In this year’s Digital Lab, one of the Fellows I’m collaborating with is experimenting with Facebook and Instagram ads. We recently had a discussion about whether it would be worth it for her organization to implement the Facebook Pixel on their website. We decided at this early stage of experimentation, it probably wasn’t worth the time and trouble. But if her organization starts spending a lot of money on social advertising, it would definitely pay off in the long run.
By adding a bit of code from Facebook to your website (called a “pixel”), Facebook offers four major benefits:
- Measure the effectiveness of your Facebook/Instagram ads by tracking precisely what users did on your site after clicking on the ad, or even after only seeing the ad, and then going back to your website up to 28 days later
- Pay for a Facebook/Instagram ads only when a user actually purchases something (or otherwise converts) on your website
- Show Facebook/Instagram ads only to users who have previously been to your website, some specific page on your website, or taken some specific action on your website (aka “remarketing”)
- Learn more about the visitors to your website based on the data that Facebook/Instagram knows about those users (regardless of whether they follow your organization on Facebook/Instagram or not)
Facebook and Instagram ads can be enormously powerful marketing tools, but sometimes it takes more sophisticated targeting options, or a more complete view of the entire marketing journey, to make that case to your colleagues to invest in social advertising.
The first thing you’ll need to do is install the Facebook pixel code on every page of your website (very similar to how Google Analytics code is also on every page of your website). You can find the pixel code in the Facebook Business Manager tool, in the “Events” section.
If you’re using Google Tag Manager already, you will copy that code into a simple HTML tag and a pageview trigger that will look something like this:
Then in the Facebook Business Manager (again back in the “Events” section), you’ll create “Custom Conversion” events based on URL rules that define when a user has “converted” on your website - by purchasing a ticket, donating, signing up for a class, etc.
Once you do that, Facebook will give you access to a new dashboard of reports in the Business Manager tool that profile your website traffic. These reports look a little bit like Google Analytics, but with more of a focus on social media traffic and users.
In the Facebook Ads platform, you will now also be able to bid on ads based on the conversion events you’ve created and define how long after a user has seen or clicked on your ad to count toward determining the ad’s effectiveness.
And you will now also be able to define a target audience for your Facebook or Instagram ad based on your previous website visitors.
If you’re already familiar with Google Tag Manager and have a good understanding about defining conversion events, this whole process might only take an hour or two. If you’re not familiar with GTM and don’t have any developers on staff to help you out, you might fiddle around for a few days to get everything working. But the time will certainly be worth it in the long run if your organization is trying to spend a marketing budget effectively on social media ads.