Reach New People with Ads

Ads on Facebook let you pay to distribute targeted content to a specific audience.

Why Ads?

Ads on Facebook give you greater access to the people you need to achieve your mission. You can choose your objective and audience, and Facebook will deliver your ads in a way that’s optimized to drive your desired results. You can run ads on Facebook on any budget, starting as low as $5. Here we’ll cover how to create a strategy for your ads. If you have questions about the basics of creating ads, visit the Ads page.

Elements of an Ad Campaign Strategy

There are several things to consider when creating your ad strategy on Facebook:

  • Objective. The organizational goal you want your ad to support
  • Target Audience. The kind of people you want to see your ads
  • Budget. The dollar amount you want to spend; related to the number of people you want to reach
  • Creative. The text, images, posts, graphics, videos and links that will show in your ads
  • Metrics. What you will measure to determine if your ads are achieving your objective

Choose your Objective

You can select an objective for every ad campaign you create. Your objective affects the format of your ads and the audience they’re served to. Facebook will show your ads to people most likely to take the action you want. For example, if your objective is to get people to watch a video, we’ll show your ad to people who tend to watch videos in their News Feed.


These are the ad objectives you can choose from in Ads Manager. When choosing your objective, refer to your campaign goals and consider how ads can help achieve them.

Select a Target Audience

How to Choose your Target Audience

There are a few main things to consider when selecting your ad campaign’s target audience:

  • Who you need to reach to have the impact you want?
  • Who is most likely to respond positively to your calls to action?

If you’re not sure where to start, try choosing an audience similar to the people who like your Page. Or choose a broad audience to understand which types of people engage most with your ads. You can even send the same ad to different groups of people to learn which audience responds best. Learn more about the makeup of your existing followers in your Page Insights).

Targeting Options

There are over 1,000 target audience characteristics to pick from, including:

  • Location. Reach people in cities, countries and communities where you work. For example, if you’re a local nonprofit, you can show ads to people in your local community.
  • Demographics. Select an age range, gender, education level and more. For example, you can create different ads that are relevant to different age groups or genders.
  • Interests. Reach people based on their interests, hobbies and Pages they like on Facebook. For example, if you’re focused on getting people to lend a hand, you can reach people who express an interest in “volunteering” and like the Pages of organizations similar to yours.
  • Behaviors. Find people based on their purchases, device usage and other activities. For example, if you’ve built an app for your cause, you can reach people who are early adopters or use a specific type of phone.
  • Connections. Speak directly to people who are connected to your Page, event or app, as well as their friends. For example, you can promote an event by showing ads to the friends of people who are attending.

Depending on your needs, you may also want to use these advanced target audience options:

  • Custom Audiences. Create audiences based on the donor, volunteer, email data and website traffic you already have. For example, you can reach out to current donors during a specific time of year on Facebook to encourage them to give. Custom Audiences are great for reaching existing supporters, and many nonprofits find them very powerful. Learn more about creating a Custom Audience.
  • Lookalike Audiences. Create audiences with characteristics similar to a group you care about, such as your existing Page followers or email list. For example, you can drive more people to your website by targeting an audience with similar demographics or interests to past visitors. Learn more about creating a Lookalike Audience.

Audience Size

When you’re selecting your target audience characteristics in Ads Manager, we’ll indicate whether you’re picking a specific or broad audience and give an estimate of the number of people on Facebook who fit your criteria.

Broad Audience

Choosing a specific, targeted audience: When you target each ad set to specific, targeted audience, you can make your images and text more personalized to the audience you’re trying to reach. For example, a clean water organization in Seattle, WA may want to reach people who live near Seattle and are parents. This could narrow the estimated audience and help make sure that the people who see the ad are more likely to connect with the mission and become supporters. For your ads to be seen by enough people, however, we recommend keeping your estimated audience above the red portion of the audience definition dial.

Specific Audience

Choosing a broad, general audience: On the other hand, targeting a broad, general audience may be the right choice if you want to build brand awareness for your organization. If you’re not sure, start by targeting people who look like your existing Page followers or other people whose interests align with the work you do.

Set Your Budget


If you want to run your ad set continuously, choose a Daily Budget. Facebook will pace your spending throughout each day until you reach your daily budget amount. If you’d rather run your ad set for a specific length of time, choose a Lifetime Budget. Facebook will pace your spending over the lifetime of the ad set. Daily budgets work well for ongoing objectives, like sending people to your website. Lifetime budgets work well for objectives that have an end date, like a campaign or event.

Dollar Amount

Start by setting your daily or lifetime budget at the dollar amount you feel comfortable testing your ads with. This’ll let you see which ads perform well without needing to tightly monitor spending. After your ads have run for a day or so, review their performance. You can then increase your budget on ads that are performing well, and pause or modify ads that aren’t performing as well.

