Digital Marketing
7 min read

Facebook Marketing: How Does It Work?

Written by Ollie Burt 

Disclaimer: If you’re familiar with Facebook Marketing and how it works in any meaningful way then this post probably isn’t for you. If you’re just getting to grips with the concept of social media marketing, then read on.

I’m a start-up specialist. As such, many of the business owners I speak to are doing things for the first time and learning as they go. Honestly, it’s the reason why I enjoy what we do. Most digital agencies are too focussed on following their processes and using templates and canned responses to spend time “hand-holding”.

I can’t take that approach. As well as implementing effective digital marketing strategies that deliver measurable results it’s my responsibility to help my clients understand what we’re doing, how we do it and why it’s important. Then, as a business owner, you’re informed enough to make meaningful decisions about where you’re going.

It’s for this reason, I often find myself writing very lengthy emails to answer seemingly simple questions. Sure, I could just point people to a generic blog post or other information resource – but that’s not really my style. People understand things better when it’s put forward in a way that’s relevant to them.

The Coach

I’ve recently started work on an exciting new project with a highly-regarded basketball coach from the US. The goal is to promote a new documentary globally – naturally, we’ll be leveraging the interest-based targeting options of Facebook as a major part of the campaign. An expert in his field, The Coach has little to no experience of Facebook as a user, let alone a marketer.

As expected, there were a few questions regarding our processes and the recommendations we were putting forward. It was time for one of my aforementioned long email explanations, and here was his response…


Your description and explanation was to use a British expression “BRILLIANT”. Thank you very much.  It is truly a publishing-worthy piece of expository prose.

The Coach

The fantastic motivator that he is, The Coach got me thinking that rather than letting this brief explanation sit in my archived folder I should publish it here so others may benefit.

I said it above, but I’ll say it again – I’m not doing a deep dive on Facebook Marketing and how to do it. It might be something I go into more in the future, but for now, I’ll direct you to Neil Patel – who explain in great detail How to Create, Optimize, and Test Facebook Ads.

If you’re looking for a basic explanation of the Facebook Ads model, with context, then have a read my very brief explanation I provided The Coach below…

Facebook marketing isn’t all that different to traditional advertising in truth. The two main metrics we need to understand are Impressions and Clicks. Every time our advert is shown to someone in our target audience it counts as an impression – this is similar to each time someone sees a billboard or TV advert.

All adverts, across any channel, always have a Call to Action, this can be to call a phone number, visit a store – or in our case, visit the website where they can purchase the film, which we count as a click.

With Facebook’s advertising model, we can either pay for impressions or clicks. We’ll be paying for clicks for this campaign. This is because it means we’re only paying when someone is interested enough to visit the website for more information and to hopefully make a purchase.

If you have a budget of $100 and each click costs around $1 (for example), then we will have delivered 100 prospective buyers to the website. The budget has no impact on the geographical reach for the campaign, simply on the number of clicks we’ll get. When the budget runs out, impressions will stop. Higher budgets = more clicks.

So, if with our $100 we only targeted the US, all of our 100 clicks would be from the US. But if we target multiple regions, these same 100 clicks would be from all over. However the more spread out the campaign (over multiple destinations) the longer it will take for us to get meaningful data to optimise the campaign – the goal is to optimise your campaigns to get the biggest bang for your buck.

This is all part of our data-driven approach to marketing. As is the targeting itself. Geographical targeting is fairly self-explanatory – it would be like serving a TV advert on a particular network or placing a billboard in a specific city. But our interest-based targeting (in this case, basketball) is more akin to placing a billboard opposite a basketball court or buying an advertising spot during a TV broadcast. So it’s all about stacking the decks in our favour and getting our message in front of the right people.

So, How Does Facebook Marketing Work?

Answer: Just fine.

But if you’re still unsure about Facebook Ads and the process for getting up and running, allow me to elaborate a bit in a more general way. Here’s the main things you’ll need to be aware of and discuss with your agency when running a Facebook Ads campaign…


This is a general term often used to describe your adverts themselves. Most the time they simply look like a Facebook Post and can include text, images, video, links etc in one form or another. There are multiple shapes, sizes and configurations for Ads depending on where they will appear – but in most cases you won’t need to get into these types of specifics unless you’re doing it yourself.

