Search Museum Next

Facebook Advertising Tips for Museums

With 1.59 billion daily and 2.41 billion monthly active users, Facebook has it’s hand in a lot of pockets… Literally. More than 2.1 billion people use social media apps like Facebook, every day on average. Because the platform has so many users, the insights it provides on users is quite comprehensive. Another way to use these audience insights, is to create targeted ads that are based off of real knowledge and data on users provided by Facebook.

Facebook ads can be created quickly and will work efficiently to increase your web traffic. They will help increase brand awareness and are extremely measurable through Facebook’s advertising platform, Ads Manager. What’s not to love here?  Not only are Facebook ads very targeted and far-reaching, they are also extremely affordable. Campaigns can be customised to any budget; from £5 to £500. There are some types of ads that require a minimum spending amount, but Facebook notifies you of that when they are being created. 

Facebook Ads Manager is the best place to create highly-customisable targeted ads. You can also create ads from your Facebook page, but the customisation options are more limited. 

How Facebook Ads work

There are two terms to remember when it comes to creating Facebook ads: Engage and Drive. Your ads need to either engage viewers in stopping and looking at what your organisation has to offer, or driving them to click and dig a little deeper. It’s important to do this in a nuanced way; coax people instead of herd them, but every ad that is generated should contain either of these aspects. It’s extremely difficult to create an add that does both of these at once. Most brands that try end up failing and not succeeding in either respect. Let’s break it down a little more. 

Creating Engaging ads for your Museum

Brand awareness is powerful and important. It helps to build the foundation upon which customers will start to build familiarity and loyalty. It’s worth spending advertising money to spread awareness of your brand and organisation. Engaging ads encourage users to further engage with a brand that they are already ideally curious about. Signing up for a newsletter, going to a new blog post, following social media accounts – these are all actions that engaging ads should be encouraging. We will speak more on “Call to Action” language in Week 4 which focuses on traffic driving, but for now, we’ll give a brief summary of the type of actionable language that should be incorporated into your Facebook ads. 

Examples of effective CTAs are:

Sign up
Join (us)
Listen (in)
Come along
Don’t miss
Get started
Find out
Find out (more)
Follow (us)
Take me there
What’s next

This type of language has been proven to drive people to more fully engage and take that next step in brand investment. 

Now, let’s get into the nitty gritty of Facebook Ad jargon. 

Facebook ads can be broken down into three elements…

  1. Campaigns – your advertising catch-all, it houses all assets.
  2. Ad sets – These will be used if you have a segmented audience that you’re targeting. 
  3. Ads – The new, shiny, finished product!

You’ll hear us use these terms a lot in this chapter so it’s best to establish a basic understanding now. Ready to get started on creating you own ad? Cool, let’s dive right in…

There are 7 basic steps to creating a Facebook Ad:

  1. Choose your objective
  2. Select your audience
  3. Decide where to run your ad
  4. Set your budget
  5. Pick a format
  6. Place your order
  7. Measure and manage your ad

1) Choose your objective

There are 3 major categories for objectives: Awareness, Consideration and Conversion

  • Awareness ads help to get people’s attention and spread brand awareness. The two types of ads under this category are brand awareness and reach. 
  • Consideration ads drive users to consider your brand/organisation and tempt them into signing up for a newsletter or viewing a video. Think of these ads as enticing visitors to take a bite into your brand. Traffic, engagement, app installs, video views, lead generation and messages fall under this category.

  • Conversion ads increase action on your website by driving people to do something specific. Convert them into customers by guiding them towards a purchase, encourage them to visit the website to drive traffic. Conversions, catalog sales and store traffic fall under this categorical umbrella. 

Your choice of objective needs to completely align with your campaign goal and marketing strategy. Make sure that you can support your choices with carefully planned strategy.

2) Select your audience

The word audience here is to be taken in a broad context. There are so many ways to refine audiences and make sure that your ads are going to the people that you want. Facebook Ads Manager allows you to filter by Location, Demographics (age, gender, education, relationship status etc…), Interests, Behaviour (device usage, buying patterns) and Connections (people who are associated with your account already or similar accounts). 

With all of these customisation options, it’s important to stay aligned with your target audience and campaign goals. Facebook also allows for the option to create and save audiences for future usage. This is a handy tool and a huge time saver when it comes to running ads on a regular basis. 

3) Decide where to run your ad

As if we didn’t need more options, Facebook also allows for you to choose exactly how and where your ad will appear to audiences. If your Facebook account is linked to your Instagram, then you’ll also have the option to run ads on your Instagram account. The locations of your ads are called ad placements. Currently, the following placements are available through Facebook Ads Manager. 


  • Facebook News Feed
  • Instagram Feed
  • Facebook Marketplace
  • Facebook Video Feeds
  • Facebook Right Column (On the right hand side of feed)
  • Instagram Explore
  • Messenger Inbox


  • Facebook Stories
  • Instagram Stories
  • Messenger Stories


  • Facebook In-Steam Videos (Appearing before/after content)


  • Messenger Sponsored Messages


  • Facebook Instant Articles

Apps and Sites

  • Audience Network (Banner, Native & Interstitial)
  • Audience Network Rewarded Video
  • Audience Network In-Steam

We would recommend starting with the basics and going with ads that are placed in newsfeeds before experimenting with the other types of ad placements, but if you are feeling bold and creative, feel free to experiment a bit and see what works for your organisation! Because Facebook Ads are so affordable, this is a great place for advertising trial and error. 

