The Startup’s Playbook To Finding B2B Customers on Facebook

Just spent money on facebook ads and it's gone

Facebook is big.

There’s currently about 1,8 billion people on the damn thing. Religiously spending 50 minutes of their free time. Every day.

Going crazy over cats, laughing their assess off at hilarious videos, getting upset in political discussions and reading news from all sorts, real and fake.

Facebook is too big to ignore. For marketers. For founders. For you.

It‘s the planet’s fastest platform to build your know, like and trust factor.

People buy from people they know, like and trust.

This makes Facebook the fastest platform to sell.

The frictionless sales funnel you dream of at night.

But there’s a problem.

Facebook’s marketing possibilities are so powerful they’re the stuff nightmares are made of.

For a lot of people marketing on Facebook feels like flying a space shuttle. It’s insanely cool but you don’t really know what you’re doing.

I have no idea what i'm doing

It all just feels a little overwhelming. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

The goal of this Playbook is to cut right through all of the overwhelming stuff and get you up and selling on Facebook in no time.

These 12 Plays will teach you everything you need to know to turn the world’s biggest social platform into your startup’s own little kingdom.

There’s three main ingredients to it:

  • a thorough understanding of your audience👂
  • high-quality content that resonates with your audience 📖
  • a small budget for Facebook ads 💶

That’s it.

Value-audience fit combined with an understanding of Facebook’s targeting principles and some pocket change will have you creating powerful converting ads in no-time.

You’ll find additional resources to fill in the gaps at the end of the post.

Let the games begin.

Play #1: Spread value before you expect love

I see a lot of startups starting out on Facebook asking things like:

  • try our app! 😉😉
  • let us know what you think! 😉😉
  • like our page! 😉😉
  • spread the love! 😉😉


Why would anyone that is not your mother, lover or friend share something from some weird startup on their Facebook timeline? 🤷

☝️ Always remember that you work for your audience.

It’s not about you and it’s even less about what you have to say.

It’s about them and about what you can give them.

You need to deserve their engagement by giving them value.

High-quality content that helps, inspires, delights and/or entertains is the name of your game.

I find your lack of facebook disturbing

That doesn’t mean your content has to be original.
At least in the beginning.

Winning on Facebook equals building an interested, engaged audience.

To get there, you’ll first need to find out what kind of content resonates with the people you’re looking to entice. Your audience bouncing off the content you share will tell you what kind of stuff is of value to them.

This will take trial and error.

The good news is you’ll build up an engaged fan base while doing that.

Study competitors and other pages that seem to have nailed content-audience fit. Throw stuff on your page and see what sticks.

Take your time to really get a hang of who your audience is by making mistakes with someone else’s content 😏.

The upside to having few followers is that no one will notice if you fuck up.

Aside from that: creating high-value original content and getting zero engagement really sucks.

Trust me, I’ve been there… 👉 Curate before you create.

Once you figure out what kind of content works well, you can start dropping stuff of your own and build up from there.

Try to make your content as shareable as possible by sticking to Jonah Berger’s Six STEPPS to virality from his book Contagious.

Jonah Berger's six teps to virality

Source: Jonah Berger

You can’t please millennials, midlife-crisis dads, gamers and online marketers at the same time.

Unless you can create something as cool as Star Wars. Or Game Of Thrones.

Focus on finding your sweet spot, the niche where you can have most influence. Then double-down on it.

This is not just Facebook wisdom. It applies to all things marketing.

Play #2: Play by Mark’s rules

In case you’ve been living under a rock: Facebook is trying to take over the world.

They want to kill Google, Snapchat and all the others to become the one and only online place people spend their time. One Platform To Rule Them All

This means you shouldn’t be linking people away from Facebook to one of the platforms it’s trying to destroy.

So upload videos on Facebook rather than linking to YouTube.

Don’t take away Facebook’s candy if you want it to be nice to you.

Deal with it

Not because I want Facebook to win or whatever, but because Facebook will give your content more relevance if it’s native.

You can bet your ass more people will see your stuff if you post it as a Facebook video instead of a YouTube video.

