Amanda O'Brien - Facebok Ad ExpertWhy should you be using Facebook ads? Many wedding professionals have been using Facebook for years to market their businesses, but they’re no loner getting the results that they’re looking for.

One big reason is that there are just so many more people online now. Businesses need to start looking at adjusting their strategies as they compete for attention online. Amanda O’Brien shares her expertise with Facebook ads to help your business boost its online reach in a way that is both economical and targets the right people.

Rich: Amanda O’Brien has been working in marketing for over 12 years. She caught the digital marketing bug in 2006, and has been helping businesses use the internet to market themselves ever since. She has been the host and organizer of Social Media Breakfast Maine since 2009, when she stole it from me. There may have been appletinis involved, as the “myth” goes.

She’s currently employed at flyte new media as a Director of Business Development. At flyte Amanda is responsible for generating new business and for developing, implementing and reporting on marketing initiatives for her clients. Amanda, welcome to the show.

Amanda: Thank you for having me.

Amber: Thanks for letting your boss let you off to do this.

Amanda: Yeah, I had to put in a paid time off request and get it signed in triplicate and left the canary copy behind.

Rich: This is not “billable time”, by the way.  

Amanda: Slave driver.

Amber: Yeah, seriously.

Rich: Alright, well let’s jump in here. Now I know a lot of wedding professionals have been using Facebook for years to market their businesses, but over the past few years they’re reporting that they’re not getting as good of a response. They’re getting less ‘likes’, comments and shares. Amanda, what’s going on with this?

Amanda: Well, the people who stomp up and down and pout and say, “the man is just trying to keep you down” because they want you to pay to play, but I don’t think that way. I think there’s just more people online, there’s more people on Facebook, there’s more people competing for attention, so of course there has to be a way to standout. And one way to do it is to boost your reach with a little bit of money for advertising.

Amber: So how do you do that, how do you reach couples on Facebook today?

Amanda: So wedding professionals, I feel like each one of them has a persona or a target type of couple in mind, the type of wedding they like to do.

Amber: You would be correct.

Amanda: So what makes you stand out from someone else who could do the same thing or what makes you more hirable than someone’s cousin with a nice camera who could come? So still kind of figuring out who that target person is and using Facebook ads – which I believe is what we’re talking about today – we can try and find that person by knowing about their likes, interest, what they’re looking for, and appealing to just those things when they make a decision to choose you over someone else.

So Facebook, we are blessed to know so much about people because we tell Facebook so much about us. We tell them where we live, we tell them what our interests are, we tell them if we’re dating, we tell them if we’re engaged, we tell them what kinds of things we like to do. So we can now use that information to deliver ads to people based on their interests and who they are.

Rich: Alright, so let’s say that we’re running a wedding business – a vendor, or caterer, or photographer – and we’ve decided we’re not getting the kind of reach that we used to get on Facebook so we’re going to get started with Facebook ads. Amanda, how should we get started, what’s the first step?

Amanda: The first step – and I feel like most people have tried this, but I would be mad at myself for not talking about it – is to try boosting a post. So you have people that in some way, shape or form, for some reason, they liked your page. In a digital way they liked what you have going on here, and they want to hear from you. But again, now there are more people.

So the first thing I would do is maybe try boosting a couple posts and targeting them just to people who liked your page and let’s see if we can get those people re-engaged, because the algorithm – how Facebook decides what it’s going to show – constantly wants to show you what they think you want. So if I start interacting with your page again, I’ll probably see more posts from you again, too. It might be a quick way to kind of get a couple more people back, and get back on their organic newsfeed.

So that’s what I was going to say to do first. But my data nerd side says that boosting posts is great and it feels good, you feel like you get a good reach and you might get a little bit more interaction, but I definitely want people to try more of the Facebook ads. So those are the ones that you go in through the Ad Manager and set up ads and choose really specific targeting.

So I can choose someone who is between the ages of 20 and 40 who live in Scarborough who has a relationship status of “engaged” and who likes Maine Audubon Society. And I can put an ad together based on who that is and deliver it specifically to them. There’s just a lot of power there to be had to take advantage of.

Amber: Once you have targeted your couples using the business manager side of your business page, what types of ads should we be running, from a business perspective, would you suggest?

Amanda: I would suggest that people take a step back and think about the platform that they’re now choosing to run ads on. So we’re talking about Facebook. People go to Facebook to keep up with their family and friends, to read things that interest them, as a distraction, for entertainment. This isn’t a hard sell. So I would keep your ad natural to that environment. I think especially in this industry we’re so lucky to have so many beautiful images that you can use and stories that you can tell, so I would make sure to just be natural to this environment of Facebook. This isn’t the time to be doing, “Clip this coupon for $199 off your wedding”, that’s not the sell. But it can be a beautiful image and, “go here to learn more about us”, and send them to a landing page and collect their email. This is a little bit softer.

