How to run your first Facebook Ad: Step-by-step

How to run your first Facebook Ad: Step-by-step

Aimee Robinson
By Aimee Robinson

So you’ve recognised the incredible potential that Facebook ads have in propelling your brand awareness, reach and even revenue, and it’s time to get started. You might even be surprised at how easy it actually is to set up your first ad with the straightforward prompts that Facebook asks you from beginning to launch. The only downsides? They’re hard to get right–especially if you’re not familiar with the advertising or digital marketing space, and they can get expensive.

But don’t worry, there are ways to get it done right and generate results better than you might expect. With a little bit of creativity and an equal amount of drive, you can get a pretty damn good return on ad spend, after following the steps below.

With the next 9 steps, you’ll learn how to set up Facebook ads that truly work and create a direct pathway to your target audience's hearts. Let’s get started with setting up your first Facebook ad campaign.

Firstly, what are Facebook Ads?

Firstly What Are Facebook Ads

Facebook ads are a form of interruption marketing, intended to reach audiences based on behaviours and profiles that might be relevant to what a brand offers.

They can be used to achieve different goals, however the two most common reasons are either: to drive brand awareness quickly to drive engagement. Or, as they’re most commonly used for, to drive immediate sales and enquiries.

Facebook’s advertising capabilities have been around since 2007 and since then, the digital landscape has changed dramatically. But you haven’t missed the boat and facebook advertising really does work, if you have a strategy in place.

With over 2 billion people sharing stories and interacting with engaging posts, Facebook Ads Manager is an essential social ads tool that you can’t afford to ignore. Facebook’s platform allows you to craft content and write messages to reach your ideal target audiences. Before we jump in, first let’s get the basics right.

Understanding the Basics of Facebook Ads

Understanding The Basics of Facebook Ads

Remember these TWO important things as we explore Facebook marketing strategies. They're essentially the secrets behind successful Facebook marketing.

  • Define Your Goals: Your social media advertising journey needs to have a purpose.  What is your digital objective? Is it to increase website traffic, accelerate conversions, or elevate brand awareness? Clearly defining your goals and objectives lets Facebook know how to push your ads and help you generate the results you want.
  • Know Your Audience: In the world of Facebook, nailing down the details of your audience is setting up your ads for success. Think of yourself as a pro at knowing your audience inside and out – their likes, where they're from, and how they act online. Knowing your audience from their lifestyles, problems, desires and online behaviour allows you to create ads that speak directly to their needs and demands. 

9 Easy Steps to Elevate Your Brand with Facebook Ads

9 Easy Steps to Elevate Your Brand With Facebook Ads

1. Start a New Campaign

The first step in your Facebook marketing strategy is to start a new campaign. To do this, log in to your Facebook Ads Manager and click on the "Create Ad" button to begin crafting your campaign. If you don't have an Ads Manager yet, you can create it by visiting the Ads Manager at business.facebook.com.

2. Select your Perfect Campaign Objective

Choosing the right campaign objective is crucial as it determines the outcome of your ad campaign. Facebook offers several objectives to choose from, each tailored to specific business objectives.

Once you've selected your campaign objective, you can choose between two buying types:

  • "Auction" and 
  • "Reach & Frequency”


  1. Sales: If your primary goal is to drive online sales, select the "Sales" objective. This is ideal for eCommerce businesses looking to boost their revenue.
  2. Leads: Use "Leads" if you want to collect contact information from potential customers. This is useful for businesses looking to build their customer base.
  3. Engagement: Select "Engagement" if you want to increase interactions with your posts, such as likes, comments, and shares. It's great for building brand awareness and a community.
  4. App Promotion: If you have a mobile app and want to increase installations and interactions with it, choose "App Promotion."
  5. Traffic: This objective drives users to a specific webpage, such as your website or a landing page.
  6. Awareness: If your goal is to increase brand awareness and reach a wide audience, the "Awareness" objective is a good choice.

2. Select The Perfect Campaign Objective

Reach & Frequency:

  1. Awareness: Similar to the "Awareness" objective under Auction, this option helps you maximise the reach of your ad.
  2. Traffic: Drives the audience to your website or specific landing pages.
  3. Engagement: Increase interactions with your posts.

Most advertisers opt for the "Auction" buying type, as it allows for more flexibility and advanced targeting options. However, if you have a specific need for maximising reach and controlling the frequency of ad delivery, "Reach & Frequency" might be the better choice.

Bonus Tip for eCommerce Businesses

If you're an eCommerce business, Facebook offers the option to run an "Advantage + shopping campaign." It is designed to simplify and automate many aspects of the advertising process. This feature can be a game-changer for online retailers looking to streamline their advertising efforts and maximise results.

