If you’re using Facebook for your business, you’ve probably asked the question — are Facebook Ads really worth the time and money?

It’s a fair question to ask.

After all, you probably signed up for Facebook with expectations that it was strictly a free platform.

And without an extensive marketing budget, it’s understandable that you wouldn’t want to risk your valuable marketing dollars on something you’re still unsure of.

But here’s the thing — paying to promote your content is one of the best ways to reach the right audience on Facebook.

This is especially true if you own a small business that primarily serves a local clientele.

With Facebook’s ad targeting features, you can easily target your content to Facebook users living in and around your city or town.

You can also use Facebook’s Custom Audiences tool to target people who are already on your email list. Or Facebook’s Lookalike Audiences feature to target people who have similar interests as the people on your email list.

Whether you’re looking to get more visibility for a special announcement or want a better way to reach potential customers on Facebook — Facebook Ads can help.

Here are four examples of Facebook ads that drive results:

1. Raise awareness in your community

Sometimes, your goal on Facebook will simply be to generate awareness. This is especially true if you’re a new business or you recently underwent a major change.

Take this example from Bridge Cape Ann:

Post by The Bridge Cape Ann.

The team at Bridge Cape Ann recently relaunched their website and wanted to raise awareness for all the great work that they were already involved in. Using Facebook’s targeting feature, they were able to promote a video they had already posted on Facebook to reach a local audience.

The ad ran for one week, with a set budget of $15 per day.

According to Jon Cooney, founder of Bridge Cape Ann, the video reached 16,000 people and generated more than 2,400 clicks. Most importantly, it helped get the word out about Bridge Cape Ann.

“Promoting our video on Facebook definitely generated a lot of good word-of-mouth in our community and helped introduce us to a number of new clients,” Jon explains. “It helped kick off our relaunch in a major way.”

If you don’t have a video that captures your business, look to share another piece of content that illustrates the great work your team is doing. This could be a post from your blog, or could also be a recent email announcement.

2. Promote a local event

Posting about your event on Facebook has always been a great way to promote a special occasion for your business.

The only problem is that with changes to Facebook’s News Feed algorithm, the number of people who see your posts about the event can be limited.

To solve this problem, take a look at a recent post you’ve done about an upcoming event. Is there one that generated higher than average engagement (likes, comments, or shares)?

You don’t always have to create something new when promoting a post. If a post is already doing well, it’s likely it will do well when you pay to put it in front of a larger audience.

Because you’re paying to promote your event, it’s important to have an event landing page. Don’t rely on someone seeing your post and remembering to show up. Include a link to an event landing page and give them the option to register in advance.

3. Attract local customers with a great offer

For a lot of small businesses, email marketing is one of the most powerful channels for promoting an upcoming sale or special offer.

You create a professional-looking email, send it out to your list of contacts, and people either click through to redeem the offer or print out your email and come into your store or office.

But what if you could extend the reach of that email beyond the inbox and promote your offer to people who haven’t already signed up to your email list?

With Facebook’s custom audience feature, you can easily upload your list and Facebook will match those email addresses to find contacts that are already on the site. You can choose to promote your offer to this audience to improve your chances of being seen by people who already know your business.

Or, you can use your list to create a lookalike audience. With this feature, Facebook uses the list of contacts that you upload to generate a list of people who live in your targeted area, that have similar interests as the people on your list.

This is a great opportunity to not only retarget the people who are on your list and may not have acted on the offer, and also get your business in front of a whole new audience.

4. Grow your audience beyond Facebook

Paying to promote your content on Facebook can help build your social media audience, and also presents a valuable opportunity to grow your email list.

You can use Facebook Lead Ads to target new email subscribers by location or interests. These ads are easy to create and point Facebook users to a sign-up form that’s pre-filled with contact information that they’ve publicly shared on Facebook. Once your new subscribers fill out the form, their information will be automatically pulled into your Constant Contact account where you can start engaging with them.

Choose one of these ideas to see how Facebook Ads can work for you.

Pick a goal for your ad. Maybe you just want more visibility or Facebook fans or maybe you’ll want to attract a certain number of new customers.

Based on your goal, make sure to choose a budget that you’re comfortable with and use Facebook’s built-in targeting features to reach the right audience.

Finally, make sure to track your results. Did you add new fans or see a spike in engagement? If you’re promoting an event, did you see better attendance numbers? Or if you’re promoting an offer, did you see more foot traffic during and after the ad was running?

This information can help you make decisions about whether paying to promote your content on Facebook is right for your business, and will show you what you can do differently to improve your results.

Have additional questions?

You can find more Facebook tips on our Facebook 101 page.