As of the second quarter 2016, Facebook had over 1.71 billion active users – are you reaching the right ones? My guess, probably not. But if you’re like me, spending money on Facebook Ads is like blindly throwing darts.

You may have dabbled in spending a couple of bucks to boost your Facebook page posts but were probably disappointed with the little response – leaving you feeling like you wasted your money. Sound familiar? Do you find yourself wishing there was a better way to reach your target audience on Facebook? 

Unless you’ve taken one of Mari Smith’s Facebook Ads webinars or are a social media expert, it’s hard to know where to start and how much money you should spend.

In this post, we’ll discuss the who, what, where, why and when of Facebook advertising.

1 – How Facebook Ads work

2 – Who Should Advertise on Facebook?

3 – How to Target Facebook Ads

4 – How create a successful campaign

5 – Importance of images for Facebook Ads

6 – How to track performance


People who like your Page spend an average of 2 times more as your customers than people who aren’t connected to you on Facebook. (Facebook Ads fact)

How Do Facebook Ads Work?

In researching this post, I realized that I didn’t quite know the difference between Facebook Ads and a boosted post and when should I use one or the other? It turns out, the answer to this question isn’t always an easy one. It depends on what your goals are for advertising and what audiences you want to reach.

Thanks to Reload Media for the following explanation:

What is a boosted post?

A boosted post is the most basic advertising you can do on Facebook. You create a boost by allocating advertising budget to a post already on your business page. Taking my husbands business page Evan Garber Arts as an example below, you can see the ‘Boost Post’ option in the bottom right-hand corner.

Boost Post vs. Facebook Ads

  • The post on its own would only reach a tiny portion of Evan’s current audience which could be as little as .05%!
  • Boosting the post allows you to ensure a much larger audience sees the post in their news feed.

Typically, use boosted posts when the goal is to achieve audience engagement such as post likes, shares, and comments.

What are Facebook Ads?

Facebook ads are a more advanced way to advertise on Facebook and require you to create an ad account.

Facebook ads offer the greatest number of options for advertisers, and the type of ad you choose to use will depend on your marketing objectives. Objectives include Awareness, Consideration, and Conversion and contain the following goals:

1 – Awareness

  • Boost your posts = Post Engagement
  • Promote your Page = Page Likes
  • Reach people near your business = Local Awareness
  • Increase brand awareness = Brand Awareness

2 – Consideration

  • Send people to your website = Website Clicks
  • Get installs of your app = # of App Installs
  • Raise attendance at your event = Event Responses
  • Get video views = # of Video Views
  • Collect leads for your business = Lead Generation

→Interested in generating more Facebook leads? Make sure to read Everything You Need to Know about Facebook Lead Ads.

3 – Conversion

  • Increase conversions on your website = Website Conversions
  • Increase engagement in your app = App Engagement
  • Get people to claim your offer = Offer Claims
  • Promote a product catalog = Product Catalog Sales

Here’s a simple image from Facebook, explaining how Facebook ads work:

How Facebook Ads work

Who Should Advertise on Facebook?

First, take a moment to think about why advertising on Facebook may be worth the investment for your business.

Perhaps you’ll recognize some of these challenges that Mari Smith hears from Facebook Page owners on a regular basis:

  • Your fan growth has reached a plateau.
  • You’re unable to reach more of the fans you do have.
  • You’re not sure if paying to promote (boost) your Page posts “actually” works.
  • When you do pay to boost posts, your organic reach goes down.
  • You’re afraid of wasting money.
  • You’ve tried ads before and didn’t get good results (read: a solid ROI, return on investment).
  • You’re not really sure what to advertise.
  • You don’t understand Facebook’s ad terminology.
  • You don’t know who to turn to when you get stuck….

Next, consider what type of business do you market to. Are you a business to consumer (B2C) or business to business (B2B) company?

From the Moz blog, take a look at the pros and cons of advertising on Facebook.

