Especially in the summer, when the kids are out form school, entrepreneurs have time to think about their own learning and development and how they want to level up their business with their own “back to school” efforts. We had time to interview Maisha Walker, digital marketing expert at Message Medium around the topic of Facebook Ads and how it can support your business as you grow.

Watch the interview on the She Runs It Community

OR Read the transcript below…

High Tides: So I guess my first question for you is just, why are Facebook ads such a big deal? Why is it that people talk about Facebook ads so much?

Maisha: Primarily because organic traffic is very difficult to build from social media. Part of the issue with Facebook and other social platforms really minimize the amount of visibility that each of your posts gets. So even if you’re a business owner, if you have a business page, your fans, the people who’ve liked your page, only a tiny percentage of them are going to see any posts that you make. So A) it is very difficult to get visibility for those organic posts. It takes a lot of time and energy and effort to make that happen. And B) it’s really not very useful if what you’re trying to do is build a new audience. So posting to your existing fans doesn’t really help you find new fans.

High Tides: Okay. So it sounds like Facebook ads is really a strategy for cold lead generation.

Maisha: So it’s a combination. For a lot of businesses, primarily it’s about lead generation. But it’s also about nurturing your existing customers and nurturing the people who are already in your sales network to a lesser extent, certainly because there’s just fewer of them. The number one is for getting in front of new people and number two is nurturing the contacts you already have.

High Tides: Okay, interesting. So now you mentioned something just a minute ago, just getting organic traffic to your business page. I know, you know, we’re in a Facebook community together and then people have their personal accounts. When we’re talking about leveraging Facebook ads, which one of those platforms is where people should be focusing their attention for these two key goals that you mentioned?

Maisha: Well, you can’t advertise on a personal page, so that’s an easy one. We advertise on a business page. So Facebook has already made that decision for you.

High Tides: Interesting. I’ve also seen in a number of Facebook groups that I’m in, where people will join the Facebook groups as their business page instead of with their personal page. Is that part of the Facebook ad strategy?

Maisha: It’s not part of the advertising strategy, but it is part of an organic social strategy. Yeah, so this idea that you can interact as your business page instead of interacting from your personal profile, and that’s a fairly recent feature that Facebook has offered to be able to do that. It is a reasonable strategy to do, especially if let’s say you are a personality, like as a person, you might decide to create your own Facebook page just for you and not just for your business. So if you do that, it’s useful for you to be able to interact with people through that rather than through your personal profile, does that make sense?

High Tides: It does. And now I feel like we’ve opened up a couple of things there about ways to leverage Facebook as part of your marketing strategies. I wanted to doublecheck on some of that. You said if you have your business page and then you could also create another page as a personal brand, is that what you would call it?

Maisha: Yeah. So for example, for me, I have my business Message Medium. I also do a ton of speaking engagements and some (I haven’t done a lot of people lately) media appearances. So it would be entirely feasible. And I used to write for this magazine – it would be entirely feasible for me to create a Maisha Walker page on Facebook. That is a business page, not a personal profile. And that has all of the features and limitations of a business page. So I can advertise around it. I can give people admin access to it so that I’m not the only one managing it. I can see insights around it in terms of who’s liking my page and connecting with me. I can have an unlimited number of fans, but if it’s on your personal profile the maximum you can have is 5,000 people. I mean, that’s a huge number, but for some people that’s not big enough. So yeah, so you can create a page, a business page, but for your personal brand instead of for your company.

High Tides: Okay. So now I have seen some business pages who will start with the name of their business and then slowly over time, watch it transition so that it becomes the name of the business owner. Is that specifically for this reason to be able to engage people a little bit more, but as a personal brand versus as their business entity?

Maisha: That’s interesting, I’ve actually never seen that, but I can understand the motivation. I do think it’s important to recognize that when you’re a small business owner, especially in the beginning of your business, people don’t really build a relationship with your company. They build a relationship with you as the owner. And it’s usually the strength of your personality and your personal network that is driving your business. So yeah, for a lot of business owners, I think that may be happening, but I can’t really comment on what you’ve seen because I haven’t actually seen that happen. But what may be happening is they’re starting to realize that they just get a lot more attraction when they interact with people from a personal perspective. So their name carries more weight than their company’s names. And I think that’s gonna be true for most small businesses in the beginning. Because you’re the one going out and networking and meeting people and talking about your business, the company doesn’t really have a life or a brand of its own yet.