Use Facebook’s narcissism to your advantage by playing along.

Example? Right now they’re pushing video, so go nuts 🎬.

Biggest reach? Live video 👉 You know what to do.

Play #3: Drive engagement with boosted posts

Optimise boosted posts for maximum page engagement

Boosting posts can speed up the process of figuring out what kind of content works and help you get an engaged community faster.

The how-to is not rocket science. You can literally tell Facebook that you want your ad to get you more page likes.

Facebook’s targeting tool is pretty mind-blowing.

Want to show your ad for a wellness treatment to a married woman 💍 with a college degree 📜, earning over $60k a year 💰, living in Buenos Aires 🏙️ with a habit of shopping online 🛍️ with her credit card 💳, because she has an anniversary 🎉 coming up within 30 days?

Sure thing, mate.

I didn’t even go crazy there. Check out this infographic ⚠️.

Targeting based on interests is just one way. We’ll dig deeper on different kinds of audiences and what kind of ads to show them in Plays later 👇.

In spite of the fu*kton of targeting possibilities, ads targeted to people who like pages of competitors or other influencers in the space tend to work just as well. They’re basically free leads as those pages already did the buttering up for you.

To show ads to Facebook fans of a competitor, go to Interests in Facebook Ad Manager and type the Page name. If it matches, the Page is available for you to target and your ad will be shown to its fans.

This doesn’t work for every Page.

Pages with a lot of likes can usually be targeted, but there’s no way to know for sure other than just trying.

You can extend this strategy by targeting other Pages relevant to your competitor’s followers.

Go to Audience Insights.
(Just search for it in the top search bar.)

Put the Page you want to gain insights for and check out Page Likes to check what other Pages they’re liking.

How about boosting posts to your own audience and their friends? 🤔

Sounds like a zero-sum game, but it isn’t.

Your own audience is already hot for you so they’re more likely to engage with your content. In turn, non-fans will be more likely to engage with a post that already has some likes than with one that has none.

⚠️ Don’t fuck up the nice relationship you already have with these people by shoving ads down their throats.

Your goal is to feed them epic value up to the point where they become paying customers and/or brand ambassadors.

Given that by now you have a pretty good idea of the stuff they’re interested in, the best way to achieve this is by promoting content from your blog.

Rule of thumb 👍:

  • Day 1: Boost to people who like your page — warm audience 🔥
  • Day 2: Boost to friends of people who like your page — tepid audience 💧
  • Day 3: Boost the people you choose through targeting — cold audience ❄️

If you don’t feel like spending a ton on driving page engagement, try right-column ads instead of the more expensive ones in the News Feed.

Marketers seem to think right-column ads are beyond useless. The truth is they can be effective at a low price.

As with everything in online marketing: A/B test the shit out of it before you jump to conclusions.

Play #4: Grow your fanbase by inviting post likers

Take advantage of the momentum you created with your content by inviting post likers to also like your page.

These people are likely to engage with future content but often don’t take the effort to go to your page to like it.

This is especially true for people navigating Facebook on mobile, as these tend not to leave the newsfeed to explore content sources.

By inviting them you give them the opportunity to connect with you with just one click.

Of course, you don’t want to spend your precious time and energy manually clicking all of the Invite — buttons.

Luckily, there’s a script to do this for you. Of course there is 😏.

Go ahead and click the likes of one of your posts. In Google Chrome.
(You may want to scroll down a bit to load all the post likers.)

Now open up Chrome’s JavaScript Developer Console.

  • You can do this by going to [View] — [Developer] — [JavaScript Console].
  • Or by right-clicking somewhere on the page and clicking [Inspect].
  • Or by using the short keys CMD+OPTION+J on Mac or F12 on Windows.

With the post likers all lined up — paste the following code into the console:

var buttons;buttons = document.getElementsByClassName('_42ft');for (var i = 0; i < buttons.length; i++) { if(buttons[i].getAttribute('ajaxify') != null){  if(buttons[i].getAttribute('ajaxify').indexOf('invite') != -1){   buttons[i].click();  } }}

👉 Hit Enter.

