If you were handed a math problem and you had no equation for solving it, would you bother trying? Probably not.

Facebook advertising is a lot like a complex math problem. The variables are persnickety and evasive. Most business owners don’t realize this, so I’m not surprised when I hear them say, “Facebook didn’t work for me.”

Here’s an equation we can use to decide whether Facebook advertising would work as well for you as it does for other firms – or whether it would work for you at all.

((T x C x I) + (L x E x M)) x i = R

T = targeting

C = ad copy

I = ad image

L = landing page

E = speed of escalation

M = messaging

i = intake

R = results

The process is dynamic and the variables are many and they are slippery. I’ll show you later how to grab them by the tail.

Modifying any one of these variables can dramatically impact the results.

The dynamic nature of Facebook advertising is totally different from a static billboard or TV commercial. You can’t slap an ad on the internet and expect it to be read, clicked, or even seen.

Prolific hype over social media marketing has made business owners wary of investing more than a dollar or two in it. On the other hand, unqualified prognosticators have made businesses more skeptical by telling them: “Google cannot survive on search revenue alone.” “Facebook is dying.” “SEO is dead.” “Websites are dead.” “Twitter is dead.”

Don’t believe it for a minute.

Facebook alone is an advertising medium comprising 68% of American Adults (Pew Research November 2016). That’s a hefty chunk of consumers, very much alive and online. Their attention is not easily gotten, however, and so a business owner still has to ask two questions: (1) Is Facebook a good medium for my offering? and (2) Can I get my message to my target market by way of Facebook?

Throw the hype out. We don’t need it. We just need to evaluate the platform in terms of its practicality for your firm’s purposes. Facebook is not easy to make work for every business. I’ve had successes and outright failures. The failures hold secrets that we can dig out by approaching online advertising as a dynamic process and moving methodically through potential solutions to identify pitfalls and probabilities.

In this month’s article, I lay out exactly how we go about predicting a campaign’s success potential and making early tweaks to avoid pitfalls.

The Problem: You Need More, Qualified Leads
Solving any math or science problem requires a general idea of where you’re headed and what functions must be employed to get there. The more complex the mathematical problem, the more variables you’ll have in your equations. Calculations are made and then reworked, and all along the way are opportunities for errors.

Today, I’ll show you what I have identified as the most common factors of successful campaigns, and I’ll give you a process to evaluate campaigns you might be thinking about running.

The evaluation might lead to the conclusion that Facebook isn’t ideal for your firm. If that’s the case, I hope you consider this resource valuable in that manner. I do not have a rosy-eyed view of Facebook advertising. It is an incredible platform – arguably the fairest of them all – but it does not work well for everything.

In theory, every campaign could be successful if enough money were available for testing. But the practicality of dropping tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars to prove a campaign can work is not practical for lawyers. The goal here is for you to determine if the practice areas you’d like to promote have a likelihood of success.

Indicators of a Campaign’s Success Potential
My team has run Facebook campaigns for a variety of businesses over the years, and with each success and failure, we’ve been able to identify the traits of the campaigns that performed better and the traits of those that did not.

For example, in mass tort advertising, we’ve had a significantly more difficult time creating successful blood thinner campaigns compared to ones related to cancer. Social security disability tends to perform far better than long-term disability. Motorcycle campaigns have performed better than personal injury.

Here are the salient factors that separate successes from duds:

Most Common Success Factors

  1. Business’s Message Is Easy to Explain and Understand
  2. Target Market is Specific and Definable
  3. Topic is Intriguing
  4. Conversation is Emotional
  5. Next Steps Are Incremental

Let’s break those five down.

Business’s Message Is Easy to Explain and Understand
Can you easily explain the consumer’s general problem and your solution to someone who has no legal experience? Can you explain it with common vocabulary? Can you quickly lay out the premises? If your answers are yes, then your practice area is easy to explain and understand.

Target Market is Specific and Definable
Who is your prospect? If your answer begins with, “Anyone who…,” then your practice area, without further refinement, doesn’t have a specific target market. A specific and definable market may include gender, age, location, hobbies, past/current work, or interests.

Topic is Intriguing
If you brought up this topic at a social gathering of non-lawyers, would they listen to you talk about it for a little bit? Does a person relate to the topic and find it personally meaningful? Is it something they can help make happen? Does the reader feel the solution is achievable? If the answer to these questions is yes, then your topic is probably intriguing, even more so if you inject lesser known facts.

Conversation is Emotional
Sad topics are not necessarily bad topics. Our least successful campaigns have had the least amount of emotion involved. While nearly every practice area can be enlivened by emotion, consider whether the conversation also elicits emotion in non-prospects. For example, depression is an emotional topic even for readers or listeners who are not depressed, because decent people care about other people’s wellbeing.

Next Steps Are Incremental
What are you asking the person to do? If the next step is to read more or to sign up for a free downloadable guide, then it sounds to me like you’re going incrementally. If you’re asking them to contact your firm, then you’re asking them to take a leap from browsing Facebook to contacting a law firm. That’s more than one step, and they’re unlikely to take it.

List and Score Your Practice Areas
Below, list your practice areas. This exercise will help you identify which ones are likely to be successful on Facebook.

Score each column on a scale of 1 to 10. For example, if something is very easy for non-lawyers to explain and understand, then this would rate as a 9 or 10. If something is complex and requires a lot of explanation just to get the person to begin to understand what you’re trying to tell them, this would rate as a 1 or 2. Add all the numbers and you’ve got your score.

It would be wise to have someone fill out these numbers with you. Your familiarity with your topics might keep you from rating objectively.

Select Your Most-Likely-to-Succeed Practice Areas
Look at your scores. Are any particularly high or low?

It’s possible to raise the likelihood of success for a low-scoring practice area. Sometimes it’s as simple as a better angle to approaching the conversation. If you’d like to promote a low-scoring practice area, enlist your team’s help in identifying how you can turn each “no” into a “yes.”

If none of your practice areas scored well and you’re generating plenty of leads elsewhere, you might want to disregard Facebook advertising for now.

If one or more practice areas scored high – or if you’re determined to test one of them no matter what – proceed to the next section. It’s time to start planning your campaign.

A Note about Budget
When you’re running a Facebook campaign, you have to allocate enough funds to obtain informative results. If you’re used to paying an average of $1,000 per case, do not allocate only $1,000. Set aside enough money to “play the numbers game” or you’re wasting your time. Just as limiting yourself to $1,000 on TV ads makes no sense, you don’t want careless limitations here.

Action Steps

  1. Using a piece of paper, create a chart with your practice areas in the left column and across the top each of the five success indicators.
  2. Score each practice area’s success indicators.
  3. Add the individual scores up to identify which campaigns have the highest scores.

Determine if, after identifying the success potential, you still want to run a campaign. If so, select one of your highest scored practice areas and begin making plans with your

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