Facebook Advertising for Dummies: Big or Small, How Are You Using Your Data?

6 min read

facebook advertisingTraditional marketers, let’s perform a thought experiment.

Let’s say you work with a lot of fast food clients who love having a big billboard off every highway exit. Every time you put a new billboard up, there are multiple components that you’re guessing will be effective. From imagery and color schemes to ad copy and calls to action, you’re hoping that your “best practices” and focus group results are going to yield great results for your client.

What if I told you that there is an advertising medium where you can test absolutely everything. Better yet, you can test it for cheap while you sleep.

People love talking about your ability to hyper-target customers via Twitter & Facebook advertising while they measure results, but that’s just the surface level of the benefits of social. If you have the time and resources, you can test language, imagery, and calls to action across multiple target markets. This means that everything from your billboards to your TV ads can be informed by the data that you captured on social media.

Does all that sound a little intimidating?

That’s because it kind of is. If you wanted to run that level of multivariate testing, you’d need to create hundreds of Facebook ads per week. You would perfect your marketing, but not everyone has that kind of time or energy. What if you only have time to create three ads? Could you still use that data to hone your message and learn what works?


The first thing we need to do is segment the key components of a Facebook ad to help you leverage each most effectively. There are four key components to every single Facebook ad: Headline copy, body copy, imagery, and targeting.

Let’s dive in…


Imagery draws the eye to your ad. It’s hard to optimize (especially for sidebar ads), but when it’s optimized effectively, you can see massive jumps in engagement. Here are a few tips:

  • Avoid the color blue. Shades of blue tend to blend in with the Facebook theme. Try colors like red or green instead.
  • Don’t include text. Not only is the text barely visible on sidebar ads, but Facebook will remove your ad if it includes more than 20% text.
  • Simplicity is bliss. The more that is happening in your image, the harder it will be for users to see. This means they probably won’t waste their time trying to figure it out. Try a simple image of one person or your product with a colored backdrop.
  • It’s the Optimization, Stupid! If your images aren’t sized correctly, you’ll look dumb. Make sure all images meet the recommended sizing criteria set by Facebook.

Once you’ve found some images you like, pick three. Save them on your desktop. We’ll come back to them later.

Headline Copy

Facebook Ad headlines are what entice clicks. Once your image has drawn a user over to the sidebar or down through their newsfeed, your headline is what can seal the deal. Write a good headline and you’re in like Flynn.

Here’s the kicker… You only have 25 characters.

Here are some tips and tricks to help you write better headlines:

  • Start with a CTA: What do you want users to do? Read a blog post? Fill out a form? Buy a product? Write down the action you want them to perform before you ever think about writing a headline.
  • What’s in it for me? Always make sure you’re asking this question from the consumer’s point of view, then communicate that in your headline. As a marketer you already know that value-first is the way to go!
  • Diagram, Diagram, Diagram. Remember the sentence diagrams you did in the third grade? Yeah, neither did we until we started advertising on Facebook. Then we realized that brevity is the key to a great headline and we needed to identify our core message! Nothing makes that more evident than sentence diagramming. Diagram your headlines so you can find your key messages and dump the fluff.

Write three headlines that you’re confident in and put them somewhere safe! We’ll come back to them later.

Body Copy

Your body copy writes a check that your landing page needs to cash. Here you have 90 characters, so you can expand upon your headline a bit. Here are some tips for writing great body copy:

  • End or begin with a CTA. Don’t bury your call to action in the middle. Make sure it stands out at the beginning or end of your body.
  • Don’t try to entice, just inform. If they’re reading your body copy, they already want to see what you have to say. Don’t use click-bait phrases like “YOU WON’T BELIEVE WHAT HAPPENS NEXT!” Instead, tell them what happens next. They’ll reward you with higher engagement.
  • Diagram some more! Having trouble getting to 90 characters? Diagramming each sentence can help you perfect your message on its way out the door.

Now write three bodies that you like.


Finally, who do we want to target? You can go extremely narrow or extremely broad here. Some companies like to target four or five demographics whereas some will target as few as one or two. Play around with the Facebook audience tool and find your target market. Here are a few tricks to help you nail your target demo:

  • Hit the Basics: If you know target age, gender, and location for your target market, you’re half-way there. Make sure to include these in every campaign.
  • It’s All About the Interests, Baby: What are your target consumers interested in? Your products and services? Specific hobbies? What about people who are interested in your competitors? These are all important questions to ask during the targeting phase.
  • Have an Email List? If you already have a strong email database, you can upload it to Facebook and target every single one of your current customers already on the network. This is a great way to drive repeat business and increase your following!

Once you have your target market nailed, we’re ready to put it all together.

Using Small Data to Your Advantage

The results I was talking about at the beginning of this post – scientifically testing everything down to individual components of language, imagery, calls to action and target audiences – all incorporate really big data. We’re talking about running hundreds of ads, testing dozens of variables, and analyzing the data, and adjusting each campaign. This isn’t feasible for everyone, but if you’re budget-conscious, you can try a watered-down version on your own.

Take your three images, three headlines, and three bodies. Mix and match all of them so that you’ve created an ad with every permutation of results. Now you’ll have over 20 ads to test and you only had to write 3 ads to get you there! Put these ads on Facebook with a small budget and let them run overnight. After observing their average Click-Through-Rate and Cost-Per-Click, you can determine what’s working and what isn’t.

If you want to learn more about how your business can leverage Facebook ads, let’s chat! Fill out our form here and some will get back to you shortly!