How to Run Facebook Advertising on a Small Budget

Unsure of how to start advertising on Facebook? Follow this 6 step guide to running ads on Facebook - for under $50 each month.

6 min read

how to advertise on facebook

A business of any size can take advantage of the powerful platform Facebook has become to generate demand - even on a small budget.

Unlike traditional marketing channels - TV, radio, newspapers - Facebook ads don’t have to cost an arm and leg. Better yet, you can customize exactly who your audience will be and when, instead of choosing a time slot and hoping you reach customers during a commercial break.

With a Business Account on Facebook, you increase brand awareness by growing your audience of followers and daily reach on social media. You can drive traffic directly to your website for a specific product, service, or promotion. These types of campaigns can even target local, regional, national or global audiences.

But… how?

Here’s a six-step guide to help you get comfortable with your Facebook business page, running ads, and creating audiences over the course of a month - while spending less than $50.

Why such a small budget? Applying less than $50 per month allows you to grow your traffic and exposure while collecting new insights and hard data on your audience. Once you have this, you can spend more—and spend smarter.

1. Find Your Facebook Audience

First, define the audience of your ad campaign. What’s the best practice for defining your audience? Find your buyer personas.

If you have already created your buyer personas for your company, you’ll be using Facebook advertising to target these different personas while they are in their awareness and consideration stages of the buyer’s journey.

Aligning your buyer personas with your Facebook advertising audiences has many benefits. First, Facebook is an ideal platform for growing awareness of your brand, product and services. Second, Facebook is a great platform to create and promote content that helps your buyer personas.

Your Facebook advertising goal should be to educate your buyer personas to learn more about how your company can provide them with the solution to their problem, and help them move through the consideration stage of the buyer’s journey.

...If that’s all Greek to you, it’s high time you learned about the principles of inbound marketing. Get started now and optimize your online presence to make it easier for your potential customers to find your business.

Q: My business is looking to target audiences across three different states. What Facebook advertising budget should I start with?

A: A small budget while you tailor your audience’s identifiers is best. A $50 budget might be spent a little more quickly if you’re simply trying to increase your company’s reach across a very large geographical area. If your business has a large marketing budget and is looking to gather a large amount of data quickly, increase your Lifetime Budgets to $10 or $15 per ad over the same 5 day ad campaigns.

2. Write an Effective Ad

Two things are most important to an effective ad: the ad creative and the ad title.

A Facebook user is only going to like, click or share an ad if it grabs their attention, and the title and ad creative are the first things a user notices.

Create three or more different versions of an ad in a document or spreadsheet before jumping into Facebook. Vary the title, and find three different images that are relevant to your copy.

Try one title that poses a question, one that is very clear about the ad’s purpose, and one that is very inline with the image attached to it.Now you’re ready to go into Ads Manager or Power Editor to create your ad.

Here’s an example of an effective ad, posted by a technology security company. It’s a “traffic” type ad, created in Ads Manager, and there are two other versions with different images in the same ad set.

Write an Effective Ad

The visual content is engaging, and helps inform the viewer about the problem the company is addressing on their blog. The message within the post lets the reader know the link will lead them to read more information. Including “learn more” in the ad copy also lets the reader know you’re linking off to a website and leaving Facebook.

If you don’t have an article on your website but found one that a thought leader in your industry has written, link to that, to continue to establish yourself as a trustworthy resource for your now growing audience.

If you don’t have a blog on your company’s website, get one.

3. Boost a post

If you have a published post that is linked, has an engaging image, and strong copy, you can apply a small ad spend to the post as it is, out to your audience.

You will know a published post is eligible for a "boost" by the blue button, seen in our example below:


First, ensure your post has no errors. Double check your spelling, links, and any creative elements. Then click "Boost" to open an abbreviated ads editor. You will be able to create a new, somewhat limited audience, or use a saved audience.

Finally, set your budget. You'll notice you do not have the same autonomy over placements, ad types or bidding as in the full Power Editor or Ads Manager. For small campaigns, this is fine. Starting small allows you to slowly grow your audience, while learning about the kind of content they like (as they will “like” or click on it) and what posts aren’t as engaging as you thought.

Set your budget. Allot $1.00 per day that you are running your campaign. Facebook will have pre-selected options for 1, 7 or 14 day-long campaigns, but you can click the date to set a custom campaign duration.