4) Set your budget

Advertising on Facebook is super affordable and easy to customise. There are two ways to break down cost: Overall amount spend and cost of each result achieved. The budget controls how much money is spent overall which can be reinforced by individual campaign spending limits and account spending limits. 

There is also another option to optimise your ad budget with a big strategy. The bid strategy that you choose tells Facebook how to bid for you in ad auctions. With the bid strategy system, it’s important to make one decision first; whether or not you want to control costs.

The price that you are willing to pay to achieve your desired Facebook advertising goal is considered a bid. The three types of bids are broken down below….

  • Cost cap – Ideal for getting the most volume although costs may increase as your budget increases. 
  • Bid cap – Ideal for controlling bids in the auction. However, this bid is different than the cost per results. 
  • Target cost– Ideal for getting consistent costs. This cost is a safe best as it stays fixed even when your budget increases. This is the default option for cost controlling bid strategies. 

Facebook provides a helpful chart which can guide you in choosing the right bid strategy for your organisation.

If this all sounds super complicated, it’s because it kinda is… Don’t get a headache JUST now… Start with some simple Facebook ads and get used to the creation and monitoring process before you get too wildly experimental with bid strategies and advanced ad creation. Make sure that Facebook is ACTUALLY increasing your brand awareness, visitor numbers and ideally revenue before you get too stuck in the weeds with all of the Facebook ad jargon. 

5) Pick a format

There are several different types of ads to choose from. Below, we’ll list the options to choose from and tell you the ones we think you should begin with. 

Types of Ads

It’s imperative to always have some type of media when sending out a Facebook advert into the universe. Ads with images and even better, video, reel in 2-3x the views than text ads do!

  • Image 
  • Video
  • Slideshow
  • Carousel
  • Collection
  • Instant Experience

Start with image and video ads. In these, you can showcase photos of your events/programming/collection and add snazzy call-to-action language that will get visitors to take that next step and invest in your brand. 

The following formats are acceptable for Facebook Image Ads: BMP, DIB, GIF, HEIC, HEIF, IFF, JFIF, JP2, JPE, JPEG, JPG, PNG, PSD, TIF, TIFF, WBMP, WEBP and XBM. 

The following formats are acceptable for Facebook Video Ads: 3G2, 3GP, 3GPP, ASF, AVI, DAT, DIVX, DV, F4V, FLV, GIF (recommended), M2TS, M4V, MKV, MOD, MOV (recommended), MP4 (recommended), MPE, MPEG, MPEG4, MPG, MTS, NSV, OGM, OGV, QT, TOD, TS, VOB and WMV.

Slideshow and carousel ads offer the ability to show off multiple images (up to 10) and to add text and sound as well. Using either of these options makes for a really dynamic ad and is perfect for a museum with amazing collections that are ready to be shown off, or for an organisation that has high-quality images that are marketing-ready. Another positive attribute to using slideshow or carousel ads is that they use less data than videos so they are optimised for users who are operating off of slower internet connections. By using a sequence of images, it’s also possible to create more of a narrative or a story, rather than using a single image or a video. 

Collection and Instant Experience ads are more so meant for e-commerce as the ad will open up directly into, well, an instant experience for lack of a better term. We would recommend experimenting with these ads if you are a larger institution with e-commerce-driven goals and a variety of products to market. If you are a smaller organisation, focus your efforts elsewhere. 

6) Place your order

There are two main ways to pay for your ad on Facebook

  • Automatic payments – You’ll be automatically charged whenever Facebook Ads goes over a certain amount known as your billing threshold that you can set. You’ll be billed again on the monthly date that you set for any leftover costs. If you use PayPal or most credit or debits cards to purchase ads this is how you will typically pay. 
  • Manual payments – With this method, you can add money to your account first and then that amount is deducted once a day as your ads go live on Facebook. With manual payments, there is no billing threshold. 

You can always keep an eye on how much you are spending by referring to your Ads Manager page. While Facebook Ads will always stay in budget for each individual ad campaign, it’s worth noting that your monthly bill may be higher than expected and that is because your account will be charged for all of the ads that you are running on that specific account. Facebook will NEVER spend more than you tell it to, so make sure that you are properly setting up costs limits at the start. 

7) Measure and manage your ad

Facebook Measurement is the platform for measuring ad campaign success. There are a number of ways to measure the success of your campaign; through numbers of people reached, through the diversity of people reached, through click-throughs etc… It’s all available within the Facebook Measurement platform which is located right within the Ads Manager. 

Use these measurements to calculate the success of your campaigns against your overall marketing strategy and individual campaign strategy. Be sure to acknowledge the successes of your campaigns as well as the opportunities for improvement/growth. If your campaign didn’t do as well as you would have hoped, try to find out WHY. Figure out what didn’t work and make a note to try something different next time. With all of the research that we’ve encouraged you to do within week one, you should have a solid foundation upon which to measure your achievements against and have a better sense of where improvements could be made. 

Wrapping it up

Facebook advertising is pretty cool, isn’t it? It’s a bit tricky to understand, and we hope that we’ve helped you along in that department by breaking down some of the tech-heavy jargon and techniques, but it really is a complicated platform. If you’re still feeling stuck after reading this article, we suggest that you speak to other marketing teams at similar organisations within the sector to see what has and hasn’t worked for them. Did they try carousel ads just to fall flat on their faces? A lot of organisations will be more than willing to share this information with invested people who ask – after all, we need to help upskill one another in the arts and culture sector! 

Subscribe to the latest museum thinking

Fresh ideas from museums around the globe in your inbox each week