Today’s guest post is written by Jennifer MacDonald.

It seems one can hardly market their business on Facebook without paying for something.

Yes, a business page is free, but because only 16 percent of your followers see your posts, turning them into a sponsored post ad is an excellent way to get better visibility and gain more followers.

Facebook sponsored post ads can generate real results for your brand on Facebook. The best part is you do not need a large marketing budget to be successful.

The minimum daily budget to run a Facebook ad is $5, and you can run your ad for only one day, if you choose.

Getting Results with Facebook Ads

First, determine your goals. That will help you figure out what you want to do with your ads.

Want to create some buzz about an upcoming conference you’re attending?  One of the best features of Facebook ads is their ability to target. You can target your ads by age, location, industry, workplaces, interests, and more. Is this a conference for your franchise network? Then target their workplace and the average age of your franchisees.

You can choose to show your ads only to your fans, or include those who haven’t yet ‘liked’ your page. However, ads targeting “Friends of Connections” usually generate the best results. This type of targeting shows your ad with the viewer’s friend’s name, saying they either liked your page, RSVP’d to your event, or used your app.

End result? More page likes, increased brand visibility, more information shared, and ultimately more traffic to your conference location.

The Power of Reach

The real power of Facebook ads is reach. I’ll use our Engage 121 business page as an example. During the past month, 63 wall posts have generated a total reach of 21,309. We then promoted seven of these posts, generating an increased reach total to 314,912.

During that same time period, we received 165 page likes from these sponsored post ads. Compare this to a similar period without advertising, where we received 65 page likes from those who visited the page.

The best results to-date from a sponsored post ad was from a blog post recap we wrote on Guy Kawasaki’s presentation at the IFA convention earlier this year. We ran the ads for 30 days, and generated a reach of 425,000 with 311 clicks. Total cost? Only $50.

Facebook Ads Work with All Kinds of Content

Video: Each Friday we present a video blog highlighting the social media news of the week. The post is promoted Friday around 2:00 p.m. thru Sunday midnight. Last week we received 16 clicks, seven actions and 1,954 impressions. We spent $5.09.

Webinars: Promote your webinar using a Facebook ad. It’s especially effective if you first create an event page. After you’ve created the event, you can share it to your wall and then turn it into an ad. It will include the image, title, and underneath the ad it will say “Join.”

Promotions or Contests: At Engage121 we are offering a 90-day free trial of our software to realtors. For this promotion, we shared a postcard describing the trial as a post on our wall. After turning this post into an ad, we received 13 leads for the trial and 289 clicks. The post itself received 26 likes, five shares and 20 comments. Remember, those likes and comments show up under the image in your ad, in real time. If someone likes that post/image after you’ve created the ad, the ad will reflect the new number of likes.

One last tip: I’ve noticed when I run sponsored post ads containing text only and no image, they aren’t nearly as successful. Photos and video seem to do best with ads, as they do with EdgeRank.

Create your Facebook ads with clear goals in mind. Increasing likes isn’t always enough; there should be a call to action be it to visit you at a conference, register for a webinar, download content, or buy a product or service.

How are you keeping your brand name top of mind for your Facebook community?

Jennifer MacDonald  is the director of community and client engagement for Engage 121. You can follow her on Twitter at JenniMacDonald.