How to Get Started with Facebook Advertising

With a little bit of planning, Facebook Ads can be an incredibly powerful tool for your business. In order to get the biggest bang for your buck, you need to know what you want to achieve, who you want to reach and what you are going to offer those you do reach.

It may surprise you but Facebook Ads is actually a very cheap form of advertising. You can reach thousands of people for a few pounds. There is no way you could do that with magazine, TV, radio, leaflets etc. Even better, with the use of targeting, you can ensure that your ads are reaching your ideal customers rather than just blindly throwing leaflets from a helicopter and hoping they find their target.

Before you start

You need to decide:

  • Who is your target audience?
  • What is the aim of your ad? 
  • How long do you want to run your advert for?
  • How much can you afford to spend to gain a customer (what is their lifetime value)?
  • What media and copy are you going to use?
  • How are you going to measure success?

Who is your audience?

This is essential if your ad is to be successful. You don’t want to waste money advertising to the wrong people. Spend some time creating a customer persona. Use these prompt questions to get you started.

  1. What is their gender?
  2. How old are they?
  3. Where do they live?
  4. Do they have a family?
  5. What level of education do they have?
  6. What are their interests?
  7. Where do they shop? (Are you looking to sell to Waitrose or Lidl shoppers?)
  8. What do they read?
  9. What do they watch? (If you don’t know, ask them!)
  10. What special occasions/events are they celebrating?
  11. What sort of car do they drive? 
  12. Do they have pets?

Once you have an idea who your customer is, you can start to build your audience. On your Facebook business page, navigate to the Ad Centre, the select Audiences and Create Audience (see image). You can also create a new audience as you are building your ad.


Have a play with this feature and explore what is possible. You can be as specific as targeting a single postcode or the friend of someone who has a birthday in the next two weeks. 

I would always recommend creating different adverts for different audience personas, therefore don’t try to target everyone, create multiple specific audiences. For example, if you were advertising student accommodation, build one audience for the students and a different one for their parents.

Try to keep your audienceometer (the colour code thingy) in the green. If your audience is too narrow your ad won’t run. If it is too general, you’re throwing leaflets out of a helicopter and hoping.

What is the aim of your ad?

Awareness Brand Awareness / Reach – get your ad seen by as many people as possible

ConsiderationTraffic / Engagement / App Installs / Video Views / Lead Generation / Messages – let Facebook show your ad to people who are most likely to do what you want them to do e.g. send you a message or fill out a lead form.

Conversion – Conversions / Catalogue Sales / Store Traffic – your ad will be shown to people who are most likely to buy from you.

Boost an existing post – show a successful post to more people. Great for social proof if you post has had lots of positive interaction.

Depending on which option you choose, you will be given slightly different options when you create your advert. These change regularly too but follow through the steps and click on the information (i) if you get stuck.

If you have a Pixel set up on your website, you can also create retargeting ads for people who have previously visited your website. Very clever but a bit more complicated.

How long do you want to run your ad for?

I find that running an advert for a couple of days is rarely successful. I would usually run one for at least 5 days, much longer if it is working well. People will rarely act the first time they see your ad, let them see it multiple times and across Facebook, Instagram, Messenger etc. 

Your budget will have an impact on how long you run your advert for. Remember, you can always turn it off or add more time or money if it is working well. Do set an end date though just in case you are run over by a bus.

What is your budget?

How much money could you afford to lose without it having an impact on your business? £10? Then start there. Think carefully about how much you can afford to spend on attracting a customer. What is their lifetime value? If they are going to spend £1,000 with you over the next year then that’s a blooming good return on a £10 spend.

I would suggest starting with a few different ads with different audiences and a small budget. See what response you get. If they flop, you haven’t lost much; if they rocket then you can increase the budget and run them for longer.

It will be more expensive to attract new customers (cold audience) than it will be to encourage existing customers to buy again (warm audience). Once you start retargeting using a Facebook Pixel it will become even cheaper.

Look carefully at the settings as you set up your ad. You can choose to be charged for impressions or clicks when using some objectives. This can make it cheaper for you as you are only paying for people who are genuinely interested.

What will your ad look like?

This is where beautiful images and fantastic copy come in. You can choose to use a still image, a carousel, a video or a slideshow. Make it square: this will take up the most space on a mobile screen when someone is scrolling. You need to grab their attention and make them stop to look at your ad.

I’m no copywriter but I believe keeping it simple is better. Make sure your key message is above the fold and use emojis to add colour and to make your text stand out. Emojipedia.org is a great source of emojis and lets you see what they look like on multiple devices. Check they appear how you expect them to.

Most importantly, you need a call to action. Use a button with a link to get people to do what you want them to do whether it is send you a message, fill in a form or visit your website.  If you are sending them to your website, make sure you send them to the page where you want them to perform the action. Don’t send them to your homepage or they will get lost.

Automatic Ads or Dynamic Creative is where you can add multiple images, headlines, descriptions and choices of call to action. Facebook will then combine them in lots of different combinations and show the most successful combinations to lots of people. Super clever! The only downside is that you don’t know which images and text have worked best.

Creating successful adverts is all about experimentation and tweaking. Let something run for a few days before you make changes as it takes some time for Facebook to complete the ‘learning phase’. Run multiple adverts but change one thing each time (audience, image, text). If you change too much, you won’t be able to tell which change works!

How are you going to measure success? 

Decide what you want to achieve from your ad before you start. Make a note of your current page likes, interaction rates, website traffic etc so that you can see what impact your ad has. Have realistic expectations. You are unlikely to double your turnover with a £10 ad spend. Be prepared to build your budget gradually and to reinvest some of your profit into more advertising.

Keep an eye on how much you are spending per click or per purchase. If it starts to become too expensive, turn your advert off and try something different. It may be that you are competing for a very expensive audience. Try being more specific in your targeting. Make sure you don’t have too much text in your image. This will stop people from seeing your ad. If it does contain text, click the box to request a manual review and a human will look at it and approve it.

Above all remember that like everything in business, successful Facebook ads take hard work but can be extremely effective when done right. There is no magic secret formula to the perfect advert. Have a look at the ones that pop up in your feed and see what you like/dislike about them. What are your competitors doing? Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, just keep an eye on your budget to make sure they are not expensive ones!