Throughout most of my career I’ve worked with early stage startups, nonprofits, and political candidates, who all have two challenges in common: lean budgets and a need for immediate, trackable results. When deployed correctly, paid social ads address both of these challenges beautifully. They allow us to reach our exact target markets and exert a high degree of control over how each dollar is being spent.

But, if you’ve never run paid social campaigns before, the process can feel intimidating and confusing. There are decisions to be made every step of the way, from targeting the right audience to choosing creative. I’m here to break down the whole process. Who’s ready to feel empowered to create your own paid social ads?


Setting a Goal

Within the Facebook Ads Manager, setting a goal is the first step. The goals are broken down into three buckets: awareness, consideration, and conversion. If you’re introducing your brand to a new audience that doesn’t know enough about your brand to convert yet, try optimizing for reach, traffic, or lead generation. If you’re retargeting past site visitors, optimize for conversions. In order to do that, you need to know how to use the Facebook Pixel. The pixel can track who’s visited your site and serve them ads encouraging them to convert.


The Facebook Pixel

The pixel is a 10 digit code that allows you to track visitors to your site, and even other sites (if the site owner allows you to include a pixel on their site). Learn how to use it here…it’s really as easy as learning where to copy and paste a simple string of code. The pixel can live on multiple pages at the same time.

To optimize ads for conversions, you need to have a pixel installed on the page you ultimately want your audience to land on. What is the page your users see after completing a purchase? That is where you need your pixel to live.


Personas and Targeting

Outside of retargeting site visitors, there’s a whole world of targeting that allows you to reach the audience you know will benefit from hearing about your brand. As a first step, create a persona. Who is the person you’re trying to reach? Where do they live? How old are they? Is gender a factor? Perhaps most importantly, for the purposes of this exercise, is where else your audience is likely to spend money.

The Facebook Manager allows for targeting based on all of the above. Want to reach women 26-32 years old living in specific Brooklyn zip codes? You can do it. You can also add layers of targeting based on your audience’s interests and employers, which is where all of the knowledge you outlined in your persona exercise comes into play. I like to target based on the brands my target customer buys and the publications they read.


Writing Creative Copy

Address pain points by alluding to the solution offered by your product or service. For example, at HEYMAMA we solve for the lonliness that comes with trying navigate mama life without a community. We also know so many advertisers just don’t understand that mamas interests and challenges are multifaceted. That’s why we use language that demonstrates the sense of connection mamas in our community feel…and we acknowledge that every mama is a whole person. See the video below for an example of the kind of language we use (video created using the Swish app)



Increase ROI with Video

According to research, social ads including video perform better than social ads using a static image. In our case, that turned out to be true. Most of the time, we optimize ads for conversions rather than clicks. Over the same period of time, our video ad converted three times as many people as an ad using a static image.

Of course, social video ads only perform better than static images if the videos are high quality. As a startup, we always thought creating high quality video ads was too time consuming and out of our budget. The Swish app changes that assumption. Using the app (download it here), we were able to create high quality ads using stock video from Getty Images at a lower cost than if we bought the creative elsewhere. The app provides a variety of editable templates to add text and even music to the video ads. Here’s the best part: Swish makes it easy to edit the videos for each of the formats your ad will appear in across Facebook and Instagram.


A/B Test

Torn between two amazing videos or catchy phrases to use in your ad? Good! That means you’re ready to A/B test and see what really resonates with your audience. Refining your creative with A/B tests helps you make the most of your ad spend, and it can sometimes yield surprising results.

One important tip: never A/B test two different elements at the same time. Make sure to test only the image/video or the copy, never both at the same time. If A performs better than B, you want to know exactly why.

With the above, you have everything you need to get out there and begin creating your own social ads. Once you try it, you’ll see that it’s not quite as intimidating as it might seem. It can even be fun. If you’re a HEYMAMA member with more questions about paid social, ask the member forums!


Download the Swish app here to create your own social video ads easily. 


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