033: Using Facebook Ads WITHOUT a Warm Audience
Just getting started with Facebook Ads, or don't yet have a warm audience? Here's how to add a little more data and a lot more confidence to your strategy.
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Coming up on today's edition of the Art Marketing Podcast, we're talking Facebook Ads. How to get started when you don't have a warm audience to show ads to. Otherwise known as the chicken and egg scenario. So the Arts Storefronts team has been growing a bit as of late. We're growing as a company, so we've been hiring. Now an argument can be made that we're growing as a company because we're getting much better at what we do. And I think to a large portion, that would be true. But also, when the fourth quarter is approaching, artists and photographers out there tend to get real active and rightfully so.
Everybody knows this is the time to be selling art online. So we tend to see a flood of new customers and want to get set up and ready to capitalize on Q4. So we've got to staff up to meet the demand. Now over the years of hiring, we sort of evolved our hiring practices quite a bit to the system that we're at now. And I think early on, this is a concept I borrowed for hiring from a guy named Matt Mullenweg, who, he's the guy who founded WordPress. Just genius kid, unbelievable what this guy's achieved. He wrote a piece for the Harvard Business Review a few years back on WordPress' hiring practices.
And I also heard him kind of detail some aspects of it on a few different podcasts. And I'll throw a link to the show notes of his Harvard piece, which I think you should read if it piques your interest. It's awesome. Now they run this concept of tryouts for future hires. And so they put their listings out, they screen their candidates like everybody else does, interviews and phone interviews and the like, and they narrow down the list to a few candidates that they basically provincially hire. Provincially. Provisionally hire. And let's just say we'll use three for our example.
You've got a job, descriptions out, you've been through all that and you hire all three of them to provisionally start doing the job. They start working on the job on some sample projects. They get paid in a provisional fashion. Now they do this so they can formally evaluate any new hires with literally some real on-the-job experience and training to see if they're fit, right? You have them doing a real task that would really be part of their job, and you get to see how they work and how they communicate. And it's sort of like, it's like dating before you get married. And it's great because it gives both sides of the equation, the ability to get to know the other person, see whether or not it fits, see whether or not you want to get in bed for a marriage, a career.
And it's really an amazing, amazing system for a number of different reasons. And at Arts Storefront, we've sort of added a few of our own twist to kind of make the process our own. And why am I telling you this? Yeah, great, Patrick, ASF's growing, good for you guys. Can we get back to the art marketing tips now, please? Very much. So stick with me for a moment. I'm gonna get you there, I'm gonna get you there. Now two great things about this process, and there are many more, let me tell you. But two great ones are the following. Number one, when you run tryouts, when you hire in this fashion, number one, this process tends to obliterate your cognitive biases towards people.
What do I mean? As humans, and especially as humans hiring people, we end up having these biases. We are naturally drawn towards the candidates that we like, people we understand, people we would love to go out and get a beer with after work. They get our jokes, they get us. The conversation is exactly what you would like. This is a buddy, this is a great person, I really wanna hire them. And it's in this bias that we all have I think as humans. It's so easy to overlook the shortcomings of a potential person, and you end up getting pulled away from, I think, what might be a really talented candidate for the one that we wanna go get that beer with.
I mean, I've gotten burned on this so many times in my career and learned this lesson so hard so many times. Thankfully I didn't have to write the checks for those, but I still feel responsible. Now that's number one. So this process tends to obliterate, to neutralize that particular bias. It's fantastic at that. Number two, it's impossible to really truly evaluate a candidate in a vacuum in a sample size of one. You have nothing to compare them to. And let's say the job is we need somebody to write blog posts, right? And so let's say I'm really, really good at writing blog posts, okay?
I've been writing them for years, I know what it takes, I know how long it takes, I know the right questions are. And you think like, look, if I put somebody through an evaluation to write a blog post, I've done this so many times, I know all the ins and outs, I'm gonna know right away whether or not this is a good candidate, right? And that's a bit of a bias too. But what happens? And I understand that perspective. But what happens when you have three candidates doing the exact same task at the exact same time? The learnings that come from that comparison are so totally and completely profound.
And not just the quality of the final product, of the deliverable of the blog post in our example, right? But you get to see how they communicate, how quickly do they work, how do they problem solve in real time? Are they comfortable asking for help when they hit a wall? All of these things tend to emerge, and it's when you have this ability to have three of these going on concurrently or more; but at least two, two to three to four, whatever. You've got that going on concurrently all at the same time. It's amazing, like it just... I mean, just going through this last week and it just punched me in the face a couple of different times.