Pros of Facebook Ads

  • Campaigns are easy to track
  • Immediate influx of traffic
  • Complete control over your daily budget and maximum CPC
  • Instant return on investment (You can easily define a cost per conversion and understand what your profit is)
  • More targeting options, including, towns, regions, age, likes/interests, income bracket, and other demographics
  • Easier to set up than Google AdWords
  • The ability to reach people early on in the buying process, before they are aware of their need, while capturing those who are conscious of the need in a subtle way
  • You can use images and videos to capture the interest of your target market, helping you to sell your products and services
  • CPC is relatively cheap, depending on your industry (On average, our clients have paid no more than $0.61 per click)

Cons of Facebook Ads

  • If set up and managed incorrectly, it can be costly
  • Depending on your target market, the majority of the large potential audience can be irrelevant (For instance, we would not recommend Facebook Advertising if someone only served or supplied their products and services to one town)
  • There is no option to target your ads at certain times within the day or on certain days of the week unless you choose a lifetime budget (Most of our clients request daily budgets)
  • Only really suitable for those operating in B2C markets.
  • Reaching people too early in the buying cycle could potentially reduce your goal conversion rate


1 – If you are operating in a B2C market, Facebook advertising could be the ideal cost effective solution for you.

2 – On the other hand, the main con of Facebook Advertising is that it’s not recommended for B2B companies.

How to Target Facebook Ads

One of the biggest advantages to advertising on Facebook is your ability to target specific groups of highly engaged people. In fact, according to Facebook, compared to the average online reach of 38% for narrowly targeted campaigns, Facebook targeting is 89% accurate. 

Facebook ads let you target by:

1 – Location

2 – Demographics

3 – Interests

4 – Behaviors

5 – Advanced Targeting (e.g., custom audiences, lookalike audiences, audiences from your website, etc.)

Here’s a snapshot from the ‘Ad Set’ section in Facebook Ads where you can define your target audience by the feature sets listed above.

Define your audience, budget and schedule for Facebook Ads

How to Create a Successful Facebook Advertising Campaign

Here are the creative steps to creating ads that feel at home in the Facebook feed, as well as help deliver business results – at least according to Facebook:

1 – Identify your business goal

Start by deciding what your ad is intended to do.

  • Are you trying to push a certain product?
  • Drive foot traffic to your store?
  • Encourage website views?
  • Improve trust?

Identifying the purpose of your advertising will help you build posts that deliver the desired results.

2 – Identify your audience

Decide who your target audience is before you design your ad. It may affect the image and the way you write copy.

  • How old are they? 18-25? 25-54?
  • Where do they live? Anywhere? In Boise, Idaho?
  • What kinds of things are they interested in? Family Activities? College sports?

3 – Choose a topic

When deciding on the topic of your ad, think about your audience, and what would be interesting to them or offer them some valuable information.

  • Do you feature employees to build trust?
  • A new item to bring back old customers?

Knowing what the subject or theme of your ad is will help determine everything else.

4 – Choose an image (see more on images below)

Images are the first thing people will notice about your post. So take time selecting and curating the images you put there – this is how people will see your business.

5 – Write your copy <– (Notice how this is way down at the bottom of the list. Read more on why images are everything in Facebook ads!)

You don’t have to be a novelist to write effective text for a Facebook post. Following a few simple tips can help make your writing more effective and consistent in your ads. Most importantly, if you do nothing else, spellcheck.

Ask yourself the following:

1 – What’s the best reflection of your businesses personality?

Is it funny? All business? Adventurous? Every business has its unique identity and the more authentic you are, the more effective your ads are likely to be. Be yourself and be consistent in your tone of voice.

2 – What is important?

***Remember, people scroll through Facebook quickly, so the chances they’re going to stop and read a novel are slim. Stick to the relevant information and pay attention to the character count limit.

