How to set up a Facebook paid ad campaign

Marketing and brand

6 March 2023

Facebook is undoubtedly the most popular social network – in 2022 around 79% of the UK have an account.

Unfortunately, the network knows this, and is starting to remove organic (free) business posts from its users' timelines. So, unless you pay to advertise your content, your audience may not be able to see it.

To get started with paid ads on Facebook, you’ll need to set up a Facebook Business Manager account. Within your business manager, you’ll go to ‘All Tools’ and the ‘Ads Manager’ to get started.

Step one: choose your objective

Facebook offers three categories: awareness, consideration and conversion. Each of these has a series of objectives that your campaign will be based on.

For small business owners, the best objectives might include brand awareness, engagement, traffic, lead generation, conversions, product catalogue sales (great for e-commerce) and store visits (which encourages people to visit your bricks and mortar store).

There are eleven to choose from. Place your cursor over the "i" icon next to each one to find out more about it and find what’s right for you.

Step two: name your campaign

Give your campaign a name so you can easily track it – you might create more adverts later.

Depending on your chosen objective, you might be asked for additional information. For example, Facebook needs to know whether you're looking for page likes, event responses or post engagement for an "engagement" campaign, and the location of your shop if you are running a "store visits" campaign.

Step three: target your audience

You pay every time someone views or clicks on your advert, so make every penny count by only showing it to people who are likely to be interested. At the targeting stage, you can drill down based on location, age and gender.

You can add detailed targeting by including (and excluding) Facebook users with certain interests. You can even opt to promote your post to the friends of people who already like your page, even if they don't necessarily fit your other demographics.

With "create a custom audience" you can target new people based on your existing customers. Upload a file of your current email mailing list, and you'll be able to focus your advertising towards them (and people similar to them).

Step four: choose your placement

The easiest option is to select "automatic placement", as Facebook's algorithms will show your adverts in places where they're most likely to attract attention.

When you click "edit placements" you can be specific about where your advert will be shown. If you don't want your ad to appear on Instagram or mobile, deselect them.

Step five: set a budget and schedule

You can set a daily budget or a lifetime budget for your campaign. The daily budget is the average that will be spent each day while the advert runs, while a lifetime budget is the maximum that will be spent overall. Once the limit is met, the ads stop running.

Select a start and end date for time-dependent campaigns (such as Christmas). If you just want to raise awareness, you can let the ad run continuously – or until it meets its lifetime budget.

Step six: pick a format

There are several different formats that you ad could take. You’ll want to consider which is best for your business – is it eye catching video? A carousel that lets you maximise information? Or maybe a collection that showcases your best products?

There’s no best format. It all comes down to which will be most effective in meeting your goals.

Step seven: confirm your advert

On the final page, you can either write a new advert, or choose a post from your Facebook page. You can test how it will look on a mobile news feed, desktop news feed and more.

Take time to review everything – the next click sends your ad to Facebook for approval!

Step eight: measure, test, and tweak

You can track the performance of your campaign as it is running and tweak it if needed. If you have multiple versions of an ad running, you can assess which one is the most successful and shut off the less successful ads.

Ad management is a process of trial and error – just ask our 2022 winners of Startup Angel, Team Repair: “It definitely wasn’t spot on first time. We tried lots of different pictures alongside the ads, and you can make it so that different people get shown different images with your ads and you can see what works better and what gets more engagement. And we tried using different words to see what people are more interested in.” – Megan Hale, CEO and Co-Founder

Top tips

  • Check your ad quality score as this can affect how often your ad is shown
  • Video is reported to get more impressions than other ad formats. If you’re able to make good-quality video, consider testing this.
  • Make sure you have a clear strategy – otherwise ads are just a waste of money. Be clear on what you want to achieve and the best way to get there. Check on the journey your customers go on after they click on your ad and ensure that’s smooth as well.
  • Make sure all your graphics and text meet the specifications set by Facebook – otherwise vital parts of your ad could be cut off. Check the specifications here.
  • Try different visuals to see what appeals most to your audience. A/B testing can be a great tool for finding the best ad for your audience.

Next steps

For more information on how to use social media for your business, we’ve developed a step-by-step guide to social media marketing success, collecting some of the best guides and advice from leading experts.

You can also take a look at our social media advertising guide to find out about different social platforms like Twitter and Instagram.

All links are checked and valid at time of publishing, 6 March 2023.

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