High Tides: Okay. Yeah. That’s interesting. I think that makes sense too, in terms of one doing some of that kind of initial organic marketing as yourself, but then still having the capabilities that a business page would have in the Facebook space.

Maisha: Yeah. You know, in spite of what I just said, I actually don’t think that’s a good idea generally more or maybe for me. So I think there may be some cases in which it makes sense to transition from a company named to a personal name or a business page, but mostly, you really do want to build a brand for your company. You want people to remember both your name and the company name. So doing that just requires a lot of work. You just have to put in the time, this is why huge companies spend millions of dollars on advertising, to obviously drive sales. But most companies are not doing direct marketing ads. They’re not doing infomercials, they’re doing ads and sponsoring events and doing all of these things, just to get their company brand in front of people, people will remember it and think of it when it’s time to make a purchase.

So, you know, these huge brands that we all recognize, they spent a lot of money to do that. And there’s a reason. So I think that for a small business, most of your marketing budget is likely to be focused on direct sales, like, doing a Facebook ad to try to get people to buy your product. But if you’re going to do that, I do think it usually makes more sense to do it under the name of your business, because you know that you need to invest in building that brand. So the fact that the brand isn’t memorable in the beginning, it’s just the nature of the beast. Right. You are the one that has to do the work to make that brand memorable and recognizable.

High Tides: Right. Okay. So then talk to me a little bit about getting started with advertising on Facebook, because I’ve heard that (even just now, and kind of exploring), marketing as a business or as a personal brand, there’s a lot of things that you could leverage Facebook for in terms of driving traffic, whether that’s to an event or to an actual product or service that you’re offering, if someone’s just starting out and wants to get started with ads, what’s the easiest entry point in terms of how we’re leveraging that as a tool?

Maisha: When you say how we’re leveraging it as a tool, do you mean – because there’s a few ways I can answer that question, but I just want to make sure I’m answering it in a way that’s going to be most useful – do you mean, should I do an event ad, should I do a product ad? Should I, is that what you mean? Or do you mean it more broadly?

High Tides: Nope. The first.

Maisha: Okay. So this may go without saying, but obviously you have to figure out what it is that you have to market. So if you’re not doing it, then I wouldn’t suggest that you go out and start doing events just to do Facebook ads. But if you’re not doing events, it actually makes sense for you to do events, or if you’re planning to do them because of that, then yes, Facebook ads is an excellent way to market your events. Hopefully that answered that question, like figure out what makes sense for your business to do, and then use ads to support that. So if events makes sense, then do the event ads to support that. But you can also leverage Facebook ads to dive into making your business more visible in a lot of different ways.

So you mentioned events are one of them, if you’re doing them. People also use Facebook ads to build, to help them succeed with content marketing. So if you have blog posts, for example, or if you write a white paper or any piece of content, or a download that you have, you can leverage Facebook ads to get that in front of people. The whole point generally of content marketing is that you’re trying to reach new people, to get them into your sales cycle. So you can use ads to support that effort, to get more people, to get your content in front of people so that they can interact with it, give you an email address, et cetera. And then obviously you can use ads to promote a product or promote a service. So those are the most common one ways that people use ads – I have a product that I want to sell here is the ad helping to explain why this is a good product for you to be interested in.

You can also use them for seeing if you want to build email addresses. That’s another common reason why people use Facebook ads. So content marketing is one of the tactics. People use them to build email addresses, but you can use other things. Like if you did a contest or, so there are lots of ways that you can try to collect email addresses using Facebook ads. But off the top of my head, those are kind of the primary reasons why people would do them. Sometimes people will also do them for pure branding purposes, just to be more visible and to help people know you exist. But I believe that there’s usually always a more (what’s the word I’m looking for?) – something more substantive that someone you can get someone to do from the ad and just hearing about your company.

