Facebook Ads: The Essentials

Having a paid element to your social media marketing is pretty much essential nowadays given the repeated efforts over the last few years by the social media companies to limit organic reach. And whilst there are still ways around those pesky algorithms, your best bet for social media success is a mix of both paid and organic. Out of your options, Facebook Ads is streets ahead of the rest in terms of your ability to target specific users, the relatively low-cost of it and the huge variety of ad types you can put out there. But given all of these options, it can be a bit of a minefield for new users using it for the first time. Here are a few essentials to bear in mind when creating a campaign.

Set up tracking before you get cracking

Well there goes the best sub-heading I’ll ever write in a blog post. There’s not a great deal of point in social media activity if you’re not able to track how successful it has been. Luckily, there are a couple of simple methods you can now use for enhanced targeting and improved tracking. Firstly, from the Ads Manager interface click the three horizontal lines at the top left of your screen, and then navigate to ‘Pixels’ underneath ‘Measure & report’.

Facebook Pixel.png

From there, you can follow the instructions to implement the Facebook Pixel into your website, which will not only allow you to track where people go after clicking your ad, but will also give you the ability to target Facebook ads at people who have already visited your website. Although it used to be a complicated process to install the pixel, having to get the web developer involved, nowadays sites such as WordPress and Squarespace allow easy integration with the pixel. It’s a simple copy-and-paste job to start tracking, so follow the instructions and away you go.

The only issue with the Facebook Pixel is that I’ve found the tracking aspect is not always 100% accurate. There’s a definite disparity in reporting measures, so for increased accuracy you should bring in another layer of tracking in the form of Google’s UTM codes. This ones even easier - just use this tool to create custom URLs for all your ads and then use Google Analytics to track where the traffic goes after that. If you’re a little unsure how exactly to use UTM codes, here’s a quick guide.

Choose the right Campaign Objective

Your next job is making sure the so-called campaign objective is the right one for what you want to do. I’ve already written a little bit about your options for lead generation within Facebook Ads, so let’s take a look at your other main options.

If one of your posts has done well on social media and is being shared widely, then it might make sense to amplify its reach using one of the first two objectives you’ll see on the left-hand side of the interface. This could be particularly effective for publishers, for whom getting their content in front of as many eyes as possible is the first objective. It’s why I see social media as quite a good testing ground for your content: it helps you decide which content deserves to be promoted and can also help you when it comes to deciding on the type of content to post in future.

Facebook Campaign Objectives.png

Aside from reach I find I most often choose the ‘Traffic’ option when it comes to Facebook ads, and it’s particularly a good option for beginners who want instant results by getting more traffic to their website. Once you’ve mastered this it could be worth experimenting with options such as App Installs, Catalogue Sales and Conversions, but right now I would say it’s a toss up between traffic and reach if you’re starting out.

Choose Your Audience

You’ve got a lot of options here, and it’s probably the most complicated part of advertising on Facebook. The main thing I would say is that it pays to be as specific as possible when targeting your ad.


At the top of your options there you’ll see an option to create a new audience. Facebook gives you the option to create a Lookalike Audience, which is an automatically-generated group of users who Facebook deems to be similar to your current followers. I think it’s a decent option if you have absolutely no idea who you want to target, but in general I’ve never gotten much return from targeting these audiences. It’s a much better idea to target a custom audience, which can consist of people who have already visited your website (available as long as you installed the Facebook Pixel), people on your email list or people who have used your app. It costs a little bit more per person to target your ads at these users, but you’re more likely to be reaching people who are interested in your business and ergo more likely to ‘convert’.

Alternatively, the next best option is to take a deep dive through the ‘Interests’ section. Have a good think of the type of people you’re looking to target with your ad, and search here to see if Facebook is able to target your ad at them. For example, if you’re an estate agent looking for potential landlords in the area then simply type ‘landlords’ into the interests search box and see what options you have available to you. Generally Facebook will produce a group of users with a description like:

People who have expressed an interest in or like pages related to Landlords

So that is likely to include anybody who ‘likes’ landlord-related pages or has posted about landlord stuff in the past. Combine that with some location-specific targeting in the box above and you’ve got a good base to start from.

Choose the right ad type

You'll again be presented with a few options for the type of ad you’d like, but don’t be intimidated, because only a few options are really relevant for beginners. It all depends on your campaign objective and for most you’ll be looking at ‘Carousel’ or ‘Single image or video’. With the Carousel you can create a scrolling bar of images suitable for pushing multiple products/services or photos of the same product/service, whilst the single image is a little more simplified and just consists of a single image or video to accompany the text.

Facebook Ad Types.png

If you’re unsure about how the Carousel ads look, here are a few examples of what they’re like. If you don’t want your multiple images to form a Carousel, you can instead choose the single image option and have Facebook create a short slideshow video out of them. Just follow the instructions provided by Facebook; they’re fairly self-explanatory.


And that’s about it! This isn’t intended to be an exhaustive guide to Facebook Ads, just a brief runthrough for those of you looking to launch their first ad campaign to test how the platform. If you need some help launching a fully-fledged ad campaign, remember that I can help with your social media marketing in Barcelona and beyond. You can get in touch with me right here to learn more!