How to get started with Facebook and Instagram ads

How to get started with Facebook and Instagram ads

Maybe you’ve been there.

You’re posting and posting great content for your business, and yet you still see your post reach hovering in the same sad range. You’ve heard about social media ads, and you’ve even started researching how to get started, but every time you fall down a Google spiral, feeling overwhelmed by the prospect of deploying ads on Snapchat and Pinterest, setting up a landing page and mapping out a sales funnel until you just give up.

We’re here to say it: Getting started with social media ads does not have to be that complicated—and they can make a big difference for your business.

Just start small.

The why and where

First, know you aren’t crazy for thinking you’re running in circles relying on organic reach. In fact, besides a 0.5 percent increase during the social media surge of the pandemic, organic reach on social has been declining for years. Now, only 5.2 percent of your page’s followers see any given organic post.

That alone is a strong argument for the use of paid social media strategies.

There’s also plenty of opportunity out there. While nearly all social platforms offer ads (Twitter, Snapchat, Pinterest and most recently TikTok to name a few), Facebook and Instagram (which is owned by Facebook) are great first steps. Facebook’s ad platforms have been around for years, and with 2.6 billion monthly active users, it’s also the largest social platform.

Because of this, we’ll focus there first. Ready to get started? Check out some of the most basic steps below.

Give yourself a boost.

If all you’re looking for is a little bump of engagement on your page posts and you just want to dip your toe in the social media advertising waters, boosting a post on your page is the way to go. Simply go to your business’s page and select the post you want to amplify. There should be a blue button offering to boost. Here, you’ll see a simplified version of Ads Manager where you can decide how to boost, who to target and how much to spend. And just like that, you’re doing it! While you can read on for more about how to refine your efforts, think of a simple boost as giving the organic content you’re already doing a little more “oomph”.

Ready to go bigger? Define what you want.

If you want to turn that “oomph” into a “POW,” you’re going to need to use Ads Manager. Take a few moments to familiarize yourself with it (we promise it looks more complicated than it is). Facebook offers a variety of options right off the bat. They break down to:


  • Brand Awareness—Increase people’s awareness of your business
  • Reach—Show your ad to as many people as possible


  • Traffic—Drive people to a website
  • Engagement—Like a boost, but with more refined options. This breaks down into page likes, post engagement and event responses.
  • App installs—Promote your business’s app
  • Video views—Get your video in front of people most likely to watch it
  • Lead generation—Using a form, get people to submit info, like emails for newsletter sign ups
  • Messages—Another of your boost options, this allows people to connect with your business.


  • Conversions—Drive actions on your site, like adding to cart
  • Catalog sales—Promote your ecommerce store to drive sales
  • Store traffic—Promote your brick and mortar location to those nearby

You need to decide what it is you want to accomplish with your ads. Do you want more web visitors? Do you just want to stay top-of-mind? Are you looking to ramp up engagement on your page? This will drive your choice. While all of these objectives are useful in the right moment, if you’re just getting started, consider engagement, a page likes ad, traffic or awareness as a first test. Some of these other objectives require slightly more complicated setups (great for your continued education!)

Know your audience

Once you pick your objective and set your budget to where you feel comfortable, you will have to create an audience to target. Facebook offers so many options here, you might feel a little creepy—and you’ll definitely start to understand more about the ads you see in your own feed. Think about who your target customer is. Then, get creative creating parameters that best fit people like your best customers. The trick here is to shoot for a middle ground. You don’t want your audience to be so wide they find your ad irrelevant, and you don’t want to be so narrow that you’re missing great targets and not getting bang for your buck. Playing with the custom audiences is a great place to start, but lookalike audiences hold huge potential for later down the line.

Know the requirements

One of the last steps to launching your ad is to select the creative—and this is an integral step. If you don’t create an ad that catches people’s attention, all the hard work you’ve put in won’t ROI in the way you hope. Worse yet, if you don’t create an ad that fits Facebook or Instagram’s parameters, it might not run at all. When you get to this step, you can either select a post from your page or create a new ad. Give good thought to if what you post makes sense for the audience and the platform. Make sure your objective carries through with the right call to action. Make sure the visual you select is eye-catching, and at the most basic level, is the right size and shape. Sprout Social has great guides like this one to help you with this. Finally, make sure your selected image doesn’t have too much text. Facebook prioritizes ads for images with less than 20 percent text.

Monitor, learn and repeat

You’re not going to get it totally right the first time. Even the most experienced marketers and social media gurus know there’s always room to optimize. Try a few things and see what works best for your business. Once you have a little more experience, you might look into installing a pixel on your website and trying retargeting, or setting up a catalog for dynamic ads to sell products.

Truly, there are huge possibilities for your business in the realm of social media ads. You can always learn and grow. But the only way to reap the benefits? Take the first small steps and get started. Still feeling overwhelmed, or ready to move on to Social Ads 201? Give us a call at 407-339-0879 or email Will at We’d be happy to review your goals and put our social media advertising know-how to work for you.