High Tides: Okay. So it sounds like, and hearing a few different things in terms of what you could, as a business or what you might be thinking about using ads for, but it sounds like primarily if you have an event, it’s a great way to drive traffic to events. If you’re focused on list building, you can drive traffic to some type of a freebie or an opt-in or a piece of content that gets people onto your list. Same thing, you know, for blogs or other things that you might have in your content universe. And then there’s also just running ads directly to some type of paid offer. And then I think the last thing that you mentioned was just doing ads, so people know that you exist. And so I’m curious even for those types of ads, is that something where, because I think with all of the others, the call to action is very clear that you’re asking someone to sign up for something or to attend something, but for an ad that’s done just for branding, what would be the call to action on that type of ad?

Maisha: Well, that’s what I’m saying. If it’s an ad that’s just for branding, then they’re probably no call to action. And that’s why I don’t recommend it for most small businesses. If you think about the most famous kind of ad is a Super Bowl ad, right? Those ads (and a lot of television ads) don’t have a call to actions, right? Most of the time when you think of a television ad, it’s pure branding, unless it’s an infomercial or something like an infomercial in which there’s a direct CTA – those are direct marketing ads. So there’s a phone number that you’re supposed to call or website you’re supposed to visit, but most Super Bowl ads do not do that. They’re just trying to entertain you and make you remember that the brand exists. So you can do those kinds of ads on Facebook. But you’ll notice that most people don’t because the ability to drive an action is part of what makes the platform powerful. So why waste that opportunity? You know what I mean?

High Tides: Yeah, that makes sense. So it sounds like the platform really is designed to get people to do something. So yeah. What you want people to do.

Maisha: Exactly. I mean, it’s certainly designed – I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s designed to necessarily always get people to do something. I mean, it’s also just an entertainment platform, but most of the concentrate, your friends posts don’t ask, don’t require you to take an action. And some of the things that people post that do require you to take an action are kind of annoying actually. So it’s not always about taking an action, but because it’s online, it’s so clickable and it’s so new Facebook has created features of these ads to make it very clickable and easy to engage. It really is just a great opportunity, to drive an action. So you typically do that, respond to try to do that.

High Tides: Yeah. Okay. So now I’m curious, because it sounds like (and I know it’s just speaking to other business owners), Facebook ads can kind of feel like this unwieldy beast of a thing to take on. And I’ve also had the experience that people put up a post for your business pages like, “Oh, do you want to just boost it?” So what’s the difference between boosting and actually setting up ads on Facebook? Like, why is it that boosting seems so easy, but we talk about Facebook ads and it feels so daunting?

Maisha: So we talk about this a lot in the class. The quick answer is, for boosting, Facebook tries to make it very easy for you to create an ad by just boosting it – that way they make it easy is that you don’t have to create any new content. Because it’s just the posts that you’re using. And you’re just boosting that post. Most of the time, the downside of using boost is that you just have much more limited features and it’s a lot harder to build an audience – to build a really compelling audience. So yeah, you usually want to use ads as much as you possibly can because you just have access to a lot more features to get your ads in front of the audiences that are gonna make the most sense for you and to test and experiment different audiences and do things like remark.

So boost is a great, quick and dirty way (shouldn’t be great), but they’re a quick and dirty way to just get something, get a piece of content in front of people. But if you’re doing a serious ad campaign, it’s definitely not what I would do. If you’re trying to drive sales of a particular product, or you have a whole online store, I would not – I’d definitely not advise that. But I will say that it is – I think that not that I would never boost – I just would not make that your main advertising. If you’re in a rush and you just need to get something in front of people, and let’s say, you’re just going to advertise to your existing Facebook fans, go ahead and boost it. You know what I mean?

Like that’s very easy. It’s not a particularly complicated audience, but you should recognize that that’s a quick and dirty thing. And that does not a Facebook ad strategy makes. That works for – I have a piece of content, I really need to get this in front of people over the next two days, so instead of going and doing a really complicated ad, I’m just going to be it. Mmm, bye. That’s definitely not a Facebook ad strategy – a proper ad strategy. Yes. It’s complicated and requires a lot of strategy. Largely because anytime you’re doing any kind of advertising and this is really true, even if you’re not doing advertising for profit, it’s really about testing and iterating and reviewing your results to make better decisions in the future. So the same is true with Facebook -that you need to go in, create your audiences, create your ads, decide how you’re going to build your campaign.

