Targeting Consumers with Facebook Ads

Let’s start with the question that everyone has been asking: do Facebook Ads really work? I have just one answer for you: it depends how well you know your customers.

Different from any other type of advertising, Facebook Ads allow you to be very specific in terms of marketing to a targeted audience.  You can narrow down particular details about your customers, from gender to interests to zip codes, and you can reach them more effectively.

There are two kinds of ads on Facebook: Facebook Ads and Sponsored Stories.

While the first one allows you to advertise your product or service in any way you want, the second one has to feature a story or article. Sponsored Stories are more about sharing content than advertising it. The objective there is to sell without telling them to buy. It sounds like a good deal, but I would not use Sponsored Stories unless you have a really great story to tell.

Before you create a Facebook Ad, it is important to clearly define who your audience is. Make a list of all the characteristics your usual guests have, including not only demographics, but interests and hobbies as well. If you run a pizza shop, you might want to target not only people who like pizza, but also everyone that enjoys Italian food, finger food, eating, and football (think football season = watching games = pizza time!). Be really creative and try to view your audience from different angles. Knowing your customers’ particularities will enable you to take advantage of all the features that Facebook Ads provide and to truly reach your market.

How to create a Facebook Ad: Log in to your Facebook account. Go to the bottom of the page and click on ADVERTISING. Now click on CREATE AN AD in the top right hand side of the screen. The first step is to Design Your Ad. Just fill in the form and preview the ad on the bottom of the page:

  • Destination: choose the page you are creating an ad for. This feature exists for businesses that have more than one location.
  • Type: choose between Sponsored Stories or Facebook Ads.
  • Destination tab: choose which tab of your Facebook page people will be directed to.
  • Body: insert the text of your ad here. Be very brief, clear and creative. Ads are the last thing users on Facebook are worried about so if it isn’t attractive, no one will click on it.
  • Image: you can add an image to your ad. Keep in mind that Facebook Ads are very small, so make sure you use a nice eye-catching picture.
  • Preview: shows what your ad will look like.

When you are done, click on CONTINUE. Now Facebook will show you all the options for Targeting. This step is the most important one. Choose each topic carefully. Remember, you need to be sure who you want to target; otherwise your ad won’t work. Also, don’t be too specific, or you might miss out on opportunities.  Here are the options Facebook will give you:

Location: choose the locations where your guests are. You can add as many locations as you would like. Facebook will combine all the info and show your ads just to people located in those areas. To start, choose the country you are in. Then choose one of the options below:

  • Everywhere: your ad will be shown to everyone located in the country or countries you chose.
  •  By State/Province: if your business attends to people in different states, it might be a great idea to add the states here.
  • By City: you can add as many cities as you want, but you might as well just add zip codes, if you wish to reach more people.
  • By Zip Code: instead of adding cities, you can choose to add zip codes and reach a broader area.


  • Age: choose the age of customers you want to reach. Remember to make your decision based on your key customer. If you are a restaurant, you may want to target parents (people aged 30+, for example) instead of targeting teens, since parents are the ones who will decide where they will go out to eat.
  • Sex: if you sell a product that’s specific for one gender, you might want to target that gender only. Men are probably not going to click on an ad for lipstick, for example.

Interests: this optional section of Facebook Ads is also its most unique. Here, you will be able to hand pick specific characteristics of your target audience. Just remember that Facebook will narrow down the target market based on those preferences, so choose wisely.

Precise Interests: here you can choose any interest your customers have. If you know them really well, just type in the interest. However, if you are not really sure what to add here, just click on SWITCH TO BROAD CATEGORY TARGETING and Facebook will show you many categories to choose from.

Broad Category Targeting: if you choose this option, Facebook will give you 10 categories to choose from and you will find another 10 options inside each category. You can select as many as you want.

Connections on Facebook: who you would like to target.

  •  Anyone
  • Only people who are not fans of Your Business
  • Only people who are fans of Your Business
  • Advanced connection targeting
  • Target users who are connected to: if you want to target people who like a specific page, use this option to add the page.
  • Target users who aren’t connected to: if you want to avoid people who like a specific page, you can use this option.
  • Only show my ads to friends of the fans of Your Business: this is one of the nicest features of Facebook Ads because people are more likely to click on ads if they see that their friends like that business. Just keep in mind that if you choose this option, your ad will be visible ONLY for friends of your fans and you won’t reach anyone else.

Advanced Demographics: these are optional demographics that Facebook users can add to their profile. Not everyone uses it, so these options will limit your reach if you select them. On the other hand, if your goal is to reach just people who speak a determined language, for example, you will want to use this option.

  • Interested in: choose between all, men and women. Note that this is about whom fans are interested in, not what gender they are.
  • Relationship: if your product/service is specifically for brides, you might want to target people who have engaged as their relationship status. The same goes for the other categories here: single, in a relationship and married. If your product/service is unrelated to relationship status, just choose the option all.
  • Languages: if you are targeting people who speak one or more determined languages, add the languages here.

Education & Work

  • Education: choose between all, college grad, in college and in high school.
  • Workplaces: if you would like, enter a company, organization or other workplace name. Otherwise, leave it blank.

After choosing all the characteristics of your target audience, click on CONTINUE. You are now on the final step, Pricing and Scheduling. In this step, you will be able to choose how much you want to spend, how you would like to pay and for how long you want to run your ad.

  • Currency: choose the currency of the money you will be paying with. If you are in the United States, you should choose US Dollar (USD).
  • Account Time Zone: choose the time zone you are in.
  • Campaign name: choose a name for your ad campaign. This name is for control only and it won’t show up anywhere in the ad.
  • Budget: choose the amount you want to spend and if the amount is the total per day or a lifetime budget.  In either case, I’d suggest you start with a small budget and then raise it later if your ad works well.
  • Schedule: decide when you want your ad to start running and for how long. Uncheck the box “run my campaign continuously starting today” if you would like to set up start and end dates. If you choose lifetime budget, you will have to choose dates for your campaign.
  • Campaign & Budget: there are two ways to pay for your ad—pay by impressions (CPM) or pay for clicks (CPC). My suggestion is to choose the option pay for clicks because no one really knows how Facebook counts impressions.
  • Pricing: ignore this section. After you set up your budget, Facebook will show you a suggested bid. This is a useless feature because the number of actual clicks you will get is unknown. Facebook even gives you the option of setting up how much you would be willing to pay per click (on the SET A DIFFERENT BID link) but you won’t pay anything different because of it.  As I said before, just ignore this section.

Once you are done choosing all the options, click on REVIEW AD.

On the next page you will be able to review your ad and all the options you chose. Make sure all looks right to you and then click on PLACE ORDER. Now just choose how you are going to pay Facebook (credit card or PayPal), and you are done!

I would recommend you start your Facebook Ad with a small budget, like USD$20, and do 3 or 4 tests. Test different ads and different markets and analyze each performance. This way you will know what works better for your business. Also, remember to keep your Facebook business page updated and interesting, because users will be re-directed to it. You don’t want to pay for an ad and then lose the customer because your business page is not attractive. Keep in mind that social media—especially Facebook— is all about building personal relationships, so make sure you interact with your fans and provide them with interesting and fresh content!

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