How to Run Facebook Ads: A Step-by-Step Guide to Advertising on Facebook

When setting up a paid Facebook ad, there are a lot of boxes to be checked.

Are you targeting the right people? Are your image dimensions to scale? Are you running the right type of ad? If we’re being honest, it can get a little confusing.

With more than 2.3 billion people using Facebook every month, and nearly 1.6 billion users every day, Facebook offers up a unique opportunity for marketers to augment their organic efforts. The trouble is, with both an investment of time and money on the line, there’s not much room for oversight.

Free Lookbook: 50 Facebook Ad Examples That We Actually Clicked

To help, we’ve put together a checklist to help you keep all of your campaign details straight. Or watch this short video on how to increase the effectiveness of your ads and budget. These will help ensure that you’re tapping into the right audience with the right ad at the right time.

How to Run Facebook Ads

Facebook offers a variety of paid ad options and placements, but all ads can be broken down into three elements:

  1. Campaigns. The campaign houses all of your assets.
  2. Ad sets. If you’re targeting separate audiences with different characteristics, you’ll need an individual ad set for each.
  3. Ads. Your actual ads live within your ad sets. Each ad set can hold a variety of ads that vary in color, copy, images, etc.

With that terminology out of the way, let’s dive in to creating an ad.FEATURED RESOURCE

50 Facebook Ads We Actually Clicked

Fill out the form to access the lookbook.

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 Start creating an ad through Facebook’s Ads Manager.

You can create a paid ad on Facebook using Facebook’s Ads Manager.

Once you log into this page, you’ll see a performance dashboard where all of your campaigns, ad sets, and ads will be listed including the results they’ve driven for your Facebook page. Unless you’ve already created an ad for your Facebook page, this dashboard will be empty.

To create a new campaign, ad set, or ad through the Facebook Ad Manager, tab over to the type of ad you want to create and click the green “Create” button to far left of these ad types, as shown below. You can see from this screenshot that we’re currently set to create a new campaign.


 Choose an objective.

Facebook’s Ads Manager, like many social media advertising networks, is designed with your campaign objective in mind. Before getting started, Ads Manager will prompt you to choose an objective for your campaign:


There are 11 different objectives to choose from. The list includes everything from general brand awareness, to getting installs of your app, to increasing traffic to your online store.

By choosing one of these objectives, you’re giving Facebook a better idea of what you’d like to do so they can present you with the best-suited ad options. As shown in the screenshot above, Facebook’s ad options include:

  • Brand awareness
  • Reach
  • Website traffic
  • Engagement
  • App installs
  • Video views
  • Lead generation
  • Messages
  • Conversions
  • Catalog sales
  • Store traffic

Let’s say, for sake of this blog post, you’re looking to drive more traffic to your website. When you select this option, Facebook will prompt you to enter the URL you’re looking to promote. If you’re using marketing automation software, be sure to create a unique tracking URL with UTM parameters for this to ensure that you’ll be able to keep track of traffic and conversions from this ad. For HubSpot customers, this can be done using the Tracking URL Builder.

Once selected, Facebook will then display the ad option that makes the most sense in terms of achieving this objective.

 Choose your audience.

Your next step is to configure your target audience — you can do this for each ad set that belongs to the same campaign. If you’re just starting out with paid advertising on Facebook, it’s likely that you’ll have to experiment with several different targeting options until you reach an audience that fits just right.

To help you narrow your focus, Facebook’s targeting criteria are accompanied by an audience definition gauge. This tool — located to the right of the audience targeting fields — takes all of your selected properties into consideration in order to come up with a potential reach number.

If you’re wavering between choosing a specific audience over a broad one, consider your objective. If you’re looking to drive traffic, you’ll probably want to focus on the type of people you know will be interested in your offering. However, if you’re looking to build brand awareness or promote a widely appealing offer, feel free to focus on a more general audience.

Audience creation page in the Facebook Ad Manager

Facebook’s built-in targeting is vast, including options such as:

  • Location
  • Age
  • Gender
  • Languages
  • Relationship
  • Education
  • Work
  • Financial
  • Home
  • Ethnic Affinity
  • Generation
  • Parents
  • Politics (U.S. only)
  • Life Events
  • Interests
  • Behaviors
  • Connections

You also have the option to select a Custom Audience — this allows you to target people on Facebook who are in your company’s contact database, visited a page on your website that has a tracking pixel, or use your app or game. To learn more about how to set up a Custom Audience on Facebook, check out these instructions. (And for more on the specifics of these criteria, visit this Facebook targeting resource.)