I was just like, whoa, whoa, whoa, profound learnings, profound learnings. So it's amazing. But let me take it out of this context and let me give you an interesting example to take it a step further. Let's say the job I'm hiring for is to show up at the Academy Awards and enter the building. Not like break in, like you're officially invited. So the prompt would be hey, here's a location, time and the date. Ready? Go. Task is easy enough, right? But the question becomes how are they gonna go about it? The job, the deliverable is to enter the award show. But how are they gonna go about it?
So what's gonna happen next in this scenario? These three candidates need to pick their outfits and their jewelry, their date for the show. How are they gonna get to the venue? What is that car gonna look like? How are they gonna exit the car? How will they pose the cameras? And how will they work the red carpet? And then ultimately, yes, how do they get into the building? And so when you look at that, there's lots of room for style, for panache, for nuance. Lots of room in that task when you break it down like that. Lots of room for creativity, lots of room to show themselves, show what they're made of, show what they're into, show what they understand.
And personally, I hate Hollywood award shows and watch none of them. I do remember one though where the star in question, I can't remember what her name is, her and her husband rode her bike, rode their bicycles with her dress on, and her husband pulled right up to the red carpet, thought that was awesome, that always stuck with me. But the point is you never know what you're gonna get until you see it all go down, and then especially have the ability to compare it to what the others did. And again, the learnings are profound. They just become profound. So how do we apply that to marketing?
Where am I going with this story? Let's talk about the chicken and egg problem, and let me define it. You're an artist, you're a photographer, you're planning on running ads on Facebook and Instagram. You're just getting started though. You don't have a large warm audience. You don't have a ton of website traffic that you can remarket to, or a huge email list. You've listened to my previous episodes, you've tried to create LTV audiences, you've scraped together, cobbled together family, friends, everything you've got, you've thrown in the kitchen sink and the audience is just too small. You can't even really show ads to it, it's too small.
So you can't stick starting with warm traffic. Like, everybody should start with warm traffic and then move on to cold. So that becomes the chicken and the egg thing. Which came first? I wanna show my ads to warm traffic, but I don't have any warm traffic. How do I get the warm traffic? The chicken and the egg. So obviously you have to start advertising to cold traffic so you can build this warm audience. And so obviously that usually means what we call interest targeting on Facebook. You put in interest, people that like this page, people that are interested in art, people that are interested in landscape photography, you'd play around with these interests in Facebook and you come up with an audience, a cold audience, an audience of people that do not know you, have never met you, that you are gonna be able to show your ads to.
So what I'm gonna give you today is a framework for how to think about this and a tip you can use to get where you need to be faster and cheaper, faster and cheaper. Now for some of you, you do have a good sized warm audience. So how will this episode help you then? Well, we can apply the tryouts framework that I mentioned in both of these situations to absolutely great advantage. Now regardless, in the chicken in the egg situation, we're already rolling, your big picture goal is the same. Sales, ultimately sales. But the path for both of those starts with Facebook fans and Instagram fans and followers and email addresses.
So yes, your primary goal is always sales, but there's some steps along the way to that eventual goal. And so for both of you guys, whether advance or otherwise, some of the initial goals are the same. So you're trying to get more attention. You're trying to get more audience to build your list that you can eventually sell to. So with interest targeting on Facebook, a quick word on interest targeting. Let me start here, and then I'll finish up with a tip that you can all use no matter where you are in your Facebook ads journey. So for some of you, the interest targeting is really straightforward.
Patrick, I paint cats. Awesome for you because you can go out and target all the rabid cat lovers of which the interwebs, Facebook and Instagram is stacked, easy. For some of you, you might photograph urban destruction. You just got back from a month in Detroit photographing all those abandoned buildings, which is so sad. How do you target that on Facebook with interests? Much harder for you, right? In either case, these are the crosses that we all have the bear as our individual artists or individual niches, and we're gonna be better than others, it all balances out in the end.
In either case, you play with the various interests you can target on Facebook. You use your best judgment and you come up with some groups that you think will dig your art, that you think is a good cold audience, that you think will like what you're putting down. It's trial and error though. It's trial and error. Now as a way to give you a leg up on this process, a clever little hack, if you will, is to apply our framework, our tryouts framework that I went through to our Facebook audience selection. This works regardless if the audiences are cold or warm by the way.
