5 Steps to Successful Facebook Advertising

Currently Facebook boasts somewhere in excess of 400 million users and growing. You’ve probably heard this line by now, but If it were a country it would be the third largest in the world behind China and India only. There’s a pretty good bet that some members of your ideal target customer reside in and visit Facebook land, but the trick is to find them.

Facebook advertisingFacebook’s advertising platform is a vehicle worth exploring. The tool allows you to place small display type ads in the right sidebar of Facebook pages and profiles. At this point it’s not as effective in pure response as well targeted Google AdWords campaigns, but it’s not really the same kind of vehicle and you won’t find AdWords in Facebook, at least for now.

Like many things Facebook, setting up and running successful campaigns isn’t as straightforward as it could be. Below is a description of five steps to consider as you explore Facebook advertising. (Bookmark the Facebook Ad Help Center and return to get answers to the Facebook Ads process)


One of the best things about Facebook advertising is the ability select who sees your ad using a number of variables, including keywords. You can target by geography, age, gender, education, relationship status, workplace and keywords. (I know someone who wanted to send a birthday message to his wife and targeted so narrowly that she was the only who would see the ad.) Demographics are pretty straightforward, the real trick is expanding your keywords to the point where you have a large enough audience to get the job done. Facebook used to have a tool that let you search for the hottest topics being discussed but they shelved it as they build a more robust analytics package. Check out all of your targeting options here

Attract and Engage

The first thing you must do is decide whether you want people to be directed to your own web page or something on Facebook like a Page, Application, Group or Event. If you are already the administrator of your Facebook Page, Group, Event, or Application, you can select it from the drop down option. The thing that’s nice about using ads to promote your pages and events is that Facebook puts a “Become a fan” or “RSVP to this event” button right in the ad. People don’t even have to visit your page to take action. There are some pros to sending them to a link on your web site (better tracking options) but by sending them to assets on Facebook you have the ability to multiply their actions through the natural social wall activity that occurs when someone RSVPs to an event. (All their followers automatically see that action.)

Some users find Facebook ads a good tool to promote events or get new fans to the pages. From an engagement standpoint think in terms of using the ads to promote content and value and not so much to sell something. The most successful use of ads on social networks is to create deeper engagement so you have the ability to sell once trust is built. Think about putting white papers on your Fan Pages and promoting that content or creating a free event, like a webinar, and advertising that event. In both of these cases you’ll have the opportunity to sell a bit once you’ve proven you know your stuff. (One quirk of note – when you promote an event created with the Facebook event app the title of the ad will automatically default to the title of the event, so name your event wisely )

You don’t get much space in these ads so use it wisely. Your headline (25 characters) should grab attention immediately with a benefit. You’ll get another 135 characters to describe and entice in the body of the ad. You also have the option to upload an image. Take this option. It may be the most important aspect of your ad so choose wisely. Facebook users are very image driven (it’s the largest photo sharing site in the world) and the visual graphic you choose will make or break an ad. This is an element you must plan on testing (see below)


Facebook advertising works a bit like AdWords in that you bid for keywords and compete to get your ads shown. How effective you are at this depends upon the competitiveness of your keywords. You can choose between a cost per click (CPC) model where you pay only for clicks or a cost per thousand (CPM) model where you pay per 1000 ad views. Most research I’ve read suggests that the CPC model is slightly more effective in terms of ROI. (Here’s a nice Glossary of Facebook Ads terminology in case this is starting sound buzz wordy.)

To start your campaign you must determine a bid per click and daily budget. You can set both of these numbers very low, but don’t expect much. Initially you are just testing so you’ll want to set your click bid somewhere around the Facebook suggested amount and a daily budget you can live with, something like $50 or more to start. You can always adjust these. Learn about the Facebook Ads Manager here.


No matter where or what you should always test your advertising. Online applications like this make it pretty darn simple. You can and should create multiple ad versions. Once you create an ad you will have the ability to create similar ads and run those as well. You’ll be able to easily view which ad is performing the best based on clicks. Facebook does need to approve your ads so make sure you are familiar with their guidelines.

The simplest thing to test is your image. I’ve seen ads go from no response to mega response with a better picture. Mind you I had no idea it was a better picture or I would have used it in the first place, but testing told me so. Here are some suggestions from Facebook on improving your ads.


Once you create and launch your campaigns you need to start tracking and tweaking. Facebook has a tool that gives you some information on actions taken inside the Facebook platform. So, if you are running an ad for an event or Facebook page you can use the Facebook Insights tool to monitor interaction.

Facebook Insights is a nice reporting tool as it can give you information about the actual, not targeted demographics and interests of the people clicking on your ads and keywords that drew that interest. This will help you narrow or broaden your targeting. Page admins can access Insights by logging in and viewing the box titled Insights in the left sidebar. This is only visible to Page admins. If you click on See All you will get full reporting. More information on Insights here and from the very useful blog Inside Facebook.

Facebook does allow you to run ads that point people links outside of Facebook and in order to track these ads you simply and monitor them using your own analytics tool such as Google Analytics. If you are using Google Analytics simply use the URL builder tool in Analytics to create a link to your page that contains tracking parameters and place that in your Facebook Ad as the destination link.

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  • http://www.businessbuilderbookclub.com Joy Johnson

    Just got started with Facebook ads. Yup. They're great. Got an “invitation” this morning to join new “FREE” and “Ad Free” Gold account – with video and group chat . . . Part of the deal is you must also invite all your friends. Now who isn't going to choose that option? I'm obviously missing something. Now what?

  • http://www.thesaleslion.com/ Marcus Sheridan,The Sales Lion

    Nice article John. I've been debating over whether to use FB advertising with my small biz and this article certainly helped. Keep up the good work.

  • http://www.mokitaonline.com/ elaine buckland

    A great, easy to follow article, I have just started with Facebook ads and this will make it much easier. I'm off to have a look around the rest of your articles now! cheers

  • Dan_Nieves

    Great article John! As Facebook continues to grow more and more, there is going to be even more potential with Facebook ads. They can definitely be beneficial for the Large corporation to the local small biz.
    Thanks for the tips

  • http://www.indevia.com/small-business-accounting Eric

    Good piece. The Inside Facebook blog is gold.

  • joe

    i thought facebook was about relationships but now I see ads for Chase bank etc..Think there are so many campers from the city that the camp site has become the city

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  • http://www.thesmallbiznest.com The Small BizNest

    Great detail in this article, John. I have found ads on Facebook to drive traffic but the visitors don't convert to paying customers. I think there are two reasons for this:

    1) You have to use landing pages and run A/B testing to find which message resonates and does a better job of converting.

    2) Facebook is free and, typically, people coming from Facebook are looking for more free stuff. LinkedIn, on the other hand, has a cost component which creates a perceived value. I find visitors from LinkedIn ads to be much more valuable.

    Just my $.02.

  • http://www.ducttapemarketing.com/blog ducttape

    Good to know that about LinkedIn – I've toyed with it a bit, but not tested it per se.

  • http://DCincome.com/blog TJ Corruthers


  • Carolynrhiggins


    This is really great information. You make some very important points here about how to make Facebook advertising (or any advertising for that matter) effective. I personally love Facebook ads because they allow me to test different headlines and offers to find what works and what doesn't. I then can apply that to other forms of advertising. I often use Facebook as my testing ground. It has worked well for me for getting new newsletter subscribers and for getting people to sign up for a free report I offer on my site (the Duct Tape 7 Steps report, in fact… since I happen to be Duct Tape Coach).

    Thanks again for the great info!
    -Carolyn Higgins

  • techy2009

    With so much of media exposure around, its increasingly difficult to get noticed. As a marketing professional, I find it really interesting to read about new and innovative marketing strategies.

    I regularly login to http://www.getmemedia.com/ just to check out various innovative strategies on marketing. Such a delight to read about ideas from a wide spectrum of people. Definitely worth a look!

    I recently found some interesting idea there on how to use social media more effectively for SMEs.

  • epnelson

    As the co-founder of a small business, I found your entry to be very informative about the benefits of Facebook advertising and your steps were helpful in simplifying the options for those choosing to advertise. I completely agree that fan pages are excellent ways to reach out and establish a connection with an online social community. They allow businesses to update their fan base about current events and the direction the business is taking. I believe that sidebar advertisements are “a good tool to promote events or get new fans to the pages” but I see complications in featuring products. My concern is the low click through rate associated with this method of advertising. Facebook was traditionally a social networking site, not an e-commerce store. People choose to go to the site to connect with friends and possibly get updates on social events, not to shop. Even with the right target for potential customers, I do not think Facebook advertising will be that successful. Do you believe it is the best medium for advertising a product? If not, what are similar, more successful alternatives for advertising a product on the Internet?

    Facebook was started in 2004, just as I was about to graduate from high school, therefore it was very popular within my peer group of friends. Everyone in my age group has a Facebook page, as do many of the adults I know. In conversations about the effectiveness of sidebar advertisements, I have found that many people rarely click on advertisements and even more never do. My personal research, in conjunction with recent studies, shows that click through rates are not very high. Furthermore, companies that elect to advertise on Facebook are associating themselves with the low quality user-generated content as well as spammers who also partake in sidebar advertisements. Do you think that this may lower the credibility of a company through negative association? Although the advertisements seem to be relatively cheap and the insights Facebook provides useful, I fear the high frequency of low quality advertisements has discredited sidebar advertisements as a whole and I do not see them being beneficial for a business looking to promote a product.

  • digmen1

    Great Article.
    But you missed the main point.
    Are Facebook ads cost effective ?
    I have run Facebook ads and found them much better than Adwords for getting hits to my site. (due to the pics in the ad)
    But the cost per click is far too high !
    Facebook says I should be bidding 65 cents per click to get my ads to appear !
    Are they joking ?
    65 cents per view on my website is not a good use of my money and would loose me money on my sales.
    6 cents per click would be much better, then I would spend big money on Facebook.
    Most websites would need at least 50 or 100 hits to get a sales. So at 65cents per click that is $65 to get a sale !

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  • http://www.firstpagegoogleresults.com/ home builders marketing

    you are bound to have a consumer or two there that fits your target.

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    Think I'll give it a try.


  • http://www.rosssimmonds.com/ TheCoolestCool

    Solid post! Surprised I didn't catch it in my RSS feed months ago. Either way, I love what you guys put together here. Its a great collection of insight and will definitely be beneficial to small businesses looking to leap into the FB ad world.

  • ThomWestley

    Search engine ads campaigns are becoming just too costly for an economy where people don't spend their money anymore. Generating solid organic traffic is essential. Social media can generate such a traffic to your site but an affiliate network program can generate only targeted traffic that offers more business opportunities.

  • http://www.seoconsult.co.uk Jack

    Facebook has now become a digital diary or guide whatever you like.This post is really beneficial for the beginners…!!!