Optimization and Bidding Types

Based on your ad objective, you have choices of what to optimize for, how to bid and what you’ll be charged for. Your selections affect who will see your ads to get the best results for the lowest cost.

  • Optimization for Ad Delivery. Choose the result that you want to optimize your ad for. For example, if you optimize for link clicks, your ad is shown to people most likely to clicks on the link in your ad for the lowest cost. If you optimize for impressions, your ad is shown to as many people as possible.
  • Bid Amount. You have two bidding options: automatic and manual. We recommend using automatic bidding, which lets Facebook set your bid amount to get you the most of what you’re optimizing for at the best price. However, if you want more control, you can manually bid what you’re willing to pay.
  • When You Get Charged. After choosing what to optimize for and how to bid, you’ll see the metric that determines when you pay for your ad. For many optimization goals, you’ll pay each time your ad is shown (this is known as an impression). For other optimization goals, you can choose between impressions and actions (such as link clicks or post engagements). Whichever option is recommended to you is designed to use your budget efficiently and make it easy to understand your results.

Facebook’s ad network operates as a blind auction. Advertisers (including you) set a max bid amount per impression or conversion. Facebook then serves the ads that perform best for the cheapest rate. It’s a good idea to run multiple versions of an ad in an ad set to see which ones perform the best. For more on ad costs and bidding, see Buying Facebook Ads on the Facebook Business site.

Choose Your Creative

Similar to the creative best practices for Facebook posts covered in Grab People’s Attention and Ask People to Speak Out, the main goal of your ad creative is to engage your target audience through text, images and videos. Engagement expands reach, lowers delivery costs and ultimately gives you better returns. Your ad strategy may include variations of an ad to test out which combinations of messages and visuals are most engaging. A great way to start is by reviewing which of your organization’s Page posts have performed best.

  • Images. Use strong, striking images that will stand out in News Feed and grab people’s attention.
  • Video. Find videos that capture people’s attention within the first 3–5 seconds. They should get to the point quickly and clearly communicate how someone can help. Keep in mind that many people watch videos without sound, so you might want to include subtitles. More on images and video.
  • Copy. Simple messages with a clear call to action often resonate. Aim to write conversational text that people will connect with and want to share with friends.
  • Links. If your ad includes a link, make sure the landing page you’re driving people to is mobile-friendly and relates to the ad in some way.

The Facebook Ads Guide shows how each ad type looks on different devices and provides design specifications for best results. TIP: Make sure your creative complies with all of Facebook’s Advertising Policies, so it doesn’t get paused by our approvals system. Policies we’ve seen many nonprofits affected by include:

  • The 20% text policy: Text may not cover more than 20% of the image area.
  • The language policy: Please don’t reference or ask about people’s personal or physical characteristics. This is particularly relevant to organizations focused on health or minority communities.

Determine Your Success Metrics

Once you’ve launched your ad campaign, the Manage Ads tab in Ads Manager will help you evaluate your ad performance against your goals. Ad campaigns are organized into three levels:

FB Ad Campaing levels

Campaigns. Based on the objective you want to accomplish
Ad Sets. One for each audience, ad placement location, budget and schedule used in a given campaign
Ads. Each specific piece of ad content that will be shown to people in an ad set

Learn more about each level on our Ads page. Here are a few helpful metrics to help evaluate your ad performance. Metrics will display for the filters and dates you’ve selected in the dropdown menu in Ads Manager.

  • Results. The number of actions as a result of your ad, based on your ad objective. Look at this metric at the Campaign level to understand how your campaigns are performing against your goals. Look at the Ad Set level to see which audiences are responding best to your campaign. And look at the Ad level to see which ad variations are achieving the best results.
  • Reach. The number of people your ad was shown to. Compare this metric to the Results or People taking action metrics to calculate the percentage of people who take action out of the total who are shown your ads. This ratio can help you project how many people you need to reach to meet your goals. When you find an audience set or ad that is getting efficient reach, you may want to allocate more of your budget to those ads.
  • Cost. The average amount paid for each action associated with your objective. Check the Cost column to decide whether you’re spending more than the action is worth to you. The value of an action is subjective and depends on your objective. For example, spending $1 per conversion may be worth it to you if you want people to sign up on your website to volunteer. But it might not be worth it to you if you want them to watch a video. You can pause or stop ads, ad sets and entire campaigns that you don’t find to be cost-effective, or modify them to improve results.
  • Amount Spent. The total amount you’ve spent. This column helps you understand the total cost at each level of your campaign. For example, look at Amount Spent at the Ad Set level to see how much you’re investing in a given audience.
  • Relevance Score. After an ad gets more than 500 impressions, it’s rated from 1 to 10 based on how your audience is responding. More relevant ads tend to have a lower cost per response, so we recommend investing in ads with a relevance score of 7 or higher.

TIP: You can create and save a custom column set to easily filter the key stats that you want to focus on for monitoring your campaign.