Can You Run Facebook Video Ads In Sequence? Yes.

Sequenced video ads are an extremely powerful tool for education campaigns and high-dollar conversions, and are an extremely efficient way to run funnels.  You can show people one video ad until they watch it completely, then show them the next video in the sequence and ensure that they never see the first one again. It’s not simple, but it can be done. 

Article Difficulty Level: Advanced (Extremely!)

This post won’t include screenshots or tutorials. In this post, I’ll be explaining the concepts, then fleshing them out in a tutorial later – hopefully within a week or two.

Please note: As with all of my Advanced articles, I assume you have at least an intermediate-level understanding of the Facebook Ads Manager. 

Have you ever wanted to run video ads to an audience in sequence? There are many valuable uses for this. For example, if you’re trying to convert potential customers on a $1,000+ sale, you may want to show them an ordered series of informational posts, followed by FAQs, then some closing pitches. Or, maybe you’re working with a political organization or non-profit that wants to educate the public on an issue and is looking for an efficient way to do so. Or possibly, you’re just looking for a way to streamline your sales funnel and not waste money continuing to advertise to people that watch your main videos but never show any interest past your initial pitch.

Facebook ads are not necessarily designed to work this way, but the existing infrastructure can be manipulated in order to do so. When I say this, I mean that Facebook has not created any system for automating this. My hope is that they eventually will, but no current system exists (at least that I’m aware of).

“But Trey, what about ad sequencing?”

Ad sequencing on Facebook is not what I’m talking about here, let’s be clear. Ad sequencing shows people ads in a specific order. It cannot be tied to engagement or video views. What I’m talking about is showing someone one video after they’ve finished watching the previous video in your sequence.

Showing someone a series of ads doesn’t work. By my rough educated estimate, the average Facebook user sees over 150 ads per day. How many of those do you actually pay attention to? Very few. It is hard, if not difficult, to run an effective ad sequencing campaign that guarantees that people don’t see the following part of the sequence until they have completed viewing and understanding the previous part of the sequence.

I call this technique Manual Video Sequencing (MVS). Using MVS, you can run a video ad to your audience as many times as necessary until they finish watching Video 1, then run Video 2 to them as many times as it takes for them to watch it before running Video 3 to them. At each stage of the process, you can choose to stop running one or any of your previous video sequence ads to them. So, you can keep running them through Video 3, 4, 5, etc while continuing to show them Video 1, or you can ensure that they are never shown a video preceding their current place in your sequence.

As I said, hopefully Facebook will eventually come out with a tool to automate this. If you are reading this and work at Facebook, maybe you’ll pass this along to the right people. Who knows.

Okay, let’s get to work.

If you’ve read this far into this article, I assume you know what Custom Audiences are, and how they work. You can create a Custom Audience based on the amount of one or more of your specific videos that someone has watched. You can then use that Custom Audience to target people by inserting it into an Ad Set, adding it to a Saved Audience, or creating a Lookalike Audience.

To create a video sequence, you’ll need to upload every single video in your sequence into the Ads Manager. Go ahead and create all of your ads, leaving the targeting blank or randomly targeting a country. You’ll need to publish all the ads and immediately turn the campaigns off so they don’t run. This is because you can’t create a Custom Audience off of a video until you actually upload that video (duh). Even if the videos you’re using have already been uploaded, you’ll need to do it fresh, as your existing videos will already have views, causing those people to see them out of sequence once everything is up and running.

This is very important: You MUST create a NEW Ad Set for EACH video ad. This will not work at all if you put all videos in the same ad set, as you will have custom targeting settings for each video.

There are other ways to upload your videos for audience set up, but the above is the one I usually use. I’ll sometimes upload each ad, then create the next audience in the sequence and apply it one by one, but that’s a bit harder to walk you through if you aren’t already very familiar with the concept. Once you’ve done it for a while and gotten used to it, you may find that to be more efficient – and I’ll try to do a follow-up article at some point explaining the method.

