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How to Advertise on Facebook

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Despite the issues Facebook faces with regard to privacy and data, billions of people across the world still use the platform—making it an essential tool for small business marketing. Are you wondering how to advertise on Facebook?

We’re here to help. In this guide, we’ll explain the essentials of advertising on this social media platform, how to start running your own ads, as well as how much it costs to advertise on Facebook. Plus, we’ll include tips and best practices on how to advertise on Facebook from real small business owners who have experience with the platform.

Getting Started With Facebook Advertising

If you’re asking yourself, “how do I advertise on Facebook,” you’re probably not alone. Although any business can learn to successfully advertise their product or service on this social media platform, there are a few things you’ll need to know before you get started.

First, you’ll want to understand a little bit about how Facebook Ads work. Essentially, when you set up a campaign—that is an ad with certain objectives, restrictions, budget, and schedule—the ad will appear in certain places on Facebook called “placements.” You may see these ads on your desktop or mobile device either directly in your newsfeed or in the righthand column, as you see in the photo below.

how to advertise on facebook

Example of a newsfeed and sidebar ad on Facebook.

Next, it’s important to understand that there are a variety of different types of ads you can run on Facebook. There are basic image ads, video ads, polls, slideshow collections, messenger ads, and more. When you’re just starting to learn how to advertise on Facebook, you’ll likely want to stick to the simplest ad types—image or video ads.

Finally, you’ll want to consider the elements that will be required to actually advertise on Facebook. As we’ll discuss in greater detail below, you will, of course, need a Facebook account, but more specifically, you’ll need a Facebook Business page and an ad account. Additionally, you’ll want to recognize that small business advertising on Facebook isn’t as simple as clicking a button and launching your ad onto the platform. Instead, you’ll need to make decisions with regard to your advertising objectives, ad format, audience, and placement. Plus, Facebook has advertising policies that dictate what ads are acceptable and unacceptable on their site—and you’ll need to follow these guidelines.

Why Advertise on Facebook?

As you may be gathering at this point, learning how to advertise on Facebook will take some time and investment—so why do it at all?

Ultimately, it will be up to you to decide which advertising channels are best for your business, however, here are some points to consider:

  • It’s never been easier to launch ads on Facebook. Anyone with a computer and Facebook business account can launch an ad and start driving targeted traffic to their website or physical location in minutes.
  • 95% of small business marketers reported the best return on investment on Facebook-spend compared to other social media platforms.
  • Over 7 million advertisers rely on the platform to bring customers through their doors (both online and offline).

All of this being said, with Facebook ads, you can directly target individuals in your town or reach a wide audience of consumers scattered around the globe—all while remaining hyper-relevant and hyper-focused with your messaging. Plus, in this technological age, you don’t have to be a high-growth startup or big corporation pouring millions of dollars to see ROI on Facebook. A local small business can be just as competitive as a nationwide brand in reaching local consumers through this platform.

How to Advertise on Facebook in 7 Simple Steps

So, how do you actually go about promoting your business and advertising on Facebook? Let’s break it down —how to advertise on Facebook in seven steps.

Step 1: Create your Facebook Business Page and ad account.

As you advertise on Facebook, your ads in the newsfeed will display from your business’s Facebook page. For instance, note how Proof’s Facebook ad displays the company name on the top left corner of each ad. If a visitor clicks that name, they’ll be redirected to the Proof Facebook Business page to learn more about the company.

how to advertise on facebook

If you already have a Facebook page for your business, you’re all set. However, if you’re not on Facebook or you don’t have a business-specific page, you’ll need to create one. On your Facebook business page, you’ll be able to add a profile picture, list a short description, describe your services, and leave space for customer reviews. One of the most important things you can do is create a visually interesting cover photo to take advantage of the space above the fold.

Although the setup of your Facebook page will be pretty self-explanatory, there are a few steps you’ll want to take to make sure your page is well-established and serves as a meaningful touchpoint for your visitors.

First, once you’ve added all of your basic information, you’ll want to share content on your feed. If customers see your ad and click on your business Facebook page, you’ll want to show them that your business is active, interesting, and use this content to provide touchpoints to reach your website.

For instance, if you run a restaurant you might share some recent customer reviews about their positive experience or snap a photo of the daily special to share on your feed. On the other hand, if you have a tax accounting business, you might share some quick tips for customers to remember as they close their books for the year or record a quick video teaching your audience your favorite QuickBooks tips. Ultimately, consistent, quality, and fresh content is the backbone of creating an inviting and captivating page on Facebook.

