Your Facebook page is perfectly on-brand. Your Facebook posts are on fire. And yet, your social media presence isn’t driving significant business growth. When organic posts alone aren’t helping your small businesses boost sales, you’re far from alone. Organic reach is declining fast.
These days, understanding how to advertise on Facebook—the right way—is key to reaching your audience, building brand awareness, and sparking shoppers into action.
This Facebook ads guide will guide you through why advertising on this platform is so critical, how to create content for your promotion, and how to set up your complete ad campaign.
Table of Contents
- Why Advertise on Facebook?
- Types of Facebook Ads & How to Create Them
- How To Set Up Your Ad in 5 Steps
Why Facebook Advertising?
There’s no getting around Facebook advertising these days. With 80 million small businesses using Facebook pages, every audience is a tough crowd to reach. Each day, our mobile and desktop news feeds are stacked with posts from friends, family members, pages we like, and the pages we like a little less. Organic content is constantly competing against each other and it never guarantees your business will actually be seen.
Paid ads, on the other hand, are your guaranteed opportunity to shine. With just a little boost—there’s never any shame in getting one—you can get your content right in front of the most relevant audiences, as many times as you need.
Facebook ads aren’t just better than organic content. Facebook advertising is one of the most effective marketing channels available to small businesses today. The platform has advanced data on over 2.7 billion active users—including nearly 70% of U.S. adults—and may know more about your audience better than they know themselves. This means your posts will be extremely well-targeted and none of your ad spend will go to waste.
Even better financial news for small businesses: You can set your own budget, so Facebook is a low-risk advertising opportunity for you.
How To Create Facebook Ad Content
The first stage of advertising on Facebook doesn’t require you to jump on the social media platform straight away. Instead, it’s helpful to have your content planned out before you start, so you can easily plug it all in when it’s time to get your ad campaign running.
Before you get started, you should have a basic content marketing strategy in mind that outlines your goals, your target audience, and the message you want to send. This will guide your decision-making as you choose between Facebook’s many different ad types, each of which carries its own benefits and content requirements.
We’ll introduce you to six popular ad format options that you can choose from, as well as what you need to know about creating multimedia content and ad copy for each one.
1. Video Ads
Facebook is the video platform to beat. Since 2018, more consumers have watched videos on Facebook than on YouTube, with a majority stating that the video ads on their feed are relevant. This type of ad is easily one of the most engaging options on the platform, making it a great choice for reaching current and new audience members.
Of course, your video itself needs to be engaging, too. The best Facebook video ads are:
- Mobile friendly
- Short (Facebook recommends no more than 15 seconds)
- Square or vertical (up to a 9:16 ratio), to take over users’ full smartphone screens
Using captions is another smart choice. Most shoppers watch video on mute, so having text that’s visible from a mobile device is a great way to get your message across to every viewer. You can use Spark Video to add on-brand fonts to your video, or even to create a video ad just by pulling together our beautiful images and fonts—no custom footage required. For short, motion graphics videos, turn to Spark Post, where you can make animated graphics in one tap, like the ones below. (Tap to remix them!)
Keep these Facebook video ad requirements in mind as you’re building the rest of your ad content:
- File size: 4 GB max
- Caption: 125 characters max
- Link headline: 25 characters max
- Link description: 30 characters max
2. Image Ads
For a more basic ad format, you can always go with a photo-only Facebook advertisement. This type of ad displays a single image or graphic, which is perfect for showing off a highly visual product or service when no video demo is needed.
Spark Facebook ad templates can help you design high-res image ads and export them into the proper file formats (.jpg or .png). Tap “Brandify” as you’re building your ad to instantly give your image your brand’s custom look and feel.
