How to create a Facebook ad for your business that will help you gain followers, grow your traffic and make more sales

Facebook ads are hands-down my favorite type of advertising for small businesses. Virtually no other medium offers such laser-focused targeting options at such a reasonable cost.

And unlike traditional advertising—say, buying an ad in a magazine where you pay a flat rate—Facebook ads allow you to pay only when you achieve your desired objective.

Furthermore, you can optimize your ads to get the cost down as low as possible. How awesome is that?

The biggest barrier to setting up Facebook ads for your business is the learning curve. It takes a bit of trial and error to get right, and unfortunately sometimes that costs you money.

One major aspect of a successful Facebook ad? Choosing the right objective. At the time of this post there are 14 different objectives to choose from, and each of them dramatically differs in how your ad will be shown and how you’ll pay.

How to choose a Facebook ad objective

I’ve broken down the best times for using each objective and some things to consider to make sure you’re maximizing every dollar you spend.

BONUS: Use the easy cheat sheet at the end of this post to figure out which ad objective is best for you!

Boost your posts

When to use it: When you want a lot of people to see your post.

Pros: Your post will be shown far and wide (within targeting criteria that you set), which is great for building brand awareness and keeping you top-of-mind among customers.

Cons: This ad type isn’t tied to any sort of conversion (like a sale or a download). Therefore, using it won’t necessarily get you more customers or leads.

Promote your page

When to use it: When you want to grow the number of followers of your Facebook page.

Pros: You’ll build awareness and gain new followers who are interested in what you’re selling. They’ll be more likely to see what you post to Facebook in the future.

Cons: This ad doesn’t send people to your website, which is where the majority of sales happen.

Reach people near your business

When to use it: When your business is specifically tied to your geographical area, like a restaurant or furniture store.

Pros: You’ll only pay to reach people in your neck of the woods, who may turn into customers or tell a friend about you.

Cons: You’ll need to make sure this ad has a strong call to action so that it breeds results, like “mention this post for 50% off on your next visit!”

Increase brand awareness

Increase brand awarenessWhen to use it: When you want to reach people who will remember your ad.

Pros: This ad automatically optimizes to reach people who are likely to pay attention to your ad and recall it. This is based on a person’s past behavior, like how long they looked at an ad and whether they made a purchase later.

Cons: It’s not necessarily tied to a conversion, like a sale on your website or a mailing list signup. Include a strong call to action to encourage viewers to convert.

Send people to your website

When to use it: When you want to send traffic to your website. For me, an online B2B business, this is the holy grail of Facebook ads because of the myriad ways you can use it. I might drive people interested in Facebook ads to read this post, or drive people who recently started a business to my e-book landing page.

Pros: It allows you to drive highly-targeted traffic at a low cost.

Cons: You’ll need to make sure you do something with that traffic, like capturing an email address or building value by offering free information on your site.

Get installs of your app

When to use it: When you want to capture new app users.

Pros: You’ll build your user base.

Cons: The cost per download can be pretty high when you first launch your ads. If you don’t have a strategy for optimizing them, you’ll spend a lot of money on only a handful of downloads.

Raise attendance at your event

When to use it: When you want to reach people in your physical area and get them to come to your event.

Pros: If the person RSVP’s “yes” to your event, it’ll automatically be added to their calendar and you can send them updates.

Cons: Just because someone RSVP’s “yes” doesn’t mean they’ll definitely show up. You’ll want to over-estimate your goal for the number of people you want to show up.

Get video views

When to use it: When you want lots of people to view a video you’ve posted.

Pros: You’ll get lots of eyes on your brand, and if your video is awesome people will remember you.

Cons: Video views aren’t necessarily tied to conversions, like sales. Be sure to tell people what you want them to do after they watch your video.

Collect leads for your business

When to use it: When you want to build your email list of targeted leads.

Pros: You can reach highly-targeted leads and immediately follow up with an email series to warm them up to buy.

Cons: The cost per lead will likely be expensive when you first launch. Without optimization, you’ll eat up all of your budget quickly.

Increase conversions on your website

When to use it: When you want customers to take a specific action, like buying a product or signing up for your mailing list.

Pros: You’ll be charged based on how many people take those actions, and the ad will be shown to people who are most likely to do what you’re wanting them to do.

Cons: In order for these ads to be most effective, you’ll want to target people who are already familiar with your brand. To do this, you need to have already reached them with an earlier ad or by some other means.

Increase engagement in your app

increase app engagementWhen to use it: When you want people who already have your app to use it for a particular action, like trying a new feature or playing a new level.

Pros: You’ll re-engage with your existing users and build loyalty to the app.

Cons: Unless you already have a significant user base for your app, the effectiveness of these ads can be limited.

Get people to claim your offer

When to use it: When you’re offering a specific deal and want people to respond to it.

Pros: You’ll pay primarily when someone claims your offer, which means they’re likely to take action like redeeming your coupon code on a purchase.

Cons: Without optimization, the cost per offer claim can be pricey.

Promote a product catalog

When to use it: When you have more than one product you’d like to showcase to your target customer base.

Pros: You can show customers many products they might like in a single ad. These ads typically see great engagement rates.

Cons: You’ll need to set up a catalog on Facebook or integrate your page with your existing e-commerce cart.

Get people to visit your stores

When to use it: When you want to bring people offline and into your brick-and-mortar stores.

Pros: The ad will automatically show viewers the closet store nearby and even offer directions.

Cons: In order to track the effectiveness of these ads, you’ll need to set up offline conversion tracking.


Need help choosing which one is right for you (or just too busy to read through all of these options)?
Grab my handy road map to help you decide.


If you’re looking for a deeper dive into Facebook ads (way more than I could cover here), I highly recommend Brian Meert’s book. It covers the entire process of Facebook advertising step by step, from setting up your first campaign to optimizing and advanced testing. The best thing about it is that there are pictures(!), which makes the whole thing so much easier to understand. Happy advertising!


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Tami Brehse

Tami Brehse

Tami is a television news anchor turned digital marketing consultant who helps small businesses achieve their PR and marketing goals.
Tami Brehse
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