Rich: So Amanda, what kind of goals should we be thinking of? Are we trying to get ‘likes’, are we trying to get traffic to our site, are we trying to generate leads, or should we be doing all three?

Amanda: Well, I think you need to know. So that’s one of the things that I am super annoying about, what are we trying to ask before we start. I think something that happens a lot is people do something and say it just didn’t work. Then when you ask them what they were trying to do, were you trying to get people to contact you, to sign up for your email, were you trying to get more ‘likes’ on your page? And they say, “Yeah.” Well, no, pick one, what do you want them to do. Because then you can measure that and Facebook has different types of ads based on those goals that you set.

So what’s your sales process like, do you have a sales person, do you have an offer or something that you can give away, do you have a planning worksheet that you could give them if they give you their email address? What’s that one line that you can draw; I delivered an ad and people did this and now I have them in my sales funnel or as a contact, and I’ll follow up with them.

Amber: I was thinking about that for myself. That’s a really good step and they then become a part of my email list.

Amanda: And that’s the old “one-two”. Because again, they were really here to be distracted and entertained and to see pictures of our friend’s kids and stalk ex-boyfriends and stuff. So the old “one-two” is get an ad on Facebook and have some type of offer – a planning checklist, a photographer’s list of pictures that you need to have – you just need to fill out people’s names or the time of day. Is there something that you put together that is branded with you, so you can say to people to get their “all you need to know branded checklist” for your special day ns then they give you their email address to get that. That’s how they “pay you”, they pay you with their email. Then once you have their email, then that’s your sales funnel, then you send them in the drip campaign, then you email them once a month, and then you call them, that’s a better place to make that hard sell.

Amber: So I guess that kind of answers the question, but you can expand on it a little, if you’re looking to send your people to our site if I want people to come from Facebook to Sweetest Thing Weddings, should I be sending them to my homepage, a special landing page, to a specific blog post, or something else completely different?

Amanda: I would love it if you had them go from Facebook to a specific landing page, because when you started you knew what you wanted to get out of this campaign. Whether it was some type of email signup or whatever it may be. So if you had a landing page where the intent of it was just to drive email signups, then you would send them there.

Amber: Great. And then that way you could then see in your Google Analytics if it’s working, because you’re a numbers person.

Amanda: Yes I am.

Amber: That’s one of the things I like about you, because I’m not a numbers person. And so that’s the reason you’re saying that – for us non numbers people – is you want us to go to a special landing page to because that way when you go in Google Analytics, you can see how many people landed right there, then you can know that’s a direct effect of your Facebook ad. Right?

Amanda: Yes, you’re totally right. And to take it a step further since you’re doing so well, say you have an offer on Facebook and you send them to the landing page and fill out a form and hit “submit”, at the end they’ll get a different page. I want that to be a “thank you” page. So then I can see how many people saw my ad and got to the “thank you” page, and then everything that happened in between. Did they go from my ad to my site but didn’t fill out the form, did they go all the way through, and can I fix it if something was wrong with my form, maybe the picture wasn’t good enough or the call to action wasn’t good enough to get them to the “thank you” page.

Amber: Wow, that’s so crazy specific. But for venues in particular – who I’m thinking of – that would be such great information to be able to then see that’s money well spent right there.

Amanda: Yes, and if someone went from your ad to your site, you can also send them a different ad. So maybe you are a photographer and you list your price as $1,000, and then they don’t fill out the form, you can now deliver another ad to the people that went to your site with a special offer of $800. And you can play with that price a little bit to see what is it that gets them to go from the ad to the “thank you” page.

Rich: Now Amanda, that sounds a little bit like retargeting. So is that something that we’re doing on Facebook?

Amanda: You can, yeah.

Rich: Alright, so what kind of money should we be budgeting for all this?

Amanda: I am stingy and I work with a lot of entrepreneurs and small businesses, so my advice – which is different from other people’s advice – is you have a minimum to spend $5/day with Facebook, but I like to spend that $5 a day and get some information and see what works. Like I said, let’s test that offer and see if our plan goes through to the “thank you” page. How is our targeting, should we make it wider? Who makes this decision, is it the bride or the groom, so should we try targeting different people? And then once I see a little success, I would like to add some more money after the fact.

Amber: That’s a good idea.

Amanda: Other people might tell you to put a bunch of money in and get a bunch of information, and then narrow it down. But I like to go the other way.

