A Guide to Understanding Facebook Advertising

Why Facebook Advertising?

For the uninitiated (heck, even for the initiated), Facebook advertising can be a bit confusing. At first glance, it can seem almost like a myriad of not-too-dissimilar options without much in the way of an explanation of what you’re going to get in return.

Having said that, research by Social Fresh, Firebrand Group, and Simply Measured last year found that 95.8% of social media marketers worldwide felt that Facebook provided the best ROI for their business. Compare that to the stats against some of the other social media giants – only 63.5% said Twitter gave them the best ROI, 40.1% said Instagram, and only 2.1% of social media marketers said Snapchat was worth their hard-earned dollar.

Obviously, some of this is going to depend on your audience – not everyone you want to reach might be on Snapchat, but that’s almost the point. Facebook is a growing platform – a recent headcount suggested that more than two billion people were using Facebook, with more than 800 million people liking something on the social media site every single day. No matter what your business is, the chances are, a large part of your audience is going to have a Facebook account.

However, when it comes to Facebook advertising, it’s not all about the size of your potential audience. You don’t want to be spending money advertising to people who aren’t going to be interested in your brand whatsoever.

Fortunately, that’s why Facebook advertising offers a large selection of options, as well as a very detailed targeting options.

Unfortunately, it can sometimes make it a little difficult to know where to start.

But fortunately, we’re here to help you figure out your options and what’s best for you. Here is everything you need to know about Facebook advertising.


What can Facebook advertising help me achieve?

When setting up your Facebook advertising, Facebook offers you a choice of 10 objectives that can help you choose the right ad for you. These are:

  • App installs – to encourage installations of your mobile or desktop app
  • Brand awareness – to introduce your brand to a new audience
  • Conversions – Getting people to take a specific action, such as buying a product or downloading something
  • Reach – Exposing your ad to a wider audience
  • Product catalogue sales – connecting your Facebook ads to products on your website
  • Engagement – Exposing a post to a wider audience and increasing your likes, shares, comments, etc
  • Lead generation – Encouraging people to take action and move you’re your sales tunnel
  • Store visits – encouraging customers to visit you in-store
  • Traffic – driving traffic to a specific webpage
  • Video views – showing your video to a large audience to increase brand awareness


What are my Facebook advertising options and which one should I pick?

Boosted post

This is a really simple form of advertising which takes an organic post on your business’s page and promotes it to an audience which meets certain criteria you can define. This is a really easy way of promoting an existing message or well-performing post to a wider audience.


Photo ads are a simple form of advertising which take one image and a little bit of copy to engage your audience. Unlike a boosted post, you’ll choose your image and message when setting up the ad, rather than turning an existing post into an ad. You can even add a call to action button. This is great for displaying one, strong message and driving your audience to a webpage or encouraging them to take action.

The recommended image size: 1,200 x 628 pixels and your text should be 90 characters long. Your headline should be 25 characters and the description in your newsfeed around 30 characters.


A carousel allows you to showcase up to 10 images and links within a single advert. This can help you direct direct people to specific locations on your website, such as different products. This is good for displaying several products, for example, by including images and links to them on your website, or for telling a story as your customer swipes past each ad.

The recommended image size: 1080 x 1080 pixels, while your text should be 90 characters. Your headline should be 40 characters and you link descriptions 20 characters.


This does what it says on the tin – reaching your audience through visuals and sound.  Videos are great for driving engagement and brand awareness.

There’s much more to consider when it comes to video specifications, however. Your text should be 90 characters as with other ads, but you’ll need to consider aspect ratios supported, whether you mind about black letterboxing if your video is vertical, your video length, supported file formats, etc. You can find more on the Facebook video advertising page.


guide to understanding Facebook advertising

Slideshows ads are a simple video that is made up from up to 10 images stills, letting you tap into the power of video without spending time and money on creating a video. Again, these are great for driving engagement and brand awareness, and lend themselves particularly well to story-telling.

As well as checking out the requirements of the text and image size, remember to make sure your images are all the same size to avoid cropping.