As you’re building your image ads, make sure they fall under these requirements:
- Image ratio: 1.91:1 to 4:5 (or to 1:1 with a link)
- On-image text: Takes up less than 20% of image
- Caption: 125 characters max
- Link headline: 25 characters max
- Link description: 30 characters max
3. Collection Ads
Collection ads are a popular type of Facebook ad that showcases a cover image or video, followed by a set of product images directly from your small business’ ecommerce store. When a Facebook user taps on the collection ad from their news feed, they can then scroll through the products you’re featuring and tap on each one to go directly to the appropriate page on your site.
It’s a beautiful, convenient catalog built to delight tech-savvy social users.
Your collection ad content must follow these requirements:
- Cover image or video ratio: Horizontal or 1:1 max
- Caption: 90 characters max
- Link headline: 25 characters max
4. Carousel Ads
Carousel ads are similar to collection ads, in the sense that this ad format features and links directly to products or other relevant pages on your site. However, instead of featuring a cover image and requiring users to click to see more, potential customers can scroll through your products and prices directly from their news feed.
Carousel ads are great for featuring trendy products, sale prices (who doesn’t want to scroll through half-off shoes?), and even the multiple benefits of a single product or service.
This type of ad supports two to 10 images or videos, so you can mix and match as needed—just make sure to export at a 1:1 ratio for the best look. For your written content, keep these carousel ad specs in mind:
- Caption: 125 characters max
- Link headlines: 25 characters max
- Link descriptions: 20 characters max
5. Instant Experience Ads
Facebook instant experience ads, formerly known as canvas ads, are full-screen advertisements that can be paired with almost every type of ad on mobile.
For instance, let’s say you’re pairing it with your video ad. Instead of taking Facebook users directly to your website when they tap your ad, you can instead set your ad to open up an instant experience page that users can scroll through for more information and tap buttons you create to get to your site.
This ad format is incredibly immersive and engaging for current and new customers—and loads up to 15 times faster than your typical website. You must create instant experience ads straight off of your ads manager during the Facebook advertising setup process (which we’ll walk you through later in this article), but make sure any branded multimedia elements you create in Spark beforehand follow these important ad specs.
6. Lead Generation Ads
If you want to gather contact information or learn about your audience quickly, lead generation ads are for you. This ad format can be paired with video ads, carousel ads, and image ads to take users to a custom form on Facebook instead of your website.
While most forms will minimally ask for your customer’s phone number and email address, lead generation ads can also include multiple choice questions, a calendar for appointment scheduling, and more. It’s incredibly customizable and allows you to follow up with potential customers.
To get users to click on and complete the form, you will need to offer something interesting, like a contest entry or coupon. Make it a win-win for everyone!
Other Types of Ads
Though the ad types listed above are some of the most popular Facebook advertising options for small businesses, they’re certainly not the only ones. Your ads can further link to Facebook offers, specific posts on your timeline, Facebook events, and more.
You can also create ads specifically for your Facebook Story and make your ads playable, which is especially great for game demos.
How To Advertise on Facebook in 5 Steps
Now that you have rock solid content that you’re confident about, it’s time to make your way toward your Facebook campaign launch. You’ll see plenty of options as you start exploring your ad account, so without further ado, let’s dive in.
Assuming that you already have a Facebook page for your small business, you can head straight into your Facebook Ads Manager to get started. Once you’ve made it to your dashboard, click the green “Create” button under your “Campaigns” tab and tap “Select Guided Creation.”
This will enable you to start a brand new campaign, starting with our first step.
Don’t worry if some steps look a little different for you. The selections you make in each step may alter your process slightly, but there truly are no wrong answers and the basic ad process will look about the same.
1. Select Your Campaign Objective
A marketing objective is important for any type of content you share, and Facebook ad campaigns are no exception. As soon as you begin the ad creation process, Facebook will ask you to select what you want your first ad to actually do. What are the results you’re looking for?
Choosing the right objective will help Facebook understand how to optimize your ads and how to charge you—for example, if you’ll pay a set cost per click or a cost per impression—so make sure you take some time to really consider the best choice for your goals.
Facebook currently offers 11 different options for your objective, broken down into three categories, which we’ll describe below.