All the post likers who haven’t liked your page yet, are now invited to do so.

Play #5: Drive website traffic with dark posts

Dark posts for driving traffic and A/B testing

A dark post is a post that is only shown to the audience you target. It won’t appear in your newsfeed.

Optimise these ads to generate traffic to your website or app with compelling CTAs.

Just know that you’ll be paying more for ads when targeting a cold audience.

Dark posts are also a pretty awesome way to do A/B testing ⚖️.

👉 Say you’re unsure about how to call your next blog post 🤔.

You can just run two very low-budget ads with different headlines and see which one gets the most traction.

Dark posts allow you to run several ads to different target audiences. A/B test headlines and create personalised messages for different demographic and geographic targets.

Other stuff you can A/B test using dark posts:

  • which photo to use for content
  • which video to post
  • which audience to target
  • what landing page to throw
  • what mockups of your app to use

You can run dozens of ads on one and the same day — without a single one of them actually showing up in your Page’s timeline.

Play #6: Unleash the Power of the Facebook Pixel

Facebook’s Pixel is a little script you install on your website that follows people around as they navigate your website 🕵️.

It comes with three superpowers:

#1. Tracking website visitors
The Pixel will allow you to show ads to people who visited your website.

A few ways the Pixel allows you to segment website visitors into targeted Custom Audiences:

  • people who have visited your website in the past 24 hours
  • people who have visited your website in the past 180 days but have not been back in 30 days
  • people who have visited a specific page on your website
  • people who have visited a specific page on your website but not another specific page

To create a Custom Audience from your Pixel, select Website Traffic in your Audiences section. See Play #8 for more.

#2. Tracking website conversion
The Pixel will help Facebook understand if an ad has successfully sparked conversion of any kind.

You can in fact set up different conversion events. Think trial signups, purchases, newsletter subscriptions and more.

Facebook will use the information on conversions gathered by the Pixel to optimise ads for future conversion on your site.

#3. Lookalike audiences
Facebook will use the intelligence on people visiting and converting to create audiences of people with same characteristics likely to convert from your ads in the future.

More on the magic of lookalike audiences in Plays #7 and #11 👇.

The more data your Pixel can gather on website visits and conversions, the more accurate that data. And the more powerful ads and audiences based on that data.

So get the Facebook Pixel on your website, right now.

Even if you’re not at the stage where you’re running ads just yet.

It’s in your startup’s best interest that the Pixel starts learning about your website visitors ASAP.

👉 Here’s a breakdown of how to equip your website with the Facebook Pixel and how to set it up for Conversion Tracking.

Use the FB Pixel Helper extension for Chrome to make sure you’ve set up everything correctly.

You can check up on how your Pixel is doing by going to Pixels from the Assets section in Facebook Ads Manager menu. It will show you all the visitors and events the Pixel has been tracking.

At Salesflare, we’ve put our Facebook pixel in our link tracking so we can make Custom Audiences out of people clicking the links in our emails.

We’d be happy to give you the same powers. Just let us know 😎.

Play #7: Lay Out The Audience Playing Field

The key to successful advertising is showing the right ads to the right people. Facebook is no different.

You’ve probably heard wild things about all the ways you can use Facebook to target potential customers and nurture existing leads.

So wild it probably scared you a bit 😳.

Before we dive into the good stuff, we’ll take a moment to lay out all targeting options as well as the best ways to use them, both separately and combined.

It’s all not as scary as it sounds.

Custom Audiences

With Custom Audiences you can connect with people who already have some kind of relationship with your startup.

Engaging with existing customers, trial users or email subscribers on their favourite social network reinforces your brand and gives you the opportunity to nurture leads, increase CLV and build loyalty.

You can create Custom Audiences from:

  • A list of emails.
  • People visiting your website, captured by the Pixel.
  • People that completed a particular action on your website or app. Think signups for a free trial or paid subscriptions.
  • People that engaged with you on Facebook itself, such as watching your video.

Lookalike Audiences

Lookalike Audiences are groups of people Facebook puts together for you based on similarities with existing Custom Audiences.