3. Give Your Campaign a Name

Keep it simple and easy to understand–this will make life easy for future-you when you come back to monitor and manage the campaign. Make sure you include key information about the campaign set up in your campaign name. For example ‘Awareness - Prospecting - Top of Funnel’.

4. Clarify Conversion Information

Driving traffic to your website is only part of the equation. To gauge the success of your Facebook ad campaign, you must clarify your conversion information effectively. Conversion tracking allows you to see how many users clicked on your ad and how many of them went on to purchase your product or take on your service.

How to Set Up Conversion Tracking:

  1. Access Facebook Events Manager: In your ad account, Head to Facebook Events Manager.
  2. Link to Your Ads: Select ‘CAPI Gateway’ within your ad campaigns. This is where the magic happens!

5. Set Your Audience Targeting

Defining your target audience helps guide your advertising efforts, ensuring that your message reaches the right people who are most likely to engage with your content and convert into customers. There are three types of audiences that can supercharge your Facebook ad campaigns: New Audiences, Custom Audiences, and Lookalike Audiences.

5. Audience Definition

New Audiences–Unlock New Opportunities:

Your gateway to reaching potential customers who haven't yet interacted with your brand on Facebook. You can target new audiences based on many different factors, including:

  • Geographical Locations: You can target users by country, state, city, or even specific zip codes. This level of precision is invaluable, especially for businesses with local or regional focus.
  • Age & Gender: This ensures that your message resonates with users who fit your product or service demographics. This can be particularly beneficial for businesses with age or gender-specific offerings.
  • Devices: You can choose to show your ads exclusively to users on mobile devices, desktop computers, or both, ensuring your content is displayed where your audience is most active.
  • Interests and Behaviours: Facebook offers an extensive range of targeting options, including hobbies, interests, shopping behaviour, travel preferences, and more.

5. Set Your Audience Targeting

Custom Audiences–Leverage Existing Relationships:

Take your targeting to a more personal level by allowing you to connect with people who have already engaged with your brand. This can include website visitors, app users, or individuals on your email list. By re-engaging with those who already know your brand, you can nurture existing relationships and drive conversions.

  • Pixel/CAPI Data: Install a Facebook Pixel on your website or utilise Conversions API (CAPI) to track user interactions. With this data, you can create Custom Audiences based on specific actions, such as page views, add-to-cart events, or completed purchases.
  • Customer Lists: Upload your customer lists, including email addresses or phone numbers, to create a Custom Audience. Facebook matches this data with user profiles, enabling you to deliver personalised messages to your existing customers or subscribers.

Lookalike Audiences–Expand Your Reach Effectively:

Facebook's algorithm analyses your Custom Audiences and identifies users with similar characteristics, behaviours, and interests.

  • Custom Audience Seed: Start with a well-defined Custom Audience as your seed audience. The quality of your seed audience affects the effectiveness of your Lookalike Audience. The more accurate your seed audience, the better Facebook can match similar users.
  • Audience Size: Experiment with the size of your Lookalike Audience. Smaller audiences are typically more precise but may have limited reach, while larger ones offer broader exposure but may be less targeted. Finding the right balance is essential.
  • Continuous Optimisation: Keep a close eye on the performance of your Lookalike Audience campaigns and fine-tune your targeting as needed. Facebook's algorithm learns over time, so refining your audience parameters can yield better results.

6. Set Your Budget

Your budget is the fuel that powers your Facebook ad campaign. It determines how far your message can reach and how frequently it's displayed to your target audience. So allocating your resources wisely is essential to ensure you get the best possible results.

Determine Your Ad Spend:

Think about how much you're willing to spend on your Facebook ad campaign. This amount should align with your overall marketing budget and campaign objectives. Facebook allows you to set daily or lifetime budgets, giving you control over your spending. A daily budget limits your spending on a daily basis, while a lifetime budget restricts your total spending for the duration of the campaign.

6. Set Your Budget

7. Select the Right Ad Placements

Choosing where your Facebook ads will appear is a strategic decision that can significantly impact your campaign's success. It's crucial to align your ad placements with your campaign goals and target audience. With that being said, Facebook’s official recommended best practice is to always select ‘Automatic Placements’–so you can let the algorithm do the work.