If you run a small business that’s launching a new product or service, launching in a new market, or in need of better brand recognition, this is a great category for you to consider. You can choose one of these two objectives for your Facebook marketing campaign:
- Brand awareness: Boost awareness of your business or a specific product or service.
- Reach: Show your ad to as many people in your target audience as possible.
If your target market has already been exposed to your brand, your objective for this advertising channel may instead be to stay in your customers’ minds. Choose one of these six marketing objectives if you want to be more memorable and encourage potential customers to learn more:
- Traffic: Drive traffic to any URL, whether it’s a landing page, your homepage, or elsewhere.
- Engagement: Get more engagement—including comments, likes, shares, and saves—on your existing Facebook posts.
- App installs: Encourage Facebook users to download your app.
- Video views: Get more views on your existing Facebook videos.
- Lead generation: Collect contact information from interested shoppers. Choose this objective if you plan to run a Facebook lead generation ad that takes users to an in-app form.
- Messages: Get customers to reach out to you via Facebook Messenger. This is the best choice if you plan on taking your audience members to your Messenger chat instead of linking to your website.
“Traffic” is one of the more commonly chosen campaign objectives and the one we’ll be selecting during this walkthrough.
When you want to use Facebook to directly drive sales or immediate actions, choose one of these objectives:
- Conversions: Drive actions on your site. These actions don’t necessarily have to be purchases. You may also just want people to add items to their carts or register for a loyalty program.
- Catalog sales: Generate sales on your ecommerce site. This is a great option for anyone planning to create a collection ad.
- Store traffic: Drive customers to shop offline at your brick-and-mortar store.
2. Name and Optimize Your Campaign
Once you’ve selected your campaign objective, you can enter a campaign name. This name should make it easy for you to recognize and retrieve the campaign as you create more and your dashboard gets filled up. Set up a naming convention for yourself (for example, Year_Month_Title) to prevent your important Facebook ad creations from getting lost in the digital space.
If you plan to create a campaign with multiple ads, this section will also allow you to set up:
- A/B testing: Set up a split test to see which ads, audiences, ad placements, and more work best.
- Campaign budget optimization: Select a daily budget or a campaign lifetime budget to be used for each of your ads.
This isn’t necessary for your basic Facebook advertisement, and since we promised a beginner’s guide, you can toggle off these options and continue to the next step.
3. Set Up Your Ad Account
This one’s a step you can breeze through. On the next page, simply select your country, currency, and time zone.
If you’ve already run ads in the past or otherwise set up your account, you won’t even have to complete this step.
4. Customize Your Facebook Ad Set
Your Facebook ad set defines how your ad—or a select group of ads—will run. It tells Facebook who to show the ad to, how it’s shown, and what happens when a member of your targeted audience sees or takes action on the ad.
Your campaign can include multiple ad sets, so as you run through each part of this customization stage, rest assured that your decisions are not limiting your entire campaign—they’re just keeping one specific advertisement as well-targeted as possible.
Don’t forget to give your ad set a descriptive name, so you can easily reach it later in your dashboard, before you begin the following customization sections.
If your campaign objective was to drive traffic like ours, you’ll see an option to set where exactly you want to drive traffic to. We selected “Website,” but you can also choose to drive users to a mobile app (if it’s registered with Facebook’s developer site), Messenger, or WhatsApp.
If you chose a different objective, you may see other customization options on your screen.
Scroll down to the “Audience” section to start your audience targeting. Facebook offers a generous amount of targeting options, so you can get as specific as you need to.
While there are a few ways to build your custom audience for your Facebook ads, the simplest route that you can take is simply updating how you want to target people based on their location, age, gender, detailed targeting, and languages.
If you’re like us, you’ll be in awe of exactly how specific you can get with your Facebook ad targeting. You can reach people based on specific ZIP codes, whether they live there or are traveling there, what their interests are, and more.
