How to Get Started with Facebook Ads

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With more than a billion users, Facebook is one of the most frequently used websites on the Internet. People of all types are logging in every day to connect and share with their friends.

Over time, Facebook has built a tremendous data warehouse that catalogs the preferences of each user. Each time a user likes, comments or shares a post, the social media network learns a little more. This is what makes it such a prime advertising opportunity.

Like any paid advertising platform, Facebook can be overwhelming to new users.

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Like any paid advertising platform, Facebook can be overwhelming to new users, but it doesn’t have to be. The sophistication that makes it effective can also be quite confusing. We’ve met many businesses that have tried Facebook ads in the past and either given up in frustration or achieved poor results right away and quit.

Today I’ll be giving you a high-level overview of how to start your first Facebook ads.

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Important Terminology

Facebook uses a hierarchical system to keep your ads in order. It can be confusing, so let’s use clear terminology. There are three levels.

  1. Campaigns — These contain all of your assets for a particular purpose. For instance, you might have campaigns named “holiday sales promotions” or “summer clearance.”
  2. Ad sets — Use these to target specific audience. If your “holiday sales promotions” include products for women over 40 in suburban areas who like baking AND men over 65 who live in rural areas and like fishing, you’ll want an ad set for each group so you can adjust the audiences. You can also set budgets and schedules here.
  3. Ads — These are your actual creatives and copy. Supply Facebook with multiple ads so you can test effectiveness and optimize.

Ads Manager vs. Power Editor

There are two applications you can use to create Facebook ad campaigns.

The Ads Manager is suitable for most businesses. The first screen shows you a list of your campaigns and basic data for each (amount spent, results, and the ending date). At the top left, you can toggle to different accounts if you have several.

The Power Editor is an enhanced tool designed for bulk ads and sophisticated advertising. It is a powerful tool, but not made for beginners. I recommend starting with the Ads Manager. If you decide you need the Power Editor’s advanced features, you can easily transfer your ads and data.

Since most people use the Ads Manager, that’s what I’ll be discussing today. KISSmetrics has a great guide on using the Power Editor.

Step 1: Create a campaign

A campaign is built around an objective. Facebook gives you 13 options. When you choose an objective, Facebook will structure your campaign for best results.

For example, if you are promoting a physical event, Facebook will need to know the time and location. As an ecommerce store owner, you’ll mostly stick with the “send people to your website” objective.

Once you select an option, Facebook will prompt you to name the campaign. Be specific so you can set it apart from other campaigns.

Step 2: Create an ad set

The next step is to create an ad set. There are three components to ad sets.

Audience

The beauty of advertising on Facebook is that you can target the people who are likely to buy your product. If you’re selling custom car parts, there’s no sense advertising to 14 year olds who don’t own cars. In this case, you want your ads shown to people who are old enough to drive, have the disposable income for an expensive hobby, and have shown interest in cars.

(Social Media Examiner nicely explains how to improve your Facebook ads targeting.)

Adjust the options until you’ve created a picture of your ideal customer. Spend some time exploring the Detailed Targeting field so you can pick out the targeting options that are right for your audience. Do your best with what you know. Over time you’ll learn about your customer and refine your audience.

You can create a Custom Audience by supplying Facebook with data of your existing customers. Since it’s easier to sell to current customers, this might be a smart strategy for you, depending on the type of product you sell.

You can also create a Lookalike Audience, which is an audience that’s similar to your existing customers. Here you’ll supply data to Facebook, who will create an audience based on similar characteristics.

To the right of the audience form is the Audience Definition tool. This is a useful metric that uses the information you’ve supplied about your audience to display an estimated reach.

Once you create some effective ads, save the audience you used so you can target them again later. It’s not rare for businesses to have several audiences to reach out to.

Placement

You’ll have to choose where you want your ads to be shown. Most people choose the Automatic Placement option, which lets Facebook pick. However, you can choose your own placement if you know one type works better than another.

Your ad placement options are…

  • Facebook feeds — Right in the News Feed on mobile and desktop.
  • Facebook right-hand column — Those ads to the right of your News Feed.
  • Instagram — Facebook owns Instagram, so they can appear here too.
  • Audience Network — Your ads can appear in other apps that are partnered with Facebook.

Budget & Schedule

Setting a budget and schedule for your ad set is extremely important (even $5/day works). This is how you’ll control your costs. You can set your budget by the day (so it won’t spend any more in a single day once your daily limit is reached) or the life of the campaign (which will spread your budget over your scheduled time period). Carefully set your start and end date. Confirm how much you’ll spend beneath the calendar widget.

Beginners should leave Optimization for Ad Display, Bid Amount, Delivery Type, and Ad Scheduling on the settings Facebook recommends. These are determined by your objective.

If you know how much you’re willing to pay for a conversion, you can enter a manual bid amount. You’ll never pay more than this, but it may influence how your ad is displayed. All other things being equal, Facebook will show the ad with a higher bid to a user.

Step 3. Create your ads

This is where you actually get to develop the creative and copy for your ads.

Format

Facebook offers four formats: carousel, single image, single video, and slideshow.

You’ll have to decide which format is right for your products. Generally, a carousel is good for lines with multiple products, a single image is best when you have striking photos, a video is useful when your product needs some explanation or display, and a slideshow is helpful when you want to show a video, but your target audience has limited connectivity.

Media

This is where you’ll choose your creative assets. You can upload your own or pick from Facebook’s (limited) selection of stock photos. You’ll have to adhere to different design requirements depending on the format you choose.

  • Carousel images should be at least 600 x 600 pixels with a square (1:1 aspect ratio) shape.
  • Single images and slideshow images should be 1280 x 628 pixels.
  • Videos should be .MOV or .MP4 files with at least 720p resolution and a 16:9 widescreen aspect ratio.

Images may not include more than 20% text. Use Facebook’s image text checker to determine if your ad will pass Facebook’s test before you submit your ad.

Page and Links

Here is where you’ll edit the meat of your ad.

First, choose the Facebook page and Instagram account that will be associated with the ad. Next, submit a headline that is 25 characters or less. Include copy for the post itself (above the image) that is 90 characters or less. Under Advanced Options, you can edit the link’s description (the text beneath the headline) and customize how your URL appears.

Once you’re happy with your ads, click Place Order to start.

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Running Your Ads

The Ads Manager dashboard (Ads Manager’s first page) shows you everything you need to understand your ads’ performance at the campaign level. Dive into your ad sets and individual ads to understand the effectiveness of each.

You can filter the columns to discover which ads were most or least effective. You can also customize the columns depending on your needs. I recommend reviewing exactly what Facebook means when you see words like “engagement” or “events” in this article.

Once your ads are running, start thinking about optimization. This is where a lot of people declare a failure and stop working. What made one ad perform better than another? Do you see any commonalities? What assumptions should be made or changed?

If you mind your campaigns carefully, over time you’ll create ads that hook Facebook users into buying your products. But most importantly, you’ll gain knowledge about your audience that can be applied everywhere.

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