How to Create Facebook Ads: A Beginners Guide
Summary

13 min read
You will learn

Summary

In this post, we’ll share with you everything you need to know about Facebook Ads to get your ad campaigns up and running, as well as all we’ve learned from our own experiences.

You will learn:

  • How to set up your first Facebook Ads campaign
  • Tips on setting audiences, targeting, placements, and more
  • Exact specs for creative – image sizes down to the pixel
  • The ROI you can expect to achieve with Facebook Ads

Paid advertising on social media is an immediate way to impact the reach of your content. With 2.91 billion active users, Facebook is the most popular social media platform for running ads.

But it’s becoming more likely that if you want to get your posts seen on Facebook, you’ll have to pay for reach through advertising. So, when it comes to social media strategy, understanding how to use Facebook Ads is a must.

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What are the benefits of creating Facebook Ads?

More accurately target customers

Facebook has a lot of data on its users and allows marketers to use it when targeting their audiences.

When creating a Facebook Ad, you can specify demographics like gender, location, and age. Where Facebook really differentiates itself from other platforms with ads, though, is through lifestyle-based targeting options, like:

  • Interests
  • Behaviors (like recent purchases)
  • Education and job history
  • Income
  • Political affiliation
  • Major life events
  • Spoken languages

Get powerful results

Once you’ve mastered Facebook Ads Manager, setting up ads is easy, and results happen quickly.

A 2020 survey of US retailers showed that 41% see the greatest return on advertising spend (ROAS) from Facebook Ads. That’s huge compared to the average conversion rate across all industries of just 9.21%.

Facebook and Instagram reach billions

Because Meta owns both Facebook and Instagram, their platforms are easily integrated. This means that ads can be run simultaneously on both platforms, giving you access to even more social users. The reach potential of advertising on Facebook and Instagram is unmatched.

Track ad performance in real-time

While Meta got rid of its full Facebook Analytics platform in 2021, it still has great resources for understanding ad performance, including metrics for reach, engagement, conversions, and more. This data is updated in real-time so you can adjust your campaigns based on performance.

Another major benefit of Facebook’s current analytics is the ability to add the Facebook pixel to your website. Most content management platforms allow you to easily add this piece of code to your website and track the effectiveness of your Facebook Ads. You can keep an eye on user behavior and create specific target audiences for future Facebook advertising campaigns.

How to set up a Facebook Ads campaign step by step

Before you jump in, it’s important to think about why you’re advertising and what you’re aiming to achieve. By determining your personal measurement of success ahead of going live with ads, you’ll be able to decide which ad objective is best for your needs.

For example, if you’re looking to increase downloads of your mobile app through Facebook Ads, your success metric could be 100 downloads in the first month. If you want to generate more leads, success could be measured by a larger email list. The point is, you should think about your reason for advertising before you create a campaign.

Step 1. Create an ad account

When you sign up for Facebook, you’re given a personal ad account ID by default. You can see this ID by going to Ads Manager and looking in the upper left-hand corner.

In order to use Facebook Ads Manager, you need a verified payment method and:

  1. A Facebook Page or
  2. To be an admin, editor, or advertiser on someone else’s page

If you do not have a Page for your business, you can follow Facebook’s steps to set one up. Any Page you create will be automatically given an ad account.

If there is a Page you wish to advertise for that was created by someone else, you need to ask the Page admin to assign you an admin, editor, or advertiser role on the Page.

If you already have an existing ad account for your Page but would like to create a new one, you’ll need to have a Business Manager account. Once you sign up for Business Manager, you can create a new ad account.

Step 2. Head over to Facebook Ads Manager

All of Facebook’s ad campaigns run through the Facebook Ads Manager tool. These steps are for using it on a desktop or laptop computer.

The easiest way to find Facebook Ads Manager is to click and bookmark this direct link. You will be brought directly into the Facebook Ads Manager for your personal ad account. If you manage more than one ad account, use the account drop-down menu to pick the right account.

Facebook Ads Manager
Toggle between accounts on FB Ads Manager

To navigate to Ads Manager right from your business page, head to the left sidebar and click on the “Ad Center” drop-down arrow of any Facebook page, then choose “All Ads” from the drop-down. At the bottom of that page, there is an option to click “Ads Manager.”

 Facebook's Business Page
Click on Facebook's Ads Manager to get started

You will be brought to your Facebook Ad Accounts page, where there will be a quick overview of your ad account(s). If you have access to more than one ad account, select the account where you wish to run ads.

If you’d rather use a mobile device, there is a Facebook Ads Manager app available for Apple and Android.

Meta Ads Manager app for Android
You can also use Meta Ads Manager on your phone

Step 3. Choose your objective

To get started with your first ad, click the green ‘Create Ad’ button.

Create Button on Facebook's Ad Manager
Create your first ad by clicking the green button

Facebook will take you to a page where you will be prompted to choose a campaign objective.