Once you’ve created your business page, you’ll have access to the tools you need to learn how to advertise on Facebook: Business Manager and Facebook Ads Manager. You’ll use either of these tools to set up, run, and monitor your Facebook ads.

Step 2: Add the Facebook Pixel to your website.

Next, before you get started setting up your ads, you’ll want to add the Facebook Pixel to your website. What is the Facebook Pixel?

Facebook’s pixel is a snippet of code that easily pastes in the header of your website. By adding the code to your site, you’re able to use Facebook’s advanced targeting mechanisms to reach exactly the right audience and report on the effectiveness of your ad campaigns.

To explain further, let’s look at an example:

Let’s say you own a local print shop. With Facebook ads, you’re able to target customers that meet your ideal customer profile (i.e. make $100,000, own their own business, live within 20 miles of your shop)—and then you can serve them relevant ads in their Facebook newsfeed. With the pixel on your site, you’re able to track which visitors visited your site or made a purchase after viewing your ad.

This being said, however, an even more interesting aspect of pixeling visitors is that you can use the Facebook Pixel to target or exclude exact groups of customers. You’re able to set your Facebook ads to retarget visitors who viewed certain pages on your site, exclude past site visitors from new lead generation campaigns, and send special offers directly to the exact people you want to reach.

If you manage your site through Squarespace, Shopify, Magento, WordPress, or another hosting site, implementing the pixel is simple. You just copy and paste your pixel into the header of your site and you’re all set. For help, you can find guidelines on Facebook’s Ad Center on exactly how to install the pixel on your website.

Step 3: Start creating your ads.

Once you’ve added the pixel to your website, it’s time to start creating your ads. As we mentioned above, you’ll have a variety of decisions to make about which ad format you’re going to use, what audience you’ll be targeting, and where you want your ad to be placed.

Luckily, when you use the Facebook Ads Manager, you’ll be walked through each of these decisions, and will be able to see all of your options and choose what you want as you go. This being said, however, you can expect the Facebook ads flow to look something like this:

  • Choose your objective: Facebook has a variety of objectives you can choose from based on the goal behind your campaign—brand awareness, reach, traffic, engagement, lead generation, etc.
  • Name your campaign and choose a budget: You can name your campaign as you like and decide on your ideal spend. You can set a daily or lifetime budget for the campaign.
  • Choose an audience: You’ll decide who you want to see your ad. You can create a custom audience, segment based on location, connections, and other factors.
  • Decide on placements: Where do you want your ads to show up? You can let Facebook choose automatically or edit where you want your ads to be placed.
  • Design your ad: Choose your ad format and design the ad—including images or video, text, etc

As you go through this process, you’ll always want to consider what your goal is with the ad and how your different selections will help you reach that goal.

how to advertise on facebook

Creating a campaign in Facebook Ads Manager.

Step 4: Set a reasonable budget and schedule.

After you’ve gone through the ad creation process, you’ll be able to review all of your selections before scheduling your ad. Perhaps one of the most important things you’ll want to review is your budget. You’ll want to consider how much you want to spend on a daily basis for the campaign, or over the life of the campaign, depending on how long you plan on running the ad.

In this regard, it’s worth noting how Facebook calculates costs for advertisers. Rather than being charged a set amount—like you would be when buying a magazine ad or an event sponsorship—you’ll be charged using cost per acquisition, cost per click, cost per impression, cost per lead, or another online marketing performance indicator. These methods are the standard in digital marketing, and essentially, it means you’re charged when you reach the goal of your ad. For example then, if your goal is to drive customers from your Facebook ad to your website, you’ll only be charged when you actually get a click to your business website.

This being said, it often takes time and testing to determine what the best budget will be for your Facebook ads. Therefore, you’ll want to start with a small budget as you figure out what works for you. Generally, studies suggest that the cost per click for most industries on Facebook falls between $0.50 and $2.00 per click.

Once you’ve verified the budget for your ad, you’ll want to set the schedule—how long the ad will run for—and confirm that everything is good to go. After you’ve submitted your ad, you should receive an email from Facebook saying that your ad has been approved, and if it hasn’t been approved, what the issue is that needs to be addressed.

Step 5: Target lookalike audiences.

At this point, you’ve learned the essentials of how to advertise on Facebook. This being said, however, with Facebook advertising, as with most places you advertise online, there are many different strategies you can employ to better your ad performance and learn more as you go along.