Now, you’ll need to create a Custom Audience for each of your videos. You’ll find this in the “Engagement” section if you’ve never used it before. You will be able to choose your percentage of video watched, and the video(s) you want to apply the criteria to. The percentage you use to move people to the next video in the sequence will vary depending on your objectives. I usually set the first video in the sequence at only 25%, to push people into the funnel easier. Once in your sequencing funnel, I usually only move people to the next stage after they’ve  watched 75-95% of the current video. This will obviously depend on your media and objectives. If you don’t have your CTA or critical info until the end of your video, you’ll need to set it at 95%.

Do this for each of your videos. I usually label them [VIDEONAME] – [%%]% vv, or “Video 1 – 75% vv” – “vv” meaning “video views.”

After this, you’ll want to go back into your ad sets that you’ve created. On Video 1, you’ll target your current audience – whoever that may be. No narrowing. On the ad set for Video 2, you’ll add two Custom Audiences. First, include “Video 1 – 25% vv,” if you used my labeling system. Then, EXCLUDE “Video 2 – 95% vv,” or whatever you set it to. This last step makes sure that they’ll stop seeing each video in the sequence after they’ve watched it. For Video 3, you’ll include “Video 2 – 95% vv” and EXCLUDE “Video 3 – 95%” and so on.

The end of your sequence will depend on your overall marketing objectives. In most cases, the setup will be the same, just without the exclusion audience.

Your overall setup will vary widely depending on your specific marketing goals and sales funnel. I highly recommend creating a mindmap and fleshing everything out before beginning – otherwise you’ll be far more error-prone, and the task will take far longer. I prefer the free version of SimpleMind for this.

If you read this and understood it, please leave me a comment with feedback and any questions you have. I’m going to work on creating a more detailed walk through, and it’ll be helpful to know what information I should add.

Thanks, and see you next time.

Disclaimer: You probably expect a sales pitch now. Nah. I’m just a nerd that likes writing. I hope you enjoy it.

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The Negative Effects Of Engaging With Your Own Facebook Content (And The Impact On Long Term ROI)

Does liking your own Facebook page and/or posts increase your reach and help your marketing presence? Many “gurus” say it does. But if you are trying to build an effective marketing presence, it can actually hurt you in the long run.

Article Difficulty Level: Intermediate

One of the biggest “hacks” to increasing your organic Facebook reach has been around forever: “like” your own Facebook posts, and you’ll reach more people! It makes sense… or does it?

If you plan on ever possibly advertising on Facebook, this practice can cost you a lot of money in the long run.

In theory, here’s how it works: the Facebook algorithm ranks content higher that has more engagement. The earlier that engagement occurs, the more valuable it is. Therefore, a “like” right when you publish your post will give it a boost in the algorithm.

Early on, it made sense – and it usually worked. However, the tactic quickly became hotly debated. Many people that didn’t understand how the algorithm worked saw it as tacky and arrogant. Your name under your own post as a “like” may not seem odd to you, but it rubs a lot of people the wrong way. Because of the negative impression it gave out, many (or most) marketers ditched this tactic altogether.

Does the algorithmic benefit outweigh the damage done by coming across as a jerk? This has been a point of contention among social media marketers for years. On one side, some claim that any reach is good reach – while others insist that people will ultimately be less likely to engage with content that they see as unprofessional, lowering your engagement in the long run.
Based on the introduction to this post, you probably assume I side with the latter group. However, I oppose the “liking” of your own posts (and even your own Facebook Page) for entirely different reasons.

Before I go any further, I should specify that my advice is designed primarily for small and local business owners, like a gourmet bakery, or business owners with a larger geographic audience but a very narrow demographic one, like online jewelry sales.

