Facebook Ads for Beginners: What you need to know before you start

2019-04-05T20:49:45+02:00November 8th, 2018|Strategy|1 Comment

Can I let you in on a little secret?
I hate social media. I mean, I love-hate it (I’m still technically a millennial, yo).
I mean, I hate that I secretly love it.


What I’m trying to say is this: You don’t have to love The FB in your personal capacity or drink the Social KoolAid in your day-to-day existence. But if you have a small business that sells to customers, clients, PEOPLE – then you need to be using Facebook in your marketing strategy.

The not-so-recent changes to Facebook algorithms mean that the content you so carefully create for your business pages is a total waste of time. Yes, you read that right. Unless your posts have money behind them and they are boosted, they will not get shown to your audience, no matter how much they love your brand. So if your fans aren’t seeing your posts, you can sure as hell forget that anyone new will be seeing them.

Enter: Facebook Ads.

There are over 2 billion users on the platform every day, which means that your audience is out there ready to be targeted.

Advertising on Facebook ads has many things going for it: ads are relatively inexpensive to run, Facebook’s targeting algorithms are second to none, and the Almighty Pixel gives you measuring capabilities that are nothing short of genius. Have your eyes glazed over already?

Fear not, Intrepid Entrepreneur – you’ll be slaying this blue-headed dragon in no time!

Here are a few need-to-know facts to clear the confusion before you start:

Start small: you call the shots

You don’t need a huge budget or a large following: that’s the sweet, sweet Facebook joy! If you’re a complete newbie to Facebook ads, I would recommend starting small and set a budget of as little as $5 per day. This will allow you the flexibility and peace of mind to figure out what works and what doesn’t (there will be plenty of that). Test out a few variations of your ad – different images, taglines, audiences. Let these run for a week (no more than two weeks) and then focus on the one that’s bringing in the best results.

Once you’ve figured out what’s working, you can put more budget into it, play around a bit more, create more versions. Don’t be afraid to mix things up and change your ad every few weeks, after all, variety is the spice of life. And we like it spicy. 🔥🌶

Start with the destination in mind

Think of it like planning a trip: first, decide where you want to go. Then plan your route – and consider things you might see along the way. Then set your GPS to your destination and head into the traffic. You’re less likely to get sidetracked and lost along the way when your route is already mapped out.

It’s the same with your ads. You need to know what you want to get out of advertising. Facebook gives you certain objectives to choose from:

Awareness – let people know about your brand, reach a new audience and get exposure
Consideration – sending people to your site (traffic), getting page likes, shares and comments (engagement), video views, app installs, messages, or lead generation (gathering data to your email list)
Conversion – these can vary depending on your business type. Traditionally conversions are considered to be sales of your product on your website or from your product catalogue on your Facebook Shop page. They can also be measured by an action that someone takes on your site – like making a booking or submitting an inquiry.

Once your objective is set, your ad cost and success will then be measured accordingly.

The Branded Panda - Facebook Marketing

Choose your Ad 0bjective

Once you’ve set your objective, you can decide WHERE you want your ad to show. At the moment Facebook offers you ad placements in the main newsfeed, right hand column or ads within messenger. You can also choose to show your ad in their audience network (within a blog / article they are reading) or display it on Instagram.

Facebook’s algorithms can suss out the most cost-effective options for your ads. The higher your relevancy score (more on that below), the less your ad will cost.

Facebook Marketing for Beginners

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Your Pixel matters. Like, REALLY matters

Don’t be afraid of the Pixel. Don’t ignore the Pixel. Introduce yourself, get super familiar with it, understand it, embrace it and make it yours forever.

Your Facebook pixel is the most important part of your ads strategy.

That’s right. Bold AND italics. I’m not kidding around here.

It’s essentially an analytics tool to track traffic and conversions from your ads to your website or app. Facebook assigns each Ad Manager account a specific Pixel number, and provides a line of code to embed in the header section of your website. This pixel is triggered whenever someone visits your website or takes an action.

This means that Facebook is able to track anyone who visits your site, whether or not they even came directly from your advert. It is able to link onsite behaviour to the individual’s Facebook user profile. Which means that you now know everything you need to know about potential customers. There are pixels scattered on most sites all over the interwebs, which gives Facebook ever-increasing data about our online behaviour (pretty scary, right?).

What does this mean for you? Essentially that you can use the pixel to:

  • Track traffic and conversions from your ads
  • Find new customers based on your existing audience
  • Retarget customers who showed interest in your brand but didn’t make a purchase
  • Remarket or exclude an audience that has already taken a desired action

There are few different lines of pixel code that can be embedded on specific pages of your site. These will trigger when the specific events occur, namely: traffic to a page, an item added to cart, a purchase is completed. Ensure that the right code is on the pages you’re tracking, or you won’t have a clear measurable outcome from your ad goals!