Now in principle, we're gonna go into the Facebook Ads Manager and we are gonna select a few different audiences. And so our targetings, we're gonna be on Facebook and Instagram, but we're using the Ads Manager, the same product; and what we're gonna do is we're gonna select a few different audiences, we're going to use the same creative. So the same ad copy and images and landing page, and we're gonna run that ad unit at all three of these audiences at the exact same time with the exact same budget. And at its simplest, you run one campaign with three different ad groups.
The ad groups have the three different targetings that you picked. And with each of the three targeting options, you're gonna put the exact same ad in all three groups. We run all three at the same budget exact same time. Why? For both reason, number one and number two above, from tryouts. You don't want your biases to get in the way. You think these guys are more apt to buy my art, this particular targeting, whatever it may be. I wanna have a beer with these folks. They're just like me, I'm gonna show my ads to them. That group of course will win.
That's what you're saying in your head. Will they, though? Will they? What if the other group does? Running your ads in this fashion will shore up. It'll cover your six, it'll eliminate your blind spots and biases. It's amazing, it's profound. That's number one. Number two, we measure how they perform doing the exact same task at the exact same time, just like our tryouts. We combine the metrics Facebook gives us with the metrics our site gave us. So for Facebook, it's engagement. It's engagement up front, right? It's reactions, likes, comments, shares, page likes, Instagram followers, and Facebook gives you all that data.
Then on our sites, we're gonna measure the email capture. Are we capturing their email addresses? Are they getting on our list? And eventually, if you're there, are you selling? We run all of those at the same time, and we see how they do. Just like our tryouts for the job, we're hiring these Facebook audiences to do a job too, so let's see who does the job best. Let's see who wins. Let's hire the best audience for the job, and then go all in on that one. Go all in on that one. And you'll be blown away by what you learn when you do this. Most people don't do this. They just throw one audience in there, combine a bunch of audiences in there and they say we'll just see how it goes.
Oh, it's cold traffic, oh I didn't do anything, oh I'm done, right? That's what happens more often than not. But when you have three of them running concurrently, you're setting yourself up for success because you're giving yourself the ability to have one of them win. You have the comparison, the ability to compare. The one, the two, the three, the cream will rise to the top, if you will, right? So it's an incredibly powerful technique to use, and it's very easy to do. Now let's get to the tip that we can use to even further level us up. Momentum and social proof are powerful things.
Not to be ignored in the world of Facebook and Instagram ads. Not to be ignored. The more reactions and likes and shares and comments you have on a corresponding Facebook or Instagram post will make your ads more effective and cheaper. Your ad unit will go further and farther for cheaper when it has that social proof baked into it. How many times? How many times in this podcast have you heard me talking about the Facebook comments and what I learned in the Facebook comments and the fact that I'm in the Facebook comments all the time? A lot, right?
Now why would I do that? Why? I mean, I'm supposed to be CMO over here and I have underlings dadgummit! Why wouldn't I just lay the comment moderation burden, the social moderation burden on an underling or an overseas VA? Why don't I do that? I mean my wife who's also in marketing, and she runs analytics for an agency, she sees me responding to these things sometimes and she's like, what are you doing? Guy, we get interns to handle the social moderation piece. Why are you wasting your time on that? She needles me on this all the time. I scoffed back at her and I smile.
The social proof, especially, especially early on in the life of an ad unit is absolutely everything. The more that you have, the quicker you get it, the cheaper and more effective your ad unit becomes. Not enough people talk about that. It's powerful. We invest tremendously in our ads, and it's my job, it's my job to make them as cheap and as effective as possible. So I do it myself. I do it myself and I enjoy it. Additionally, I find the feedback to be extremely valuable learnings; notwithstanding the battles from time to time I tend to fall into with some trolls. Sometimes I get defensive on posts. I need to work on that.
I am working on that, I am working on it. But anyway, in our current situation, let's talk about what most people do, then let me lay out this tip, this tactic, this hack on how I recommend you go about this. So what do most people do what? Most folks often do is create what is called a dark post. They create the post, the ad unit in Ads Manager, and it's essentially a Facebook post. The ad is a Facebook post essentially. And when you create it in Ads Manager, it's a dark post. It only lives as an ad. It can only be seen by people who are in the ad targeting. The minute you turn the ad off, poof, that post it's gone, it floats into the ether.
