A Rookie's Guide to Facebook Ads

Posted by Evan Seto


It’s the beginning of spring training in MLB, the most optimistic day on the calendar for baseball fans. No matter if you’re a Cubs fan brimming with hope that this emerging juggernaut will finally break a hundred year old curse, a Royals fan still basking in the glow of a World Series win (and being angry that forecasters are underestimating the team again), or even a Brewers fan, knowing that this year the team probably won’t be good, but maybe, just maybe, this crew will put it together for a magical run to the playoffs. And it all doesn’t matter because today, every single team is tied for first place at 0-0, and anything is possible.


For rookies coming into camp, that endless possibility is particularly acute. This is their first year in pro baseball, and not only are their teams’ fortunes endlessly possible, but so are their careers. It can be a bit overwhelming though, when everything is laid before you. It certainly helps to have a guide to break down some key strategies.

For those of you who are rookies to Facebook ads, the feeling can be similar. There are a LOT of possibilities when it comes to Facebook ads. Since Facebook realized that this was the way to monetize their platform, they’ve spent much time innovating ways to deliver ads in the most effective way. There’s a lot of noise now, but when you’re starting out, it helps to strip away the bells and whistles and focus on the basics. When it comes to Facebook advertising, there are three things to know, creative, audience, and analytics.

1) Creative

This will probably be the most familiar. When it comes to advertising, having solid content is a must. You need to create something that will be eye-catching and creative enough to spur people to take action. As people get better at filtering out ads, ad creators need to be better at creating them.

A Facebook ad has a few elements. Facebook gives you the opportunity to create ads that look very similar to other posts. This means you need to get a few lines of text, a picture, and a call to action. Don’t fight what Facebook is trying to tell you, make your text copy as conversational as you can, just like a real post. If it’s going to look like one, might as well sound like one right? The image should be bright and eye-catching, to make people actually read your text. You can even play with some text overlay on the image, but keep in mind it has to be less than 20% of the total image area. To be honest, the call-to-action button doesn’t matter as much, and you don’t have as much control over what it says (Facebook gives you a picklist), it matters more that it’s there, not what it says.

2) Audience

Now you have an awesome ad to show to… Wait, who is going to see this ad? This is actually why people like Facebook ads more than any other social media platform. Facebook allows you to build the kind of audience you want to target with a remarkable amount of precision. This is because Facebook collects an incredible amount of information about its users (yes, including you).

Starting out, it’s good to narrow your audience based on a few criteria. First is location. If you’re in New Jersey and trying to get people to visit your pizza parlor, it doesn’t really help to target ads to Utah (unless they’re in your delivery range). Next is targeting by interest. This is where Facebook’s algorithm really gets amazing. They can find people with certain interests not only by the specific pages they like, but by their behavior while using the platform. Use these criteria to narrow down an audience. Your optimal audience size depends on the amount you spend, and how long you plan to run the ad, so this is something you can play with and adjust on the fly if you’re not seeing the results you want.

Here’s one more scenario, let’s say you’re trying to create an audience that spans the whole United States. You’re probably having a tougher time narrowing down an audience. What you can do is take a list of your contacts, customers, and/or prospects’ email addresses, and upload it to Facebook. Then, you can create “lookalike” audiences of varying size based on people who are similar to that list of people who you already know are good for your business. From there, you can then use interest targeting to further narrow your audience and create a well crafted subset of people.

3) Analytics

This is probably the toughest section initially, so for beginner's purposes, we’ll keep it pretty basic for now. When creating an ad, it’ll ask you for an objective. For just starting out, ignore most of the options, you can go back and explore them when you’re more experienced. For now, let’s just focus on three. 

  • Page like ads are for if you want to grow your audience on Facebook and get more likes to your page. 
  • Website click ads are if you want people to go to a certain website URL (like a shopping page).
  • Post engagement ads are if you have a certain post you’ve already created that you want more people to see and like (like if you’re running a discount promotion).

Once you’ve created the ad, it will optimize for these objectives mostly automatically. You’ll also get the opportunity to monitor the performance of these ads in real time. Monitoring should be easy if you’ve kept organized while naming everything, and set the right objectives. Don’t be afraid to make adjustments based on what you’re seeing in terms of performance, but don’t be too reactive either. The worst thing you could do though is ignore the ad after you’ve launched it. Make sure you check in on its progress frequently!

Initially, it may seem like a lot of information, and sometimes the learning curve can be steep. Baseball legend Ted Williams once said, “The hardest thing to do in baseball is hit a round ball with a round bat squarely.” It may seem like an impossible thing to do, but we learn by doing, and even if we struggle initially, we’re usually surprised by how naturally it comes to us. So the best advice I can give to you with Facebook ads is to just jump in and do it. You’ve got this rookie!

If you need any extra advice, sign up here for a time with your very own ‘coach’ at Likeable Local.

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