That being said, let’s go ahead and get the two issues from above out of the way. What impact do these factors have in 2018? Some things to consider:

 

  1. The algorithm has grown up. As time has gone on, the Facebook news feed algorithm has become increasingly complex. Facebook has invested countless dollars into identifying and penalizing spammy behavior. While I have no direct evidence to support this, I personally believe based on my own experience that Facebook specifically negated the effect of your own interactions with your posts on the algorithm some time ago. This means (if true) that any engagement you make with your own posts is specifically banned from having any effect. This may or may not be the case, but at the end of the day, there’s no conclusive proof that it still works, either.
  1. You still look like a jerk. Even more so than years ago, liking your own post still comes across as a total dick move to anyone that doesn’t know why you’re doing it. It significantly impacts the quality of your post at a time when first impressions mean everything.

 

Now, let’s move on to the more technical (yet far more helpful) reasons why liking your own content is a bad idea. I’ll go a step farther: you shouldn’t even like your own Facebook Page… unless you are also part of your business’ target market. Why? Lookalike audiences.

As I’ve discussed elsewhere on this blog, Lookalike Audiences are currently the best method of reaching new people, hands down. Basically, a Lookalike Audience is equivalent to you telling Facebook, “Hey. See those people right there? Find me the 1% of the total population that is most similar to those people.” Lookalike audiences can be based on page likes, engagements, website visitors, video viewers, and more. Learn more about Lookalike Audiences here.

Facebook’s algorithm is extremely good with Lookalike Audiences. It accomplishes this by finding common denominators. With tens of thousands of data points on every user, this is easy for Facebook to do. Facebook looks at the audience you are starting with and sees what those people have in common. It then looks at the whole population and finds the people that have the most data points in common with your people.
This can save you thousands of dollars in research and testing. Even if you don’t know who your ideal customer is, Facebook can find out, with very little effort.

Here’s the problem, though. LLAs only work if your core audience is undiluted. If you want to create a lookalike audience based off of your current page likes but half of your followers are not your ideal customer, then it won’t work. Those people’s attributes will get thrown into the mix, and the Lookalike Audience won’t end up looking at all like your ideal customer. Your ads will be inefficient and costly.

Facebook ad marketers that are smart, experienced, and educated understand something: it takes time. The audiences you build when you first start out will be the basis for the audiences you’ll use all the way down the line. If you dilute your audience when you first create your page, you may never reach anything close to peak advertising efficiency. You’ll always have a relatively large subset of the people seeing your stuff that would never consider being your customers.

In a world where we are capable of only ever advertising to our potential customers, it makes no sense to waste money on anyone else. With a little patience and preparation, you can knock the socks off of your long term marketing presence.

So, back to the problem at hand. As I said earlier, unless you are in your page’s target audience, you should make sure you never like your page or any of your posts. Hopefully, that makes more sense now.
Here’s an example.

You own or are marketing a small gourmet bakery. Your ideal customer is 25-45 year old married women with at least one kid. You, however, are a 20 year old single male. If you launch your page with yourself as a like, and try to create a Lookalike Audience as soon as possible (at 100 page likes), your attributes will dilute the audience by 1%. The audience Facebook creates for you may now include some 20 year old men. That’s a gross oversimplification of how it works, but it illustrates the process.
1% may not seem like a lot, but it’s statistically significant – and if you can save 1% or more on your overall Facebook ad costs for the entire lifetime of your business just by not liking your own page, why wouldn’t you?

This brings up an important point: don’t invite all of your friends to like your page. More on this in a second.

I know what you’re probably thinking. If you can’t like your own page or invite anyone to like it that is outside your target audience, how do you grow?

Patience.

You can’t rush this. There used to be a time where you could quickly and effectively grow a business on Facebook, because all the customers were there but few of the businesses were. Now, you are competing for that attention with every other business owner out there. There is SO much content on Facebook, and only a limited number of posts can be seen by everyone each day. You need to have a long term plan early on, and practice patience.

Let’s talk numbers for a second.

A week after your page launch, if you’re a small business, 15 quality page fans is better than 150 you got from inviting everyone on your friends list. I’d rather have 100 page likes with 95+ of them in my target audience, than 10,000 page likes with 1,000 of them (10%) in my target audience. 1,000 may sound better than 95, but if you are ever hoping to use effective ad strategies for your page, it will hurt you a lot in the long run. If I wanted to grow that page with advertising, and only 1,000 of my 10,000 fans were in my target audience, I’d be wasting 90 cents or more of every dollar that I spent on ads to Lookalike Audiences. In fact, once a page becomes that diluted, it’ll be nearly impossible to recover. There are advanced tactics that can help out, but it’s expensive and time consuming.