They allow you to find new leads you haven’t had the pleasure of meeting yet by mirroring your Facebook fan base, website visitors and customers.

And more.

You can build a Lookalike Audience of every Custom Audience you have.

Lookalikes allow you to go beyond your existing reach while still targeting highly specific profiles.

Facebook can create Lookalike Audiences from several sources:

  • Facebook Page Fans.
  • Retargeting List put together by your Pixel.
  • Custom Audience created from emails — think free trial users, paid users, newsletter subscribers or any other email list you have.

To allow Facebook to put together a fairly accurate Lookalike, your base Custom Audience should have — as a rule of thumb — at least 2,500 people in it.


You can get freakishly specific in targeting people for Facebook ads.

The number of different demographics, behaviours, traits and interests you can combine to target is just staggering.

Think of any possible way there is to characterise a persona on the surface of this Earth and I pinky promise you Facebook has it as a targeting option.

What’s more 👉 Facebook’s targeting tool allows you to layer options on top of another, getting more and more specific.

Check out this hilarious story of a guy targeting his flatmate with ads so creepily specific it scared the shit of the poor guy.

If you nail figuring out the intent, needs and likelihood to engage of any given audience, you’ll be able to layer Facebook’s targeting to get your ads in front of exactly the people you need to get them in front of.

Exclusion of audiences

Not only can you include several Audiences when targeting, you can also exclude others to get more specific.

Exclusion of audiences is key to dominating Facebook ads.

For any ad idea and the goal you attach to it, there will be people it shouldn’t be shown to. You don’t want paying customers to see a special deal for trial users to start paying, right?

Make Custom Audiences of every possible group you imagine to be relevant for your startup. This will make it easy for you to make sure the value of your offering is relevant to every single person you show it to.

Use the power of exclusion to avoid having multiple ads targeting the same audiences by setting up a hierarchy of audiences.

Something like:

  • All Facebook fans
  • Retargeting List (excluding Fans)
  • Lookalike Audience (excluding Fans and Retargeting Lists)
  • Interests (excluding Fans, Retargeting List and Lookalike Audiences)

Play #8: Push lurking fans up your Sales Pipeline with Custom Audiences

Play #3 already covered launching ads to Fans of your page to drive your page’s engagement and eventually turn ‘m into brand ambassadors and/or customers.

You can use similar tactics to nurture relationships with subscribers of your email list. These are people that already know and like you because of the value you’re providing, but aren’t using your product yet.

You can create a Custom Audience of your email subscribers from a .CSV — list with their email addresses. Or from MailChimp.

Note that Facebook can only target emails that have an active Facebook account attached to it.

Most people sign up for Facebook with their personal email. So if they signed up to your newsletter with their work emails, Facebook won’t be able to include them in your Custom Audience.

You can try to party bypass this by using phone numbers. If you have those.

At Salesflare, we like to combine Custom Audiences from emails with a bunch of demographics. The more data, the better the matching.

You can choose to further nurture your relationship with these people by showing them other blog posts or offers to free trial sign-ups.

To achieve maximum ROI here, aim to only include people in your list who actually read your emails by segmenting on recent opens and link clicks in your email automation tool.

This way you’re only targeting the people who already have strong positive feelings towards your brand, while filtering out others not so much interested in engagement.

Or turn it around 👇.

Target prospects that never open your emails and make sure they don’t miss out on your message and spark engagement.

What if you want to target the readers of your blog whose email addresses you don’t have yet? 🤔

You can retarget your blog visitors with Facebook ads by creating a Custom Audience from the Facebook Pixel, filtering blog visitors.

As with your newsletter subscribers, you can nurture these relationships by showing ads featuring new blog posts.

Loyal readers will be happy to click through while the additional exposure might turn one-time readers into returning fans.

As always it all depends on whether the value you’re offering resonates with the people you’re eyeballing.

👉 Show blog readers lead magnets to get their email addresses

Lead magnets are pieces of free, high-value content people have to give up their email addresses for.

