying guru.

Priority Step #1: Collect information on your users using Facebook pixels.

Prior to setting up your social campaign, you need to do some website data collecting, to ensure relevant followers are reached in your campaign.  At least fifteen days prior to campaign launch, place a conversion pixel generated from the Facebook platform on your website or your confirmation page, depending on what your end goals are.

Conversion tracking in Facebook Insights

After you’ve successfully placed the pixel script in <head> and </head> in the webpage where you want to track conversions you will see the status as active.

When users either convert or land on your web property you will begin to collect cookie data, Facebook then allows you to create a custom “lookalike” audience based off their database of users who have similar interests/ demographics/ and profiles. It will take about two to three weeks for you to collect enough data to have something meaningful to act on. But then, you can start creating your ad and launching your campaign.

For this campaign we are going to promote page likes, however we only want relevant page likes, reaching the most active end user and spending our minimal budget effectively. Generating page likes outside your target market may make you feel good, but they do nothing to accomplish your goals.  If business results matter, focus on relevance over volume.

Choosing a Page Like Campaign in Facebook

Priority #2: Use your collected data to create Facebook “look a like” Audiences

The next step is to select the custom audience we created earlier (at least after 15 days of cookie data from the script).  Facebook returned a “lookalike” audience of 2.1 million based off the cookie data gathered from the web property visits.

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We are now set to launch a highly relevant targeted ad that will only market to our target audience. Now you’re set to launch the campaign and get in front of the end user you want to reach.

Our Give Facebook Like Campaign Ad
Our Give Facebook Like Campaign Ad

Measuring the Effectiveness of your add outside of “page likes”

This chart here shows the results we got within Although we have a minimal budget, low reach, and only a few days of data we can see that without ad frequency settings in Facebook we have kept the ad at 1.1 in frequency. We’re able to reduce and increase frequency caps, based on other settings.  I recommend only running in the desktop news feed and mobile news feed as the right column tends to not be seen by the end user and is another one of Facebook’s ad options to stay away from at this time.

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In contrast, below is an example of what happens when you open the floodgates, targeting anyone on FB and don’t build out custom audience targeting. You can see that there’s a wide range of hits in the “Frequency” column. Some people saw the ad A LOT, others very little. By targeting an audience, you can then control frequency, which then allows you to get much more targeted results as well as get the best cost effectiveness per Ad view.

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Priority #3: Getting your customer emails involved to increase ad serving relevance

Now that we’ve looked at how to reach specific relevant audiences using your Brand’s data and FB’s use of frequency capping, let’s take a look at my favorite way to use your web properties big data.  Using your customer emails to generate insights!

If you have customer emails, an active email program or weekly newsletter sign-up you can and should be monetizing those data sets for your campaigns. Within your Facebook platform settings,  Under the “Create Audience” dropdown, select “Custom Audience” and then upload a your customer list (typically in .csv format) and Facebook will match emails you’ve uploaded from your web property to see if they have an active Facebook profile with that email and create a “lookalike” audience based off your email upload. From there you can decide whether you want to have a specific audience or broad match audience for more reach.

Creating a Custom Audience in Facebook Advertising

The email list I uploaded was from email newsletter sign-ups and customer purchases (givewp#2) and it’s a custom audience that I used to create a “lookalike” audience. It will take Facebook about 24hrs to create a “lookalike” audience.  Once they return a list size you can simply go through the process of building an ad that I displayed earlier and select that custom audience and “lookalike” list.

Out of the 4,500 emails uploaded, 900 were linked to an active Facebook user’s profile; from those 900 we generated a “lookalike” audiences in our target markets (international end users).

From a list of 900 active users who we communicate with, in addition to our cookie pool, the Give brand was able to generate a relevant targeting list reaching nearly 5 million, highly relevant, worldwide users!

Now Go Do it!

For any non-profit, the ability to reach a highly targeted and relevant audience, with minimal budget, is critical to growing the Cause and increase giving.  Collecting customer data on your website, incorporating advanced targeting features and including email lists to better hone in on your targets are great steps to improve your online non profit ad campaign.

Drastically improve your #nonprofit campaign through #Facebook advertising with custom audiences Click To Tweet

We shouldn’t be afraid of the unknown, diving into advanced options, every campaign. Also, we should be able to spend our dollars for our clients with complete transparency, without fear of being fired over “like” building. There’s so much more to it than that.”


Steve Bastien is VP of Media at Thought House. Steve has been strategizing, building and launching national & local advertising campaigns since 2005.

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One Response to “Improving Your Nonprofit’s Facebook Campaign”

  1. Adam Wolak

    “He was red,” the book begins


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