How to Advertise Your Business on Facebook

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.

Why Advertise on Facebook?

If you’re a beginner with this type of social media advertising, you’ll quickly realize that 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 a physical location in minutes.
  • 95% of small business marketers reported the best return on investment on Facebook-spend compared to other social media platforms.[1] Similarly, digital ad buyers report that Facebook offers one of the best ROIs, second only to Google search.[2]
  • Over 7 million advertisers rely on the platform to bring customers through their doors (both online and offline).[3]
  • Facebook is the second most commonly used social media platform (after YouTube). 80% of 18- to 49-year-olds use Facebook.

With all of these social media statistics in mind, one of the biggest benefits of advertising on Facebook is that 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.

Getting Started With Facebook Advertising

Now that you have a sense of why so many small and large businesses alike choose to advertise on Facebook, let’s walk through some things you need to know in order to get started.

How Do Facebook Ads Work?

First and foremost, it’s important to understand how Facebook ads work—as having this understanding will allow you to craft the ad strategy that will work best for your small business. So, when you create an ad on Facebook, there are many different specifications to choose from—objectives, restrictions, budget, schedule—and what you choose will dictate how your ad looks, where it’s placed, who sees it, and how much spend is behind it.

Although there are a variety of mobile and desktop placement options, as we’ll explain in greater detail below, most people think of Facebook ads as News Feed or Facebook Right Column ads, like the ones shown in this example:

how to advertise on facebook

Example of a newsfeed and sidebar ad on Facebook.

As you can see here, Facebook ads are designated with the “sponsored label” to differentiate them from organic posts—although they look very similar.

With these ads, the most basic goal is to drive users to your website—as you can see with GMass’s “Learn More” call to action in their ad. This being said, the Facebook Ad Manager allows you to reach your goal by targeting users based on location, demographic, and other information—in other words, you’re showing ads to your target audience, the people you want to become customers of your business.

After you’ve created an ad with your specifications, you then set a budget and submit your ad to Facebook. At this point, Facebook either approves or denies your ad, and they use a mechanism called “ad auction” to determine the best ad to show someone at a particular time. This is a complicated process, but for business owners, the important takeaway is that you pay for the actions you want users to take.

For instance, if you’re trying to get users to click on your ad to go to your website, you’ll only pay when this action is taken.

Ultimately, your ad campaign ends once you’ve spent your designated budget or after you reach a specified end date.

Types of Facebook Ads

Next, it’s important to understand the different types of Facebook ads that you can choose from. The types of Facebook ads can be categorized by objective, ad format, and placement.

In terms of objective, there are three overarching options you can use:

  • Awareness: The objective of these types of Facebook ads is to generate interest in your product or service. Campaigns with the goal of brand awareness and reach both fall into the awareness category.
  • Consideration: With these ads, you’re trying to get people to think about your business and look for more information. Goals like traffic, engagement, app installs, video views, lead generation, and messages all fall into the consideration category.
  • Conversions: As you might expect, the goal of conversion-based ads is to actually get people interested in your business to buy your product or service. In addition to the general goal of conversion, the more specific goals of catalog sales and store traffic also fall here.

In terms of ad format, the different types of Facebook ad options you have to choose from include:

  • Photo ads
  • Video ads
  • Stories ads
  • Messenger ads
  • Carousel ads
  • Slideshow ads
  • Collection ads
  • Playable ads

Finally, in terms of placement, your options are:

  • Feeds: Your ad is shown to people scrolling through their desktop, mobile, or inbox feeds.
    • Facebook News Feed
    • Instagram Feed
    • Facebook Marketplace
    • Facebook Video Feeds
    • Facebook Right Column
    • Instagram Explore
    • Messenger Inbox
  • Stories: Your ad is shown in people’s Stories.
    • Facebook Stories
    • Instagram Stories
    • Messenger Stories
  • In-stream: Your ad is shown before, during, or after video content.
    • Facebook in-stream videos
  • Search: Your ads are shown next to relevant Facebook and Marketplace search results.
  • Messages: Your ads are shown as sponsored messages to people who already have a conversation active with you in Facebook Messenger.
  • In-article: Your ads are shown in Instant Articles within the Facebook mobile app.
  • Apps: Your ads are shown in external apps

When it comes down to it, the bulk of your Facebook ad campaign is generated by indicating your objective, ad format, and placement. Therefore, you might have a photo-based ad with the goal of driving traffic that is only placed within the Facebook News Feed.

With all of these different options to choose from, you can see how learning to advertise on Facebook can be time-consuming, but also highly effective as you can truly customize your small business advertising.

This being said, however, as a small business owner, it’s worth remembering that you don’t necessarily need to get into the deepest details of the Facebook ad platform capabilities. At the end of the day, if you can target your unique audience and find the right balance with your budget, you’ll be successful in advertising your business on Facebook.

How to Advertise on Facebook in 7 Steps

Now that you have a sense of some of the key components involved with advertising on Facebook, let’s walk through the process.

Here’s 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 will display from your business’s Facebook page. For instance, note below 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 and 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.

Use our guide for more information on how to set up a business Facebook page.

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.

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.

For small businesses, in particular, you can use the Facebook Pixel to reach your unique customer base, instead of having to compete directly with big-name companies with huge advertising budgets.

If you manage your business website 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, you can expect the Facebook ads flow to look something like this:

Choose your objective.

When you’re creating a Facebook ad, the first thing you’ll have to do is choose your objective. As we mentioned above, 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.

If you’re a new business, you’ll likely want to choose awareness as your objective—that way, you can get the word out about your business, start establishing your social media presence, and build a following. On the other hand, if you’re an ecommerce business trying to increase sales, you might set conversions as your objective—specifically the store traffic objective. If you’re a service or sales-based business, lead generation or site traffic might be a more suitable objective for your needs.

