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Digital Marketing 101


Let’s discuss the benefits of marketing yourself with digital ads. In this article, we’ll focus primarily on Facebook/Instagram (as they’re owned by the same company and their ad setup is the same) - but a lot of this information can be applied to marketing with display ads in the Google network, as well as any other social app.

If you’d like to implement any of the strategies you see laid out in this post, make sure you have a Facebook Business Page, an Instagram Business account, a Facebook Business Manager account, and from there, an Ad Manager account.

What elements should I have in order before it’s recommended that I start a social campaign?

The word “campaign” is right because what you are doing is bigger than a social ad. This is marketing. In the beginning, there needs to be a strategy. No matter the task at hand whether it be Instagram, email marketing, editing your print book; you need to have your strategy mapped out. Everything needs to speak from this consistent place. What do you do and what do you want to do for your potential clients?


Don’t forget, all of your marketing efforts lead directly back to your business so make sure your house is in order. What does that look like? This means your site, your brand, social accounts, your messaging all need to be cohesive across the board. A consistent strategy will make you stand out from the competition; unforgettable.

Here’s an action item for you: try applying your strategy to your social campaign. Think about what you do well and who you want to do it for. Next, pull 10 hero visuals of your work that communicate that strategy.

How do I decide on the purpose of and metrics for success for my campaign, otherwise known as my ad objective?

Once you have your business basics and marketing prep in order, and you’re sitting in your Ad Manager account ready to start your campaign, you’ll start by picking an objective - which will affect how Facebook prioritizes the people in your audience based on their user behavior, and define a metric to quantify success for your campaign. The three categories of objectives are Awareness, Consideration, and Conversions - for anyone familiar with a sales funnel, think of this as the top of the funnel, middle of the funnel, the bottom of the funnel. Let’s dive a little deeper into a specific objective from each category of the most relevant objectives.

Brand Awareness will get your name out there to the people most likely to pay attention to your ad, allowing you to tell people what makes your business valuable. This is a good place to start your campaign so that you can introduce yourself to your audience, and build familiarity with them before driving them towards action with more commitment. Your metric for success would be the number of impressions/reach.

Traffic will encourage your audience to think about your business and seek more information, likely directing people to check out more of your work on your site. Your metric for success would be click-through rate.

Conversions will encourage people interested in your business to use or stay up to date with your service. You will need to set up an event that Facebook can track and understand as what counts as a conversion won since this often happens off of Facebook, and an example might be a form filled or obtaining a mailing list subscriber from your site. Your metric for success would be the number of conversions.

Why is it important to have a social component to my marketing? How should I go about reaching my target audience on social?

Let’s go back to the beginning. Remember when we said you needed to get your “house” in order? Just to be clear, your posts on Instagram and Facebook are part of your house. Think of these platforms as an extension of your site. Your site is all about your work. Your social pages are all about you AND your work.

Here are 3 reasons why an Instagram account is essential to your business today:

  1. We know for a fact that creatives use Instagram as a visual search. They even hire from Instagram which is HUGE.
  2. You get work by building relationships. It can take a little while for a creative to hire you via your Instagram page but your daily or weekly posts will communicate to them who you are and what you do. Eventually, they’ll catch on and understand which could lead to them reaching out.
  3. More traffic to your account = more followers. Potential clients want to see your work resonating with the marketplace. Having a large group of followers will help give them that impression.

OK, now let’s talk about marketing with Instagram. The most important thing about advertising on social media is that it allows you to push your “ads” into someone’s feed, someone that doesn’t follow you. It takes several impressions to build brand awareness, and your social ads can be a workhorse. You can run them in the background to automate the delivery of your message to your audience, getting you closer and closer to that high follower count we’re all after.

If you can get your following to 10,000 (the magic number) you can add access to your website in your Instagram stories also known as a “swipe up.” This is a big help because now, not only are you showing up in their feed but they will be able to click-through directly to your site. Yes, you have a link to your site in your bio, but in the Instagram story, you can customize the link into a specific gallery without messing with your bio link.

People, creatives included, love Instagram. It’s one of the most successful work/life blur platforms. When you use Instagram to show people who you are, you do this in the place that creatives live and work.

Now that we’ve covered the importance of reaching creatives on social media, let’s move onto the logistics of targeting an audience. You can either target people you know or people you don’t. The first place to start is usually with a known audience, also known as a custom audience.

You can build a Custom Audience to get back in touch with people who have engaged with your business online or off. This can be achieved by uploading a list of customer’s information to Facebook, usually their email address, with the hope that Facebook can find a direct match with an account to market to. There’s also the option to re-market to people who have visited your website as long as you have the Facebook pixel code installed on your site - and for anyone using a templated site, there’s usually an option to add this in your setting. Or, you can market to people who have visited and engaged with your Facebook or Instagram page.

For an audience you don’t know, look into building a Lookalike Audience to reach new people whose interests are similar to those of your best customers. Upload your customer list, to create an audience of people who are similar to your existing customer. This is a way to target people who you haven’t connected with previously, but that is likely to be interested in your services based on their interests.

And lastly, with Core Audiences, you can define an audience based on criteria like age, geography, job title, workplace, income, liked pages. This can be used as a standalone option, or in connection with lookalike audiences to further target your audience.

