The Agency Guide to Setting Up Facebook Business Manager

In Facebook, Paid Social by Tim Halloran

As of 2017, Facebook’s auction-based PPC advertising offering is 13 years old (launched in 2004) and their platform has improved a lot since then. Business manager is now organized enough for us to be able to scale our paid social client-base since we’re not wasting time switching between users.

Despite all these innovations Facebook has given lower-spend folks very little attention and because of that, agency support is virtually non-existent. I get the concept of targeting enterprises because they effect more people cumulatively (i.e. Amazon.com or Travelocity impact more people than 10,000 SMBs) but come on! It’s been 13 years, give us a carrot. Small agencies command a lot of digital ad dollars these days.

My idea with this guide is to integrate all the business manager resources that are helpful for agencies, simplify the process, and add in some helpful tips along the way. Feel free to skip around based on the section titles if I’m covering material you are already familiar with.

A Short Facebook Business Manager History

Anyone who has spent time within Facebook Business Manager can attest it can be frustrating at times: confusing UI, zero ad support, complex permissions issues, no agency documentation, and subpar bulk options to name a few. On the other hand, I have found that the Facebook ad team themselves are great and have fixed a ton of bugs that have plagued me over the years and I appreciate their work.

For those who have been dabbling in paid social for three or more years, you may remember back in the olden days (2012) when the easiest way to set up a client on Facebook was to create fake accounts, do questionable workarounds to get pages approved, or heaven forbid, use your personal Facebook profile as an agency (I cringe just thinking about it).

It was aggravating but Facebook was growing fast enough that it was still worth putting in the time to figure it out. Somewhere around the spring of 2014, we started hearing concrete rumors from TechCrunch and other sources that Facebook Business Manager was launching to select advertisers. The buzz in my small but passionate paid-social community (me and a co-worker) was palpable.

Finally, we wouldn’t be relegated to ambiguous work-around solutions, we’d get our own version of an MCC (the Google AdWords My Client Center) and #paidsocialchat would soon be a thing (it’s not a thing).

This of course was the answer to a lot of the problems agencies faced every day. Switching between profiles, incognito browsers, and juggling passwords would no longer have to be the norm. Summer 2014, Facebook delivered business manager to the rest of us peasants and it was so much of what we hoped for: quicker access, agency permissions, increased control of adding and removing people and one unified view of our client stack.

This brings us back to 2017, in which we SMB agencies are STILL waiting on support, thus the need for an easy-access guide like this one to help us navigate the choppy waters of SMB Facebook Ads. We’re all in this together (wherever that is)!

Before You Get Started

Should You Use Business Manager?

Facebook recommends you should use business manager if you fall into one of these categories:

  • Need more than one ad account
  • Need to manage multiple payment methods in the same place
  • Want to request access to Pages or ad accounts
  • Need to assign permissions to people you work with
  • Work with a partner or agency

If you’re an agency, you should have a business manager set up and ready to go, even if you haven’t expanded your paid social offering yet. It’s helpful to be prepared when the time comes to add clients.

Terminology To Know

Business Manager:  the one-stop shop for managing access to multiple Pages and ad accounts, geared towards businesses that need to give different permissions to lots of people. Business Manager lets you manage permissions and keep your work separate.

Ad Manager: This is where you create & manage ads, set budgets, check performance, and see your billing summary. It’s your home base for everything advertising-related (equivalent to the AdWords UI) specific to one client.  

Pixel: The Facebook pixel is a piece of code for your website that enables you to measure, optimize and build audiences for your ad campaigns. This needs to be installed before you do anything. When you install it, it’s worth the extra effort to set up the events like ‘AddToCart’ & ‘Purchase’ right away as well. It allows for better CPA bidding and optimizes ad targeting.

Power Editor: A tool designed for larger advertisers who need to create lots of ads at once and have precise control of their campaigns. I’d argue everyone who builds and manages Facebook ads should become familiar with Power Editor even if the learning curve doesn’t feel worth it, it gives you a lot more control.

Think of Power Editor as being similar to  AdWords/Bing Editor since you can create drafts and post campaigns.  However, it is different than AdWords/Bing Editor since it is  within the browser and has less bulk controls and it’s trickier to collaborate.