Create Campaign Screen on Facebook's Ad Manager
Choose your campaign objective

You have many different ways of approaching an ad campaign based on what you wish to achieve. These ways fall within three categories of benefits:

Awareness

This category consists of objectives that generate interest in your product or service. You can choose to:

  • Increase brand awareness: Show your ads to people who are most likely to remember them.
  • Increase your reach: Show your ads to the maximum number of people.

Top tip: For small budgets, you’re likely to get the most bang for your buck with the awareness ad types. Moz found that $1 per day can grow your audience by 4,000 people. While this didn’t quite match our experience, it’s well worth trying.

Consideration

You might want to choose this category if you want people to start thinking about your business or looking for more information about it. Actions in this category include:

  • Send people to a destination on or off Facebook
  • Get more Page likes, event responses, or post reactions, comments, or shares
  • Promote installs of your app
  • Get more video views
  • Improve lead generation
  • Drive engagement on Messenger, WhatsApp, and Instagram Direct

Conversion

The objectives in this category are designed to get people to purchase or use your product or service. You may opt to:

  • Increase engagements on your website
  • Get people to claim your offer
  • Increase product or catalog sales
  • Get people to visit your shops

Once you’ve selected your marketing objective, you’ll be asked to name your campaign. Make sure to make your campaign name something recognizable to everyone working on the ads.

'Name your campaign' screen on FB Ads Manager
Pick a name for your ad campaign

Step 4: Set your campaign budget

Now it’s time to choose how much you’d like to spend on your ad. When you set a budget, it’s important to remember that this figure represents the maximum amount of money you want to spend. You can set your budget per day or as a total amount for the campaign.

  • Daily: A daily budget sets a limit on what you spend each day on your ads. Facebook will use the criteria you set to find the right place and time to show your ad to your target audience. Once your budget is reached, the ads stop running for the day. The cycle starts again on the next day.
  • Lifetime: A lifetime budget is the maximum that you’ll spend during the entire time you run your ad campaign. You give Facebook a number and an end date, and it will spend the money based on ad performance. Once your budget is reached, the campaign ends.
Budget and schedule screen on FB Ads manager
Set your ad budget

Step 5: Customize your target audience

Because it determines who Facebook will show your ad to, a strategically defined audience is crucial for the success of your Facebook Ads campaigns.

As mentioned earlier, the audience for your ad can be customized based on all the following demographics:

  • Location
  • Age
  • Gender
  • Languages
  • Interests
  • Behaviors

In addition, with the Connections setting, you can choose advanced targeting, which lets you include or exclude people who are connected to certain pages, apps, or events. You can also further customize your targeting using custom audiences for retargeting people who have already interacted with your business.

For example, let’s choose an audience for a Buffer ad. Facebook recommends narrowing your reach in a targeted way in order to maximize the impact of your ad.
We are going quite narrow for this example, choosing the following audience demographics:

  • Location: United States
  • Interests: Social media
  • Excluded: People who already like Buffer
  • Age: 18–65+
  • Language: English (US)

This gave us an estimated reach of up to 3,200 people out of 14 million. The 3,200 people are how many we could expect to be online any given day and potentially see our ad.

FB Ads estimates your daily reach
Customize your target audience

Step 6: Choose your ad placements

Ad placement defines where your ad appears for your target audience. Based on your objective, you may choose to show your ad on Facebook, Instagram, Messenger, or the Audience Network.

Placement options for your FB Ad
Select how you'd like your ad to be displayed

Image Source

Facebook recommends using automatic placements for the objective you chose, which enables Facebook to optimize placements for you in order to get the best possible results at the lowest overall average cost.

However, if you want to select your own placements, Facebook has several options:

  • Feeds: Get high visibility for your business with ads in feeds
  • Stories and Reels: Tell a rich, visual story with immersive, full-screen vertical ads
  • In-stream: Quickly capture people’s attention while they’re watching videos
  • Reels overlay: Reach people with sticker or banner ads as they watch short-form content
  • Search: Get visibility for your business as people search on Facebook
  • Messages: Send offers or updates to people who are already connected to your business
  • In-article: Engage with people reading Instant Articles in the Facebook mobile app
  • Apps and sites: Expand your reach with ads in external apps and websites

For more, check out Facebook’s guide to ad placement.

Step 7: Create your advertisement

This is where Facebook Ads gets really fun! Now it’s time to create your Facebook ad. You can use an existing post or start from scratch.

Using an existing post

For certain types of ads, such as boosted posts, you can create your ad using a post that’s already on your Facebook Page.

To do this, select the ‘Use Existing Post’ option. From here, you can choose your page from your linked accounts and pick the post you want to use as your ad.

Creating your FB Ad with a preexisting post
Create your Facebook ad using a preexisting post

Creating a new ad

If you’d like to create your ad from a blank canvas, the first task is to select a format. You’ve probably seen many of the Facebook Ads formats on your personal feed, but your choices will vary based on the objective you set for your ad during Step 3.

Facebook Ad setup screen
There are a variety of ways to display your Facebook Ad

Facebook has eight ad formats, and it will recommend one or more to you based on your campaign objective. We have also included Facebook’s technical guidelines for certain formats.

