Facebook ads – how to prepare to advertise on Facebook

Mobile phone showing the facebook icon

Quite simply, Facebook is the largest social media platform in the world. In South Africa alone, there are currently over 13 million users, with just over three quarters of those using a mobile device to connect. Every single one of those users are being exposed to Facebook ads. With those kinds of stats, there’s a good chance your audience is on Facebook too.

Should your business advertise on Facebook?

As always, when deciding on a marketing strategy, you need to bear in mind both your product and the behaviour of your audience. A good question to ask is: how is your potential customer going to decide they need your particular product?

For example, let’s imagine you were selling a brand new razor that makes shaving an absolute pleasure. You might be trying to decide whether to invest your marketing budget in Facebook ads, Google Adwords or both. Your target audience is mostly men, and they’re highly unlikely to use a Google search to look for a new razor when they need one. If they happened to be browsing Facebook though and your brilliant new razor was presented to them in an ad, they might well buy one, whether they need a new razor or not.

Furthermore, know your typical customer personas very well and compare their demographics, interests, online behaviour and location with Facebook’s audience. And if there is a large overlap – Facebook may just be right for your business.

What to do before you start advertising on Facebook

There’s no point in creating a great ad to bring people to your Facebook page or e-commerce site if there’s nothing for them to see when they get there. So before you start advertising, you’ll need to get the basics in place:

  1. Make sure you have a well structured e-commerce website ready to go.
  2. Create a Facebook Page for your business. A personal account is not enough – read here to find out the difference.
  3. Set up your Facebook Page correctly. A great reference here is Neil Patel’s detailed blog on the subject.
  4. Start posting right away (posting is free), so your Page is informative and shows some activity. Read our blog on Social Media tactics to learn more.

This is an excellent example of a post by an e-commerce brand:

Example of post


  1. Work on building an active and engaged audience on your Facebook Page. Neil Patel’s blog on getting more likes for your page is also useful here.
  2. Once you have established your Page, consider joining or setting up your own Groups. Find out the difference between a Facebook Page and a Group here, and learn how to use Groups to build your business here.
  3. Install a Facebook Pixel on every page of your website to help you set up retargeting campaigns.

Now that you have somewhere engaging for your visitors to go, you’re ready for the next step.

One critical principle to remember when creating a Facebook ad

We like to think that we are rational human beings, in control of our lives. In truth though, we usually operate far more from our subconscious, emotional side than we do from our logical mind. Our subconscious mind is where we store all our comfortable habits, routines and beliefs, and we really don’t like changing those. In fact, it’s almost impossible to change them using our rational, conscious mind alone.

So if you want your customers to buy into something new, like trying out a new product or shopping on a website they don’t know, you need to appeal to the subconscious mind as much as, if not more than, the conscious. To do this, use copy and images that highlight the benefits and activate the emotions. Essentially, you want to put across the message that “if you do xyz, your life will be easier and you’ll be happier”.

A great example is given in the Do’s and Don’t book offered by https://adespresso.com:


A few tips to help you achieve that

In general:

  • Know what you’re trying to achieve – your campaign goal should link to your business goal.
  • Know your budget.
  • Know who your audience is i.e. aim to appeal to the demographics and interests of your different customer personas.
  • Remember that your aim is to get people to click on the call-to-action to find out more, so make the benefits of doing that very clear and convincing.
  • Make sure that everything in the ad reflects across to the landing page, so visitors know they’re in the right place.

For copy:

  • Keep it short and sweet.
  • Include a headline, main text and link description.
  • Prepare a powerful, interesting rationale that will grab attention and make your audience want to click and learn more.
  • Be aware of the number of characters you’re allowed for the type of ad you’re using. For example, there are limits for the headline, main text and link description.

For images:

  • Good quality, well designed images should take up most of the ad space.
  • Photos and/or videos should be emotional triggers.
  • Make your visuals colourful so they grab attention and stand out from the platform’s background.
  • Conform to the image specs for the type of ad you’re using, so your ad always looks good.

Here are two good examples of e-commerce ads to give you an idea of the quality of photos and ad copy that could be used:

Nike advertising
Coffee add


The bottom line…

Facebook ads are an extremely effective way to achieve your business goals, whether those are driving traffic to your site, making a sale or creating greater engagement with your audience. Make sure you prepare well before advertising, so that when you do, your money is well spent.

Have you used Facebook ads before? If so, what did you learn in the process? Share your experiences and tips in the comments below so others can make the most of Facebook ads too.

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