Facebook Advertising Playbook for Photography Studios

Facebook playbook familyI was skeptical too… Facebook Advertising? Does anyone really click on those ads? That’s like looking at Super Bowl ads and asking if anyone watches commercials (yes, people click the ads). In a network of 500 million users, even if a teeny tiny percentage click there is a vast audience photographers can reach. My favorite feature is advanced targeting and tracking – this post shows photographers how to target ads only to relevant people, and track profits to the cent. A fifty dollar test will quickly prove if your photography business should skip Facebook ads, or grow rich.

Huddle Up a Marketing Plan

Personally, I don’t like football, but it makes for good analogies. Facebook is not a “hail mary” strategy where you  throw something out there and expect people will grab onto it. Why do you think the football team goes into that huddle before every play? Certainly not to gossip about last night’s American Idol episode. They’re planning the next play. Don’t forget to huddle up with yourself and plan the advertising campaign:

  • Identify your goals
  • Define who you want to reach with your ad

Most photographers should not advertise with the goal of branding. Branding campaigns attempt to create awareness or visibility of your service. This makes sense for established companies with big marketing budgets seeking to get their name out there.

Your goal should be a direct response campaign where a user performs an action after clicking the ad: Like you on Facebook, RSVP for an event, request a quote, or register for a free PDF download. Completion of the response is called a conversion and you’ll measure the cost per conversion to learn how profitable your campaign was.

Your goal should be a direct response campaign. You’ll measure cost per completion to gauge profitability.

Ads are most likely to convert when an offer is presented. Don’t assume the user will click the Like button. Tell them to click Like with an incentive to do so. Example offers include a wedding venue walk through, wedding vendor introduction party, low-cost mini session, or VIP access to a studio grand opening. Get creative!

Ads are most likely to convert when an offer is presented.

Next, define who you want to target with the offer. You can reach people based on their:

  • Location – by city, state, zip. Target people in the locations you want to photograph
  • Demographics – by age, gender
  • Likes and interests – customers’ hobbies or passions. Unlike search advertising where you target the words people search for, on Facebook you can target people by their interests. A pet photographer would target people interested in “dogs”
  • Advanced demographics – relationship status. Wedding photographers can target people who are “engaged”
  • Education and work – high school and college status, individual workplaces. Senior photographers can target users who are “in high school”

After selecting demographics, the ad wizard tells you how many Facebook users are within your reach. Toggle your settings to see how reach is impacted.

Demographic reach for photographers

Choose the Type of Play

Are you going to run, pass, or kick? Photographers have a few options for ad type and how to pay for them. Cost per thousand impressions (CPM) campaigns charges you based on how many times the ad is shown, regardless of people seeing or clicking it. You can spend a lot of branding dollars with this approach without getting anyone to engage with your offer. Therefore, I recommend cost per click (CPC) campaigns where you pay each time someone clicks your ad. This is the best type of campaign to use when you want to drive specific action on your website or Facebook Page.

A Facebook ad can promote 4 different things: website, Facebook Page, Facebook Event, or Facebook App.

A good example of pointing to a website can be seen in the CM Photographics success story on the Facebook Advertising site.

CM Photographics Success Story on FacebookCM Photographics targeted 24-30 year old women whose relationship status on Facebook indicated that they were engaged. The campaign generated nearly $40,000 in revenue directly from a $600 advertising investment on Facebook. Of the Facebook users who were directed to CM Photographics’ website from the ads, 60% became qualified leads and actively expressed interest in more information.

I recommend promoting a Facebook Page or Event instead of a website. Advantages:

  • Facebook Ads for Pages include a “Like” link where people can choose to connect immediately with your Facebook Page without leaving the page they are viewing.
  • When users who view these ads “Like” your Page from the ad, or click through to your Page, a story will automatically be created on the user’s profile page and possibly even their friends’ News Feeds, generating free distribution for you.
  • You have the opportunity to show social endorsements in your ad, making them more personally appealing and relevant to your audience. This appears as an ad with information about the viewers friends who have engaged with the Facebook Page, event, application or ad.
  • If you create a Facebook Event for a sale or promotion, customers will be able to RSVP to your sale directly from your ad. If a viewer’s friend has engaged with the event the viewer will see ‘Zach Prez and 2 other friends are attending’. If someone Likes your Facebook Page, a story will appear in the News Feed, where his or her friends may also discover your business.

