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Imagine an advertising tool that helped you reach your ideal customers based on what they like, their interests, and their behaviors. A tool that saved you time and money by optimizing your ad delivery to get your message in front of those most likely to convert.

That’s what you get with Facebook advertising, a platform used by many ecommerce entrepreneurs and marketers, especially those just starting out who don’t have much advertising experience or a big ad budget. Anyone can fuel their business growth with Facebook ads, as long as they’re willing to learn the basics.

In this beginner’s guide, we’ll look at what makes Facebook such a popular advertising platform with so many brands and walk you step-by-step through how to set up a Facebook ad campaign to drive sales for your business.

Why use Facebook for advertising?

With so many options, deciding where to spend your marketing budget can be difficult. What makes Facebook particularly attractive for new and experienced business owners boils down to three things:

1. Driving traffic from an active and engaged user base

Facebook is a place where we connect with family and friends, and—as much as we hate to admit it—it’s pretty darn addictive. Facebook reportedly has more than two billion active monthly users, and those users spend more time on Facebook than on competing social networks. In addition, Facebook owns Messenger and Instagram, two other popular mobile apps accessible to Facebook advertisers through its advertising platform. That’s a lot of active, engaged traffic to drive to your landing page.

2. Targeting customers based on demographics, interests, and behaviors

Facebook is designed for sharing personal updates and information with your network, such as vacation photos, new songs you’ve discovered, and relationship statuses. All the likes and connections made on Facebook and Instagram create detailed user profiles advertisers can tap into through targeted ads. Facebook advertisers can match their products and service against a long list of users’ interests, traits, and behaviors, resulting in a higher likelihood of reaching their ideal customers.

3. Generating brand awareness

Most businesses have a Facebook and/or Instagram business page they use for connecting with their fans and customers on social media. When you decide to use paid ads on Facebook and Instagram, you can opt to have them come from your brand’s social pages. This often results in increased brand exposure and new followers for your company, which is one of the benefits of advertising on social platforms.

Types of Facebook ads

Your success in Facebook advertising depends on your objective and the types of Facebook ads you use. Producing effective, high-performing ads, however, presents a challenge for many beginners because there are so many different types to choose from.

To help overcome this hurdle, we’ve outlined five key Facebook ad formats you can use.

Image

Single image ads are the standard for Facebook advertising. They are easy to make, offer a clean format for you to promote your brand, and are one of the most effective ad formats. In one Facebook study, a series of photo-only ads outperformed other ad formats in driving unique traffic.

Image ads are best for when you want to create an ad quickly or don’t have much of a budget. You can create an image ad right from your Facebook page as a boosted post, or if you want more detailed targeting options, you can make one in Facebook Ads Manager.

Video

Video ads let you show off your product or brand and capture viewers’ attention in the feed. You can create video ads in Facebook Ads Manager or boost a post that has a video from your Facebook page. These ads appear on Facebook, Instagram, Audience Network, and Messenger. 

You can use Facebook video ads to show unique features or tell your brand’s story. Videos that are 15 seconds or less can help capture your audience and keep them engaged. They should also have a clear call to action (CTA) at the end, such as purchasing a product or visiting a website. 

Carousel 

Carousel ads let you include up to 10 images or videos in a single ad, each with its own link. People can scroll through the carousel by swiping left or right on their devices or by clicking directional arrows if using the desktop client. 

You can use carousel ads to:

  • Feature multiple products and link out to different landing pages
  • Showcase different angles of one product to inform potential buyers
  • Explain a process or offer a tutorial 
  • Present one large image across multiple frames to create a more immersive experience

Collection 

The collection ad format includes a full screen, Instant Experience to make it easier for people to browse and buy your products. These ads include a cover image or video and can show multiple products underneath. 

Collection ads are a great way to show off your product catalog, offer an enjoyable browsing experience, and help turn interest into sales. You can show these ads across the Facebook News Feed, Instagram’s feed, and even Instagram Stories. 

Facebook ad specs

There’s a lot to keep in mind when running a successful Facebook advertising strategy, one of them being Facebook ad specs. 

When creating the best Facebook ads for your business, you’ll want to stay within the recommended character counts, image sizes, and view campaign objectives. 

