Beginner’s Guide to Facebook Ads

It sounds easy enough. You build your Facebook page, set a budget, pick your target audience and let Facebook do the rest. Right?


A lot of people make the mistake of assuming Facebook will bear the biggest brunt of the work. Nope. That’s still on you. Those that make this mistake are the ones sometimes come to believe that they’ll only lose money instead of make it using Facebook’s Ad system, or that the Ads would only work successfully for big companies.

This isn’t true. There’s a reason there’s so much attention focused on Facebook Ads: they work. You just have to know how to utilize them in order to maximize your profits. In this beginner’s guide to Facebook Ads, we’ll talk about how to do just that.

Why You Should Advertise Using Facebook Ads?

Because it works. That’s why over one million companies are advertising on Facebook, even if they can be an expensive investment. But we’ll get to that in a minute.

Aside from the fact that it works, using Facebook Ads can help you get your brand, product, and company in front of Facebook’s enormous list of daily active users—over 1.4 billion. At, there are a lot of numbers that speak for themselves.

  • The total percentage of 18 to 24 year olds with a Facebook: 98%
  • Total amount of minutes people spend on Facebook every month: 700 billion
  • Average amount of time a single user uses Facebook in a month: 15 hours and 33 minutes.
Beginner's Guide to Facebook Ads
Graph from


These numbers are only continuing to climb. From the 4th quarter of 2013 (pictured above), Facebook’s activity has risen from 1.228 billion users to 1.4 billion users.

As of March, Facebook has over 802 million daily active users. That’s a lot of people, and not only would you want to get your ad in front of that many people, it’s pretty much guaranteed your target audience will be hiding somewhere within all of them. Facebook Ads helps you do just this, and they help you do this across multiple platforms and devices with no added effort on your part.

How Does Facebook Ads Work?

Facebook Ads, in the most basic sense, works a lot like most other methods of advertising. You create an ad after determining its purpose and who to target, set a budget for how much you want to spend on the campaign, and then run it.

You first determine the purpose of the exact ad you’re creating. Facebook makes it easy. Do you want someone to click to your website? To install an app? To redeem an offer? Whatever your goal is, Facebook has an option for it.

Beginner's Guide to Facebook Ads
Picking your purpose for your Facebook Ad campaign is the first step.

You then upload images that will display with your ad. Your ad will take form and look something like this:

Beginner's Guide to Facebook Ads

You can set either a daily or a lifetime budget, depending on your needs. Jon Loomer has a great article where he discusses how much you should actually spend on Facebook Ads, which can be found here.

The amount of money you’ll need to spend will depend on how large your target audience is, how much competition there is, and how often you want your ad to run.

There are four different bid types, varying in efficiency depending on your advertising objective, which you can find out more about in a Facebook video here.

  1.  Cost per mille (CPM): Best for getting people to view your ad. You’re paying for impressions, and valuing views.
  2.  Cost per click (CPC): Best for getting people to click on your ad. You’re paying for actual clicks to take users to your Facebook page or landing page, and you’re placing emphasis on actual clicks.
  3.  Optimized cost per mille (oCPM): Best for getting your ad to people most likely to respond to it. This is best for trackable action, and is best if you are placing the most value on conversions.
  4.  Cost per action (CPA): Best for getting people to take an actual action with your ad, such as liking it or clicking a link. You are paying for actions, and you’re emphasizing actions. CPA, when available, is often a strong bidding option.

You can choose to run your ad continuously or for a period of time.

You can choose whether you want your ad to be displayed in the newsfeed or posted on the side of the newsfeed.

You can choose whether or not to have your ad displayed on mobile. It’s almost always a good idea to pick yes with this one. With mobile traffic surpassing desktop traffic, you want your ad to be seen by mobile users, too.

Once you have an ad campaign, you can choose to boost posts, for a fee, in order to get them more visibility. You’re able to monitor how many people have been reached, how much engagement has happened, and then decide how to proceed next. We’ll talk about that more later.

How Specific is the Targeting System?

 It’s as specific as you want it to be. You can target college students throughout the United States for an online textbook rental program, or you can target women ages 18-35 in Tallahassee with an interest in fashion in order to attract them to a specialized boutique.

Beginner's Guide to Facebook Ads

When developing a marketing campaign, a large portion of time and money is spent coming up with content that will appeal to your target audience, as well as how to get your ads in front of said target audience. Facebook makes that easier with their targeting system.

Facebook's incredibly detailed targeting system.
Facebook’s incredibly detailed targeting system.

Facebook Ads has an incredible targeting system. You can select every aspect of who your ad will land in front of. You get to select:

  • Age Group
  • Education Level
  • Gender
  • Areas of Interest
  • Languages Spoken
  • Location (as specific or general as you want)
  • Workplace
  • Relationship Status
  • Behaviors

An owner of a jewelry store might target couples in a relationship, hoping to get a big engagement ring sale. A liquor store would—hopefully—advertise to only those over 21, and likely within a close proximity to their store.