Think ebook, webinars, video courses, downloadable templates… Anything with enough value to convince people to give you their email address so you can put them into your sales pipeline.

Make sure to exclude people who already subscribed to your newsletter from this list. You already have their email addresses, so showing them lead magnets is a waste of money.

Just exclude the Email List audience you made before setting up the ad.

Play #9: Put the moves on dream customers with Lookalike Audiences

Would you like some more of your best customers?

People that really need your value and are likely to convert once you put the moves on them?

This is exactly what Lookalike audiences can do for you.

While Custom Audiences are awesome for guiding leads further up your sales funnel, Lookalike Audiences are your go-to tool to reach new people, find fresh leads and target them with ads.

Lookalikes are groups of people that weren’t on your radar before, put together by Facebook from either emails or data gathered by your Pixel.

If done right, Lookalike Audiences can get you a lot of new leads 🤑.

Probably the most valuable lookalike you can create is the one based on your customers with the highest Customer Lifetime Value or CLV.

If you’re not using CLV to direct marketing efforts yet…
👉 Now would be a good time to start.

It tells you how much money to spend on getting and retaining customers. This makes it one of the most mattering metrics for understanding your customers.

To calculate CLV, combine the following variables:

  • average value of a sale
  • number of recurring payments
  • average number of users (if relevant)
  • average retention time for a typical customers (months or years)

For example, the CLV of a Salesflare customer paying $30 every month for four users during four years: $30*12*4*4 = $4,320

calculating math in head

Take the top 20% with the highest CLV and create a Custom Audience out of their emails. These, my friend, are the customers of your dreams.

Now, create a Lookalike from that Custom Audience.

👉 An audience mirrored from just your dream customers is far more likely to convert than just all your customers.

Make another killer Lookalike Audience based on conversions

First create a Custom Audience of people that converted on your website.

You can do this by filtering on people visiting a page that can only be visited after they completed a purchase. A Thank You — page for example 👇.

Then create a Lookalike Audience from that Custom Audience.

Keep in mind that the more data your Pixel has been able to gather, the more accurate your Lookalike Audience will be.

Don’t be surprised if your Lookalike Audience isn’t converting at mind-blowing rates if you had your Pixel set up since a week.

Other Lookalikes you can try out:

  • Lookalike based on your email list of paid users
  • Lookalike based on your email list of free users

A few best practices to get the most out of Lookalikes:

  • Exclude your Retargeting lists from Lookalike campaigns
  • Facebook will create a Lookalike with the 1% people most similar to the original audience. You can create a broader audience but my advice is to only scale up if you exhausted results from the initial 1%. The broader you go, the less alike your Lookalike will be. 1% from the United States gives you about 2 million people. I’d say that’s a pretty solid start.
  • Consider combining Lookalike Audiences with broader interest groups. For Salesflare, we could create a Lookalike of our email list and refine that group to target people working in sales and startups.

Play #10: Put up a Retargeting Funnel

You can use the Time Since Last Visit — filter of your Pixel to create a smart retargeting funnel for website visitors.

The idea is that you’ll have these people go through a sequence of different promotion/value offers as time passes since their last visit.

👉 Gently guiding them towards conversion.

It’ll take some time to figure out the sequence that converts best, but once you do, you can just sit back in your couch, play Mario Kart and watch it happen.

A basic retargeting funnel would look something like this 👇

  • Day 0–6 since last visit: promotion for free trial signup
  • Day 7–11: offer lead magnet to get email address (ebook, etc)
  • Day 12–16: highlight benefit #1 of product with CTA to signup for trial
  • Day 17–21: testimonial video highlighting the value of the product with CTA to signup for trial
  • Day 21–25: highlight benefit #2 of product with CTA to signup for trial
  • Day 26–30: promotion for free trial signup with new image in the ad

Just to give you an idea.

You’ll need to figure out what works best for your conversion process. Play around with times since last visit and different types of content. Try to build a narrative into the sequence to make it stick more.

The practical side of this boils down to creating Custom Audiences for each of the time windows you‘d want to target with different ads. Then create ad sets for each Custom Audience.

