View the PDF for the full document on using Facebook from ECDC, from which the following information is taken.

“With 1.23 billion active users, Facebook is one of the cheapest and most efficient platforms for HIV prevention, but it is also one of the most competitive. This means that having an understanding of how to best optimise content and target key MSM populations is crucial to the success of any organic or monetised Facebook campaign.

Getting started

“Facebook’s Business Manager is the system that will allow you to create and manage your campaigns. Once your Business Manager account is set up then it’s time to create your first campaign, but before you get started it’s important to first understand exactly what objective you are trying to achieve. There are three different objective types Facebook outlines and each requires a different plan of action.
Awareness: Designed to encourage engagement, promote key messages and increase knowledge.
This can include boosting a post to generate conversations around sexual health or the service you provide, or encouraging users to become a fan of your page for future updates.

Consideration: Designed to raise awareness of the services you provide and encourage future action.
This can include getting people to watch a promotional video or sending people to your website to view information or consider taking action.

Conversion: Designed to promote direct action, e.g., finding a testing centre or ordering a postal test. By setting up a pixel within your website Facebook will be able to track the number of people engaging with your services and use this to optimise your campaign to increase the number of conversions.

“Determining your core objective before beginning your campaign is vital as it will heavily influence the way you design and measure your campaign and the way Facebook distributes and optimises it. If one  singular objective is not clear then consider multiple campaigns with their own individual objectives.   

Creating content

“It’s important to remember that any social media campaign you create will be directly competing for space in a person’s timeline alongside updates from their family, friends, and other brands and organisations they love. For this reason any traditional advertisements will stand out and a softer approach is often necessary. The aim is to make your advert fit seamlessly into a person’s timeline while simultaneously promoting your message. 

“The first step in creating an engaging piece of content is to decide what kind of content will best convey your message. There are four different types of content currently available on Facebook, including:

Text: A simple text update with no embedded links, images, videos or graphics.
Image: An image usually accompanied by text and a link if applicable
Video: A video usually accompanied by text and a link if applicable
Link: A clickable post usually including an image and a call to action 

“Images are the most versatile type of content and are compatible with all of Facebook’s different advert types and placements but it’s still recommended that you experiment with video and links to see what your audience engage with most.

Creating engaging content

“When creating content, ensuring that it is engaging should be your top priority. Before you send out your first post or advert it’s worth considering the following: 

  • Be consistent: being consistent in the quality and types of posts you create will help to establish your brand voice and message and give your audience a clear understanding of your intentions and objectives and what to expect from you in future.
  • Be brief: try to keep your posts between 100 and 250 characters to get more engagement. Shorter, succinct posts with a clear call to action are much better received.
  • Be timely: be reactive and create content related to breaking news and current events. Plan ahead to take advantage of relevant tent pole occasions like World AIDS Day, Sexual Health Week, National HIV Testing Week, and Valentine’s Day. 
  • Utilise links: even if there is no direct call to action, always give your audience the option to get involved and find out more by including a relevant link to your own or a partner’s website. 
  • Use engaging images and videos: invest the extra time and money into curating and creating high quality photos and videos. Higher quality content means higher engagement. 
  • Create a two way dialogue: social media is designed to encourage conversation. Make sure you’re engaging  your audience in conversation and responding to comments. Including a question in your content where relevant is proven to massively increase engagement. 
  • Keep it simple: Don’t overwhelm your audience with too much information or multiple different call to actions. Keep it clear and make it as easy as possible for your audience to engage. 

Consider your audience

“Identifying the audience you are targeting is also extremely important when creating content. From choosing the models you use in your campaign to establishing a tone of voice, it’s important to ensure that your content appeals to your target demographic. Pre-testing different campaign materials before launching is often advised and can help to determine which adverts will perform best.

Advert placements

“Adverts placed in Facebook’s Business Manager can appear in multiple places including Facebook itself (in the desktop feed, mobile feed, and right column), Instagram, and the Audience Network. Different marketing objectives work best with different placements, and Facebook recommends the following:

Brand awareness: Facebook & Instagram
Engagement: Facebook & Instagram
Video views: Facebook, Instagram, and Audience Network
Website Referrals: Facebook & Audience Network
Conversions: Facebook and Audience Network

“Facebook also has an in built “Automatic Placements” feature that will optimise your placements in order to get the best results at the cheapest cost. Taking advantage of this feature is recommended but it’s important to first ensure that your content is optimised for each individual placement. 


“Targeted adverts are the key to any successful Facebook campaign. With effective targeting it’s possible to make a lasting impact with even the smallest budget. Targeting options include location, age, gender, languages, interests, and connections. Being as specific as possible with the available targeting methods is crucial to the success of your campaign.

Demographic-based targeting: 

  • Age: your call to action should be relevant to the age group you’re targeting. Are some age groups more at risk in the areas you’re targeting? Are some age groups more likely to engage with your call to action? Effectively narrowing your age group by relevance will increase the success of your campaign and lower your cost per conversion.
  • Gender: Facebook’s gender-based targeting is binary and doesn’t allow trans based targeting. Using interest-based targeting is currently the only way to specifically target trans individuals. 
  • Languages: Consider including only those who speak the language your advert is written in. 
  • Connections: Consider excluding those who like your page if you’re seeking a new audience or target friends of people that like the page already. 
  • Location: Only include people in locations that can access your service, and consider exclusively targeting areas that are highly populated with MSM or are most prevalent for HIV. 

Interest-based targeting:

“Sexuality based targeting is not always reliable and is no longer available in many areas. MSM can instead be identified through interest-based targeting. This will never be 100% accurate so some trial and error is always necessary to produce the best possible results.

“Interest targeting can also be used to refine your audience even further. For example:
Trans individuals: consider targeting trans specific pages such as Trans Pride.
Ethnic minorities: consider targeting pages specific to ethnic minorities such as Black Gay Pride.
High-risk individuals: consider targeting sex clubs or other high-risk areas such as Circuit Festival. 
Different age groups: consider targeting or excluding age-based pages such as Gay Mature Dating.
Affluence: consider targeting or excluding luxury purchases such as European Gay Ski Week.


“Before starting your Facebook campaign, you should have done the following: 

  1. Chosen your campaign objective and outlined your goals
  2. Created a selection of highly engaging content that is suitable for your target audience
  3. Selected the best placements for your adverts to appear
  4. Created at least one target group based on both demographic and interest-based targeting
  5. Allocated a budget and distribution plan and outlined achievable realistic targets
  6. Set holistic goals to measure the overall success of your campaign and determined a plan to measure and act upon your on-going progress, successes, and failures

“Once you’ve completed these tasks you’re ready to start your first campaign. The success of any campaign will always rely on a certain degree of trial and error so remember to follow your campaign through every stage and be prepared to optimise and make changes as you go.”

Next module: Twitter

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