Boost post

Once you have set your audience, your budget and the campaign duration, click “Boost”. Once you've boosting a post, you cannot make any edits.

Q: How do I know whether to “boost” a post or create a new ad in Ads Manager or Power Editor?

A: Here are the factors that can help you choose the right ad campaign:

Boost a post: If you already have a high quality post that should be shown to a general audience. You will be able to select identifiers to create your audience, or select a saved audience. “Boosting” a post will result in likes first, and clicks second. For other engagement types, choose to create a new ad.

Create an new ad: If you have want to run a carousel (multiple images), video, or other more dynamic ad type. Creating an ad through Power Editor or Ads Manager will allow you the option to create, edit, or save audiences in a full-screen format.

4. Spend up to $5 per ad campaign

Facebook requires $1.00/day for advertising. Get in the habit now of selecting a Lifetime Budget for each promotion, which will help keep costs down.

Lifetime Budgets allow you to set a custom ad spend maximum. To get started, budget your spend between $1.00 -$3.50 per day as you run your first campaigns. This low daily spend is important, as you will be able to see which ads are more effective, and later increase ad spend accordingly.

Plan to boost 4 different posts (1/wk) for only 5 days with a lifetime budget of $5 each. Start one on a Monday, the next on a Tuesday, then Wednesday, then Thursday.

Here’s a look at what your first month of ad campaigns should look like:

Spend up to $5 per ad campaign

After you spend $5-10 or so on two ads over the first two weeks, you will start to have some information about whether or not the ads you’re promoting are working. Keep track of reach, impressions, clicks, and other types of engagement to evaluate performance.

Q: Why don’t I just run the same ad for a month to grow my audience?

A: One important metric for Facebook ads is “Frequency”. This number tells you how many times one person saw your ad. The longer you run an ad to the same audience, the higher the frequency rate will be. We’ve all had that one ad follow us for days - and it can negatively affect your ad performance, and over time, your brand in general. Stick to shorter ad campaign length and you’ll end up with higher engagement rates (post likes, page likes, or link clicks).

5. Define what works

While there is opportunity for all businesses and industries on Facebook, different industries have varying costs and return on investments over time. This happens for few reasons: local vs. national focuses, competition within those locations, demographic breakdown based on ideal buyer personas, etc.

Understanding how your ads are performing against other similar businesses in your industry can also help scale costs and budgets.

Our friends at WordStream compiled data over the years to define industry specific benchmarks, to help evaluate success for Facebook Advertising.

Define what works

Our example company, Delta Computer Security Force, had an average cost-per click of $1.80 for their first ad, and a cost-per-click of $1.15 on their second ad. Based on the technology industry benchmark above, they had a higher cost than anticipated on the first campaign, but performed better with a lower cost per click with their second campaign.

6. Prioritize What Works

As you head into your second or third month of advertising, take a look at which types of ads or boosted posts received the best engagement from your buyer personas or audiences.

Sending traffic back to your website can be very valuable, especially if your ad or post is addressing a solution that the audience needs more information about.

Posts that don’t include links can still be informative, if the copy and visual component also provide the audience with a quick lesson or fact. The technology security company in the example above received over 35 post likes and 6 page likes/follows for the following post:

Prioritize What Works

Remember that if you're putting any advertising budget behind it, be sure it's a helpful or informative piece of information.

Q: How much text can I have in my ad?

A: The length of text in the actual message of the ad will depend on the type of ad you’re running, and where your ads are being placed. For any creative imagery in your ad, best practice is to keep any text elements in the image under 20%, otherwise you could risk your reach being limited by Facebook itself. The platform has recently removed their text limit, but still advises using as little text as possible. Find their updated rules here

In the End, Keep It Simple

Focus on creating quality ads that help your audience understand your business and your solutions. There is no benefit to posting every day, so put your time into making sure your advertising efforts are engaging for your audience. After you feel confident you understand the voice and style of the posts that resonate best with your audience, align each ad campaign with your goals.

Over time, you may increase your Facebook advertising budget as you can attribute leads or sales goals to your efforts. Just remember to be smart when scaling up.

In most cases, you do not need to spend $1,000/month on Facebook - for any number of campaigns. Force your dollars to work harder and reach farther with smaller budgets.

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