Once you find a group that responds well to your ads, Facebook allows you to save these audiences to be used again later — so you may not need to dive into this step once you’ve been running Facebook ads for a while.

 Set your budget.

Facebook allows you to set either a daily budget or a lifetime budget. Here’s how they differ from each other:

  • Daily budget. If you want your ad set to run continuously throughout the day, this is the option you’ll want to go for. Using a daily budget means that Facebook will pace your spending per day. Keep in mind that the minimum daily budget for an ad set is $1.00 USD and must be at least 2X your CPC.
  • Lifetime budget. If you’re looking to run your ad for a specified length of time, select lifetime budget. This means Facebook will pace your spend over the time period you set for the ad to run.


To further specify your budgeting, turn to the advanced options — this option is linked at the bottom of the screenshot shown above. This section allows you to specify a few things:


Choose whether or not your want your campaign to run immediately and continuously or if you want to customize the start and end dates. You can also set parameters so that your ads only run during specific hours and days of the week.

Optimization & Pricing

Choose whether or not you want to bid for your objective, clicks, or impressions. (This will alter how your ad is displayed and paid for.) By doing so, you’ll pay for your ad to be shown to people within your target audience that are more likely to complete your desired action, but Facebook will control what your maximum bid is.

If you don’t want Facebook to set optimal bids for you, you’ll want to opt for manual bidding. This option awards you full control over how much you’re willing to pay per action completed. However, Facebook will provide a suggested bid based on other advertisers’ behavior to give you a sense of what you should shoot for.


Delivery type falls under two categories: standard and accelerated. Standard delivery will show your ads throughout the day, while accelerated delivery helps you reach an audience quickly for time-sensitive ads (Note: this option requires manual bid pricing).

 Create your ad.

What do you want your ad to look like? It all depends on your original objective.

If you’re looking to increase the number of clicks to your website, Facebook’s Ad Manager will suggest the Clicks to Website ad options. Makes sense, right?

This ad option is broken down into two formats: Links and Carousels. Essentially, this means that you can either display a single image ad (Links) or a multi-image ad (Carousel) with three to five scrolling images at no additional cost.

A Links ad will be displayed like this:

Facebook Ad with link to Shop Now

A Carousel ad will be displayed like this:

Example of a Facebook Carousel Ad with images of Grand Canyon

Once you decide between the two, you’ll need to upload your creative assets. It’s important to note that for each type of ad, Facebook requires users to adhere to certain design criteria.

For single image ads, Facebook asks that users adhere to the following design recommendations:

  • Text: 125 characters
  • Ad Headline: 25 characters
  • Image ratio: 1.91:1
  • Image resolution (including CTA): 1080 x 1080 pixels

For multi-image ads — also known as Carousel Ads — Facebook provides the following design recommendations:

  • Recommended image size: 1080 x 1080 pixels
  • Image ratio: 1:1
  • Text: 125 characters
  • Headline: 40 characters
  • Link description: 20 characters

Your image may not include more than 20% text. See how much text is on your image.

Keep in mind that these are the ad options for the “Traffic” objective.

If you selected “boost your posts,” you’d be presented with different ad options like the Page Post Engagement: Photo ad. This ad has a unique set of design recommendations. To explore all of the ad options and their design specifics, refer to this resource.

Once you select an ad type, the Ads Manager will prompt you to identify how you’d like to display your ad. The options they provide are as follows: Desktop News Feed, Mobile News Feed, and Desktop Right Column.

Here’s how each ad would appear:

Desktop News Feed

Facebook Ad with single image on a desktop news feed

Mobile News Feed

Facebook ad with single image on mobile news feed

Desktop Right Column

Facebook Ad with single image on desktop right column

Be aware if your ad isn’t associated with a Facebook page, you’ll only be able to run Desktop Right Column ads. To leverage all three display locations, you can learn how to create a Facebook Page here.

 Report on your ads’ performance.

Once your ads are running, you’ll want to keep an eye on how they’re doing. To see their results, you’ll want to look in two places: the Facebook Ad Manager and your marketing software.

Facebook’s Ad Manager

Facebook’s Ad Manager is a sophisticated dashboard that provides users with an overview of all their campaigns.

Upfront, the dashboard highlights an estimate of how much you’re spending each day. The dashboard is organized by columns, which makes it easy to filter through your ads so you can create a custom view of your results. Key numbers like reach, frequency, and cost are readily available, making reporting on performance a no brainer.