There are a lot of different campaign types in Facebook. There’s a specific event, campaigns, there’s traffic campaigns or conversion campaigns, or Facebook tries to put your ad in front of people who are likely to convert whatever you define, what that conversion is. So there are a lot of different ways that you can build an ad to try to get specific kinds of results. Most of those features are not available in boosting. And if you’re going to do a real ad campaign, you want to be thinking about which of those options really makes the most sense for what you’re trying to do. And then you experiment. And sometimes you end up changing your mind later, at least from the results that you’re getting – test something else. But that’s what makes Facebook ads, as the full strategy, more complicated. It’s just because you have a lot of options in terms of how to build a campaign, how to choose your audiences, how to track your results, how to determine which people see your ad, which people Facebook tries to show your ads to.

There’s just a lot of variables there. And so the reason why I have a job is because it seemed to get fairly complex. This is also the reason why I teach the classes so that people can get a handle on what exactly that complexity is like. As a business owner, you don’t necessarily need to know every targeting option that exists in Facebook. You just need to understand these are the different categories of targeting options that either I or someone on my team should be considering when they do a Facebook ad strategy for me. If you are communicating with someone or you hire someone to do this for you and they don’t consider these things, that’s a red flag that they probably don’t know what they’re doing. But part of the point of the class is to help, to sort of define, the universe that we’re working in. So these are the things that people should be thinking about, or you should be thinking about, if you’re going to do a Facebook ad campaign.

High Tides: Yeah, no, I love that. And so what size business is ready to jump into Facebook ads? Because I’m hearing you say it’s a very iterative process. It’s going to be a lot of test and see, test and see, tweak, tweak in between. So for someone who just wants to get started in ads, what are some of the things they should be keeping in mind jumping in there?

Maisha: I think it depends a lot on a couple of things. There isn’t a particular sized business. There is an understanding of goals and budget, right? So you can do Facebook ads for as little as $30 a month. You can build a campaign that’s a dollar a day. But I think it’s important to be very clear on what that’s going to get you most of the time. And that’s assuming that you’re going to set up a campaign yourself, right? Not hire an agency like mine to do it. So also keep in mind that the amount you spend on the ads with Facebook, it’s separate from the amount that you spend to have someone manage it, right? So you could hire someone, or you could have someone on the staff if you’re paying an annual salary. And part of what they’re doing is managing your Facebook ads.

That’s separate, or you could hire an agency or a freelancer to do that for you. That’s a separate cost. And it’s something you definitely want to keep in mind as you’re evaluating the results of your campaigns, but it’s a sunk cost. You can’t do this unless someone is going to spend the time to do it properly, either you or somebody you hire. So in the beginning, I usually won’t take on a client for example, to do Facebook ads. If they’re not going to spend at least $90 a month on their ads. And that’s usually just because, for a couple of reasons, one is you usually don’t want to do just one campaign or just one audience. You want to have enough to do a few different audiences and test them against each other.

So $90 a month would give you room, if you wanted to try at least three different audiences, each a dollar, a dollar a day. The other reason is because, if you’re going to hire us, we’ve really gone through what we can do for businesses with different price points. The minimum we can charge you is $250 a month. That’s going to be for quarterly as maintenance, but once every three months, we go in and look at your account and that’s assuming you’re doing a spend of around $90 a month, it’s up to about $200 a month. So if you’re going to hire someone to maintain your ads for you, I like to think of it as keeping the ad spend in, in somewhat balance with how much you’re spending on management.

I think that’s a nice rule of thumb. It’s not always true, but it’s a nice rule of thumb. If you’re spending about a hundred bucks a month on ads, you’re spending $250 on management. That’s not so out of whack that you probably need more management. If your budget’s going to be like $500 a month, you don’t want to have somebody only looking at that once a quarter, that’s not gonna work. So if $500 a month, then your management budget’s going to go up. So usually the management costs is actually more than the ad spend because it takes work. It takes time to go in and monitor these accounts and make decisions about what needs to be changed and then go in and make the changes. So I don’t know if I actually answered your question.

