Unless you’ve been living under a very large rock, you are no doubt aware that Facebook is the largest social network on the planet. Likewise, you probably also know that not long ago, Facebook began monetizing their business by selling ads. Since they started down that road, their system has matured with surprising speed as they’ve sorted out what works and what doesn’t, and added features to their admin dashboard so that those who run ads can get up to the minute feeds informing them in various ways about how their campaigns are working, and what ads are most effective.

Few companies have been able to match Facebook for the sheer speed at which they’ve been able to put a system like this in place. Google’s own ad system is every bit as good, every bit as robust, but it had the advantage of growing slowly and organically over time. By comparison, Facebook’s was created and optimized in the blink of an eye.

Emerging Best Practices

The company’s ad network is still too new to have mountains of supporting data, but based on what we’ve seen so far, there are some emerging best practices that small to medium sized businesses can formulate plans around. We’ll outline those in brief just below.

1 – Align Your Ads With Your Goals

The design of your ads, and your calls to action should all be geared toward prompting your viewers to respond in exactly one way. Sign up for this mailing list. Click this link. Read this article or review. You need laser-guided focus when putting your ads together, and everything about your ad should point to your goal. The response you desire from a person viewing the ad.

2 – Start Small, Start Simply

In order to get your feet wet with Facebook ads, don’t try to take on too much, too quickly. Start small, say with a single boost of page ad. Test it and see what works and what doesn’t. You can do that by changing the parameters of the ad and measuring the difference in impact and overall effect. It won’t take long before you begin to learn quite a lot about your audience, and once you do, you can begin catering more directly to their desires.

3 – Start With A Small Budget

You don’t have to spend a ton of money on Facebook ads to have a tangible impact. What you do need to do is to have a firm understanding of your goals and use those goals to measure your ROI. Are you hoping to get people to sign up to your email list so you can market to them in the long term, or are you simply trying to increase your bottom line in the short term by adding sales? Both are perfectly valid approaches, but both use very different metrics to track ROI. Keep the budget small and simple while you’re learning the ropes.

4 – Images Matter

Increasingly, and thanks in no small part to social media, images matter on the web. If you’re not using original, compelling, high impact images, then you’re going exactly nowhere. Make your peace with that now, and do it from day one if you want to thrive on the web in general, and on social media in particular.

5 – Test, Test, Test!

If you’re not testing, then you’re not marketing. You should never stop. If you think you’ve found the perfect advertising formula, use that as your new baseline and keep testing relentlessly. There is always room for improvement.

Facebook is a surprisingly effective and cost effective tool for the smaller business that follows the five simple rules above.