Our business guru and social media marketing extraordinaire Shannon Stone shared with us last week her incredible tips in her article 4 Things You Need to Know Before You Advertise on Instagram and wow did we learn a thing or two! This social media marketing thing is definitely a whole new world, but the most important thing we learnt was that we really need to be utilising the Facebook Ad Manager when we are considering running any advertising campaigns on Facebook or Instagram. Yep, no more just clicking the ‘boost post’ button and hoping for the best! Lightbulb moment- that button doesn’t work after all… do not be tempted by it people!

Next step? We need to work out HOW to use Facebook’s Ad Manager. Like many of you, it’s not something we had really delved into very often, preferring the quick and easy boost method. As of March 2018, Ad Manager is an updated tool, that combines what was formerly the Power Editor and the Ad Manager, so it actually no longer functions the same way that it did a few months ago anyway. We are forever learning and then having to relearn right? Thanks Facebook! The outcome of this is apparently that the Ad Manager now allows the user to really target ads to the audience that it wants to reach, and Facebook will show your ads to people who are most likely to engage and respond. Hooray!

After half an hour of playing around in the Ad Manager tool, it was pretty clear that there are a lot of different ways to use it, a myriad of ways to target your audience and even more options to execute it effectively. So, to keep things simple, the aim of this article is to solely focus on showing you step by step how to do the two things that Shannon suggested to us-

1: Create a custom audience

2: Create a look alike audience

To start with, to find the ads manager we headed to the Facebook business tool page and clicked the Ads Manager option in the Business Manager drop down box


When you open the Ads Manager it looks like this and you will want to click on the CREATE button. This is the beginning of the process of creating a new advertising campaign. You should already have your ad, your target audience and your marketing objective in mind before you start this process.

From here it starts to look a little scary with loads of options. Don’t worry, we’ll guide you through. Decide on your marketing objective from the list of options available. For a photographer looking to find more new clients and get their name in front of people, it might be Brand Awareness. Or you might want traffic to your website, so you could select on the Traffic option. It really depends on what you want to achieve! Once you’ve established that, it’s time to click on the audience option in the Ad Set category on the left-hand side.

This will bring up a page that leads you to the doorway of a whole incredible world of marketing options. Click on the CREATE NEW drop-down box under customer audiences and you will see the two possibilities for this. Our first objective is to create a custom audience, but the lookalike option is actually right here too. Incredibly, you can create a custom audience of any list, for example your own email subscribers, so that you can target your Facebook advertising to a specific known group of people. It’s like advertising to your subscribers without having to send the email hoping people will open and read it!

The options here are actually pretty amazing, and the custom list you choose to make will of course depend entirely on your target audience and objectives for your advertisement. You may want your sponsored ads to go to your existing email list of past photography customers for example if you are launching an ‘update your family photos with me again’ campaign or $50 off your next session when you refer a friend. You would choose Customer File for this. You might also consider creating an advertisement to people who have been engaged in your posts previously by selecting Engagement… remarketing in this way is definitely an important strategy to consider for any business (remember that on average people have to see a brand 12 times before they take action!).


The second option Shannon suggested is to create a Lookalike Audience. The Lookalike Audience option requires a source. In the SOURCE box you will find your own business page/s, so essentially Facebook will look for people will similar demographics and habits to those people who currently already like your page. This is actually a great tool! For example, if there is lots of newly engaged or married people following your page and you are a wedding photographer, Facebook will look for audiences that consist of people who search similar things to your followers (maybe wedding venues, invitations, bridesmaids’ dresses, etc) and have similar habits and qualities and advertise directly to them. It’s a pretty nifty way of getting your business name in the news feed of the potential new customers.


In addition to this, once you’ve set up your Custom Audience, you will actually be able to create a Lookalike Audience for that too. Imagine creating a custom list of all your past customers and have Facebook use it to find people with similar habits, lifestyles, interests, etc to market your business to new customers on their platform and on Instagram. Mind blown.

So, there you have it! The step by step instructions on how to create two types of audience lists for your Facebook and Instagram marketing. Of course, once you have these lists you can save them for future advertising campaigns and use them, or even use them to exclude the people that your ads are shown to (more about that another day!). And when posting your ad, you will still be able to narrow your custom and lookalike audiences even further by adding in the location, age and gender as you previously could.

We’ll be giving this a try ourselves in the coming weeks and let you know the results. In the meantime, have you made a Custom or Lookalike Audience using Ads Manager before? We would love you to share your experience with us in the comments below!

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