Ultimately, the right objective will vary based on your business, as well as the individual campaign you’re running. You might run an awareness-based ad now, and later, during the holiday season, choose a conversion-based ad to increase sales.

how to advertise on facebook

Creating a campaign in Facebook Ads Manager.

Name your campaign and choose a budget.

Next, you can name your campaign as you’d like. Then, you’ll be able to set a daily or lifetime budget for the campaign.

If you choose a lifetime budget, you’ll also be able to set a specific schedule for when you’d like your ads to run.

When it comes to learning how to advertise on Facebook, setting a budget can be one of the most difficult parts. To this point, it’s important to remember 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 online 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.

how to advertise on facebook

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.[4]

Choose an audience.

Once you’ve designated a budget, you’ll pick your audience, who you want to see your ad. In a broad sense, there will be three types of audiences to choose from:

  • Core audience: With this option, you’ll define your audience based on criteria such as age, interests, location, etc.
  • Custom audience: If you want to show your ad to people who have already interacted with your business, you can create a custom audience.
  • Lookalike audience: A lookalike audience will show your ad to people that are similar to an audience that you already know. Your ads will then reach people who are similar to your audience in terms of interest and traits.

how to advertise on facebook, create an audience

As a beginner, you might start by creating a core audience and narrowing it down based on what your typical customers look like. For example, if your target audience is generally women, ages 18 to 29, who are interested in sustainable clothing, you can input these categorizations into Ad Manager and show your Facebook ad to those types of people.

With more experience using Facebook Ads, you’ll be able to explore different audiences and figure out what works best for your small business.

You can create a custom audience, segment based on location, connections, and other factors.

Decide on placements.

After you’ve created your audience, you’ll choose your placements.

As we discussed above, you have a number of placement options across both desktop and mobile, as well as different facets of the Facebook platform. As you can see in the image below, you have the option to let Facebook choose your placements automatically or you can edit where you want your ads to be placed.

how to advertise on facebook, placements

Again, if you’re just starting to learn how to advertise on Facebook, it will likely help to let Facebook choose your ad placements.

Design your ad.

Finally, the last piece involved in actually creating a Facebook ad campaign is designing your ad and choosing a format.

As we listed above, there are a variety of different formats to choose from—including basic photo and video ads to the more complex carousel and collection ads. For beginners, it will be easiest to create a simple photo or slideshow ad. If you have applicable marketing videos, you might use video as well.

Overall, the ad type that you choose will vary based on the type of campaign you’re running as well as what you think will work best to promote your individual business. Like many of the elements we’ve discussed thus far, you’ll be able to try a variety of different ad types as you go along in order to see what performs most successfully. Again, to start, however, a photo ad will be the simplest option.

how to advertise on facebook, design ad

All of this being said, it’s important to remember that among the advertising guidelines Facebook employs are ad specifications. Each ad type has to conform to certain sizes, text length, and link description. In addition, as you’ll see in our breakout below, not all ad types work with all campaign objectives, so this is something to keep in mind as well.

Facebook Ad Specifications

  • Photo ads
    • Headline: 25 characters
    • Link description: 30 characters
    • Primary text: 125 characters
    • Image ratio: 1:91:1 to 4:5
    • Campaign objectives: All but video views
  • Video ads
    • Headline: 25 characters
    • Link description: 30 characters
    • Primary text: 125 characters
    • Video ratio: 9:16 to 16:9
    • Campaign objectives: All but catalog sales
  • Stories ads
    • Text: No set character count
    • Campaign objectives: Engagement, messages, catalog sales, store traffic
  • Messenger ads
    • Primary text: 125 characters
    • Campaign objectives: Traffic, app installs, conversions, catalog sales, messages
  • Carousel ads
    • Headline: 25 characters
    • Link description: 20 characters
    • Primary text: 125 characters
    • Number of cards: Two to 10
    • Campaign objectives: All but engagement and video views
  • Slideshow ads
    • Headline: 25 characters
    • Link description: 30 characters
    • Primary text: 125 characters
    • Campaign objectives: All
  • Collection ads
    • Headline: 25 characters
    • Primary text: 90 characters
    • Campaign objectives: Traffic, conversions, catalog sales, store traffic
  • Playable ads
    • Must be a playable HTML5 asset or zip file
    • Must have a lead-in video

Step 4: Review your ad 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. As we’ve discussed, 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.

You’ll also want to check to ensure your specifications are correct, your links and text are accurate, you’ve created and chosen the right audience, and that you’re within Facebook’s ad guidelines.

Once you’ve verified all these components, 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. 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. As we mentioned briefly above, 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 allows you to make the most of your marketing budget 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 updated 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 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.

Additionally, it’s important to note that the cost per click does vary based on country and industry. Compared to the Czech Republic, which reportedly has the highest average cost per click at $2.09, the U.S. falls in the middle, at an average of $1.10.[4]

In terms of industry, finance and insurance have the highest cost per click at $3.77, whereas apparel has the lowest at $0.45.[4]

How to Advertise on Facebook for Free

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.

Use our guide for more information on how to market on Facebook for free.

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.

Article Sources:

  1. eMarketer. “Social Media Platforms That Produce the Best ROI
  2. eMarketer. “Digital Ad Buyers Say Google Search, Facebook Deliver the Best ROI
  3. Facebook. “Facebook Insights to Go: Advertisers
  4. Oberlo. “How Much Does Facebook Advertising Cost in 2020?
Former Content Marketing Manager at Fundera

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.

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