How to Budget for Facebook and Instagram Ads in Local, Rural Markets

How to Budget for Facebook and Instagram Ads in Local, Rural Markets

When we initiate a discussion about social media ads when a new client, one question inevitably arises: how much does it cost to run Facebook or Instagram ads? Creating a budget for Facebook and Instagram ads in local, rural markets is specific to each business and industry. While I can’t tell you how much your business should budget for Facebook and Instagram ads, I can help you determine that number for yourself.

Ad Pricing

Most businesses that have been around for longer than five or ten years are most familiar with ad rates in relation to traditional advertising such as newspaper, television, radio, magazine or billboard ads. These media offer set rates for specific products. Social media ads, however, are based on an auction. How much your ad cost to run is dependent on your ad objective, your specific goal, how many other people want to reach your specific audience, and how much those other companies are willing to spend.

Ad Objective

When you create your ad, Facebook asks you to choose an ad objective. For many local companies, reach is an excellent ad objective. Many larger companies shy away from reach because they are looking for online conversions. If you are not selling products online, reach allows you to get in front of as many prospects as possible without breaking the bank on cost. Website clicks and conversions are excellent ad objects and may be more profitable ad objectives, but you’ll pay more per action than you do for reach ads. 

For instance, you may reach 13,000 people for $1.50 per 1,000 people who see your ad in a reach campaign compared to a website click campaign where you may reach 8,000 people but drive 500 to your website at $1 per click. If you compare the cost based on the number of people reached, your costs vary widely, but you’ve gotten more action out of people through the website clicks.

When we’re used to thinking about ads in terms of traditional media, we think about how many people our ads will reach. In choosing your ad objective, you’re focusing on what you want people to do versus reaching the maximum number of people.

Ad Goals

Once you choose your goal, think about how many people you want to take an action and what that’s worth to you. If you’ve chosen a conversion goal, such as form fills or purchases, know what you’re willing to spend per action. For instance, if you’re selling $1,000 rugs you may be willing to spend $100 to gain one sale. If you’re selling $35 skirts, you’ll not want to spend that much per action taken. 

If you’re considering reach or website click objective, what are you willing to spend per 1,000 people reached or per website click? These costs can vary, but we typically see somewhere between $2-7 per 1,000 people reached and often less than $1 per website click for local, rural markets.


We work with a lot of local businesses in rural areas. Most find their customers or patients are willing to travel somewhere between 20-50 miles to do business with them. When you create your audience, think about where most of your current customers live or work, then add geographic areas where you’d like to attract more customers. If you find this creates too large of an audience, you can narrow that audience by selecting specific characteristics that define your audience. If you’re targeting adults age 30-50 you’ll find more competition than for age ranges below or above that. This can drive your cost up.

Seasonal ad buys can also affect your costs. During the fourth quarter of the year, more retailers are running ads and during election years many campaigns will run ads during the two weeks leading up to an election.

Specific Spending

Some years ago, a local agency attempting to sell our clients social media ads insisted they must spend $1,500 per month on social media ads to realize any real benefit. We disagree and have seen clients succeed on far smaller budgets. We suggest most small businesses in rural markets can start with as low as $250 per month. For budgets this low, we suggest you concentrate your advertising in two-week blocks and make sure your creative is top notch. Many small businesses find they’ve been spending thousands of dollars boosting posts at $5-10 per post throughout the month. When they stop boosting posts and instead create targeted, strategic ads they can realize more sales with less money. 

More money spent does not always equal more sales. You do need to fund your ads with a sufficient budget for a long enough period of time to figure out what’s actually working. What’s it worth to you to get in front of thousands of prospects to have thousands of prospects visiting your website? How many sales do you need to make it worth that amount of money? Is that feasible?

Narrowing down your budget for Facebook and Instagram ads in a local, rural market can be confusing, but we can help. We’ll learn more about your company and help you decide how much to invest in social media ads to receive the return you want. Email Hilary to get started.

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