Digital advertising 101

Questions to consider before running ads

What is our objective? Our objectives – what we are trying to accomplish with a digital ad – will decide the type of campaign we decide to run. Consider this partial list of possible objectives:

  • To educate the public on the issue of civil justice reform
  • To expand a base of supporters for a future activation
  • To drive legislative action on issues of civil justice

Who is our target audience? Our target audience will decide the segmentation on the ad. We must consider whether we are working to expand and activate our base, reach influencers, or expose our materials to users who may be unfamiliar with the issue of civil justice reform. Digital advertising platforms typically allow targeting by location (including state and zip code), interest, demographics, and more.

Types of digital ad campaigns

Choosing a platform: There are lots of platforms we can use to reach people online. This guide will walk through two platforms where we typically see the greatest return – Facebook and Twitter. It’s important to invest in an ads budget that grows a following on both, but the bottom line is that when it comes to driving action, Facebook is the most effective.

Advertising on Facebook: Facebook will almost always make up the bulk of a digital advertising budget. Facebook most easily allows us to connect with grassroots supporters and drive action, largely because of its superior targeting capacities, tracking, and metrics for optimization.

Advertising on Twitter: Twitter is nevertheless an important social media platform to invest in. This is where we can connect with thought leaders and establish a reputation as an influencer on civil justice reform.

Facebook advertising 101

Why use Facebook ads? Facebook is where we talk to, cultivate, and activate a base of online supporters to drive online actions. The platform’s unparalleled targeting ability and how simple the ads are to set up can help reach a broad audience.

Where do we set them up? You should get to know and love Facebook’s Ads Manager ( This is where ad campaigns are set up, launched, and monitored. In ads manager we can target specific and multiple audiences, and serve multiple pieces of creative per campaign.

Facebook ads manager walkthrough

Facebook Ads Manager sets up three levels: Campaign, Ad Set, and Ad.

Campaign level: At this level we set the overall campaign objective – one of the most important components of the campaign – and campaign-wide spending limits. The most useful and cost-effective objectives for civil justice advocates are boosted posts, page likes, and traffic.

Ad set level: The primary difference between ad sets are their audiences, though we can also set other elements at this level (daily budget, start and end dates, and delivery options).

Ad level: At this level, we can set up the actual ads, with the ads primarily differing based on creative, including different messages and images. Other important things to pay attention to: Select the correct Facebook page and Instagram account; Include a destination URL; Select a call to action.

Types of Facebook campaigns

Boosted posts & events: Boosted posts are by far the cheapest way to improve engagement and visibility on videos, important news moments, events, or actions. Use them for important posts to ensure supporters see it in their feeds.

Page likes: This is the best way to build followers and, in turn, build voice and a base of supporters on Facebook. Running even a low budget Facebook “likes” ad campaign helps ensure a growing base of supporters so that they are ready to activate during key campaign moments.

Traffic ads: Traffic ads help move supporters from Facebook to a website. These ads are particularly useful for driving action; people can’t sign a petition or email their lawmaker if they’re not landing on the page.

Lead generation ads: Use these to capture supporters’ emails without making them leave Facebook through the platform’s native conversion form. The ads display a form directly in Facebook for users to fill in information. The post copy should include a call to action that makes it clear the user will be signing up for something, and the form itself should clearly state what the signup means and what the user can expect to receive after signing up.

Promoted videos: Videos can be promoted and optimized for views on Facebook, either as a short-term boosted video or a longer-term brand awareness campaign. Video viewers can be retargeted with future ads, moving from awareness to action. Ideally, videos are 30 seconds or less and are paced such that viewers are engaged within the first three seconds. Because videos auto-play with sound off, it’s important to include captions.

Twitter advertising 101

Why Use Twitter Ads? Twitter ads are a great way to reach folks online. Here’s why:

The platform includes unique targeting abilities
We can target followers of specific Twitter handles or hashtags.
They are good for getting content in front of influencers.
They broaden the reach and impact of organic content.
Use Twitter less for driving grassroots actions and more for reaching key influencers during critical campaign moments.

Setting up Twitter ads

Like Facebook, there are three levels to the ad setup interface: Campaigns, Ad Groups and Ads. However, the entire campaign can be drafted in one place, either by duplicating and editing a previous campaign or by creating a new one.

After selecting a campaign objective, select the option on the right-hand side to “return to original campaign form.” This is a much more efficient user experience than Twitter’s new ad setup form.

Then, choose an audience, which can be targeted based on interests as well as followers of certain handles.

Twitter requires a daily budget, so choose something that will pace the campaign properly. It’s also helpful to set a lifetime budget and schedule.

Finally, choose a tweet to promote, whether it is an organic tweet or a promoted-only tweet used solely for ads. This can be done directly within the ads interface.

Types of Twitter ad campaigns

Promoted tweets & videos: Much like on Facebook, organic content can be boosted on Twitter at a low cost via promoted tweets and videos to ensure followers are seeing important posts.

Follower growth: Twitter follower ads are the easiest way to expand reach on Twitter. Ad copy should be shorter (ideally closer to 140 characters than 280). Unlike other types of ads, Twitter follower ads should not include images.

Website conversions: Twitter ads can drive clicks to a website, though the ability to track conversions is not as advanced as Facebook. Post text should include a clear and concise call to action.

Creative recommendations

Make It personal: Lift up the stories of real people impacted by the civil justice crisis.

Consider using video: Videos perform very well on Twitter, so utilize them wherever possible. But keep them short.

Don’t overuse hashtags: In Twitter ads, hashtags are not necessary, so don’t overuse them.

Keep it short: While Twitter is beginning to allow longer text copy, it is still a fast-paced platform, so keeping text short and sweet is recommended.