High Tides: No, I think you did. I think so. Yeah. I was just going to just kind of reiterate like what I heard, and what you shared. Because what I’m hearing very clearly is that this is a giant kind of science project. And so if you’re not going to be the scientist, bake into your budget who’s going to be that scientist. He’s going to run a bunch of it. Do you want to have more than one experiment running at a time? So you actually get more data in terms of what you’re trying to do. Yeah. I mean, it makes perfect sense. It makes perfect sense. I’m sure. Yeah. Any data scientists who are maybe reading this later might really appreciate this, but that’s what I heard. And so like a good experiment is, having at least three different type offices running at a time and one hypothesis.

Maisha: Yeah. That’s not an ideal experiment. So yeah, so here’s where we get into goals. That’s why I said it when I originally started answering this question. I was saying set up budget and goals. So I think it’s also really important that people set goals that make sense for the budget they have. So you really need to basically managing your own expectations. So you really need to go into this. And I tell my potential clients all the time before they decide to work with us about two things. One is you need to set a stake in the ground for how much you’re going to sink into this. How much are you super comfortable spending on a monthly basis? To the extent that if you never earned that money back from the ad, you would still be okay. You wouldn’t be deeply frustrated or angry.

High Tides: I have spoken to so many business owners who say “Oh, I got totally burned by ads, ads don’t work”, you know, so disgruntled. And I always wonder, I’m like, well, did you get someone who knew how to run these ads like Facebook?

Maisha: This is the thing. So I think what happens is they read the articles on Facebook ads, the people spouting how easy it is. So once they put those things out are total bowl, it’s just not that simple. For us, when we’re launching campaigns, we do have scenarios where you’ll come up with the audiences and come up with the ads. And we’re also generating profit for somebody within a couple of weeks, absolutely happens, but I’ve been doing this – I mean I’ve been a digital marketer for 23 years. So I just bring a lot of experience to the table. And it’s not just me. I also have a person on my team and we partner and collaborate that come up with these strategies. So you got two deeply experienced brains coming up with this for you versus a business owner who just decided yesterday, they’re going to start running ads and don’t know, maybe read one article. You know what I mean? Because you’re not giving yourself a fair shot. So I say, be extremely clear. And this is true for so much of marketing in general. And certainly for digital, be really clear about how much you’re comfortable spending, assuming you do not get a penny of it back.

So it’s like – I like to use the term – it’s like gambling – don’t go to the casino with any more money than you can afford to lose. You’re going there, for example you’re doing it because it’s entertaining. And that’s fine. So how much are you willing to spend on that kind of entertainment for Facebook ads or other kinds of ads? It’s not an entertainment – you’re doing it because you want to see if you can generate revenue from it, find some new customers and also learn more about who your audience is. Your proper audiences are the people who respond to you. So even if you don’t make your money back, you should come out of that with certain kinds of education and knowledge. And so you have to accept that that’s what you’re paying for, or you need to decide how much you’re willing to pay for that. And with a very good chance that you’re also gonna make your money back. But even when you do, you usually don’t make your money completely back for several months because it just takes time to figure out which audiences are going to be profitable, which ads are going to be profitable. And then to generate that profit in a large enough quantity to cover not only your ad costs, but also the management costs.

High Tides: Yeah, I love this. And I think, I feel like this is just so in line with what I’ve heard you say about other marketing strategies, as you have to give it time and space to do its thing. And either way, you’re going to learn something about your audience in the process. And so it’s really more about seeing it as a learning experience in then scenario, right? But that’s, you know, the worst case scenario – you learn something. Best case scenario – you learned something and you make some additional revenue for you.

Maisha: Keep in mind this isn’t just about additional revenue. When you do any kind of customer acquisition strategy, this is about also acquiring new customers who have a lifetime value, right? So just because you did an ad and they spent a certain amount of money with you based on that ad, and now you can say, well, I generated a thousand dollars in revenue and I only spent $500 on the ads. So I made a profit. Keep in mind that $500 profit you made also brought you 50 new customers who now you’re going to market to you again. And presumably they’re going to spend money with you again for the $500 that you made on that ad is really just the beginning. The powerful thing that you’re doing is building your customer base, and finding out more specifically who those customers are like, the very specific demographics about who they are.

High Tides: No, that makes, that makes a lot of sense, but my issue, from what I’m hearing, for brand new businesses just starting out, you have to approach Facebook as like an experiment. You have to think about what are your goals going into it? And you have to have an idea on your budget and what is that number that you’re willing to invest, even if you don’t see any of the financial return, is that fair?

