I recently had a great chat with Sarah Orchard of Orchard Marketing Associates and expressed my frustration with Facebook ads as they’ve become so complicated to manage.

I am the first person to admit that I’m no expert when it comes to the digital marketing sphere and Sarah specialises in digital marketing in the rural tourism sector, so was the perfect person to speak to about it.

While I can put together a PR strategy that includes social media story-telling, placing an ad in the Facebook Ad Manager has been out of my skill-set for a year or so now, ever since they changed the “back end” of the system and it all started to look like Greek to me.

However, while placing ads on Facebook might be complicated, using ads for PR purposes is not.

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PR is all about growing your reputation, and while numbers aren’t everything, if you have a good story to tell, such as an award win or a new product, you want to shout it from the rooftops. And as shouting it from the rooftops isn’t an option (unless you live in a tiny village and they’re your target market), then the boost button on Facebook comes in very handy to increase engagements, such as likes, comments and shares.

One of the great things about Facebook ads has always been, and always will be, being able to define your audience. So if you know your target market is already using Facebook, by boosting your post for £5, £10, £20 (depending on how many people you want to reach), you can define who you want to target - from geographic location right down to their marital status or a particular area of interest.

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You can also set up different target markets to boost to alternative markets if you need to. However, the most effective audience to target when boosting a post is “people who like your page and their friends”. People who like your page are already engaged in it, however they might be teetering on the edge of whether or not to book with you or buy your produce. By targeting them, it might be the final persuasion they need. Their friends, we assume, have similar interests and you can therefore start to build a relationship with them by targeting them. They’ll see that their friend already likes your page and, as we already know, we’re much more likely to trust a brand if it’s recommended by someone else we know.

These markets can be used when placing a more complicated ad, but for PR purposes, by spending a little, you can boost your reputation quite a lot (especially now that Facebook is cracking down on “share or tag a friend” posts or competitions).

Not only will it raise awareness in an audience who might not know you exist, you might get a few page likes from it, too, making them engaged in your business and increasing your organic reach, which is what we’re all striving to do, at the end of the day.

On a side note, I’m really excited to announce that Sarah will be joining us for a Q&A in The Rural PR Academy in December for Module three: The social side of the media.

You can sign up for the six-month course throughout October…

Ps - since chatting to Sarah I have now placed my first “proper” Facebook ad in a while, so we’ll see how I get on. If you need any help with digital marketing, I’d highly recommend getting in touch with Orchard Marketing Associates..