Using Facebook for Black Friday promotions

This feature, written by The Digiterati co-founder Marie Page, is part of a case study on how a small businesses put together an integrated digital campaign for Black Friday. Click here to visit the report home page.

Advertising on Facebook is key to reach for promotional messages

I’m a power user of Facebook both as an organic platform and for targeted ads. In previous years we’ve trailed our Black Friday offers with teasers but for a number of reasons elected not to do that this year (it is a good approach though).

My Facebook strategy was fairly complex. I knew that organic reach levels on what are quite promotional messages would be low so advertising was going to be essential. I therefore created a logical but complex campaign as follows:

Facebook targets

At Ad Set level I created an approach that targeted some distinct segments (all of which had been tested and proven in previous campaigns)

  • Exisiting fanbase
  • Existing mailing list using the website custom audience tool
  • People that “Like” relevant other brands
  • Lookalike audience (using the custom audience tool again these were lookalikes of my mailing list – they equally could have been fan lookalikes)
  • And of course Facebook will often surface messages about new likes and shares of ads to friends’ newsfeeds
  • Age and geographic location (UK, US and Canada) was layered on every ad in order to focus our targeting at those individuals more likely to respond

Facebook positioning and pricing

I know from recent testing with the targets above that right hand ads just aren’t working for us so I opted for desktop newsfeed and mobile newsfeed. Again as a result of testing I know that CPC works better for us so I initially set the ads up to that with the intention of shifting to OCPM if Facebook wasn’t playing ball by showing the ads (this does happen sometimes, even with ads with good CTR, and I anticipated a huge demand on newsfeed ad space over the Thanksgiving weekend). See this graphic from SocialCode which (as Jon Loomer points out in an intelligent article on why Facebook holiday ads fail) shows that it cost x2.58 more to show an ad to 1,000 people on Black Friday.


Incidently, if you are allocating budget to desktop vs mobile newsfeed I’d suggest something like a 70/30 split in favour of mobile. Mobile ads are really working for us at the moment. And especially in the US at holiday time when people aren’t at their desks, a focus on mobile is essential.

Facebook ad types

Hugely relieved that we don’t have to jump through the faff of unpublished (dark) posts to get the kind of ad I was wanting, I set about creating my ads. These were created earlier in the week and scheduled for the Friday morning. The beauty of these new Power Editor ads is that you can change the copy at any point so from the Saturday onwards these ads lost the “Black Friday Flash Sale” message and instead reverted to “Thanksgiving Weekend” or “Cyber Monday offers” or “Pre Christmas Flash Sale”. Again testing variants is useful.

Here’s an example of one for Worship Backing Band:

WBB thanksgiving ad

Note the use of a call to action and the different text utilised in the different places on the ad. You only get this level of flexibility by using Power Editor.

With Musicademy I  tested two different ad images (see below – both complying with the 20% text rule). Depending on my results mid way through the Friday I could then turn off the one that was least effective.

Pack shots ad Silhouette variant

I also created blog posts with the relevant images and some informative text which were used organically on Facebook as link posts and turned into ads during the weekend. Note that I never use the Boost Post button. Instead I will go into Power Editor and create an ad form that organic post.

Facebook Offers

I LOVE Facebook Offers. They are massively under utilised so are quite a novel item for users in newsfeed. Reach is not too shabby and it’s easy to add a little ad budget to them to further extend their reach. The other very nice thing with Offers is that they are a lot stickier in terms of viral reach because Facebook surfaces messages about offer claims in friends’ newsfeed and also asks the user if, having clicked on the offer, they want to share it.

And the other great thing about Offers is that Facebook emails your offer to those who click on it plus sends another reminder email just before the offer expires. What’s not to like?

Facebook offer share

The offer also meant I had something unique to put on the newsfeed at 8am UK time (I know I can target organic posts but geography but people don’t see comments and likes from other terrotories and unfortunately you have to list each recipient country individually).

I created the Offer in Power Editor (effectively as an Unpublished Post) and scheduled the ad for the afternoon of Black Friday. On the actual morning, however, I nipped into the “Manage Pages” area on Power Editor (top left) and “published” the dark post to extract a little organic reach out of it first. The Offers were created using optimised bidding.

This feature, written by The Digiterati co-founder Marie Page, is part of a case study on how a small businesses put together an integrated digital campaign for Black Friday. Click here to visit the report home page.

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