Maisha: I really encourage people to not go into this without understanding. So don’t go into this thinking, you’re going to make $5,000 in two weeks. That’s just not how it works, what they say and all those Facebook ads that tell you to buy – we’re going to teach you how to flip this switch and make money. Anytime you want. Just flip the app. In my experience, that just does not happen.

High Tides: But tell us about your Facebook ads class. Because I know you have a class coming up and these are like small group sessions where people can really dig in and you really help people unpack the things they need to know for their business. So tell us more about what’s included in that class and who’s a good person for it.

Maisha: Yeah, so it is a three-part session. Most of the classes I do are two or three part sessions that last an hour to an hour and a half each session for three consecutive Wednesdays. So this one starts on September 2nd and we’re going to go into a lot of detail on many of the questions you asked – so on exactly how Facebook ads work? What’s the structure? What are the key levers that cause Facebook ads to be successful and profitable? Looking inside the ad manager itself. So people understand what they’re looking at when they go in there. Because I know that interface, if don’t know what you’re looking for, that interface can be really confusing. If you do know what you’re looking for that place is very empowering. So making sure people understand how to read that interface, and pull out the information they need.

I’m also talking about how ads get designed, how to build audiences, how to determine your budget. So we go into more depth around – I mentioned that $90 a month, but that’s not where most people are going to be with their ads. So just understanding more about what that $90 a month is going to get you if that’s where you are. So talking about your budget and what realistic expectations are at different budgets, and then helping people understand, is this something that you should do yourself? You know, you’re going to spend a little bit more time learning and experimenting with it, or, if you take the class, you will be prepared to go and start doing ads yourself. It’s not – the class is not going to make you an expert on doing ads, but it’ll give you enough information to feel somewhat confident in going out and experimenting with a few ads.

And then of course, I also do a one on one session with people after the class to help them get that started if that’s what they want to do. But the class is also really great. So not only for the business owner, if you really want to embark on this kind of adventure, but also if you’ve got someone on your team like a virtual assistant, who you want to take over this for you. And I also encourage people to sign up for both, like if you’re the business owner and you have your VA, your VA is going to learn how to do it, but you’re going to also learn how to manage them and understand what it is that they should be doing. So, there’s that. And then you can also learn it just in that context I was just mentioning – if you do plan to hire an agency like ours or a freelancer, I still think it’s great to take this class because then you’ll have a much better understanding of what we’re doing and you’ll have a better understanding of what information to give us and share with us. That’s going to make these ads even more successful for you. So, I encourage it. If you want to do the ads yourself, or if you want to have a VA do the ads, or if you want to hire an agency or an expert, a freelancer to do them.

High Tides: Yeah, no, it just sounds like a real comprehensive education around Facebook ads so that people can really think through how they want to leverage it and what support they would need to get it up and going.

Maisha: Yeah. And then often some people are… Oh, and the one audience I didn’t mention is other marketers, the people who are, for example, not digital marketers or people who are focused on one other area like SEO, but they want to better understand how ads can be useful to their clients, or how to do SEO in a way that actually is complimentary to Facebook ads. So the classes are offered way from marketer if you just want to have a better understanding, so they can better advise their clients. And then I also will just say that if you come to the class, some people do come to the class and realize, well, now that I have a better understanding of how this works, what the complexities are either, yes, I’m ready to dive in.

Or sometimes they realize this is just not for me at all. Like, I’m just, I’m not going to hire anybody to do this. That doesn’t make any sense or they realize just where they need to be in order to make this feasible for them. So people come out of the classes with all three of those scenarios, but either way, you’re going to feel confident about where you are on that spectrum and not have to worry about it again, if you figure out that it’s not right for you, they’re basically never going to have to think about it again and wonder if you’re missing out, because you’re going to know this doesn’t make any sense for me. So yeah, we find that people come out in one of those three areas.

Again, no matter what you learn something. So it’s a win.

High Tides: Well, thank you so much for sharing about Facebook ads and definitely we’ll make sure people have the information for signing up for your class who starts on September 2nd.

Register for Maisha’s next Live Online Digital Marketing Masterclass: Social Media Advertising starting on 9/2

**Be sure to mention Marie Deveaux and High Tides to get a $50 rebate when you sign up!

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