My ad points to my Facebook Page and tells them to click Like to follow free marketing tips or sign up for a free Facebook guide by entering an email address. With two offers, I insure people who clicked my ad have a reason to follow me in Facebook or email so they can make a later purchase.

Components of a Good Play

Your ad is made up of a title, body copy (summary text), image, and destination URL that you want people to go to when they click on your ad. Tips for ad components:

  • Ad Title – Automatically the name of your Page or Event. If it’s an event, grab attention! You have 25 characters, including spaces, to capture people’s interest.
  • Ad Body Copy – In 135 characters or less, describe the benefits of your product or service. If you want people to click through your ad to take specific action, be sure to call that out with simple, active language like “Learn more now”.
  • Image – The most successful ads on Facebook include images that are clear, easy to spot and directly related to the content of your ad.
Get people to click through your ad with simple, active language like “Learn more now”.

So use a nice image for your ad and some text that encourages people to click. Here are some example ad texts:

  • View Zach’s free ideas on how to organize your photo albums (Page with PDF offer)
  • Don’t miss 10 cool ways to organize your framed prints from Zach (Page with PDF offer)
  • Getting married at the Hilton? Join us for a free venue walk through. (Event)
  • Brides – meet the best wedding vendors in Los Angeles. Attend our meet and greet. (Event)
  • Valentine’s day gift idea – get kids photos for your wife with a low-cost mini-session. (Event)

Valentine's Day Photo Event AdCan you see the difference between a general ad promoting a website homepage, versus a targeted ad for a specific event? You only pay for those who are interested and click to see the event, and the atendees will surely hire you after meeting face to face!

Practice Before the Big Game

You’ll want $100-$200 to test what type of ad works best and what percent of people complete your offer. For example, I might test Facebook Ads with 3 different offers, or 3 different texts to promote the same offer, or different demographic targets. Figure out which performed best and the cost per conversion (how much did you spend divided by the number of people who completed the offer).

Figure out which test performed best and the cost per conversion.

Let’s say your $100 test yielded 100 new Likes on Facebook, 10 new contact requests, and/or 1 booked client. Now you can forecast future advertising at a rate of $1 per new Like, $10 per contact request and $100 per new client. Depending on the level of profit, it may be worth a monthly investment to achieve that one new client each month.

The Suggested Bid is how much Facebook suggests you will spend per click on your advertisement. Expect to pay less per click than your Max Bid, which I usually set to be on the lower end of (or even below) the suggested range. Photographers can plan for between $0.75 and $2 per person that clicks on your ad, which should be a little lower than Google and with the added benefit of demographic targeting and being able to track your return fairly easily. Don’t forget to set a daily budget limit to ensure you don’t start day 1 with a thousand dollar campaign! $3 a day is about $100 a month and a good starting point.

Watch Game Playback

Successful teams watch a playback of the game to assess what worked and what didn’t. After your ad runs a few days you may have to tweak the pay-per-click to have your ad appear more or less frequently. If an ad doesn’t perform well, Facebook will display the ad less often as a result.

The main metrics to track advertising campaigns include:

  • How many people were exposed to the ad
  • How many people engaged with the ad
  • How many people connected with your business (for later purchase)
  • How many people completed a purchase

Below shows a Facebook Advertising Report with two different ads. For a $68 test, the campaign got 141 clicks, 79 Likes and 2 new clients (not shown, based on contact form submissions). You can see the first ad row was getting a higher click through rate (CTR), so this photographer continued with the first ad and deleted the second.

Facebook ad tracking report

Resources from Coach Zach

Grab a copy of the Social Media Photographer Handbook for ideas and tactics on Facebook (and Twitter) that don’t require paid advertising.

Check out the training articles and videos at facebook.com/adsmarketing.

Get started with ads at facebook.com/advertising and click Create an Ad.


Thousands of Photographers boost business with my tips!


  1. carol.lima.benusa says

    Zach, thank you so much for this post. I will be moving to another place and starting from scratch, this will be very useful for me! Thanks!

  2. GerardLion says

    This article will help me to start a campaign in Facebook. I must say that we have already a campaign running in FB thru an intermediate marketing firm ” Brandefined”. Unfortunately after spending $600 , we didn’t get any sign up or response to our page , http://facebook.com/lionphoto. It might be a bit premature but I’m pulling out and will try to do it myself, which I should have done from the beginning. 
     Thank you for your input.

  3. Sameer Gupta says

    Some fantastic stuff again. Really liked how you’ve broken down each and every detail with so much simplicity.

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