8 Simple Steps on How to Run a Facebook Ad

Facebook has seriously awesome targeting parameters to get your business in front of potential customers that align with a business’ target market and need periods.  The same cannot be said for Google Adwords or any other platform (that I know of…yet).

These instructions will walk you through step by step on how to run a Facebook ad in about 30-40 minutes the first time you do it.  And then when you have a better idea of strategy and a plan moving forward, it should be faster. This is best completed on a desktop.

Step 1 – Create the Facebook ad

If you create the ad first as an organic post, it is easier to find later.  If you build the ad at the end of the process, within the ad platform, you may have to dig within the paid platform to find it later.  Also, you want your current followers to see the ad (potentially). The content and imagery should be targeted to a specific audience and whoever you select in Step 3.  Yes, I know this is semi backwards, so you can skip this and create the ad in Step 6 if you prefer.

Ensure the ad copy and image are relevant to catch the attention of your target audience.  If you are targeting dog lovers, use a picture of a dog, and so forth.

For the imagery, be sure there is very little content in the image.  Facebook has a rule that no more than 20% of the ad can contain text.  Here is a quickie tool to check for percentage of text.  

Once you have created the content with related imagery and/or link, go to the top right and click Create in the top right hand corner and select Ad.  (This assumes you are not using Facebook Business Manager. In Business Manager, select Ads Manager from top left then Create.)

Step 2 – Determine purpose

Facebook offers a variety of different marketing objectives. Traffic works well but you get little info about the individual visitors from Facebook and you would have to rely on your website analytics for more info.  Lead Generation is great if you have a form or RFP you want filled out, as the user’s Facebook profile info auto populates saving time on form completion. Brand Awareness is good for new, ongoing exposure or local businesses to get the word out within their community.  For the purposes of which will become clear in Step 8, Engagement is a favorite. Select Engagement for this ad.

Step 3 – Select the audience 

Let the fun begin and see what sets Facebook’s platform above the rest!  First, determine your geographic preferences; you can also exclude certain areas. Obviously the more narrow, the better.  You can then continue narrowing your audience by age, gender and language.

The next area is where you can truly target specific likes and dislikes in the section. To grow or reduce your potential audience, you can expand the sections and select multiple behaviors.  You can target followers of specific pages or interests. Any interest or page with at least 10K (estimate) will generally show up as a parameter.

Examples of sample targets are brands, small business owners, dog lovers, artists’ followers, those that have an interest in a particular city, large employers or parents with preschoolers.

Don’t select too many parameters…run a different ad if the groups are too different so you can gauge success better.  

For smaller budgets (addressed in Step 5), try to narrow your audience to under 50K by looking at the Audience Size on the right hand panel.  Preferably, a target of 10K to 40K is ideal for a $100 ad. Or, you can run A/B tests with smaller budgets and ad sizes.

Step 4 – Select Placement

Depending on the ad copy and your target market, consider removing some of the placement options. If you are focused on branding or have a strong image or video, keep Instagram and Audience Network.  If your ad is not a video, remove the 2 video options from Facebook. Note, you can leave Instagram selected even if you do NOT have an Instagram account.

Step 5 – Pick Budget and Schedule

Since Engagement was chosen at the start of this ad, Optimization for Ad Delivery should be Post Engagement.  Focusing on Impressions and Reach is good for exposure and branding. But avoid annoying people by showing your ad over and over.

Setting your budget under Budgets and Schedule is up to you.  You can determine a daily budget or lifetime budget with a start and end date.  Your actual daily spend may fluctuate. You can set up an evergreen ad to run continuously, but don’t allow your content to get stale.  Facebook will estimate your spend based on your parameters.

Ads can do quite well with a budget as little as $50 to $100 per ad.  Give you ad enough time to get traction and be shared, ie 30 days.  If you are only running your ad for a few days, potential long term engagement may be limited.  

There are more parameters that can be selected in terms of scheduling and delivery, but this can be left alone unless you have data to support it.  

Step 6 – Select ad with call to actions

If you already created your ad in Step 1, then select Use Existing Post.  Make sure the right Facebook page is selected. If you chose Instagram in Step 4, select an Instagram account.  Then select the Post in the drop down. If the post is scheduled for the future, it may not show up, but you can enter the Facebook ID instead.  Depending on the ad, you have the option to add a call to action, which is recommended.

The URL parameter and Facebook tracking pixel should be used if you have strong analytics set up, especially for retail businesses.  Otherwise, you should still be able to see your Facebook referrals in your website analytics. If you are running many ads at once, the expanded tracking is beneficial.  

If your ad contains too much text, as mentioned in Step 1, you may see an error like this:

Your Ad’s Reach May Be Slightly Lower – You may reach fewer people because there’s too much text in the ad image. Facebook prefers ad images with little or no text. Consider changing your image before placing your order. Get guidance on reducing image text.

You can request a manual review or modify the ad.  They sometimes let your ad run for a day or two before denying or accepting your ad.  If denied, look forward to starting over.

Step 7 – Performance Metrics

Throughout the running of the ad, you will see your performance metrics.  Depending on your goals and objectives, any number of metrics are valuable. Cogwheel Marketing generally focuses on the hospitality industry, which is more experiential, and travel decisions aren’t generally made on a whim.  With that said developing a relationship with guests is important, therefore Cost per Engagement is key. This includes Likes, Comments, Shares and Clicks combined. Cost per engagement would be key for this ad, as Engagement was chosen as the original marketing objective.  And if your targeting parameters are specific, hopefully this is being presented to new, incremental target markets.

At the end of the day, conversions, leads and revenue are clearly paramount.  

Step 8 – Invite Engagements to Like your Page

After completion of the ad, click on the list of people that Liked/Loved and invite them to Like your page to create a long term relationship.  See step by step instructions on getting that free second round of engagement on Facebook.

This simple guide to running a Facebook ad is fairly elementary, as Facebook has continued to enhance the features and functionality.  Cogwheel Marketing generally runs Facebook ads for the hospitality industry, so transactions happen differently than in a retail environment.  Contact us for more information.