How to use Facebook Ads to test your comms strategy

How to use Facebook Ads to test your comms strategy
Ben Matthews

Ben Matthews

You might think that Facebook Ads are only useful for testing your big budget creatives, driving donations for an annual fundraiser, or for gaining reach for your flagship awareness raising campaign of the year.

But Facebook Ads can be used for a whole lot more, especially if you are looking to test a new comms strategy or get ideas and insights for future comms activity.

From testing new audiences to getting feedback on a change of creative direction, or even launching a new service – if the messaging that goes with your campaign strikes the right tone, Facebook ads can be a cost-effective way to gain valuable insights for a wide range of tests.

The beauty of using Facebook Ads is that you don’t have to spend a lot to get useful insights. Even spending just £50-£100 on a set of ad tests will get you plenty of feedback – and you can always add more budget if you want to find out more from the ads you’re running.

Here are a few ideas for how to use Facebook Ads to test messaging and get valuable feedback on whether your comms strategy is hitting the mark.

Test out new messages on your existing fans

Your core Facebook fans will naturally be receptive to the content your showing them, but what if you have a new campaign coming up and aren’t sure if the message will strike home?

You could publish a few organic posts to your Facebook Page just to test the new message, but this will be seen by only a tiny percentage of your current fans and you have limited control about the demographics and location of where this content is shown. This is especially true with Facebook’s recent changes to its newsfeed, which sees organic reach diminished even further.

By promoting those organic posts – with a simple “boost” directly on the page or by using Facebook’s Ads Manager – you’ll be able to better target the posts and even show different messages to different audiences to see how they react.

Test different audiences

The very nature of Facebook Ad Groups allows you to split the same ad creatives between different well-defined audiences.

And the range of targeting options are near endless: existing fans, friends of fans, age, gender, location, income level, mobile vs desktop, people who have given to charities, people who love Ed Sheeran – the possibilities are near endless.

It’s almost enough to put you off putting too much of your personal life on Facebook, but Facebook’s audience targeting options are fantastic for charities looking to reach new audiences.

Test a new product or service

Eric Ries’ The Lean Startup has long been heralded as a bible for startups looking to test their ideas for a low cost, before they spend vital time, money and man power on bringing their vision to life.

While charities may have been slower to take up Lean Startup methods, several charities that we’ve worked with at Montfort are experimenting with creating landing pages for new products and services.

Rather than creating those products and services before you understand how your supporters will receive them, you create a series of landing pages with different headlines and offerings, then use Facebook Ads to send traffic to those different pages.

When combined with Google Grants (which gives charities $10,000 in free ad spend per month), you’ll be able to generate a lot of traffic to your different landing pages and see which gets the most signups.

Depending on which page gets the most interest, you can get a lot more insights and analytics into which product or service might actually be viable. Think of it like focus groups, but online, cheaper and with much more hard data available.

Test different creatives

Lastly, you can test those all important creative ideas using Facebook Ads to see what clicks with your supporters and what makes your supporters click.

What works better: video, images, GIFs or a carousel? Does the image featuring close up of the woman you’re using for the case study perform better than the more striking image you’re using for the main campaign? Does that square social media video with subtitles – optimised for mobile – work better than the traditional long form 16:9 video?

Facebook Ads lets you test it all, but now that you know just how many possibilities there are, it’s even more important to constrain what you test. They don’t call it A/B testing for nothing!


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