Basic Tips for Facebook Ads Beginners

Even if you’ve been working in social media for a while, Facebook can be a daunting place. From the regular algorithm changes to the realm of Power Editor, those unfamiliar with what-means-what may find themselves just wanting to avoid it all. But, of course, you can’t.

Here’s to making it easier.

At the end of June 2016, Facebook announced its most recent algorithm update. The News Feed update, announced by Lars Backstrom, Engineering Director at Facebook, aims “to help make sure you don’t miss stories from your friends.” This was a frightening moment to brand page managers. What, if anything, would it mean for our updates?

About a month after the announcement, we here at SEJ polled our readers on Facebook and Twitter to see how they’ve been affected. A whopping 60% hadn’t noticed a change in their engagement, and 13.3% saw positive effects from the update.

We took a look at our stats for SEJ and, in measuring our main KPI (traffic to, we found we continued to see our expected increase in referral traffic. For our Facebook Instant Articles, we even saw a jump in traffic by 19.2% between June and July.

What does this mean?

Ultimately, it comes down to the ever-repeated adage, “Content is king.” If you’re posting updates (especially link updates) with quality, informative, and not-clickbaity information. You’re probably going to be alright with your already-engaged audience.

So how can you reach your goals in a pay-to-play way?

Here’s a brief look into some of my top tips for getting started with Facebook Ads:

Facebook Ads 101

Use Power Editor

If you’re just using the “boost” icon on the bottom of your best performing posts, you may not be getting all the proverbial bang for your buck.

Power Editor can be found in your Ads Manager (find this on the left-hand side of your News Feed).

Decide Your Objective

When you’re starting a new campaign, you’ll have a ton of options from Facebook.

Facebook will provide you with a nice little summary of what each objective means, just hover over the selection and choose the best for your goal.

“Lead Generation” ads are a great way to build up your email list. You create a form with whatever information you’d like to gather from your audience and only pay per lead captured.

Your traditional post “boost”  is called “Page Post Engagement” here—and you pay per post likes, comments, and shares. These won’t mean a ton to you if you’re trying to get someone to download your app, get emails, drive traffic to your site, etc.—so take a look at all of them to see what best fits your goal for the campaign.

What we use predominantly here at SEJ is that highlighted one: “Clicks to Website.” For these, you will only be charged when someone clicks on the link you’re providing. I’ll use this objective to show you some suggestions on setting up a campaign, ad set, and ad.

Create a Campaign

When you start a new campaign, you’ll have the opportunity to set a spend limit. This can be helpful if you’re setting a few different ads that will be running on a daily spend without an end date (more on that below) and you don’t want to go over a certain budget.

Create an Ad Set

Here’s where you set a budget and range for your ad. Be as specific as needed when naming your ad sets to avoid confusion and make your life as simple as possible when checking on the progress of your ad sets later. Setting at least two is important, as one may not work as well as another.

First though, how much are you spending?

Set a Budget

You can choose a daily budget or lifetime budget, and have the option to set an end date for your ad. The minimum daily budget must be $5. Often, utilizing the Daily Budget option will result in a better spend on your ad, but this is something you can play around with depending on your ad.

Set an Audience

Play around with your audiences. Create more than one ad set to see what works best.

The first section of the “Audience” section will allow you to create custom audiences for your targeting. By uploading your email lists, you can market to them (or to ‘lookalike’ audiences with similar interests to your lists). You can also utilize remarketing by installing a pixel on your website.

If you aren’t quite that far along yet, you can define your audience more generally. Facebook offers general targeting by location, age, gender, languages. Detailed targeting is through demographic, interest, and behavior keywords. Be specific, but keep an eye on the Audience Definition chart to the right of your screen. Try to keep your arrow in the middle(ish) of the green section.

For example: If I’m promoting an article with a focus on Google AMP, I may use targeting such as:

  • Location: United States
  • Age: 23-65+
  • Gender: All
  • Detailed Targeting:
    • Interests (“People that have expressed an interest in or like pages related to” these keywords): AdSense, content marketing, Google Analytics, link building, search engine marketing, search engine optimization

Narrowing your audience can help cut through the some of the fluff and give Facebook Ads a crisper insight to your interested audience. If you think your targeted audience is too large, try narrowing.

In the example above, if I moved “search engine optimization” from the ‘INCLUDE people who match ONE of the following’ section and put them into ‘Narrow Audience’. The potential reach drops from 2,100,000 people to 250,000.

You may not always want to narrow your audience this way, but you can weed through some of the excess audience by using this function.

Decide Placement

You can easily leave the ‘Automatic’ box ticked, and Facebook will use their algorithm to choose placement for your ad.

However, in my experience, I’ve noticed when I select my own placements (and leave off placements such as Instagram and Desktop Right Column ads) my cost drops substantially.

By both narrowing our audience and choosing strategized placement on this ad set, the ad spent at just $0.24 per website click.

Create an Ad

You have two options here.

  1. Create an ad out of a post you’ve already published on your page. If you have a post that has done great organically, chances are it will do well as an ad, too. As Larry Kim says “find your unicorn”—or, your amazing awesome post that everyone loves. (Then figure out what makes it so special so you can do it again!)
  2. Create what is known as a ‘dark post’—or, according to, “News Feed style ads that don’t publish to your Timeline or in your fans’ feeds organically.” Dark posts are great because you can make several of them to see what works with your audience and what doesn’t.

If you’re creating a new ad, rather than using an already-published one, Facebook will try to generate images from the link you provide for your post, but you can also upload a single image/video or use the carousel option to include up to five images/videos.

Facebook provides image specifications right below your image uploader. They’re there to help. Adhere as closely to them as possible.

Use good images. There’s a lot on Facebook, and a good image is what is going to draw someone to your ad before they read any of your copy.

Now ahead and create your ad!

The best way to get the swing of Facebook Ads is just to jump in and test everything, you’ll start to see what works best for your goals.

Image Credits

Feature Image: Rawpixel/
In-post Photo: illuland/
All screenshots by Caitlin Rulien. Taken August 2016.