You also have the option of using the Custom Audience and Lookalike Audience features. The custom audience option is a private contact list you upload of particular people you want to see your ad. The Lookalike Audience tool will assist you in advertising to users who are similar to the fans you already have on your page, and users similar to those in your custom audience.

Based on the criteria you’ve selected for the audience you want to see your ad, you’ll be given a Potential Audience number. What this number is telling you is how many people would be in this target audience you’ve selected. It does not mean that they are all guaranteed to see it, however. The actual number of users that your ad reaches depends on both the budget you’ve set and how long your campaign lasts.

Thanks to Facebook, advertising has become extremely targeted. Instead of broadcasting commercials on television of the radio, taking a stab at a few of your target audience within a much broader one, you can make sure your campaign is seen only by those most likely to respond to it. This alone makes Facebook Ads one of the most powerful advertising tools out there—if you know how to use it.


Where Does the Challenge Come In?

It’s great to have someone click on your ad, but if they click, you pay, and then that’s it, you’re not paying for anything other than a wasted opportunity.

You want results of some sort. If you’re running an ad to get more likes on your Page, then make sure you’re getting those likes. If you’re advertising a product and looking for sales and conversions, you need to make sure that’s happening.

Unfortunately, for some users new to Facebook Ads, opportunities get passed and both money and time are lost.

Setting your budget to an amount you can actually afford, especially if it is a daily budget, is something a lot of people come to neglect. It’s seems like a small one, but this can end up costing advertisers more money than they intended, bleeding a hole in their pocket.

You will have to spend money on Facebook Ads. It’s like most other marketing campaigns, you have to spend mone to make money. If you’re doing it right though, you should be doing just that—getting ROIs that are worth more than what you’re putting into it.

This doesn’t mean that you have to go bankrupt. That’s the last thing you want, spending too much money on anything you can’t afford. It’s about finding the balance.

So how do you get that ROI?

One of the biggest mistakes we see people making is that they’re not targeting the right people. You saw the list above—there’s a lot of options for your target audience, and a lot of room to get overwhelmed and misled. More than that’ they’re unsure of who their ideal customer actually is. A jewelry company making the mistake of only advertising to women, for example, will miss the fact that men are often the ones buying jewelry for women. They may just have missed their target audience.

When it comes to targeting your audience, you also want to find the right medium. Going to broad won’t land you much in the way of results (as well as costing a pretty penny), potentially displaying your ad to people who aren’t remotely interested. Keeping your focus too narrow, however, may mean that you miss an entire niche of your target audience.

Getting exposure from Facebook Ads is great, but more often than not, we’re seeking more than just exposure. We’re looking for conversions, sales, app downloads, social media engagement, or sign ups for our e-mail lists. Having a landing page or a squeeze page to funnel sales and get the results you’re seeking will help you to get them.

Knowing that Facebook Ads can be difficult to profit from, Ryan has created an e-course on his proven Facebook Formula.

Results from our Facebook Formula
Results from our Facebook Formula

For more information on the e-course, you can check out the introduction video and case studies here for a limited time

How to Know What’s Working and What Isn’t?

Want a way to know what’s working without spending tons of money researching it? There’s a tool for that.

That tool would be Facebook’s incredible analytics system called Insights.

Insights gives you free analysis and statistics of everything that’s going on with your page, including with your Ads campaigns. Getting detailed information about who is seeing what? That kind of data can revolutionize your marketing campaign.

As Facebook says, it’s easier than ever to monitor what’s working and what’s not working with your page, helping you to best decide how to better connect with your audience.

Facebook's Insights
Facebook’s Insights

Insights can be found at the top of your page, above your cover photo. It gives you a broad overview of the data, and offers tabs where you can evaluate your statistics on likes, your reach, visits to your page, engagement and viewership of your posts, and who the people are who are following you.

The Likes tab alone will show your trend of likes—in graph form—including whether they were paid, organic, or later unliked. It also shows you were most of your likes come from; did the likes come from on your page, page suggestions, or ads and sponsored stories? Now you’ll know.

The Reach tab will demonstrate how many people who have seen your posts, and again, whether it was organic or paid.

Visits show how many people came to your page, and how they got there.

The Posts tab shows statistics on which posts not only had likes, but how far many people each one reached and how much engagement occurred.

The People tab gives exact numbers on who your audience is—what gender they are, how old they are, and where they are from.

Using this information, you can eliminate tactics that aren’t working and increase campaign techniques that are.

You can gain better insight on who to target and how to target them—maybe your Facebook ads campaign has shown to be hugely profitable, or maybe not. If not, Insights can help you determine whether it’s your ad that needs work or whether you could be targeting the wrong demographic. While trying new strategies and techniques, monitor your campaign on Insights to keep yourself going in the right direction.