Your pixel can be generated in your Ads Manager account (not within your business page). Website builders like Shopify, Wix and Squarespace make it super easy to install your pixel, but WordPress set up is a bit more complicated. If you aren’t familliar with how your website was set up, you may need to ask your developer to help you.

Understand your Audience

This one is a biggie. I’ve talked about it before, but you need to be crystal clear about who you are talking to. Facebook has teamed up with data experts that make it their business to – you guessed it –  gather data. They know everything about us, which means (apart from being a bit creepy) you’re now able to accurately target your audience in the comfort of their own homes. *chills*

The Branded Panda - Facebook Marketing

When you’re creating your ads, you have thousands of targeting options available to you: from the basic demographics of geography, age, language and gender – through to their purchasing behaviours, political affinities and recent life events. Trying to target recently divorced men in Scotland who shop for size 11 high heels (in red, obvs), keep goldfish and drive a Range Rover? No problem, they’ve got that covered.

You get to choose who sees your ads. Make use of the filtering system, as well as specific interests, behaviors and affiliations that might help in finding your audience. Also leverage information that you already have about your audience: you can create an audience that mirrors your existing page followers (we’ll get deeper into lookalike audiences at a later stage).

Facebook measures the success of your ad by assigning it a “relevance score”. The higher your rating (out of 10), the more it will show your ad. High engagement, clicks, likes, shares and meaningful comments on your ad will improve your relevance. If your targeting is successful, your audience will want to engage with your ad which gives it a better chance of being shown to more people, for a lower cost.

You also don’t want to be too granular with your targeting. Give Facebook something to go on and then let it work it’s magic. It has access to some of the best developers around, they have created algorithms that work so it’s time to sit back let it work it’s magic.

Imagery and Ad Copy

This is the stuff that catches people’s eye and makes your ad stand out mid-scroll, so yeah it’s pretty important.

Images / video
Depending on your goal, you can choose a variety of image options (single / product / carousel / video). Here are the basic guidelines:

  • The optimum size for images is 1200 x 628 pixels.
  • No more than 20% of your image should have text on it (Facebook is pretty strict about this)
  • Video ads have a higher conversion rate, so this could be something to consider

Create clear, catchy copy that tells your story and piques the interest of your audience to want to “Read more”, engage or follow your link. This is your one chance to make an impression:

  • The most important copy is in the first 3 lines of your ad
  • Use emojis
  • Create a catchy headline that explains your impact
  • Ask questions
  • What problem are you trying to solve?
  • What solution do you provide?
  • How will your service / product leave your audience changed?

Call to Action
Remember to have a clear call to action in your ad, your audience needs to know what to do and what to expect. This can be as links within your copy as well as making use of the button that Facebook provides.

Check out this handy cheat sheet to help with your ad creation.

Be patient

Once your ad has been approved, you need to chill and let Facebook do it’s thang. For a few days.

It can take up to 24 hours for your ad to start showing, and then up to 72 hours for the algorithms to really start figuring out what metrics work best for your ad and audience. Facebook gives preference to ads with higher relevance score within your niche, but your relevance score doesn’t reach its full potential until a large enough sample of people have seen your ad: 500 impressions (veiws) and up. This is also affected by things like time of day, day of the week etc.

Because of these factors, your ad will only really get accurate results and a good cost per click after about a week. That’s where the beauty of A/B testing comes in – to save time, you can run a variety of ads and compare results at the end of your testing period. It’s unlikely that you will find the exact recipe for success right away, so the more information you gather, the better decisions and tactics you can make.

So there you have it, the basics of Facebook Ads: in a nutshell. You can progress to getting as granular as you need using lookalike audiences, analytics, retargeting, goals and tracking… but we’ll get to that in a later post 🙂 Just know that you are now a giant step closer to getting smart with your marketing! Well done, sweet thang <3

If you are looking for a comprehensive step-by-step guide to set up your ads, I recommend this one by Adspresso.

Don’t want to wade through the information yourself? I offer one-on-one Facebook Ads training for teams or individuals of all levels. Get in touch and let me know what you need 🙂


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Pam Newman

I’m Pam Newman, founder of The Branded Panda. I help women like you create soul-based businesses that give them income and freedom to truly LIVE.



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    One Comment

    1. Nick` May 29, 2019 at 5:55 pm - Reply

      This was a great refresher of the course i did a few years ago, on point!

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