How to Create Facebook News Feed Ads

Facebook allows advertisers to create ads in the news feed. Personally I find these ads much more interesting than the old sidebar ads that I actively ignore. Take a look at my news feed this morning:

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So when it came time to get the word out about a workshop I’m running in Los Angeles I thought it would be a good chance for a two-fer: I can figure out how to create a targeted Facebook news feed ad and also blog about it so other folks can learn how to do it too.


How might schools use Facebook? We’ve written extensively about that here on edSocialMedia but here are some ways you might use targeted news feed ads in your school marketing efforts:

  • Encouraging people to come see you at an event. Example: High value school fair or reception in another state.
  • Drive interest in specific programs at your school. Example: Girls interested in equestrian programs in western Connecticut.
  • Boost an important Facebook post from your fan page. Example: Drive interest in your admission accept video.

What You Will Need

I didn’t have all my ducks in a row so getting started took me a bit longer than I expected. Here is what you will need before you start:

  • A credit card or Paypal account for billing
  • Six photos cropped to 615×315
  • A Facebook ‘page’ (not a personal profile or group)
  • General idea for who you are trying to target
  • Specific idea for what you want users to do as a result of your ad

What Kind of Ad?

When I clicked the ‘create an ad’ button on the left of my timeline  I had a few options:

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This was pretty easy as I wanted to create clicks back to my site but I liked the idea of boosting post engagement or driving traffic to an event.


Add Images and Text

After finding and cropping my pictures it was easy to upload them. Facebook lets you use six different images for your ad. This is very cool because Facebook will show different pictures to different users and then over time emphasize the pictures that are the most effective. I tried several different types of pictures including a white board shot, some stock photo type pictures as well as a candid picture I shot.


One thing I would have liked to try is to use image editing software to add text or a call to action into my image file (see the example at the top of this post from Handcrafted Business Films). Maybe I’ll try that next time.


After connecting my Facebook page to the ad I was also able to edit all the text in the ad. I found this a little confusing so hopefully this guide will help:

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A – These are your pictures, only one is previewed in the ad.

B – Choose one of the pages you administer. Users are automatically able to ‘like’ that page from the ad as well

C – Your headline doesn’t actually appear at the head of the ad

D – The ‘text’ appears at the top of the ad

E – There are several call to action buttons to choose from

F – This description appears at the bottom of the ad


What Kind of Ad?

Facebook is kind of sneaky here – by default your ad is in three categories: news feed, mobile news feed, and right column. I removed ‘right column’ because I find those ads annoying (see G above). As far as I could tell there wasn’t any reason to not to create a right column ad (except that I don’t like them) this didn’t seem to affect my cost at all.


Who To Target?

This was fun… maybe a little creepy… but fun! The program I’m advertising is in LA so I chose that as the city plus a 25 mile radius around the city. Then I set my age and gender preferences. Unfortunately the ‘interests’ area didn’t include education so I left that blank. I would be curious to see if schools could use an interest in ‘finance’ or ‘golf’ to target users who might be full pay families?


The behaviors section was cool. Since I’m targeting teachers who use an iPad I thought I would try to focus my ads on mobile device users. Facebook updates my audience potential reach in the right side to make sure I’m neither to narrow or too broad.

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Set Your Budget

Like all Facebook ads you have huge controls over how much money you spend. I didn’t want to bust the bank but I also want to get the word out so here’s what I set. I used a $20 daily budget and I’m going to run this ad for two weeks. After that time I’ll see how things are going and modify the ad as needed.


Here is how your ad cost is calculated: when a user loads their news feed Facebook shows them an ad based on their demographics. If a user clicks on that ad then I pay Facebook some money. That money counts against my daily budget. When enough users click on my ad and my daily budget is reached then my ads will stop appearing in the news feed until the next day.

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I just launched the ad so I’ll follow up this post with information on Facebook analytics and how the whole experience works overall.


What do you think? Have you used targeted news feed ads? Do they work? If you are a Facebook user what kinds of ads are you more likely to click on? Let us know in the comments!

Hans Mundahl

Director of Technology Integration at New Hampton School

I've been an educator since 1995 when I first stepped into the classroom as a Fulbright exchange teacher in the former East Germany. Since then I've been an Outward Bound instructor, a teacher, tutor, admission officer, house head, evening administrator on duty and I ran the experiential learning program at New Hampton School for almost ten years. Today I focus on technology integration centered on values-driven technology integration and 1:1 iPad initiatives. Recently I had the chance to help New Hampton School become an Apple Distinguished School and I co-authored the iBook Teaching with the iPad (available on the iBookstore). Now I'm the founder of a scrappy little company (one employee!) called Hans Mundahl and Associates, inc a digital strategy consultancy for schools and non-profits. My free time is usually spent with my family but I'm also passionate about the outdoors and protecting the environment. I'm on the Board of Trustees at the Newfound Lake Region Association and when I have the chance I'm an active hiker, climber, and paddler. My writing appears on and I speak frequently at technology and education conferences.