By now, you’ve probably heard the ubiquitous term “Pay to play” to describe Facebook. What does that mean? In order to increase reach, engagement, and awareness (that thing that everyone talks about), you need to use Facebook advertising. Organic reach is not dead, but it is painfully slow.

As a digital marketer, I come across a lot of people using a more unfortunate platform of “Pay and pray.” Before you jump into the back end of Facebook’s ads manager and/or Power Editor, there are a few things to consider to determine if your business (or nonprofit) is ready for Facebook advertising.

You’re already spending money on advertising. Spending money on advertising indicates that you understand it takes money to make money. Unlike with traditional advertising, using Facebook tracking and analytics allows you to see exactly how your money works to land customers.

You have an established product or service. Who is your ideal client? What are their interests? What are the age and location of those engaging the most with your business? Facebook has collected a vast amount of information on its two billion users. Targeting is one of the key components of a successful ad campaign. When you know whom you are speaking to, you can put your product or service in front of people willing to buy.

You have an email list. You can use an existing email list to reach your audience by targeting the exact people on your list or to create a lookalike audience.

You have a system to handle leads. Good ad campaigns can generate dozens of leads per week. With Facebook ads, you capture name, email address and sometimes phone number within the ad transaction. You need to be able to manage the follow-up.

You want to target people who have been to your website. The Facebook pixel is a bit of code installed on your website to collect data. When a visitor visits your site, the pixel fires. You can use this data to now serve them Facebook ads and a different user experience.

You have compelling video and graphics. The number one job of the creative is to grab attention. Your video assets and images must be interesting enough to interrupt a user’s pattern of behavior long enough for them to consider your offer.

You want to reach people who engaged with your page content. You can create custom audiences of people who viewed as little as three seconds of a video, people who have sent messages to your page, people who have saved your content and more. And re-targeting those same people who didn’t take a particular action the first time is an added benefit.

You are ready to give a little to gain a lot. Truth: People don’t come to Facebook to buy. To get their attention, you must put an attractive offer in front of them — usually by way of a discount. If turned off by the idea of a discount, consider the lifetime value of a customer to make up for discounts, ad spend and management fees.

You understand it’s not a quick fix. No matter what you have read, successful Facebook advertising is not an overnight sensation. Facebook is constantly changing. Advertising is a bidding process and the algorithm dances to the beat of its own drum. It may take a few days to weeks (depending on the industry) to find the winning ad.

You have run ads before (and it didn’t work). Advertising on Facebook is systemic. Much of the magic happens before you ever get to the ads manager. Campaign elements include conducting research, targeting the right buyer, understanding the psychology of the buyer, crafting a compelling offer, creating a sales process, writing copy, creating graphics, having knowledge of the ads manager and power editor and testing.

Facebook ads are popular and profitable. If you go in with clear goals and patience, Facebook advertising can produce huge returns. Consider investing time in research or hiring a consultant to help navigate the elements of a successful campaign.

Are you ready to discuss using Facebook ads in your businesss?  A business intensive is the next step. Book now.