Don’t get caught up with your page likes number. It doesn’t matter if your competition has ten times as many likes as you. If you’re doing it the right way and they aren’t, you’ll see far more return on your investment in the long run.

At the end of the day, likes that don’t (or never could) translate into dollars actually take dollars out of your pocket.

This is a common mistake many business owners make. There’s a right way and a wrong way to do giveaway contests… If your giveaway is pulling in page likes from people that are outside your target market, then you are hurting your business – not helping it. Make sure the prize and messaging will bring people in that are potential customers.

Think of it this way: every interaction by an actual potential customer on your page is $1/year in your pocket. Every interaction by someone who would never buy something from you is $1/year out of your pocket. With that in mind, constantly ask yourself whether or not what you’re doing on Facebook will make your total $/year go up or down.

Side note: everything said here applies to Instagram as well, as it is owned by Facebook and uses the same advertising platform.

Lookalike audiences are the most effective way to expand your business on Facebook. Don’t ruin them.

Questions or feedback? Comment below. I’ll try to respond when I get a chance.

Here’s where I make a sales pitch, right? Nah. I’m just a nerd that likes to write. You can’t hire me, I’m far too busy already.

Principles Of Facebook Retargeting

“Retargeting” is the buzzword in social media right now, but what does it really mean? Is it hard to retarget people on Facebook? No, it’s (relatively) easy and effective – I’ll explain.

Article Difficulty Level – Beginner

Retargeting, simply defined, is the concept of displaying ads to people that have already seen or engaged with your ads before. For advanced users, it is the art of displaying specific ads to specific people who have viewed or engaged with your ads in a specific manner.

Ads on Facebook can be targeted in numerous ways, such as Interest Targeting (which was gutted this week), Lookalike Audiences, or Geographic Microtargeting. Each of these methods has their own unique usefulness and effectiveness, but each of them also have their flaws. The main flaw in each of these is that no matter how precise you set your targeting, you’ll always reach people that you aren’t intending to reach. This lowers your Click Through Rate (CTR) and raises your Cost Per Mille/Cost Per Thousand Impressions (CPM). This is why so much time and resources are devoted towards making these tactics as efficient as possible by the big multi-million dollar corporations and marketing agencies.

Retargeting solves this inaccuracy. By only targeting people who have already indicated an interest in your content, you can potentially raise your ad efficiency by a significant margin. But efficiency isn’t the only benefit of Retargeting.

Retargeting lets you run highly relevant ads to highly relevant audiences. Since you can actually run specific ads to people that have engaged with specific pieces of content in specific ways, you can write your copy very specifically. Sounds specific, doesn’t it? With most ads, you have to write your copy to appeal to everyone in your target audience – using very general language. With retargeted ads, you can speak directly to people, mentioning the specific actions they’ve taken in order to see that ad, or referencing specific things you know they’ve seen or done that put them in your targeting. You have to be careful not to be too specific, though, because Facebook will sometimes frown on that. Given the recent scrutiny, they don’t always like advertising to people just how specifically they are being targeted.

Retargeting also lets you capture valuable people and follow them around. If you know for an absolute, irrefutable fact that someone is in your target audience and is a likely customer, then you want to be in front of them every single day. With retargeting, you can capture people and put them in a totally separate targeting bucket with a separate budget and separate set of ad copy to ensure that your brand is in front of them consistently.