In Facebook’s case, they actually have a tool that sets them apart from all other advertising platforms: Lookalike Audiences. With Lookalike Audiences, you’re able to create lists of people to target based on similarities to your current customers.

You can either create these audiences from tracked visitors to your site (using the Facebook Pixel) or from manually updated customer lists. Facebook then is able to create a list of people to target that look like (hence the name) those customers. It’s an extremely unique and useful feature, and it can allow you to reach new audiences without having to test different manual targeting criteria.

Step 6: Test, test, and test.

When running advertisements online, one of the most important things to build into your thought process is a testing mentality. Here’s what we mean by that: Almost every webpage and ad online is constantly being adjusted through a real-time experiment—an A/B test, a multivariate test, or a split test. Small tests on these pages improve conversion rates, reduce costs, and make advertising costs decrease in the long run.

Therefore, when you’re learning how to advertise on Facebook, you’ll want to maintain this mentality. When you decide to run an ad, you’ll want to duplicate the ad with several variations to start testing and seeing what kind of improvement you can get.

For instance, to improve the click-through on an ad, you can duplicate the ad in your ad set with several different headlines, images, and supporting copy. Once you have different ads in your ad set, Facebook will automatically test them in front of an audience. The ad that best meets your goal will have the lowest cost, and Facebook will start optimizing traffic toward that particular ad.

In this regard, it’s true when they say, “practice makes perfect,” as you continue to test and run ads on Facebook, you’ll get a better sense of what works and what doesn’t. This being said, as you continue to improve your ads and see a significant performance, you’ll be able to make sure you’re getting the most for your money.

Step 7: Make sure your website is up-to-date and optimized.

Finally, an important thing to remember when running Facebook ads is that your business website, landing page, or ecommerce website needs to be up-to-date for consumers. You’re likely going to be sending significant traffic to your site from Facebook, but that traffic isn’t beneficial if your visitors are going to a page that doesn’t meet their expectations or give enough information.

To make sure that your site is relevant, you can ask someone to look at your ad and then click through to your site. You can collect feedback on what they think about the experience, what on the page is confusing or unhelpful, and adjust your website to better convert or nurture customers.

Another helpful tip: Once traffic reaches your site, you can engage your website visitors with an interactive element such as quiz, or offer a special discount or promotion. Generally, sending a customer from a Facebook ad to an interactive element results in higher engagement (and lower cost per click) as opposed to sending them to a static page.

how to advertise on facebook

How Much Does It Cost to Advertise on Facebook?

If you’re learning how to advertise on Facebook, you’re likely also thinking about how much it costs to advertise on Facebook. As we mentioned above, Facebook runs their ads platform on a cost per acquisition basis, which means you’ll be paying each time you receive a click, impression, or whatever the specific goal is of your ad. This being said, the cost for any business to advertise on Facebook is largely dependent on the business itself.

You control how much you want to spend on any one campaign, choosing either a daily or lifetime budget. Once again, as we mentioned above, generally the cost per click for a Facebook ad runs anywhere from $0.50 to $2.00, so you’ll want to keep that in mind when choosing how much to spend on a campaign.

Unfortunately, if you’re wondering how to advertise on Facebook for free, you’re not going to find any options within the Facebook Ads platform. Of course, you can use your Facebook business page as an advertising tool and implement a successful social media strategy to generate leads organically. However, to actually run ads on Facebook, you’ll need to pay for the platform.

Ultimately, this means your budget is up to you—and deciding on your budget on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis can be integral to your strategy as you get started. You don’t want to invest too much money into Facebook Ads before you really understand how the platform works and specifically, how it can work for your business.

The Bottom Line

At the end of the day, Facebook advertising is competitive, but it presents a limitless opportunity for your small business. By learning how to advertise on Facebook, you’ll be giving yourself the ability to reach new customers in your town or across the world—and, you can engage prospective customers or target existing customers with highly relevant offers.

As we’ve mentioned, getting started with Facebook advertising might seem a little overwhelming, but once you’ve implemented the steps above and continue to practice and refine your strategy, there’s no doubt you’ll be able to find a Facebook ad system that will be effective for your business.

Ben Johnson

Ben Johnson

Ben Johnson is a content marketer at Proof, a Y Combinator-backed startup that provides real-time social proof software. Over 15,000 sites trust Proof to help increase their conversion rates.