The drawback for this specific funnel is that people revisiting your website will also be re-entering the funnel from the beginning.

You can get around this by aligning the funnel to a Custom Conversion

For example, Salesflare’s retargeting funnel is triggered when visitors request our whitepaper on The Augmented Sales Team from the homepage.

👉 Not only does this prevent them from re-entering the funnel from the start, it also does the job of initial lead qualification.

You can do something similar to set up a retargeting funnel for people starting a trial by having a specific page (like a Thank You — page) trigger the funnel.

Evergreen retargeting sequences like these could be a powerful part of your strategy. Just make sure to have a steady influx of fresh leads entering your funnel. Lookalike Audience tactics from Play #9 can help you there.

Play #11: Target LinkedIn Connections

Turn your LinkedIn connections into leads by showing them Facebook ads with relevant value.

You can easily do this by loading your LinkedIn connections as a Custom Audience in Facebook.

Head over to Settings & Privacy under your LinkedIn avatar.

Under Account look for Getting an archive of your data.

This will get you a .CSV with all of your connections’ data, including email addresses you can load into Facebook as a Custom Audience.

Consistently providing value on several platforms at the same time is a great way to quickly build up your know, like and trust factor.

This tactic will work best if you’re relatively active on LinkedIn and have a fair amount of possible prospects in your network.

Your connections will be more likely to turn into leads if they know who you are and think you’re valuable.

Play #12: Build a killer Facebook Group

Welcome to the Ultimate Boss — level of selling on Facebook.

⚠️ This is a path many have tried to walk, but few have mastered.

A great Facebook Group takes a like-minded audience and high-quality content. Every day again.

As the community’s founder, you are responsible for both.

You’ll have to recruit your members one by one and feed them content they can’t get anywhere else.

Think about it:

How many truly great Facebook Groups are you in?

One that gives you unique content every day. One where no one blatantly spams their own product. One where every post is a beacon of value and engagement.

How many? 🤔

Even growth marketing powerhouse Josh Fechter failed twice before finally cracking the code.

Today he runs one of the most engaged and valuable communities of entrepreneurs and growth marketers out there. –

He does this by giving his members incredible and unique value every day again, inspiring others to do the same.

You need to spend all of your time and energy on creating something that actually brings value to the people you’re asking for money!
💬 Gary Vaynerchuk

It’s the most extraordinary case of community building I have ever seen.

Next, he built upon his community to make marketing automation startup Autopilot $200k in sales. I kid you not.

You ain’t seen nothing yet 😏

Consider this the prologue to the introduction of Facebook Marketing.

There’s a lot more where that came from.

Think of these Plays as the tutorials they have you go through when starting a new video game.

These were the basic moves to get you started. To get to the Pro-level you need to start playing.

The best Facebook ad strategy is diversified, comprehensive and, most of all, ridiculously specifically targeted to your ideal customer.

Don’t just pick one of the Plays mentioned here. Try all of them.

Mix things up and combine them into your own unique recipes. Test the shit out of it to eventually get to the perfect tactics for every single target group.

As with anything in marketing, it all comes down to value-audience fit.

Who is your audience, what problems do they have and what is of value to them? What traits and characteristics do they share and does all of this fit with the ridiculous amount of targeting possibilities Facebook has to offer?

Those are the essentials you need to figure out in order to really kill it. From there on it’s all just playing and hustling.

If you’re looking to dig deeper, check out these resources from AdEspresso:

These guides will fill you in on stuff not covered here and more.

👉 Most importantly budgeting and bidding.

Marketing is as much about how much you put in it as it is about how much you get out of it.

AdEspresso also has two eBooks on killing it on Facebook with your business, but you can be sure they’ll target you with those on Facebook as soon as you start reading the guides listed here 💩.

At last, have a look at this Canva guide on how to graphically design Facebook ads that get results. We all like things pretty on the eyes.

We hope you liked this post.

If you did, hit ❤ to spread the word!

For more hot stuff on startups, growth marketing and sales
subscribe here
follow @salesflare on Twitter

Gilles DC