Tips for Choosing the Right Placements:

  • Understand Available Placements: Facebook offers various ad placements across its platform, including Facebook Feeds, Instagram Feeds, Audience Network, Messenger, and more. Each placement serves a unique purpose and may perform differently.
  • Audience Insights: Consider your target audience's behaviour and preferences. Where are they most active? For instance, if you're targeting a younger demographic, Instagram might be a prime choice.
  • Campaign Goals: Different ad placements are better suited for specific campaign objectives. If you're looking to drive website traffic, the Facebook Feed placement might be ideal. If brand awareness is your goal, consider Instagram Stories.
  • Creative Adaptation: Customise your ad creative to suit the selected placements. What works in a Facebook feed might not be as effective in an Instagram Story.
  • Testing: Don't be afraid to experiment with different placements. Run A/B tests to discover which ones deliver the best results.

8. Select Brand Safety and Cost Controls

In the vast digital landscape, your brand is more than just a logo or a product; it's a story, a promise, and a reputation. Ensuring brand safety and maintaining control over your advertising costs are paramount for a successful Facebook ad campaign.

Custom Cost Controls:

Facebook offers custom cost controls, allowing you to set specific spending limits for your campaign. This feature can help you avoid unexpected costs and maintain a tight budget.

Protect Your Brand Reputation:

Continuously monitor where your ads are being displayed and be prepared to take action if they appear alongside objectionable content. Facebook provides tools for reporting and blocking specific placements.

9. Set Up Your Creative (Ad)

In Facebook advertising, creativity isn't just an option; it's your golden key to the success of your ad campaign. Remember, creating compelling and eye-catching ads is essential to capturing the hearts and minds of your audience.

How to craft winning ads for maximum impact:

  • Choose the Right Ad Format: Facebook offers a range of ad formats, including image ads, video ads, carousel ads, and more. Select the format that best showcases your message and visuals. Ensure you optimise your chosen creative for all placements.
  • Eye-Catching Visuals: Use high-quality images or videos that align with your brand and message. Ensure they are well-designed and optimised for mobile devices, as a significant portion of users access Facebook on smartphones.
  • Call to Action (CTA): Incorporate a clear and relevant CTA button that tells users what you want them to do, whether it's "Shop Now," "Learn More," or "Sign Up."
  • A/B Testing: Experiment with different ad variations to identify which elements perform best. Test headlines, ad copy, visuals, and CTAs to refine your creative strategy.
  • Brand Consistency: Maintain a consistent brand identity across all your ads. Use your brand colours, fonts, and imagery to create a cohesive and recognisable look.
  • Legal Compliance: Ensure your ads comply with all legal and regulatory requirements in your target markets. This includes disclosing necessary disclaimers and adhering to data privacy rules.

9. Set Your Creative Ad

10. Push it Live!

You've done the groundwork; now it's time to release your campaign. 

How to push it live for immediate impact:

  • Double-Check Everything: Before hitting the "Publish" button, double-check every element of your campaign. Review your ad creative, targeting options, budget settings, and schedule to ensure they align with your objectives.
  • Test Your Links: Verify that all links in your ad and landing pages function correctly. Broken links can lead to a poor user experience and lost opportunities.
  • Ad Scheduling: Set your ad schedule to match the times when your target audience is most active on Facebook. This ensures that your ads are seen by the right people at the right time.

11. Test, Measure and Adjust!

The success of your Facebook ad campaign doesn't stop once it's launched. You must embrace a cycle of testing, measuring, and adjusting to achieve continuous improvement and optimal results.

How to keep your campaign on the path to success:

  • Set Clear KPIs: Define your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) upfront. Whether that’s click-through rates, conversion rates, or return on ad spend (ROAS), having measurable goals allows you to assess your campaign's effectiveness.
  • Regular Performance Check-Ins: Schedule regular check-ins to review your campaign's performance. Assess how it tracks against your KPIs and identify any areas requiring attention.
  • A/B Testing: Continue to run A/B tests to refine your ad creatives, copy, and targeting. Experiment with different elements to discover what resonates most with your audience.
  • Creative Refresh: Avoid ad fatigue by regularly refreshing your ad creatives when your audience frequency gets too high. Fresh visuals and messaging can reignite interest in your campaign.

What Lies Ahead?

What Lies Ahead

By now, you've learned about the intricacies of planning, executing, and optimising a successful Facebook ads campaign. The world of digital advertising is dynamic and ever-evolving. Remember that each campaign offers valuable insights that can inform and enhance your future efforts, whether it’s your first or your hundredth.

So, what lies ahead? The potential for growth, innovation, and impact in social media management and advertising is boundless. Stay curious, stay adaptive, and keep running those ads—the right way.

Need a hand?

If running your first Facebook ad seems daunting, reach out to Facebook ad experts who can run the ads for you! At Dilate, we’re a creative team of digital marketing experts that can help strategise your ad spend, run Facebook ads that really work, and get some wins on the board for your business. Simply reach out to us, let our team of marketing professionals guide you to success.

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