It will never be seen again. And so most folks do that. They run a dark post. And in addition to that, in addition to that, go back to my note here, the minute you turn that off, okay, so yeah. The minute you turn that off, it's gone, right? Okay, so we know that. Now again, what most folks do, using our example of the three different targeting groups, is that they go in, they create, let's just say, this one campaign with these three different ad groups, our three different targeting, and then our three different ad units. They create it, create it, create it. Now that's three different ads on Facebook they need to pay attention to.
In addition, if you're running on Instagram, let's just say that's three additional posts on Instagram. So now you have what is effectively six posts. Three on Instagram, three on Facebook to keep our examples simple, that you have to keep an eye on, that you have to monitor, that you have to respond to comments to, that you have to put in emojis on and all of the rest. And so what happens is it takes more time to charge up the social proof because you've got six individual ad units. So what do I recommend you do? The tip, the hack, the tactic, if you will?
Here it goes. You create an organic post on your Facebook page. It's live and living on your Facebook page. You can then use that post as the ad unit. And yes, you can do this boosting post, or you can do it in the Ads Manager. I'm talking about the Ads Manager. So you create that organic post, it's live. And by the way, this is gonna get a little technical, don't worry, just sit and listen. I'm going to make a video walking through all of this step-by-step. So for now, just listen, roll with me. So you make that organic post. You then go into Ads Manager and you turn the post, which has a post ID into an ad for your first targeting group.
Then you go into the second targeting group and you use the same post. That same post ID as the ad for that group. You then go into the third targeting group, and you use the same post. So now what you've done, now what you've done is you have that same ad. Instead of having three, you have one. You have one post. It both lives on your organic Facebook page, and it also lives in those three different ad groups. And so you've got one post that is now collectively grabbing all that social proof and that attention. You don't have three, you just have one to work on. And so what happens is it gets charged up quicker.
Once you have your winning targeting, you can shut off the other two and ride the winner. And all of the social proof that that ad unit gathered in those other ad groups, other ad groups that they're targeting which we're no longer using, it has all the charged up social proof on it. Now that covers the Facebook piece. What about the Instagram piece? You can do the exact same thing on Instagram. Yes, it will be a separate post from Facebook and have its own set of social proof, but the same principles apply. Instead of six ads, you now have two ads. Now this works too, by the way.
It doesn't matter what kind of post it is. It can be a link post or an image post or a video or a carousel. Works on all of them, doesn't matter. But Patrick, but Patrick, I'm gonna be having an advertising sale and I don't want that post to live on my Facebook page after the sale is over. Fine, don't worry about it. Once the sale is over, delete the post. The tactic still works. Now if you wanna take it a step further even, good. Email your list about the fourth quarter sale. And instead of sending them to your store, send them to the Facebook post. What? Why would I wanna do that?
You wanna do that so you can use the free audience that you have, i.e., your email list, to charge up that post with social proof before you turn it into an ad. Your list is small? Great, fine. Ask your family and friends to like, comment and share the post. Hey guys, I'm having my biggest sale of the year coming up. It would mean the world to me. Could you just like this post, charge it up with some social proof for me? It would really help me out. You don't even have to do that through MailChimp. Like email 20 friends and just said, guys, huge favor to ask. I'm turning this thing into an ad. Could you charge this thing up with some comments and likes and shares?
Your family will do that every time, it's an easy ask. It's a very, very easy ask. All you have to do is send them a URL and just say hey, would you please give this thing some love. I'm gonna turn it into an ad. Now what some of you out there are saying is hey, Patrick, great. I know all of this already. I'm spending thousands a month on Facebook Ads. Tell me something I don't know. This podcast is becoming a bit boring for an advanced ad marketer like me. Fine, touche, touche. You likely know then as an advanced Facebook marketer that when you get a really good-performing ad, you can run that ad sometimes for months and months and even years.
I've had ads that have worked for years and continue to perform and continue, are live now. So when you take that concept and you think about it for a minute, so like wow, so I can create one ad, really, really charge it up with social proof and then just continue to show it to cold traffic and warm traffic for potentially months to come? Yes, you can. So let me give you an even more advanced one, a more advanced way, and this is a little bit out of the realm of possibility if you're just getting started, but I wanna give something to the advanced folks. And conceptually, I think it'll ring true.
