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How to Use Facebook Ads to Promote Your Content

Sure, publishing a post to your Facebook page might get some views. But the average organic reach rate is 6.4% of your page’s followers.

If you’ve gone to the effort to create that content, though, you probably want more people to see it. Consider investing in the Facebook advertising platform, where average paid reach jumps to 27.3% of total reach.

Avg paid reach on #Facebook is over 4x greater than avg organic reach via @Hootsuite @wearesocial. #research Click To Tweet

In this guide, I’ll show you how to use Facebook advertising to promote your content the smart way.

1. Install the Facebook pixel

This pixel is code that tracks your Facebook visitors’ actions on your website, such as:

  • Link clicks
  • Form submissions
  • On-site search
  • Purchases
  • Becoming a lead

It’s crucial to install the pixel on your website before launching any Facebook campaigns.

Why? Because without it, you won’t be able to pinpoint what your Facebook ads are prompting people to do on your website. Judging the ROI of your content promotion campaign will be almost impossible.

Install the #Facebook pixel before launching any Facebook campaigns, says @dragilev via @cmicontent. Click To Tweet

Not only that, but the pixel can work the other way too. It can help you build a custom audience on Facebook of the people who visit your site. Then, on Facebook, you can monitor that group to see:

  • Who clicked on your content in their Facebook News Feed
  • Who clicked a Facebook call-to-action button
  • Who scrolled to an element on your Facebook page or post

(Given that these settings are more advanced, you might need a developer’s help or Google Tag Manager to implement them.)

Regardless of how you’re tracking users, you need the Facebook pixel installed to do it. Then, you can use the custom audience feature to narrow the audience for future retargeting. (More on that later.)

2. Identify the campaign objective

Now, you are ready to create your Facebook campaign. First, pick your campaign’s objective.

When you’re ready to create your #Facebook campaign, pick your campaign’s objective, says @dragilev via @cmicontent. Click To Tweet

Facebook uses this objective to optimize your campaign. For example, if you’re optimizing for clicks, Facebook’s algorithm will find people within your target audience who tend to click links from the platform.

Don’t automatically make the objective to drive traffic to your site. Would another objective better suit your content promotion goals? For example, if you’re promoting a gated e-book, optimize the campaign for form submissions. Or if you want to boost your Facebook reach, pick engagement and pay to promote your top-performing organic post(s) as they likely will be pushed higher in the news feeds of your followers.

Here’s a chart from Facebook to help you identify your marketing objective:

Now, I have seen countless examples of campaigns with an objective that does not focus and measure return on investment. Make sure to take steps to calculate ROI.

Let’s take a simple example for an ad campaign where the objectives are to click to content on your site (cost per click) and to complete a contact form (cost per lead).

This example is detailed in Nextiva’s blog. Say you spend $1,000 in a month on a Facebook ad campaign. The ads generate 500 clicks to your site. The cost per click was $2.

Now, let’s look at how well the ads generated leads. You see 10% of the 500 clicks resulted in a completed contact form. The cost per lead generated from the Facebook campaign was $20 ($1,000 [total campaign budget]/50 leads [number who completed form]).

If you wanted to take it one step further, you can see how many of the leads became customers. (You likely will need to incorporate your CRM system to analyze this.) In the example, let’s say 10% of the leads generated (five people) converted to customers who bought your product. To calculate the ROI for your content-related Facebook ad campaign, divide $1,000 (total campaign budget) by five (number of paying customers). The cost is $500 per new customer acquisition.

This may seem expensive but put it into context based on the total average sale (and future purchases). If you’re selling high-value or repeatedly purchased products or services, the ROI can be easily justified.

3. Set up precise targeting

Next up, pick who you want to see your ads. In the Audience Targeting section of your campaign, you can target people based on their:

  • Interests – Pick broad terms related to your topic (e.g., dogs or makeup). Then, narrow your target audience by adding niche terms (e.g., poodle or mascara).
  • Location – Use the details of this feature if your goal is geo-specific, i.e., you want to reach an audience in a certain locale. If not, target a country where most of your traffic comes from. (Not sure? Use Google Analytics to find this.)
  • Demographic – Is your content more appealing to males or females? Or an age range? Use this section to replicate the demographic section of your buyer personas, and target people most likely to be interested in your content.
Audience targeting on #Facebook lets you segment by interests, location, and demographics, says @dragilev via @cmicontent. Click To Tweet

Across all three options, it’s crucial to target people who would find your content relevant (and who are relevant to your business). Not only will irrelevant ads and improper targeting be a wasteful investment, Facebook will think your ads aren’t relevant and charge you more to reach that audience. That won’t do any favors for your ROI.

Irrelevant #Facebook ads & improper targeting is a wasteful investment and you will be charged more to reach that audience, says @dragilev via @cmicontent. Click To Tweet

4. Choose the right creatives

Next up, work on what your ad looks like. This is a two-part checkbox – copy and visuals.


You’ve got a headline, description, and ad copy to write. Use conversion copywriting to help you craft content to convince someone to complete your goal.

Conversion rate optimization expert Alex Lamachenka of PandaDoc offers good advice:

The performance of your copy is dependent on the ability to evoke emotions to a strong action that can be supported by a clear call to action. If the copy is still not converting, consider digging deeper and practicing harder to evoke the feelings.

The performance of your copy is dependent on the ability to evoke emotions to a strong action that can be supported by a clear CTA, says @alexlomderberg via @cmicontent. Click To Tweet


Always remember to incorporate visuals to catch your audience’s attention. Video is the best format, according to BuzzSumo research. It gets at least 59% more engagement than other post types. Photos are the third best format (question formats came in in second place).