Let’s talk about deciding on a marketing budget in general, as well as setting a budget & duration for a campaign.

How would these factors affect the performance of my ad?

First things first, you need to set a marketing budget. Marketing is an investment needed to grow your business. Some say it should be a minimum of 10% of what you made last year. Go back to your business strategy.

  • What goals do you have this year?
  • Will you need to be more aggressive with your marketing to meet those goals?

Then you’ll need to have a bigger budget for marketing.

Exploring digital marketing for the first time?

Remember, marketing works best when there are 3-4 touch points in every cycle. It’s never going to work if you only have one channel of marketing. Clients need to keep “running into you” to take notice. A healthy marketing plan involves traditional, digital, and social marketing.

In terms of your Facebook and Instagram campaigns, your budget will directly affect how many people your ad is shown to. You can structure your budget to reach a daily spend limit (for example, $25/day) or a lifetime spend limit (for example, $200 for the whole two weeks this campaign is active). Facebook will let you know how your budget is going to affect the number of people your ad is likely to reach, as well as the likely events you’ll receive (for example, 10 link clicks per day). Play around with the numbers until you find your sweet spot in terms of ad spend and anticipated results.

How should I consider positioning my images and copy in my ad to strike a chord with my target audience? Are there any technical limitations to consider?

From a technical point of view, be mindful of the image specs for the placements where you want to show your ad. With Facebook, you can pick a range of placements in the Facebook and Instagram apps for your ad to show. For example, Instagram/Facebook feed, Instagram/Facebook stories, Instagram explore the Facebook marketplace. You can make up to 50 ads in one campaign (but best practices recommendation is 6) and customize the placement for each - so if you want 6 different placements, make sure that your six ads are sized to each placement properly to avoid a filled background being added. If you want to add text to your image, Facebook limits you to 20% of the image’s surface area being able to include text. The purpose is to achieve an editorial feel, but you can use Facebook’s text overlay tool to check your ad’s text amount in advance and avoid having it rejected after your campaign setup is done. Also, be aware of if at a glance whether your image looks like an ad for something else. You’ll have a caption to give context to your image - but try to avoid an image that has another brand’s logo featured very prominently. Boring stuff aside, this is the fun part where you get to think about how to represent yourself in an impactful way.

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, let’s go back. The reason why we start with strategy is that the strategy dictates what your message will be, what images you’ll choose, even what clients you’ll target.

Consistency is always important. If you’re consistent, the clients will eventually catch on. If you’re a food photographer who is all about the travel experience around food, then the images you choose for your campaign should all point to that message. If a couple of ads in, you throw in a clean e-commerce product shot - just to show you can do that too - you will completely confuse the client.

For your Instagram ads specifically, start with a single image. The tone should not be too salesy if your ad objective is awareness. Remember the ad objectives from before.

If your ad is looking for a conversion (ie: sign up for my mailing list, get a quote, or get in touch) then you should state something to that effect in the caption. You can talk about your medium, where you’re located, your specialty, and a tiny bit about what you can offer someone who chooses to connect - here’s an example:

You are Joe, a Food photographer out of Austin. You are all about bringing together the adventure of travel and the tastes of the region. Check out my portfolio today to get inspired, or even just to experience a visual feast.

Don’t forget, your social ad needs to work in unison with your overall marketing strategy. How does your social ad connect to what you’re saying in your email marketing? How do you describe yourself in a creative directory? How about the mini-booklet you send out a couple of times a year?

Let’s say your perfect client is looking at your ad and would like to further connect with you - curious what that next step should look like, either in terms of them connecting with you, or you connecting with them?

Lucky for you, Facebook has a dropdown of Call-to-Actions to use - Learn More, Sign Up and Contact Us may be good options for commercial artists. If you want your audience to check out your site, that’s perfectly fine to link to - again, your metric for success would be a click-through-rate or cost-per-click in that case. You won’t be able to download a list of impressions and clicks to follow up with from Facebook - so it’s best to have a concrete action on your end to judge success. Especially for a Conversion ad objective, linking to something like a form to request more information, or a mailing list to subscribe to - assuming it’s an event that Facebook can track - would be the best option for having a result that’s for certain from your campaign. Beyond CTA’s and Tracking - the key advice here is - make sure there isn’t a major disconnect between your ad and your destination link experience. It’ll affect the quality of your ad's performance, and could create a high bounce rate.

What happens after your promotion creates engagement is important. It could be a like, a follow, a Direct Message, a mailing list subscriber, even a form filled out. Remember, you can’t follow up with the people who see and click your ad, BUT when your audience chooses to connect, engaging beyond just seeing your image in their feed you need to have a next step locked and loaded.

Just for a minute, let’s sidestep to marketing in general. The “follow-up” is an important element of any marketing campaign. Why? Because marketing is all about building relationships. You threw a little something at them, they reacted now you need to do your part and react.

With social advertising, your follow-up will take a form relevant to what you asked of the audience. A “thanks” for joining my newsletter. A follow back if they decided to follow your Instagram. Maybe a Direct Message if you can think of a way to sincerely connect about the work they do.

To wrap this up, social media ads are most successful when you know what you want from the ads; what’s your endgame? If you see a little interest from someone, that’s your cue to be authentic and start building that relationship. After all, that’s what marketing is all about!

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