Amber: A lot of our listeners are like you in the fact that they’re solopreneurs and entrepreneurs and they’re not big corporations, so I like that mindset as well.

Amanda: I’ve been in marketing for a while – and Rich knows this for sure – but I started in print and in radio and then when I started doing digital marketing I was just obsessed. Because now I can tell you what happened. It’s not just that you got in front of people and there were impressions. With Facebook ads you can spend that $5 ad you can see where every penny went. You can see how it was spent, who it was delivered to, you can tell how many people looked on a mobile phone versus how many looked on their computer, what time of day did they look. That’s power to make decisions to use for more advertising.

Amber: So I want to jump on that because I do Facebook ads – I’m trying – because I learned about them at Agents of Change and I’m trying to do some of the things you said there, but that’s really fascinating. All that information is in your insights on your business page?

Amanda: Yup. So once you start a campaign they’re going to let it run for a little bit, and the first thing they’re going to do is give you a score called the “relevancy score”, and you’re trying to get to 10. And that’s just going to tell you that you made a decision to deliver your ad to women between the ages of 20-30 who live in the Portland, Maine metro area, they’re delivering that ad and this is how well it’s doing. So they’re going to tell you right off the bat that this is a flop or this is doing really well, which if it’s good information, and then let it ride.

When that is over, then you can go and look at how the ad broke down. So it will tell you for those women between the ages of 20-30, how many people were 28 and how many people were 29, how many looked at night, how many people looked on a phone. And then you can put together another ad and maybe you figured out to deliver your ad to people who are 29, at night, and retarget people who are just on their phones. Maybe that’s your perfect person that’s watching TV and looking stuff up on their phone.

Rich: While watching the Bachelor.

Amber: We don’t judge here. We judge you here, but not other people. Ok, so how often should we change out our ad or boost our ad? Do you have a science to that, math data girl?

Amanda: No, but just think of the literal translation of that, which is I just want to give this post a little boost. So I think boosting does really well if you’re pushing it to people who like the page because they have already said it at some point and clicked the button that they’re interested in you. So sometimes it can work for friends of people who like your page, or it’s great for press if you get written up in a magazine and you post that, that’s a great way to give it just a little boost. Whereas the Facebook advertising is definitely more targeted with a goal in mind, just getting someone to do something.

Rich: Amanda, I don’t know if you have the answer to this…

Amanda: Of course I do.

Rich: Well, even if you have to make it up. Obviously one of the audiences that I think a lot of people are going to go after – and this is in a history of people who just changed their relationship status to “engaged” – in the targeting, is there the opportunity to say I’d like to get in front of everybody who recently changed their relationship status to “engaged” or do I just have to target people who are engaged?

Amanda: I believe you just choose what their relationship status is, that’s just a choice. So I will say, if you think a little bit more about it, I have a friend who is a photographer and we had a conversation about maybe targeting people who are engaged and married but start showing them pictures of newborn photo shoots, because after marriage comes baby. Maybe think a little bit bigger here. When someone even goes into a relationship, maybe that’s the time to start doing the soft sell, and then engaged is the harder one. By the time they’ve changed their status, they’re already kind of looking at venues, right?

Amber: Yeah. When I choose, I put “in a relationship” or “engaged”. I pick on both of them.

Amanda: I would pick on both of them.

Amber: I’m right. Hey Rich, did you hear how she said I was right about that?

Rich: Absolutely.

Amanda: I might be wrong here, but thinking about this audience that you two are specifically working with is so that they can operate in more diversified ways, is also thinking of other places. So if you’re a wedding venue, should you also maybe be putting ads together for people who are 48 and 49 so they can start planning their 50th birthday party at your place? It’s like what are some other things you could look at. Same with the photographer, we’re talking wedding photography, but there’s also family photography and newborn shots and those all kind of blend together in different times.

Amber: And a lot of us – because we are smaller businesses – we know where our clients have come from. So like, I know I have a lot of brides from New York City, for me personally I get a lot of brides from New York City. So I know that when I’m targeting my audience, I pick them. I usually pick all the cities of the brides that I’ve had within a season, and I put that I there. So I always put Portland because it is one of my favorite places, but a lot of my clients are destination, so that ability to be able to pick Brooklyn, New York and Manhattan and then Chicago, Illinois, that’s a great asset for me to be able to do that for such little amount of money. For me to get an ad in Martha Stewart Wedding magazine is $40,000 for a full page color ad. But this is $20.00, for “national” viewing it’s a great investment.