Play around until you’ve built a specific audience that will help you achieve your goals. As you do so, pay attention to the “Audience Size” box on the right column. This box will tell you if your audience is too specific, too broad, or just right as you make updates to your targeting options.
You now know who will be seeing your ad. The next step is selecting where they’ll be seeing it.
Facebook recommends selecting “Automatic Placements” for your ad. This allows the social network to use its behind-the-scenes magic—algorithms, data, and the like—to place your ads in a way that will maximize your budget. This is a fantastic option for small business owners who don’t yet have a ton of data about their audience and where they’re interacting with you. However, this can mean you’re spreading your ad budget across all Facebook-owned locations, including Instagram and Messenger.
If you want to purely advertise on Facebook, or if you have a specific Facebook advertising strategy in mind, make sure to select “Manual Placements” to select where you want your ad to be seen. This helps you maximize your budget in specific locations, like the Facebook news feed, video feed, and search results pages.
Budget and Schedule
Finish customizing your ad set by setting your budget, then setting your campaign start and end dates if desired.
You can always update the “Optimization for Ad Delivery” option, which impacts how you’re charged, but the automated selection should already be the best choice, based on your objective. For us, “Link Clicks” was the automated choice, which is perfect for a website traffic-driven objective.
5. Build and Launch Your New Ad
This is the stage where all your content will finally come together. Once you’re in the “Ads” section of the Ads Manager, you’re one step closer to launching a campaign that’s perfectly built for your business goals. To start building your ad, give your advertisement a name and select your Facebook business page under “Identity” (as well as a linked Instagram page, if you’ll be running Instagram ads).
Then, under the “Format” section, choose if you want to use a single image or video ad, carousel ad, or collection ad as the base for your new promotion.
If you want your ad to double as an instant experience, make sure to also check “Add an Instant Experience” to start building your scrollable, full-page ad for users who click in.
Facebook does provide instant experience templates for you to work from, though we recommend replacing the images within these templates with branded Spark images to ensure the entire experience builds brand recognition and showcases your personality. Make sure to grab your free 60 days of Spark to access even more templates and our one-click branding feature.
Continue on to the “Media” section to upload the image or video content you already created beforehand.
Then, head down to the “Text & Links” section to plug in your ad copy and URL, as well as elements like a call-to-action button if desired. As you make edits, you’ll see a preview of your ad update.
Tap the green “Confirm” button on the lower right corner when you’re happy with your ad. Facebook will review and approve your ad for launch in a timely manner.
6. Track Your Success
We all know you’re not spending money on Facebook ads for fun. You’re looking for real results. As your campaign goes live, make sure to check in on how your ad is performing, so you know if it’s driving the results you need or if you need to try another approach.
Facebook’s Ad Manager stores your overall campaign performance metrics in the “Account Overview” section, accessible from the menu on the left hand side of your dashboard. Go here to review your amount spent in comparison to important metrics like:
- Link clicks
- Post engagement
- Website leads gained
This can tell you exactly what every cent you’re spending is getting and help you identify trends in your ROI. If you have multiple campaigns running at once, you can view your metrics by date to see how each campaign impacted your success.
Want to see how each individual ad or ad set is performing? Head back to your main Ads Manager dashboard and tap on the one you want to see results for. You can select the exact metrics you care about to pull up the data that most impacts your marketing and business goals.
We recommend minimally looking at your cost per result, so you know how much it’s costing you to reach your objective. You can also look at helpful metrics like your click-through rates and conversion rates, as well as the amount of page likes each ad led to. However, the right metrics to gauge your success really depend on what your goal was in the first place.
Your Facebook Ads Manager further allows you to view details about who’s viewing your ads, including how old they are and what device they’re using. Use these audience insights to shape your ad sets and messaging in the future.
Now that you know all the basics about how to advertise on Facebook (and more), you’re ready to take your small business marketing to the next level. Get our digital marketing starter kit for more ideas about how you can reach shoppers on the web.