  • Photo Ads: While images are the most basic format for ads, they can be very powerful. These simple ads use a single image and can be used in different ad types and placements.

Facebook’s specs for photo ads

  • File Type: JPG or PNG
  • Ratio: 1.91:1 to 1:1
  • Resolution: At least 1080 x 1080 pixels
  • Maximum File Size: 30MB
  • Minimum Width: 600 pixels
  • Minimum Height: 600 pixels
  • Primary Text: 125 characters
  • Headline: 40 characters
  • Description: 30 characters
  • Video Ads: Use a single video to promote your product or service. Videos tend to stand out more on a news feed because of their movement.

Facebook’s specs for video ads

  • File Type: MP4, MOV, or GIF
  • Ratio: 1:1 (for desktop or mobile) or 4:5 (for mobile only)
  • Resolution: At least 1080 x 1080 pixels
  • Video Duration: 1 second to 241 minutes
  • Maximum File Size: 4GB
  • Minimum Width: 120 pixels
  • Minimum Height: 120 pixels
  • Primary Text: 125 characters
  • Headline: 40 characters
  • Description: 30 characters
  • Carousel Ads: Showcasing up to 10 images or videos in one single ad, these are good to promote multiple products or services, each with its own link.

Facebook’s specs for carousel ads

  • Image File Type: JPG or PNG
  • Video File Type: MP4, MOV, or GIF
  • Ratio: 1:1
  • Resolution: At least 1080 x 1080 pixels
  • Number of Carousel Cards: 2 to 10
  • Image Maximum File Size: 30MB
  • Video Maximum File Size: 4GB
  • Video Duration: 1 second to 240 minutes
  • Primary Text: 125 characters
  • Headline: 40 characters
  • Description: 20 characters
  • Landing Page URL: Required
  • Slideshow Ads: This ad format takes several images and makes them into a quick slideshow. They can be a great alternative for people who don’t have the time or expertise to make videos.
  • Messenger Ads: Send your message directly to your target audience with Meta’s Messenger app.
  • Collection Ads: This format is also mobile-only and allows users to discover and shop for products.

Facebook’s specs for collection ads

  • Image Type: JPG or PNG
  • Video File Type: MP4, MOV, or GIF
  • Ratio: 1:1
  • Resolution: At least 1080 x 1080 pixels
  • Image Maximum File Size: 30MB
  • Video Maximum File Size: 4GB
  • Primary Text: 125 characters
  • Headline: 40 characters
  • Landing Page URL: Required
  • Stories Ads: These ads pop up when someone is watching Stories on Facebook, Messenger, or Instagram. Creatively, there is a lot of freedom with these ads.
  • Playable Ads: These ads allow potential users to try an app before they buy it.

Once the format is selected, you need to add visuals and copy. If your ad is going to be a success, you want your image and copy to be enticing enough to make people stop scrolling and click.

Images screen on Facebook Ads Manager
Upload your images for your Facebook Ad

Step 8: Place your order

To submit your ad, click the ‘Publish’ button at the bottom right-hand corner of the page.

Once your ad is submitted, Facebook will hold your post so they can review it to make sure it fits their specs and doesn’t violate their community guidelines. Expect for it to be reviewed within 24 hours. You’ll receive a confirmation email from Facebook once the ad is live.

How much does it cost to create a Facebook Ad?

While the specifics are more complicated, the simple answer is that you will never pay more than you want to spend.  

To give a little context into what’s achievable with Facebook Ads, we ran an experiment to see what a budget of $5 per day would get us. We tried three different types of Facebook Ads, each designed with a different objective in mind.

Here are our results:

When we view this in terms of how much $5 per day will buy you, these are the numbers:

  • Page Likes – 9 likes per day
  • Clicks to the Buffer homepage – 1 per day
  • Boosted post – 787 new people reached
Buffer's FB Ads cost screen
The results of our Facebook Ad experiment

It might be useful to see how our experience compares to Facebook Ads benchmarks overall. WordStream analyzed the Facebook Ads performance of its 256 US-based clients and came up with many helpful performance benchmarks, such as the following.

Graph of FB ads performance benchmark
These can be helpful stats to consider when running your Facebook Ads

Since we find ourselves in the technology space at Buffer, we can compare it to the industry benchmarks in this chart.

Average click-through rate: 1.04%
Ours: 0.95%
Average cost per click: $1.27
Ours: $4.01

Like all the experiments we run and share here, your mileage may vary. And we’d love to hear your experience and results. If you’re curious and want to dive further into the cost of Facebook Ads, we recently published a complete guide to the cost of Facebook Ads.


Get strategic with your Facebook Ads

Now that you’ve nailed the basics of how to create a Facebook ad, you can start experimenting to see what works best for your audience.

For each of the steps above, it’s helpful to pause and think back to your goals. Make sure everything you are defining and creating is in line with your own measure of success. Not sure what your audience wants to see? No problem. Facebook has plenty of tools for A/B split testing, so you can compare ads side by side to find out what works. Get creative and make sure to monitor the performance of your ads so you can change things when necessary.

And check out Buffer’s top Facebook advertising tips to help you get started.

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