Elements of a successful ad

As a helping hand, here are a few tips again from the Moz blog to get you started on the road to creating a successful Facebook Advertising campaign:

  • Keep your information short
  • Make sure to include an offer or price
  • Use keywords
  • Include persuasive or engaging imagery/video (see more in the next section on the importance of images in your campaign)
  • Place your URL above the image/video in the text section
  • Use taglines and hooks to draw your potential customers in (i.e., “Make This a Year to Remember)

From AdExpresso’s eBook on The Science of Successful Facebook Ads, here’s a quick overview of what a typical Facebook ad should look like:

The Science of Successful Facebook Ads

A couple of data-backed facts on the most popular type of Facebook ad:

1 – Most popular: Page post Link ad

Data shows that the most popular type of ad is the Page Post Link Ad and is ideal for promoting your external site. Use the Link ad to send people directly to relevant sections of your website.

See example of a post link ad below found in my Facebook feed for Tecovas (everyone needs one awesome pair of boots!):

Facebook ads example of a Post Link ad

2 – High Engagement: Video ads

Video ads, which currently make up 15.1% of all Facebook ads, can drive high audience engagement.

Best practices of a video ad:

  • Use the video to show your audience a short example of your work.
  • Embed the video in an ad that promotes your offer or business.
  • Include a CTA to sign up to receive more information at the end.

3 – Photo ads are good for generating comments and likes, but not good for traffic, and you can’t include a CTA.

4 – Other ad types of ads such as Events and Offers are good for highly specific aims, such as promoting a time-sensitive webinar or sale.

Images for Facebook Ads

Images are everything in Facebook Ads

The good and bad news: Images are everything in Facebook ads.

Consumer Acquisition found that images are so important, they’re responsible for some 75 to 90% of an ad’s performance.

If you look at AdEspresso’s anatomy of a Facebook Ad diagram, it’s obvious how important images are – more so than the actual copy.

1. Pick An Interesting Subject

Focus on the things about your business that make it stand out.

The people.

The environment.

The products.

Try to pick an image that will grab your audience’s attention as they scroll through Facebook.

2. Shoot for Quality

If possible, avoid these three things:

  • Low resolution (which leads to pixelation)
  • Blurry photos
  • Clip or stock art

You can do this by taking photos with your smartphone of things that aren’t moving (that includes your hands while you take the photo), in well-lit places. It also means paying attention to the size of the image specified by the ad you’re building (square vs. rectangle).

3. DIY Photography Tips

You can take great photos on your smartphone.

  • Take the time to set up your shot.
  • Make sure there’s proper light and that you don’t have a lot of things crowding your frame.
  • Try using a photo app that offers filters. They take an average photo and make it feel more professional.

A few more tips from AdEspresso. Do these images grab your attention?

Tip #1: Eye Contact Helps Build Trust

Facebook Ads: Eye Contact Helps Build Trust

Tip #2: Focus On Lips

Notice the power of red!

Facebook Ads: Focus o n Lips

Tip #3: Beards Rule

Researchers from Australia looked at how people rated the attractiveness of men who were clean-shaven, had light stubble, heavy stubble, or were in full bloom beard-wise. They found that the men with the heavy stubble are always rated as more attractive than the clean-shaven guys.

Tip #4: Pregnancy Bumps Can Release Our Care Chemicals

Facebook Ads: Pregnancy Bumps Can Release Our Care Chemicals

Conclusion: We spend our entire lives looking at other people, so we’re drawn to them in ads as well. We love looking at eyes, lips, and bodies — it’s just in our nature. Adding something slightly different, like facial hair or a pregnancy bump can also make your ad stand out from the rest.

For more inspiration, download AdEspresso’s eBook on 500+ Facebook Ads Examples to get inspired. The best advertisers are those that constantly try new ways to improve their performances. New designs, new audiences, new ads’ copy. In this eBook you’ll find 500+ real world Facebook Ads Examples to get inspiration from for your campaigns!

How to Track Performance

Coming soon…


What have your experiences with Facebook Ads been like? We’d love to hear from you. Please share in the comments.