Pro-tip: you can put more character in your ads when you use Power Editor as opposed to the ad manager.

The Magic Gray Bar: Okay so I made this term up but it is rather nifty. If you’re ever confused on where to find something you’re looking for, start with the gray bar, it’s like a treasure map of “wait where is that thing I was looking for again?” Make sure you click the “All Tools” to expand the bar so you can see everything.

Getting Started

The next sections are how-to’s for different tasks in Business Manager think of this as if you are  watching a movie with the director’s commentary on. You might have seen the movie but now you want to understand it from a different perspective. In this case, it would be an agency perspective of Facebook business manager.

How to Set Up Business Manager

Go to business.facebook.com to get started setting up your business manager for your agency. Facebook walks you through the steps.

  • Agency Tip 1: Decide who in your agency needs the highest permissions. Smaller agencies should probably get the founder or CEO to be the owner of the business manager since it goes through their profile.
  • Agency Tip 2: Don’t claim a client’s assets (page, ad manager, etc.). Claiming is different than requesting access. You want to claim your agency page and agency ad manager but request access to client assets.

Get Logins Set-Up.  Go to Business Settings. Click the asset you want to give access to, such as Pages. Select the name of the person you want to add and choose a role for them. Click the asset you want to manage, then Add People. Select the person you want to add, then Save Changes.

  • Agency Tip 3: Get used to the “Business Manager Setting” view because you’ll be spending a lot of time in here initially when setting up people and clients. Play around and figure out how it works.
  • Agency Tip 4: If you have an experienced employee who will be managing business manager on the regular, you should give them admin access to business manager. Like I said above, permissions are convoluted. I’ve been on both ends of the spectrum, the paid social specialist who is repetitively requesting access from admins who don’t understand how business manager works and the admin who’s hesitant to give too much power away out of fear they might screw up an account and leave me answering for lost revenue. That’s up to you, I’m not going to tell you to hand out admin access like candy, but I do believe it’s best to entrust someone on the ground floor with the admin role so they’re not getting blocked and decreasing efficiency. It’s funny I’m spending so much time on permissions, right? WRONG. It’s not funny and Facebook needs to work on this.

  • Agency Tip 5: You need to assign access to every new asset. Just got a new ad manager from a client? No one has access to it until  the business manager admin assigns it to them. Even if you’re the business manager admin, you still need to assign a page or ad manager to yourself for it to show up as an asset in your home dashboard (business.facebook.com/home).

How To Set Up a Client with and without Business Manager

Here’s an email template below you can use for a client that’s interested in getting started on Facebook. This email assumes your point-of-contact is somewhat tech-savvy when it comes to this type of stuff (they can always forward it to someone who can). The notes in parantheses are my explanations, remove if you copy and paste this email:

Getting Facebook Ads set up correctly is relatively complicated. Initially, we need to know if you have a Business Manager already set-up. If so, that will make things a lot easier!

If you have a business manager: Go to your Business Manager Settings. Under the ‘People’ tab, click the blue button that says, “Add New People” on the right-hand side of the page. Enter the email address: tim@example.com (whoever you want to have admin access DIRECTLY to the client’s business manager; see explanation #1 below) and then assign that email the role of: ‘Business Manager Admin’

If you don’t have Business Manager, let me know and we’ll go from there (see explanation #2 below).

Explanation #1: Why would you connect yourself directly to a client’s business manager? Isn’t part of the point of business manager to delegate permissions to partners (a.k.a agencies)?

Yes, it is and Facebook would probably see this as unnecessary. But, in my experience it’s frustratingly technical and time consuming trying to explain to a client every single asset you need, how to do it with screenshots, then thinking you have everything you need access to and realizing four days later that you missed access to an important asset.

So to simplify this I always recommend that at least one of your agency’s business manager admin always connect directly to a client’s business manager so when new assets get added or there are changes, that admin still has the ability to share those assets to the agency’s business manager.

Ecommerce Note! This is especially important for ecommerce clients, the product catalog always needs tweaking and diagnosing and if you don’t have access to that client’s business manager you’re going to run into roadblocks. Trust me, it will save a lot of headaches if you just have one admin connected to a client’s business manager.

