Creating a Facebook ad is a smart, simple way to harness the power of social media for your business. If you've never produced an ad before, though, don't go into the process blindly. Follow these five steps to develop a basic Facebook ad for your dental practice.

1. Decide On an Objective

One of the greatest benefits of Facebook ads is that they can accomplish several goals. To create a successful ad, however, you'll need to decide on your objective before you begin.

Opt to increase conversions on your website if you want to drive Facebook users to set up appointments or schedule consultations. Choose to reach people near your business if you've determined that local targeting is a priority. Promote your page to gain more likes and build a larger audience for your Facebook content.

2. Select Your Audience

Next, narrow down the audience for your ad. While you can expand your scope as much as you like with Facebook ads, you'll want to target certain groups to get the most bang for your buck.

Start by selecting people in your local area, and narrow it down from there. If you have a pediatric practice, for instance, you'll want to gear your ad toward parents. If you're advertising vanity procedures, consider targeting Facebook users with a higher income or net worth.

3. Determine a Budget

Decide on either a daily or a lifetime budget. Keep in mind that you can set the ad to run only during certain times of the day or week. Don't forget to choose between pay-per-click ads and pay-per-impression ads. Both options will serve your ad to hundreds or thousands of Facebook users, so you'll just need to decide whether you want to pay based on conversions or appearance.

4. Design an Eye-Catching Ad

Since you'll be competing with all of the other advertising and user-generated content on Facebook, creating an eye-catching ad is important to your campaign's success. Focus on a great image first, since graphic content takes up at least 50 percent of the ad space.

For the headline, try to distill your point into just a handful of attention-getting words. In the description, create a call to action so your target audience knows exactly how to react to your ad.

5. Track the Metrics

As your ad runs, be sure to keep a close eye on its performance. Use the Facebook Ad Manager to track how many impressions your ad has generated, the number of click-throughs it has prompted, or the number of likes you've gained. You can also track your spending and reach here, so you'll know whether the ad is producing the results you want.

Keep in mind that you can adjust settings such as budget and scheduling throughout the campaign. Whether the ad isn't performing as well as you'd like or it's a great success, don't hesitate to modify these settings as you go.

Facebook has nearly limitless potential to generate new business for your dental practice. Invest your advertising dollars wisely, and stick to these guidelines for creating a Facebook ad for your business.

Image via Flickr by planetc1