According to Facebook, here are some of the key metrics to look for (and their definitions):

  • Performance. Can be customized further to include metrics like results, reach, frequency and impressions
  • Engagement. Can be customized further to include metrics like Page likes, Page engagement and post engagement
  • Videos. Can be customized further to include metrics like video views and avg. % of video viewed
  • Website. Can be customized further to include metrics like website actions (all), checkouts, payment details, purchases and adds to cart
  • Apps. Can be further customized to include metrics like app installs, app engagement, credit spends, mobile app actions and cost per app engagement
  • Events. Can be further customized to include metrics like event responses and cost per event response
  • Clicks. Can be further customized to include metrics like clicks, unique clicks, CTR (click-through rate) and CPC (cost per click)
  • Settings. Can be further customized to include metrics like start date, end date, ad set name, ad ID, delivery, bid and objective

Your Marketing Software

While there are certainly a lot of details to keep straight when planning a paid Facebook ad, it’s important that you don’t lose sight of the big picture. Reporting on clicks and conversions from Facebook is important, however, if you’re using URLs with specific UTM codes, you have an opportunity to measure your ads’ full-funnel effectiveness using your marketing software.

Tracking URLs will help your marketing software keep track of how many leads, or better yet, how many customers you’ve gained from your advertising efforts. This information is useful in determining the ROI of this source, and can also be used to inform your overall Facebook marketing strategy.

If you’re a HubSpot customer using our ads tool, this process is already taken care of for you. You can also create unique tracking codes for your Facebook campaign by navigating to the Tracking URL Builder on the Reports Home page. All you’ll need to do is plug in the URL, attach a campaign, and choose the source you want the URL to be attributed to in your Sources Report. Once your ad launches and you start getting traffic and conversions on your website, you’ll be able to easily track how many visits, contacts, and customers you’re generating.

FB Ad Examples
Facebook Ad Examples

Originally published Sep 30, 2019 3:00:00 PM, updated April 27 2020

Organic digital marketing 101

How does ‘organic digital marketing’ differ from ‘digital marketing?

What does it include, how much does it cost – and will it deliver a return on investment?

Let’s find out.

You have probably heard of ‘digital marketing’ – but organic digital marketing?


Whether or not you seek out organic product to eat, most of us would agree that ‘organic’ as a process offers benefits. It’s more natural, less chemical – more integrated, less artificial – more home grown and less big business.

Most people see value in that which is lovingly crafted vs that which is mass produced.

Organic digital marketing isn’t any different. It references that same ‘organic process’ – where real value, quality and consistency – increases your reputation naturally, bringing rewards over time.

You build your audience, you deliver targeted content, you write articles, do videos, get involved in your business community, you provide free help and advice. All of these are simple ‘lo fi’, natural ways to build your brand and increase your revenue without a lot of upfront cost.

Welcome to organic digital marketing.

So go share your message, get diy, : and grow your brand naturally, online.

But before we go any further, a quote from Sophocles:

He says – “One learns by doing a thing; for though you think you know it, you have no certainty until you try.”

Sophocles was an Ancient Greek playwright. He lived in Anthens from 497 BC to 406 BC.

I like this quote. In that ancient age, Sophocles ideas still manage to get to the heart of how to approach ‘organic digital marketing’.

Sophocles says – ‘one learns by doing a thing.’

That is certainly true with regard to organic marketing. You just have to start. Dive in. Be authentic. Talk to your customer. Don’t worry about high end production values. Keep it real. Do your best and adjust as you go. That is how you learn.

He reminds us that ‘you have no certainty until you try’.

For Sopholes, you have to have faith in the process. As small business owners, we are always learning something new.

In this digital age – where online marketing can seem costly and confusing – it makes sense to try the organic approach, where simple is best and costs are low.

Think grass roots. Be organic.

Make a goal to do small outreaches daily – find ways to help your customers and prospects. Tend your garden. Watch it grow.


The definition of ‘organic digital marketing’ is a simple one.

Digital Marketing – of course refers to any marketing that is online, digital, internet based.

Organic Digital Marketing refers to content marketing activities which provide value to customers and prospects over time. This is also referred to as ‘inbound marketing’ – where targeted people discover you ‘naturally’.


‘Paid digital’ in this context – may be described as ‘artifiical or non-natural’. Any market reach that you establish disappears when you finish your campaign. Visibility costs ongoing investment here.