If your client refuses to give you admin access to their business manager, that’s okay. You can still request access to their assets from your business manager, it will just take longer and require more back and forth.

Explanation #2: If they don’t have a business manager, take one of these two steps: :

  1. Ask them to set one up. If they aren’t good at tech stuff, you’ll have to walk them through it which can be tedious but also worth it (see the next section below). If the client has a product catalog or is an ecommerce client interested in dynamic product retargeting, hands down, get them set up with a business manager. You run into issues later if you don’t.
  1. Don’t set one up, just request access to the assets you need. This is a solution sometimes, especially with clients that just have an ad manager and Facebook page for their business. Just request access to their Facebook page or ad manager. I’m not going to explain this because there’s more than one way to do it but those links do a good job explaining it.

If they don’t have an ad manager or Facebook page yet (which is rare), you can set one up for them within your business manager settings. Just make sure this is in the scope of your ad work and they know you’re not doing social media management for them. If they’ve boosted posts in the past but don’t have an ad manager and you’d like instructions on how to figure that out without losing historical data, comment below and I’ll try to write another post on that if there’s demand.

How to Explain Business Manager Set-Up To Clients:

  1. Make sure the person who will be admin on the business manager is setting it up then go to business.facebook.com. Pro-tip: Don’t use your profile to set it up, if you do it counts against the maximum two business managers you’re allowed to set up.  
  2. Follow the set-up prompts and make sure they claim their page and ad manager if they have them (prompts should do that automatically). If they don’t have an ad manager they can set one up later or you can set it up for them if they give you admin role in their business manager.
  3. Have them add your work email as ‘Business Manager Admin’ using these instructions. An email will get sent to your inbox, click it, done. Piece of cake.
  4. Now that you’re an admin and they have claimed their assets, you have the ability to do the rest of the steps yourself without needing to bother your client, which is usually appreciated. Note: If the Facebook pixel or events are not set up yet, then that will still need communication to complete. If you go to the ‘Pixel’ tab in the Magic Gray Bar you can view or create the pixel and email it to their developer.

Assigning Assets To Your Agency’s Business Manager After Your Client’s Business Manager is Setup & They’ve Granted You Admin Access:

  1. Go to business.facebook.com
  2. You should see more than one business manager now. Your agency and your client. Click your client’s business manager and go to business manager settings.
  3. On the left-hand menu scroll down to the asset you’re going to share, in this case, let’s do ad manager. Click ‘Assign Partners’
  4. When the dialogue pops up make sure you select ad account admin, then put in your Business ID.  
  5. The easiest way to find your Business ID is to open up a new tab and go to business.facebook.com, click your agency business manager and read the URL path:
  6. Click blue ‘Connect’ button.
  7. Go to your agency’s Business Manager, click business settings, go to the ‘People and Assets’ tab, scroll over to ‘Ad Accounts’ and if you’re an admin you should see the ad account shared.

Done, you’ve successfully shared their ad manager from their business manager with your business manager. Now breathe.

How to Assign Your Client’s Assets To People

I shouldn’t assume you have people set up yet, if you don’t, go up to the “Business Manager Introduction” section or click here Get Logins Set-Up.

  1. If you’re not already there, go to business.facebook.com
  2. Click your business manager and go to business manager settings.
  3. From the ‘People and Assets’ tab click ‘Ad Accounts’ (or whatever asset you’re sharing)
  4. Click the ‘Add People’ button on the far right.
  5. Search for them, assign them a role, and click save changes.

What Has Your Experience Been Like?

Business Manager takes even the most advanced user into an aggravated head space. If you’re having trouble or you’re like me and you’ve written a strongly worded discourse or two to their support staff and then felt bad about it because it’s not their fault, know that you’re not alone. There are dozens of us.

It’s difficult but not impossible and I hope this guide helps you maneuver past some of the potholes I’ve hit along the way. Thankfully, Facebook is coming out with better and easier to use features with every new version that comes out and that shows me they’re working on improving the experience, which I love.

What’s issue have you found or what’s preventing you from using business manager? Did you find this helpful? Let me know on Twitter! @timmhalloran