Image ads

Design 

  • File type: JPG or PNG 
  • Ratio: 1.91:1 to 1:1 
  • Resolution: At least 1080 x 1080 pixels 

Text 

  • Primary text: 125 characters 
  • Headline: 40 characters 
  • Description: 30 characters 

Technical 

  • Maximum file size: 30 MB
  • Minimum width: 600 pixels
  • Minimum height: 600 pixels

Campaign objectives

All but video views

Video ads

Design 

  • File type: MP4, MOV, or GIF 
  • Ratio: 4:5
  • Video settings: H.264 compression, square pixels, fixed frame rate, progressive scan and stereo AAC audio compression at 128 kbps+
  • Resolution: At least 1080 x 1080 pixels 
  • Video captions: Optional, but recommended
  • Video sound: Optional, but recommended

Text 

  • Primary text: 125 characters 
  • Headline: 40 characters 
  • Description: 30 characters 

Technical 

  • Video duration: 1 second to 241 minutes
  • Maximum file size: 4 GB
  • Minimum width: 120 pixels
  • Minimum height: 120 pixels

Campaign objectives

All objectives besides catalog sales

Carousel ads

Design

  • Image file type: JPG or PNG 
  • Video file type: MP4, MOV, or GIF 
  • Ratio: 1:1 
  • Resolution: At least 1080 x 1080 pixels 

Text

  • Primary text: 125 characters 
  • Headline: 40 characters 
  • Description: 20 characters 

Technical

  • Number of carousel cards: 2 to 10
  • Image maximum file size: 30 MB
  • Video maximum file size: 4 GB
  • Video duration: 1 second to 240 minutes

Campaign objectives

Traffic, conversions, catalog sales, store traffic

Collection ads

Design 

  • Image file type: JPG or PNG 
  • Video file type MP4, MOV, or GIF 
  • Ratio: 1:1
  • Resolution: At least 1080 x 1080 pixels 

Text 

  • Primary text: 125 characters 
  • Headline: 40 characters 

Technical

  • Instant Experience: Required
  • Image maximum file size: 30 MB
  • Video maximum file size: 4 GB

Campaign objectives

Traffic, conversions, catalog sales, store traffic

Tips and recommendations for successful Facebook ads

Here are some tips and recommendations that can help you create ads that convert, reach more customers, and get better results from your Facebook advertising strategy. 

  • Browse the Facebook Ad Library for inspiration. Not sure where to start with creative? Want to see what your competition is up to? The Facebook Ad Library is home to a comprehensive collection of ads currently running on Facebook. You can search by brand name to find the current ads they are running and see how they promote their products. Then use this information to inspire your own ads. 
  • Be authentic. Consider your brand’s tone of voice. Are you funny? Witty? Corporate-y? The more authentic your ads are, the more likely people will be to interact with them and learn more about your brand, product, or service. 
  • Show images of people using your product. When people are scrolling through their feeds, they are seeing photos and videos of friends and family. If you want to get them interested in your ad, use creative that shows people benefitting from your product—just like they see day to day from their network. If you want to include standalone product shots or videos of your product, use carousel ads to give people the option to choose what they want to see. 
  • Choose your campaign objectives first to make better creative assets. Before you create your first campaign, identify the metrics that matter most to your business—whether it’s to increase sales or brand awareness. To create strong ad campaigns, you’ll want to make sure your campaign elements—from creative to audience targeting and bid type—tie into your main objective. 
  • Combine ad types to create higher-impact ads. Videos are great for telling your brand story, while images can help show different benefits of your product. Use a combination of different ad formats to test which resonates with your audience the most, then put more money into what’s working. 
  • Show ads across channels. Facebook Ads Manager lets you run ads on Facebook, Instagram, and Audience Network on any budget. You can also show ads on specific devices to target people based on the devices they prefer using. Don’t limit yourself to a single platform. Take advantage of Facebook multiple products by using the All Placements feature in your ad sets to have your ads dynamically show up where your customers are most likely to spend time.
  • Consider running click-to-Messenger ads. Did you know that when someone clicks a Facebook ad, they can open up a chat in Messenger with your business? You can run Facebook ads with Messenger placement and create automations to answer customer questions, streamline the buying process, and encourage a sale. 

Start using Facebook ads to grow your business

The Facebook advertising platform is designed to be easy to use for those with little to no experience with digital marketing, making it even more attractive to bootstrapped entrepreneurs who don’t want to pay an agency to run their ads.

If you take the time to learn the basics of Facebook advertising, set up your account correctly, and launch a campaign, Facebook ads can continue to fuel your business as it grows.