Each of your Facebook Ads will include a Call to Action. This is an industry term used to describe the part of an advert (or email, web page etc) that tells your audience what you want them to do. It can be to call a number, send a message, download an app or click through to a link for more information. This is the part of the creative you do need to have a good understanding of as it will shape the very nature of your Ads and should be used as a measure of success.


There’s a bit of a saying in the digital space – if something is free to use, you’re the product. What that means is that if, as a user something (like Facebook) is providing a service and it doesn’t cost you anything to do so, then you are the commodity that is being sold. People are a bit more tuned into it these days, especially younger generations, but by you what we really mean is your data. Facebook knows all about its user likes and dislikes, buying habits, whether they have children (and how old they may be) and interests based on what they interact with and even stop scrolling to read. And that’s in addition to all the usual demographical information that users offer up like location, age, gender etc. As a user, that might sound terrifying – but as a marketer it’s very useful.

So when planning a Facebook Marketing campaign, whether it’s yourself or an agency – it’s important to take advantage of this targeting data and really think about who your perfect audience is. Be aware of how specifically you can hone in on certain groups (interests are especially useful here). Some agencies may want to stay top level on the targeting, but as the business owner you should focus them in on more specific groups. This is where it’s useful to do your own market research and know your target buyer personas before you start to outsource any marketing campaigns.


You’re probably aware that Facebook Ads cost money to run. You might not know how much, or how this is calculated. There are two main ways you will be charged for your Ads. Either every time your Ad is displayed (CPM) or each time someone interacts with it (CPC). CPM means you pay per 1,000 impressions of your Ad – it’s something I rarely recommend as all you can be sure of is that people will see your Ad (maybe) and scroll on by. CPM only really works when the goal is awareness, it doesn’t really offer any meaningful insight into the success of the campaign and in most (not all!) cases it is best avoided.

CPC (Cost Per Click) means you pay each time someone clicks on part of your Ad, this can be the call to action or your profile. This is the method we usually recommend, it means you only really pay when someone does what you want them to do – so you know they’ve stopped, taken the time to look at your Ad and have acted upon it. It’s nice and measurable and means campaigns can be optimised more easily (to improve the efficiency, i.e more for less).

How much you will be charged per click or 1,000 impressions will depend on how much competition there is for your Ad to be shown – which brings us back to targeting. If you stay more general with your targeting, you will have a larger audience and therefore less competition and CPC/CPM will be lower – but the quality of the views/clicks may suffer. A more targeted campaign should yield a better quality of audience but the CPC/CPM will be higher. It’s the job of your agency to find the right balance as part of the campaign setup and optimisation.

You then need to decide how much you can commit to a campaign budget based on these figures. An agency will be able to provide you with estimates in terms of how many ‘clicks’, downloads etc based on all the information above.

One other cost you should be aware of when planning to use an agency for your Facebook Marketing campaign is the management fee. In most cases, an agency will ask you to pay Facebook directly for your Ad spend – this is best for you and them. They will then, in most cases (not heard of anyone working for free yet) charge you a monthly fee to look after the campaigns for you – this should include ongoing optimisations and reporting, so you should expect some improvements in the reported metrics over time (especially in the early months – things can settle down over time).

Ultimately, Facebook Marketing is all about getting the right Ad (Creatives) in front of the right people (Targeting) in order for them to take the desired action (Call To Action) for the lowest cost (Budgeting). If you understand that, then that’s more than enough to get the most out of any Facebook Marketing campaign with a digital agency.

If you’d like more information about Facebook Marketing or are looking for a digital marketing agency to work with on your next campaign – we can help. Just get in touch using the ‘chat’ button and we can take it from there.

Originally published 3rd June 2021
Last edited 3rd June 2021

Written by Ollie Burt

Ollie Burt is a full-stack marketer and Director at Nova. A specialist in helping small businesses and startups succeed online, he enjoys running (and beer). You can find him on LinkedIn and Twitter.

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