So Facebook has a global audience. In many cases, that global attention in isolation is way, way, way cheaper than the domestic attention that we normally chase. So normally what do you do? Normally, and I'm speaking specifically about the majority of our customer base; normally you're gonna run your ads targeting the United States and Canada because that's where your art buyers are. You're selling to the Western world. Maybe you throw the UK in there. But let's just say you'd pay to run your ads in those countries, right?
And when you run those ads, you get your stats back from Facebook, and let's say the cost per engagement on the ad; and let's just say the cost for engagement is a combination of reactions and comments and shares and page likes, it pencils out to $1 per engagement, let's just say, to keep the math simple. So that's what you're paying running your ads to Canada and the United States. $1 per engagement to charge that post up. Okay, great. Well, what if you created an additional ad group then and you target one of the other English-speaking or not English-speaking countries in the world?
What if you create an ad group and targeted, say, Romania or Macedonia or Brazil or Croatia? You could give it a $50 budget and just let it run. Guess what happens. The ad marketplace in those countries is nowhere near as competitive as it is in the US and Canada. So what ends up happening is you can end up spending, let's just say 50 bucks, 50 bucks, and instead of the $1 per engagement we got showing our ads to Canada in the United States, you end up getting $0.10 per engagement or even cheaper. So you could potentially create your organic Facebook post, create your ad unit and use your same targeting.
Instead of Canada or the United States, put Bulgaria, Croatia, Romania, Macedonia, wherever, and run it for 50 bucks. Run that first. And what ends up happening is you're left with an ad unit that potentially has 10s, 50s, hundreds, sometimes even thousands of comments and reactions and likes and shares on the post, and you got that all done for 50 bucks. Now you have an ad unit that is completely charged up with social proof that you can go and show to your domestic audience in Canada and the United States and try to get those sales. So that's way overkill for somebody that's just getting started. That's like what?
What are you, crazy? That's just way out there. I get that, and that's okay. But you understand, it puts in perspective that principle. It puts in what you're capable of achieving when you charge up one of these ad groups. So let's sum it up. Run tryouts with your Facebook ad targeting. Guard against your cognitive biases and let the data guide you. So do that, run them concurrently. See who the winner is. You're going to be in a significantly better position if you do this, especially when you're getting started. And it's easy, it's easy to do. Combine your social proof on your ads by running the same ad unit in your various different ad groups; and you're absolutely going to lower your cost and increase the efficacy of your ads.
You're just going to. Most importantly, get rolling. The fourth quarter is coming, and we want your art and photography to be top of mind as the credit card starts sliding out of the wallet. It's coming. Now for the show notes, I owe you a video detailing this task and I'm gonna provide it. The Ads Manager is just incredibly buggy and annoying interface. Oftentimes, when I'm attempting this tactic myself, the thing just likes to derp out or error, or it won't go through. So there's gonna be some steps in the video that we'll show you that are gonna mitigate things and prevent you from throwing your keyboard across your studio in anger, frustration, and potentially even perplexing.
Get everything, the video, the links, the Harvard Business Review, anything else that I've mentioned. You could fire up Google on the Internet machine, search for the Art Marketing Podcast. Or, or, you could pull your phone up, open the Messenger application, search for Art Storefronts. You can get in our chat bot and you'll find it there. And I wanna close out by saying the fourth quarter is coming, it's game time. For those of you that have been sitting on the fence, I don't often go for the hard close in the podcast here, but for those that are sitting on the fence, there's still time.
You could still join Art Storefronts. Get your website up, get ready, get rolling. Put into place some of our marketing tactics and likely sell more art than you ever have this fourth quarter. We provide a complete business solution for artists and photographers. At the core of which is a website that will increase your conversion rates and really help you to sell more art this fourth quarter. So if you're interested in that, there'll be a button in the post. You can request a demo, talk to our lovely sales folks, and they'll help guide you. And as always, thanks for listening. Q4 is upon us, giddy up, and have a great day.
Brought To You By Art Storefronts
We help artists & photographers open and run their own art gallery business online.
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This is do-able, actionable, and well explained.
I just finished listening to all the podcasts over the last few days. I've been looking for someone like you guys for ten years. Unlike other marketing "advice" I've heard, all of this is do-able, actionable, and well explained.
Brought To You By Art Storefronts
We help artists & photographers open and run their own art gallery business online.