Amanda: Yeah. And you made me think of a couple things. You can target different geographic areas and you can create ads just for that. Maybe it’s the same image, but the wording in the ad says “living in Houston but planning your Maine destination wedding”; you can change those and see which ones do better.

And then you mentioned Martha Stewart Living, in the “interests” you can choose people who are engaged who like Martha Stewart’s Wedding magazine. You can target other things that people like, they just have to have a big enough audience. So you can target people who live in New York but who like Maine Magazine, to show they have a tie to Maine in some way.

Rich: Or you could target NASCAR, and then you could have a NASCAR-themed wedding.

Amber: Yes, there are people like that. I like that one, though. I have not tried the New York clientele that like Maine Magazine. I might have to try that. I’ll let you know if it works. And speaking of that, how do you know if it works?  

Amanda: Well, you know what you’re trying to accomplish when you set the ad. I feel like I made it sound really complicated with the offer and the “thank you” page. It could be you just want to do an ad to get more people to like your page. That’s totally fine. And then when you do have posts you want to boost, you have more people liking your page because of this other ad you did. That’s a win, too. So you just want to know what you want to get out of it. And that means you just think about it. It’s the same with a lot of things, you sit and think about your budget so you know where your money is going.

So if I want it to be in email signups, then I want to get 4 email signups out of this campaign. And if I look at the campaign and how it’s doing and I got 3, I was close. I think you just have to know. I feel so bad when I talk to people and they say they tried something and it didn’t work and they spent so much money. But then when you ask what they were trying to do, they’re not sure. Or, they were trying to do everything.

You can’t measure everything, but you can measure that I wanted 4 people to sign up for my email list, but on top of that I also got these impressions, this brand exposure, a couple extra people liked my page. So I would start with that goal of x, and those other things will happen on top of it.

Rich: What my takeaways are for this are if you are a wedding professional and you haven’t tried Facebook ads – or maybe you’ve tried it and it “didn’t work” – then take a step back and first figure out what your goals are, what are you really looking to accomplish. Figure out who you really want to get in front of and then use the Facebook targeting to really find these people within the Facebook universe and show them ads. And if your goal is to send them to a lead generation page or a landing page, you can send them to that page.

There’s a lot more, and you shared a lot of great ideas with retargeting and things like that you can do, but if we’re just getting started at a bare minimum we can figure out our goals, find the people we want to talk to, place ads in front of them, and drive them to a special landing page on our website where we can maybe start a conversation.

Amanda: Yeah. I talk a lot about “rented space” and “owned space”. Your website and what happens there and your email list are yours. That’s your “owned space”, those are your things. I would rather see the activity go from this “rented space” of Facebook over to your space where you can do something with them.

Rich: Awesome. Amanda this has been great. I know people probably want to find out more about you, where can we find you online?

Amanda: Google me, I’m everywhere. On Twitter it’s @Amanda_pants, I work at flyte new media,,, you can find me there.

Rich: And I believe you have a wine company, because you don’t have enough things going on.

Amanda: I am also starting a wine company, we are making wine out of rhubarb, and we’ll be opening this spring.

Rich: All I can say, as someone who doesn’t really love wine, that I tasted your wine and it was phenomenal. And I’m not just saying that, I really liked your wine and I bought a number of bottles. Am I allowed to say that? I didn’t buy any bottles, it’s not for sale.

Amber: Well I think I need to be a taste tester of the wine so that I can promote it to all my clients so they can have it at their wedding.

Amanda: It would be a great Maine wine that people could serve at their weddings for sure.

Amber: Yeah! And then I get to drink it.

Rich: Absolutely. What’s the brand?

Amanda: Eighteen Twenty (spelled out, not the numbers).

Rich: Spelled out, not the numbers, Alright Amanda, thank you very much for your time today.

Amanda: Thank you guys.

Amber: Thank you Amanda, you’re so smart. I like smart girls.

Rich: Me too.


Show Notes:

Amanda O’Brien is a renaissance woman who spends her time helping businesses achieve greater marketing success, organizes fun & educational learning sessions that include bacon, and making & selling rhubarb wine. Be sure to also follow her on Twitter!

Amber Small makes a living by making wedding dreams come true. Make sure to reserve your spot now for the Streamline Marketing Workshop Conference that she – along with Rich Brooks of flyte new media – have created specifically for wedding professions, with the goal of helping them reach, connect & engage with their best customers.

Rich Brooks is the President of flyte new media, a web design & digital marketing agency in Portland, Maine. He knows a thing or two about helping businesses grow by reaching their ideal customers, and he puts on a yearly conference aimed at that as well. Head on over to Twitter to connect and say “Hi” to him!