Video gets at least 59% more engagement than other post types, according to @buzzsumo. #research. #Facebook Click To Tweet

Regardless of what you’re using, your creative should match the message of the content.

Look at this paid promotion from Venngage:

Notice how Venngage teases the infographic they want you to view using the ad creatives?

As a viewer, I know exactly what to expect from the infographic before I click the link. Not only will I get content I want, Venngage will get a visitor who genuinely wants that type of content.

By only driving the most interested people to your content, you can improve metrics like time on site and pages per session. Tricking visitors through mismatched ad and site content will only hurt your results.

5. Create a content promotion funnel

Chances are, you have a marketing funnel that takes someone from stranger to customer.

But once you’ve promoted your content, what should they do next? Purchase? Read another piece of content? Download a lead magnet?

Think as you would with a marketing funnel and place content promotion at the start. Your funnel could look like this:

  1. Attract: Pick a piece of content like a how-to post to target a broad audience group. The aim is to drive awareness and increase traffic to your site. (This is the one you should use to promote your blog posts or videos.)
  2. Convert: Now that you have people who already know you and perhaps like and trust your brand, retarget them. Direct them to gated content where they need to provide their email or other contact information. Now you can contact them directly as well as develop your custom audiences further on Facebook.
  3. Cross-sell: Create a campaign targeted at your customers that recognizes their support of your brand. Perhaps develop a paid Facebook campaign to promote content around a next-level product or service. For example, if they purchased a PC from your brand, you could do an ad campaign to drive traffic to a blog post, 5 Tools to Make PC Operating Easier.

The content marketing promotion funnel can vary for different businesses and audiences. Some people might need to view your attract campaign 15 times before they convert. Others might need just one visit.

Figure out the best targeting schedule by looking at your typical buyer journey. You’ll see the common route to purchase. Copy this for your content campaign on Facebook.

6. Set up smart retargeting

I mentioned earlier there are ways to build custom audiences after installing the Facebook pixel. You can create them based on:

  • All visitors
  • Visitors who clicked a button
  • Visitors who scroll to an element

All three categories indicate a different interest level in your content. By customizing audiences, you can display different ads and land your audience at more relevant places. With that advantage, you can create ads and landing pages better tailored to the narrowed audience segment.

Let’s take Facebook visitors who clicked a button like “get started” or “sign up.” These people likely are closer to proceeding with your product/service, so you can run a retargeting campaign to direct them to a product page.

However, Facebook visitors who didn’t click the button might be better served with another piece of top-of-the-funnel content. The aim? To get them more engaged before the sell push.

TIP: Don’t forget the opportunity to incorporate Facebook Messenger ads in your campaigns to deliver more one-on-one messages.

7. Run A/B tests on everything

You could pick millions (if not billions) of combinations when creating your Facebook Ads campaign. You won’t know which combination works best until you test it.

Run A/B tests on your Facebook ad when promoting content. Facebook’s Ads Manager has a split-testing feature that handles this for you:

Run A/B tests on your #Facebook ad when promoting content. Facebook’s Ads Manager has a split-testing feature that handles this for you, says @dragilev via @cmicontent. Click To Tweet

If you want to handle the split testing yourself, you can duplicate your Facebook ads or ad set. Make one small change, then monitor which variation works best. Gaetano DiNardi of Nextiva offers this essential advice:

It is important that when doing A/B testing, you don’t test everything at once – this way test results won’t be trustworthy. Instead, identify a winning ad copy first, then proceed with ad creatives, and when you find a killer combination, test the placement that will best match your ad.

When doing A/B testing, it is important that you don’t test everything at once, says @gaetano_nyc. #FacebookAds Click To Tweet

8. Identify the best-performing variation

Your campaign has been running and you’re collecting a bunch of data. It’s time to determine which variation worked better, using metrics from your Facebook Ads report.

Let’s put that into practice and say these are the results for your campaign:

  • Ad copy including “now”: 380 link clicks at $0.02 each
  • Ad copy not including “now”: 510 link clicks at $0.06 each

It looks like the copy excluding “now” performed better because it got the most link clicks, right? Not necessarily.

Looking at the cost for each result. In this case, the copy including “now” was significantly three times less expensive. Therefore, that version could be classed as the winner.

Although you should only test one element at a time, you can run several split tests. Find the winner, then make a change and use that version. In the example, you might continue with “now” in the ad copy but test two different images.

It’s the easiest – and quickest – way to find which combination works.

TIP: Don’t end the split test before you have had enough time to collect results. Similarly, don’t test it too long to the point where you’re wasting money. The stop point varies by campaign; just use your common sense.

9. Analyze results

With your paid content promotion campaign complete, look at your overall results using both:

  • Facebook Ads Manager: How many results did you get for your total spend? Which gender, location, or age group performed best? If you made sales as a result of your promotion, what was your overall ROI?
  • Google Analytics: Use the assisted conversions report to see if your content promotion influenced the decision of a potential customer to proceed with your product. Find this in Conversions > Multi-Channel Funnels > Assisted Conversions:

Don’t limit your analysis to each promotion campaign. Take a top-level look at your Facebook ads to see which forms of content perform better than others.

Start your paid promotion for content on Facebook

As you can see, a lot of details go into Facebook campaigns. The type of content you’re promoting heavily influences the way you should do it. Your target audience, topic, and business also play a role. But if you methodically implement and split test your campaigns, you should have a solid idea of what works best for your business. And that’s the best way to create paid Facebook promotion campaigns that position your content in front of the right people.

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Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute