February 28, 2017

Facebook Advertising: An Overview

Advice & tips for promoting your business on Facebook.

Today I’m going to talk about using Facebook’s advertising tools to promote your business online. Honestly, this is a subject we could end up going down the rabbit hole on- so I’m going to keep it to an overview of tips and advice based on my own experience. If you’d like more info on any of the topics covered here, please get in touch!

If you haven’t read my previous blog post Social Advertising: An Overview, I’d recommend you do that first then come back here. I’ll wait. Are you back? Good. Let’s go!

Creating Facebook Advertisements

Marketing on Facebook is handled through the Business Manager and Adverts Manager interfaces. Using these tools you can control your page, manage your preferences, update the payment method you’ll use and create and monitor any advertisements you run.

Facebook advertising must be carried out through a page, rather than a personal profile. As I mentioned in my overview on Social Media Advertising, an attractive and frequently-updated Facebook page is a great tool for promoting your business for free. There are a number of free tools on offer to business page users, of which everyone should take advantage. If you want help setting up and/or getting the most from your Facebook page, get in touch via

Should you choose to expand your potential customer base via paid Facebook advertising, here’s an overview of some important points to keep in mind:

Choose Your Aim

The first thing you need to do is choose the result you desire. What do you want to achieve? This will influence the type of advert you create. There is a wide selection of results you can aim for:

  • Build your page likes
  • Increase engagement (i.e. likes, shares, comments) with an update you have posted
  • Encourage footfall to store
  • Drive clicks to a website
  • Prompt app installs
  • Encourage video views
  • Drive event attendance
  • Increase local brand awareness
  • Get people to claim an offer
  • Promote your product catalogue
  • Collect leads such as email addresses
  • Reach people who are nearby

Targeting Tools

Facebook’s dominance of the online marketing sphere is due to its fantastic targeting tools. The level of information which Facebook collects from users means you can identify your customers with a high level of precision.

As I mentioned in my previous blog post, maybe the most genius thing about social networks is the way they use our desire to talk about ourselves to offer their customers very specific ad targeting. Without realising it, we are all contributing to their ability to improve the services they offer to businesses.

To give you an idea of the level of targeting on offer by Facebook, here are a few potential groups/ types of people which can be reached:

  • Married men between the ages of 20 and 40, within 40 miles of Cork and with an interest in fitness
  • Anyone in Dublin who is friends with a newlywed and travels often
  • Women with children from all over Ireland, who have an interest in music and cinema
  • Single men and women aged 18-30, who identify as Irish expats and are now living in Australia
  • Anyone in Ireland with the job title ‘Manager’ and an interest in cooking, who also uses an iPhone
  • Engaged women between 20 and 50, within 200km of Galway
  • And many, many, many more

Once you have created the profile of the customer you wish to target with this advert, you can then save this as an Audience to make the process easier and quicker the next time around.

Facebook also allows you to import your own Custom Audiences using data you have already collected, such as website visits, your contact lists or users of your company’s App. You can then expand on this information to create Lookalike Audiences and target potential customers with similar profiles to your current customers.

Creating Your Advert

Depending on the result you’ve chosen to aim for, there are a number of advert formats available to you. You can use an existing post from your Business Page or upload photos and or/videos in a variety of ways. No matter which method you choose, it’s important to keep in mind that the imagery contained within is highly important. It’s got to be attractive, relevant and easy to take in.


Facebook ad image and video upload options

Remember, people tend to scroll through their Facebook feed at high speed. Often, the imagery is what’s going to make them stop and take a second look. If you have the budget available to you, it’s worth investing in assistance from a professional photographer or graphic designer to build up a bank of material you can draw from.

Facebook does allow you to select from a library of stock photos, but I would advise against this if possible. These photos tend to be impersonal, generic and often used by other advertisers. Using your own images of your premises, staff or products will leave a better impression on potential customers.

Photographs should be high resolution and in the correct size and aspect ratio. Currently, this sizing is set at 1200 x 444 pixels and 8:3. Adhering to this guideline means it won’t get cropped unattractively. It’s important to remember that no more than 20% of an image can be taken up by text. You can upload your image to Facebook’s 20% Rule page to check it fits the requirements.

Video used in adverts should be in .mov or .mp4 format with a resolution of at least 720p. The file size can be no more than 2.3GB and the aspect ratio should be 16:9. If using a video, I would recommend adding subtitles so Facebook users do not need to have the volume on to understand your message.


An attractive ad, if I say so myself!

When writing the text for your advert, you’ll have a limited number of characters to use, so make them count. One of my biggest bugbears is spotting spelling or grammar mistakes in social media adverts. I see it frequently and I’m always amazed that companies are willing to spend money to create a bad impression. You wouldn’t allow a typo in your newspaper ad or promotional flyer, so why do it online?


This ad does not inspire confidence.

Write your advert copy, rewrite it, read it and read it again. Ask a friend to confirm. Use a spellchecker. Heck, email me and I’ll check it for you!

Start with an enticing tagline or Call To Action (CTA). If you’re sending a user to your website, use a clean, short URL. Add an attractive metadescription (the information under the website title) of two or three sentences which will tell users a little about the link they’re about to click on.


A friendly URL and better copy would make this company less dodgy looking.

People can be wary of clicking on phishing, spam or bad links, and rightfully so. Make sure you provide descriptions to any links you include. Tell Facebook users you’re in their city, open late on Fridays, offer free delivery or about the local award you won last year.

An empty-looking or uninformative advert can create a less-than-ideal impression, which may not inspire customer confidence and thus not perform well. There really is no point in spending money on ads which won’t ultimately drive sales.


Who? Where? Why? When? The headless models do not help either.


Good image, nice CTA, great description!


When creating an ad, Facebook recommends selecting Automatic Placements. However, if you are using an image to promote your business, I feel that it’s worth choosing the Edit Placements option and deselecting Instagram.


Pictures in Facebook ads are best with a 16:9 aspect ratio, but Instagram’s interface best shows off pictures with a 1:1 aspect ratio. I believe it’s worth creating a separate, Instagram-only ad rather than just using the image/copy you have selected for use on Facebook.

This is about making the most of what each social network can offer you to help promote your business. I’ll be writing more about advertising on Instagram in a future blog post.

Budgets & Scheduling

One of the many beautiful things about social media advertising is that you can almost invest as much or as little money as you like- the minimum budget on Facebook is €1 per day. Set a daily or lifetime budget which suits you and keep in mind that this can be adjusted at any time as you monitor your campaign’s progress.

Set your schedule to choose how long your advert will run. Make sure your timezone is set correctly if your ad needs to end by a certain time. This is important if you are promoting a sale, event or limited discount code, for example.

You’ll get a clear overview of how much your ad will cost right here in the budget & scheduling section. Here’s what it will look like once completed:


Don’t forget to set a spending cap on your Facebook advertising account. You’ll find this option in the Billing & payment methods section of the main menu. This will stop all ads once you reach your specified limit. Use this as a safety net to prevent any budgeting mistakes which might lead to unexpected and unwelcome surprises when your statement arrives!


The main menu. Click to see a larger version.


Facebook places restrictions on the products and services which can be promoted. You can see an overview of what they do and don’t allow by clicking here.

What’s Next?

Once your ad is up and running, you can keep track of it using the Facebook Advert Manager reporting tools. This will tell you the number of people who have seen and interacted with your ad. You can see how the ad is performing based on your desired result, i.e. how many people have engaged with your post, viewed a video or clicked through to your website. You can also see how much of your budget has been spent, and how much each result has cost you.


Use the columns dropdown to show the information you need

A useful tool in Advert Manager’s reporting arsenal is the Frequency Metric– this will tell you how many times people have seen your ad. It can be useful to keep an eye on this to avoid user fatigue. What’s a good figure? In my experience, keeping the score under 3 is a good guideline. If you’re a Facebook user yourself, think about how many times you have to see the same ad before it either annoys you or just becomes part of the furniture.

The Relevance Score will give you an idea of how people are responding to your advert on a scale from 1 (bad) to 10 (good). This is affected by actions such as a Facebook user hiding the ad and giving negative feedback.

Using the Frequency Metric in tandem with an ad’s Relevance Score as you monitor your campaign’s performance will allow you to get the most from your advertising efforts. For example, if users are seeing your ad more frequently as the relevance drops then this will likely do your brand more harm than good.

If you’re busy (and who isn’t?!) you can use the handy Monitoring Rule tool to alert you when a particular action occurs, i.e. the ad’s frequency score or cost per result goes above a specified figure:

facebook ad rule

Want to find out more about the best Facebook Advertising options for your business? I can show you how to use Facebook to create your own ads, or manage a campaign for you. Drop me an email to to get started.

Coming Soon: Blog posts featuring advertising on Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.