Facebook Advertising 101: Building an Audience

building an audience is an important first step in Facebook advertising


It's  no secret that Facebook is one of the best places to advertise online. With more than 2 billion users, no other online platform comes close to having that kind of potential reach. 

But scheduling an ad isn’t as simple as uploading an image and writing a few sentences. Behind the curtain is a complicated formula of algorithms and criteria that can bewilder even the most seasoned marketing professionals, let alone the average practice trying to bring in more patients. 

That’s where we come in. If you’re looking to dip your toe in the pool of Facebook advertising, we’re going to walk you through the process step-by-step, starting with building your audience. Before doing anything else, it is important to identify your goals and build an audience to match.

Note: You will need a Facebook account for your business to use Facebook Ads. To set one up, start here and come back to this article when you are ready to advertise. 

What is an audience? 
As the name suggests, your audience is the group of Facebook users you are targeting your ad toward. Facebook offers dozens of criteria to choose from to help build your audience, including geographic location, interests, age, gender identity and what accounts users follow. And while it may be tempting to blast your ad to as many people as possible, it is in your best interest to narrow your pool of potential users. Why? While it may seem counterintuitive, creating a detailed audience will help more people to see your ad.

By casting your net too wide, you are leaving it up to Facebook to seek out an audience on your behalf. And without detailed criteria, Facebook will likely deliver your ad to people who are not interested in your practice. Since Facebook advertising comes with a cost, you want to make sure you are getting the most bang for your buck by ensuring your ad has the best chance to hit the audience you’re looking for. 

Below are two examples of audience builds. It is easy to see the detailed audience was created with a goal in mind, which we will address next.

  • Broad audience: Adults 18+ living in your state
  • Detailed audience:  Female adults 35-55, living within 10 miles of your practice location. Their interests include family and they do not follow your practice page on Facebook. 

What are your goals?
Before you log into Facebook and start playing with ad criteria, it is important to establish the goal you are trying to accomplish. Obviously, you’d like to bring more patients into your practice, but narrowing your focus will greatly increase your chances of finding the right patients. 

First, think about who frequents your practice the most. If you have a larger percentage of patients who identify as female, you may want to double down on women in your ad targeting. You can also look at the age of your patients and how far they are driving to see you. If you notice any trends, factor those into your audience build. 

Let’s use the detailed audience example above and break down how the different components add up to a goal. 

  • Female adults 35-55: This practice looked at their body of current patients and saw there was a significant number of women who fell into the age range of 35-55. 
  • Living within 10 miles of practice location: When looking at home addresses of their patients, this practice saw most were concentrated within 10 miles of their location. 
  • Interests include family: While Facebook cannot exactly determine which users have children, they can make educated guesses based on what the user has in their profile. Having family listed as an interest means there is a good chance the user has children that they may bring in for dental care or other family they could end up referring down the line. 
  • They do not follow your practice page on Facebook: If your practice has had a Facebook page for a while, you can choose to exclude people who follow your page. If they follow you on social media, they are likely patients already and you want to make sure your money is going toward new patients! 

So, based on the above criteria, this practice has set a goal of acquiring new patients who are women, live close by and have family that can possibly also become new patients. 

What is the cost?
One nice thing about advertising on Facebook is that there is no minimum budget to participate. As long as you have some money to spend, you can create ads. However, as mentioned earlier, Facebook is a massive network and there are thousands and thousands of businesses vying for the attention of its users. 

There is a correlation between the money spent to how large of a reach an ad has. Huge companies can overcome this with massive marketing budgets, but for most businesses, it is crucial to create as detailed of an audience as possible to get the most bang for their buck.

The best way to see where your money gets you is by experimenting. For example, if you have $50 to spend a month, try running an ad for 2-3 days and spend the $50 over the course of those days. Or, run the ad for a total of two days in a month for $25 each day. There are advertising metrics that will help you determine the best path to take and we will help you understand the story they tell about your ad’s performance later in the series.

To help maximize your dollar, Facebook allows the option to choose what the goal of your ad is, traffic or conversion, to help find the best people to show the ad to. If this sounds like a new language to you, don’t worry! We will cover these options when we discuss how to build an ad in a future post. 

But for now, the best thing you can do as a practice is to look inward to help establish what you want to accomplish through Facebook advertising, the people you want seeing your ad and how much you are comfortable spending. Once you have done that, come back to us for the next steps