FOR EXAMPLE: Imagine you have a booth at a convention in Alabama. You’re selling, let’s say, vending equipment to elementary school principals. You’re at a convention center where 3,000 of those principals will be at over the next week. You’ve used my Geographic Microtargeting (GMT) tactics to set up a Saved Audience targeting everyone that is physically at that event. You snap a quick video of you standing in front of your booth: “Hey, y’all! I’m so excited to be at the Arthur Outlaw Convention Center here in Mobile* with you guys. If you’re in the main convention room for the sessions today, just take a right when you leave out the main door. I’m at booth #334, about halfway down on your left. I’m giving away FREE vending machines to help with your school fundraising, so come on by and ask me about that. Hope to talk to you soon!”

*This actually happened to me. I did this. It’s a real-world example. 

Video gives you the most retargeting options on Facebook. You can actually send specific ads to people that have not only watched specific videos of yours, but you can filter it by how much of that video they have watched. It’s quite incredible. With Geographic Microtargeting, you’ve narrowed your audience. With Lookalike Audiences, you can expand that audience. But with Retargeting, now you can attack that audience. If Interest Targeting is a shotgun, Lookalike Audiences are a biological weapon, Geographic Microtargeting is a nuke, and Retargeting… is a sniper rifle. Does that make sense? Since you’ve used GMT to narrow down your audience to only people physically inside the building, you are able to use the very specific text and language in the example above that forces them to stop, watch, read, and listen.  Once they’ve watched 3 seconds of your video, you’ve got them. Now, you can retarget them.

The convention is over. What happens? They keep seeing your ads! As soon as you close up shop and get back home, you hop on your desktop and set up your Retargeting. You create a Custom Audience targeting people that have watched 3 seconds of your video but less than 50% (I’ll write a post explaining how to do this in the future), and start running an ad to them: “Did we miss each other at the principal’s convention? I was the booth with the vending machines. In case you thought I was selling anything – I’m not! Our machines are totally free, and we do all the work every month.”

Because they engaged with your content in a specific way, you are able to run more specific content to them. Imagine how much more likely a principal that attended that conference is to stop and read your new ad versus a generic one targeting all principals in Alabama. Your click-through rate will skyrocket! This is great for lead generation, but it also has massive implications for e-commerce and other industries. I can see the wheels turning in your head right now… you’re excited at the potential, aren’t you?

The potential is limitless. Facebook allows you to retarget people using a wide variety of criteria. You can use video views, which are my favorite for building an audience in conjunction with GMT strategies. Or, you can upload an e-mail subscriber list. Or you can use a Pixel – a plug-in that Facebook has for your website that’ll track people on your site and let you retarget them. And that’s where it gets REALLY cool….

You can actually retarget people on Facebook based on specific actions that they take on your website. If someone adds an item to their cart but doesn’t check out, you can send them an ad reminding them to go check out. You can send people ads for specific products based on products they’ve already looked at on your website. And, since I know you are wondering… yes, THAT’S how Amazon does that. If you’ve ever gotten product ads for a site you’ve visited, and the products actually seem relevant to your browsing history – they are using Pixel retargeting.

Pixel retargeting is extremely complicated. You could literally take a college course on the topic and still not know everything. I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t know everything about it. There are e-commerce specialists out there that could run circles around me. Cat Howell has some fantastic courses and resources on this topic, as does Jon Loomer. I may develop my own some day, if I have the time and money. If you’re interested in learning more about this, or are struggling with implementing it, I’d recommend joining Facebook Ad Hacks or becoming a Patreon of this site.

I don’t have the space here to walk you through every part of Facebook retargeting. I wish I did. I wanted to talk about the basic principles behind it though, and stress how effective it can be. I’ll continue to write more on the topic in future days, so make sure you subscribe to this blog and follow me on Facebook if you don’t already. At the beginning of all of my posts on here, I like to state the difficulty level, so that people can spend time with the content most helpful to where they are at in life. Since this is a beginner-level article, I’ve tried to sheer away from getting too detailed. If you have specific questions though, feel free to ask – either in the comments section of wherever you saw this post shared (if I’m there), or in the comments on this blog article.

I sincerely hope this article has helped you. I’d appreciate any feedback you have, as always. Thanks for getting nerdy with me!

Always remember: Analyze, Test, Optimize, Implement. The strategy for success, on Facebook, and in the rest of life.