Facebook describes canvas ads as “an immersive mobile experience”. Essentially, when a user clicks on your ad, it opens up on the whole of their mobile’s screen and can show a variety of content which the user can scroll through, including images, text, and videos. Find out more about the various specs on the Facebook Canvas page.


How to place an ad

Before you run any Facebook advertising campaign, you’ll need the following things in place:

  • A Facebook business page
  • A campaign objective – what do you want to achieve, who do you want to target etc
  • Your assets – such as landing page, imagery, copy etc
  • A budget

Once your Facebook business page is all set up and running, you’ll need to Facebook Ads Manager to create your Facebook ad campaign.

Step 1: Head to Facebook’s Ad Manager

Step one complete – this is going to be easy peasy.

Step 2: Choose your campaign objective

You’ll start by choosing your campaign objective from the list above. For conversion-based campaigns, you’ll pay per action taken, but for campaigns where you want to achieve reach and engagement, you’ll pay by impressions.

Step 3: Target your audience

You’ll need to get your audience right for your Facebook ad to be effective. This not only includes targeting the right kind of people, but making sure your scope isn’t too large or narrow. Luckily, Facebook calculates this for you based on the criteria you select and displays this in a handy metre which tells you if your ad is too specific or too broad.

You can target things such as: location, gender, interests, job, industry, behaviours, etc., as well as connections (e.g. people who like your page or even specifically those who don’t), and ‘lookalike audiences’, which means people on Facebook who are similar to the people who already like your page.

Step 4: Set your budget and schedule

At this point, you’ll set how much you want to spend and how long you want the ad to run for. You can choose between:

  • a daily budget (how much you want to spend per day)
  • a lifetime budget (how much you want to spend over the course of the campaign)

How much you set as your budget then affects how much it gets promoted to your target audience. You can then set how long you want the ad to run for, or just keep it rolling – just remember to keep an eye on your spend! Here’s Facebook’s guide to budget and spending in case you want to read further.

Step 5: Create your Facebook ad

If you go for a boosted post, you simply have to select and promote and exiting post. If you want to start from scratch, select your format, and add in your media and text – paying close attention to Facebook’s guidelines. You can preview how your ad will look in different places.

Step 6: Submit your ad

Now you’re done, simply select confirm to submit and wait for your ad to be approved by Facebook. Once you get approval through, your ad will go live for the time you set. Yay!


The Do’s and Don’ts of Facebook Advertising

DO: set goals for your ad – whether you want more Facebook likes, or are looking to drive sales, make sure that you’re not just running your ad for the sake of it and that you have the right measurement tools in place. For engagement and brand awareness, for example, you might just want to use Facebook insights, but if you want to drive traffic to your website, make sure you’re using google Analytics to track your success.

DON’T: have one ad sets. You can set different ad sets under one campaign. However, having multiple ads under one set can make it different to track what is successful and what isn’t.

DO: test your ads. Experiment with targeting and with different images, copy, etc. to find out what works best. For example, you might want to start with a narrow audience and slowly add different elements to see what it is that is driving success. Here’s a guide from Hootsuite on testing on social media.

DON’T: set your audience too large. When it comes to Facebook advertising, a big audience isn’t necessarily what you want. Instead, you want to aim to get your ad in front of a smaller group of the right people. Keep an eye on your audience reach at all times.

DO: include a call to action. You’ve got your goal, but how are you going to achieve it? Remember to include a relevant CTA to ensure that you reach your objective.

DON’T: use too much text. This includes in your images. The rules around what ‘too much’ text is is somewhat ambiguous, but Facebook makes one thing clear – if your image is text heavy, it will be penalised (i.e. it won’t be shown to as many people). Keep your copy to the point and your images as free from text as possible for the best results.

DO: use high quality images. Remember to check out the requirements on Facebook’s help pages when choosing images. Remember, visuals are what are going to grab your audience’s attention in their busy newsfeed, so you’d better make sure they’re up to the job.


Need more help understanding Facebook advertising? Or just need some social media help in general? Get in touch with with us to find out how our social super stars can help!

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