Organic digital marketing whilst often free or low cost – does come with the price of time – investment, dedication and consistent actions, ideally maintained on a daily basis. Yes it’s true – that as small business owners there is never enough time.

Yet advertising or marketing is an activity that few can do without. You need leads. And organic digital marketing is great for lead generation over the long term.

Once established ‘organic marketing actions’ are often referred to as ‘ever green content’. Unlike ‘paid marketing actions’ that drop off the map advertising stops – organic content remains visible. It provides ongoing value to targeted audiences and returns an ongoing stream of quality leads and prospects, without ongoing cost.

Sounds good, hey?

Ok – let’s get to some examples of Organic Marketing.


For anyone who doesn’t know, SEO stands for search engine optimisation.
This is where your website features naturally in organic search results, particularly on the first page.

Results on the first page will usually get clicks. And targeted clicks generate real world leads.

Action Tip: Blogs are great for SEO.

Google loves blogs. Never underestimate the importance of blogging.

Create highly targeted blog posts around keywords that your customers might use. Like with all marketing actions – find your point of difference here too. Don’t just go for the most popular terms – where ranking is often fought over amongst the ‘big boys’. Let them fight it out.

Instead target very specific niches. Include your location in blog post titles (particularly if you are target local clients). Get granular about your products and services.

I recommend making your website the focus of your attention and blogging is a great way to do just that.

Value your website. It is a key asset and a long term investment in your business – and blogging adds more value to your website over time. Your website increasingly offers more resources to your audience – and google will reward you with ranking.

But like starting a vege patch – organic digital does take time to grow.

Think of your blog posts as an opportunity to share relevant information with your own special audience. Be you, keep it simple and aim to help.

Then do it all over again.


Social media organic marketing – makes use of popular social platforms to spread your message. Think Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Youtube, WeChat, WhatsApp and more.

There are sooo many social channels out there – it can be a bit overwhelming.

You have to be selective – and you must be strategic here. Each platform has it’s own set of advantages.

How can a busy small business owner keep up with all of them?

There is a simple way. Really.

This is via your website and more specifically, your blog.

When you write a new blog post, you are able to auto publish it across the most popular social channels. It’s automatic, it’s simple – and it makes it easy for people to follow you via their preferred network – some customers prefer twitter, others Facebook etc.

Take advantage of auto publishing
Auto-publishing makes it easy to maintain activity across a variety of platforms at the same time.

If your website is built on the WordPress platform – you can install a plugin to help you here. One example is Blog2Social. Blog2Social is a great Social Media Auto Post & Scheduler and I have included a link below:

Blog2Social lets you share and auto-post across a great many social channels including Facebook, Twitter, Google My Business, LinkedIn, XING, Instagram, Pinterest, Flickr, Reddit,, Medium, Tumblr, Torial, Diigo and Bloglovin.

Pretty good, huh?

If your website is built on the squarespace platform – you don’t need to install a plugin to get started sharing.

Share your content across the main social platforms with the press of a button. Post to Facebook (Pages only), Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Tumblr.

The great thing about Squarespace here, is that you can not only share blog posts – but all sorts of content, including Gallery Page images or videos,

Events info, Product details and even Album tracks.

This is a handy shortcut, and really saves time when it comes to manually opening your social profiles and pasting your links.

What else does Organic Digital Marketing include?
As you know know, organic digital marketing refers to all your ‘non-paid’, online marketing actions.

While your blog is a great place to get started – there are lots of other ideas out there too.

Welcome to the big list!

Whilst many options exist out there – the important idea is to always have your target customer uppermost in your mind. What kind of content would they appreciate best? What are the best ways to reach out to them?

Generate traffic, increase your leads and build your business with these simple strategies.

Extend your brand reach organically with:

  • Infographics
  • E-Books – Both Free and Paid download
  • Social Media Content
  • Power Point Presentations
  • Images
  • Blogs
  • Podcasts
  • Articles on other websites
  • Blog comments
  • Online Directory Submissions
  • Forum Profiles
  • Local Business Listings
  • Press Releases
  • Pdf Sharing
  • Quora Posts
  • Video Content
  • Google Maps
  • Reviews & Testimonials
  • Link Sharing & Outreach

They are ideas to get you started with organic digital marketing.

Remember Sophocles: “One learns by doing a thing; for though you think you know it, you have no certainty until you try.”

Just try. Have a go. Keep it simple and begin.

Take your message – in new ways – to the people who matter most: your customers.

Good luck!