How to Use Facebook Ads to Find a Roommate

It gives you many options and tools to use in your search. You can even go as far as to take out paid ads.

Fact is, Facebook advertising isn’t as extreme or expensive is you might think. It only takes a few bucks a day, cheaper than many roommate finder services. Facebook Ads also give you a lot of control, whether you have a spare room you’re trying to fill or you’re looking for a place to move into.

Facebook ads to the rescue

Describe yourself as detailed as you want. Let people know you’re a clean freak, a non-smoker or are addicted to Netflix. Post a variety of pix of you or your place, and show everyone what an amazing roommate you’ll be. You can also target your ads as specifically as you wish. Tell Facebook what gender, age and distance from you that you’re looking for and what shared interests you’re seeking, and that’s who will see your ad.

So, exactly how do you use Facebook ads to find a roommate? Here’s a brief step-by-step guide for Facebook for Business newbies. While this can be done from your mobile phone with basically the same procedure, this will focus on creating your page and ad from a desktop or laptop.

1. Creating your page

Per Facebook’s system, you can’t post an ad without first having a “business” or brand page. You don’t have to be an Inc., an L.L.C. or sell anything to do this, you can just be yourself. Let’s make the page.

    1. Log into Facebook with your personal account. You can’t manage a page, and therefore can’t use Facebook Ads, without having a personal Facebook account. From the homepage’s dropdown, click “Advertising on Facebook” or simply go to on facebook
  1. Under “Community or Public Figure,” choose “Create a Page.” Give yourself a page name that gets to the point like “Jenny Is Looking For A Roommate at Tufts” or whatever your situation might be. For category, you can select “Dorm,” “Apartment & Condo Building,” “Residence” or whatever best suits your situation.
  2. Then, fill in your address. If you don’t have a place and are looking for a roommate who does, use your current campus address but also choose “Don’t show my address.” If you’re in an existing apartment with a bedroom you wish to fill, use that address. It’s up to you if you want to show your address or not. Weigh the safety of making your address public vs. letting potential roommates know where they’ll be living while searching.create a page
  3. On the next couple pages, add a profile pic (make yourself look like the roomie of their dreams!) and a cover photo (the apartment layout, your book collection or anything that says something about you). That will take you back to your brand new business page. Now, you can start adding more details. While the goal is to get people to see your ad and message you directly, they’ll probably click back to this page to learn more about you and your apartment first.
  4. Under “Description,” tell everyone a bit about yourself. Talk about your major, your hometown, your tastes in music and movies, your drinking and smoking preferences, what you like to do after class and on the weekends and what you’re looking for in a roommate. Just be careful not to divulge too much private information. Always keep safety first.
  5. If you’re looking for a roomie to move in to your existing place, add some details about what makes your apartment unique. Mention the rent price, the parking situation, the distance from the gym or the store and any amenities.
  6. Add your phone number. That way, people can contact you directly. If you have privacy concerns, set up a Google Voice number so you can take calls without giving people your real number. Create a new Gmail address like “[email protected]” or whatever you wish and add it to the page so you’re not divulging your real email.
  7. Don’t forget to upload a few more pix of you or your apartment so people have a great idea of what you’re offering, and create an introductory post. Lastly, change your button to “Send Message.”


After that, your page is done!

2. Setting up your ad

Launching your page is only the first step. But before you can actually create your ad, you need to tell Facebook what kind of ad you want and how you’re going to set it up.

    1. At the top of your new brand page, click on “Ad Center,” then “Create Ad.” You’ll be presented with ad creation options. The easiest for the first-time ad creator is to choose “Get Started with Automated Ads.” (If you feel more confident with Facebook ads, you can choose “Promote Your Business Locally.” For the most part, you’ll still be able to follow the instructions below.)auto ads
  1. Select “Get Started” and you’ll be presented with several steps to create the right ad for you. Categorize your business as a “Residence.” Choose “Direct Contact” as your business contact, and set your “contact me” as “send a message to my Page.”
  2. Next, add some common interests so Facebook knows the kind of people you want to see your ad (don’t worry, you can get more specific with this later). Start with “roommate,” “student” and the name of your college, but feel free to add anything else you wish to have in common with a roommate. You can add your major or field of study, the kind of music and TV you like or your favorite foods and sports teams.

On the next page, select “Get More Messages” as your plan type and you’re ready to make an ad!

3. Creating your ad

Now, you’ll be presented with the ad content page. It’s time to actually create the ad that will run and bring you a great selection of potential roomies.

ad preview

  1. In the options list on the left side of the dialogue box, decide if you want a single photo, a video or a series of images. Click “Browse Library” and “Upload Images” with the perfect pic or short video of you or your apartment. Remember, choose media that will get someone’s attention as they scroll! As you go, you’ll see a live preview of your ad on the right side of the page so you know what it’s going to look like. You can choose to view it from the desktop feed or a mobile version, or even Instagram (if available).
  2. Next, create a catchy headline in the “Headline” field. Be warned, you only have so much space so keep it short and to the point. Something like “Female Roommate at Tufts Wanted!” works just fine. See how it looks in the previews.
  3. Get a little more specific in your body copy, but remember you still have limited space. Say what you want, but get to the point. Explain what you’re looking for, where and when. You can get into more detail after someone contacts you. Feel free to write more than the suggested 90 characters, but whatever comes after that might require the viewer to click “See More” to read it all.

Congrats, your ad is created!

4. Targeting your ad

The next step is to tell Facebook exactly who you want to see your ad.

edit audience

  1. First, click “edit” next to “People you choose through targeting.” Leave “Automatic Placements” on, so your ad will appear on Instagram and Facebook Messenger, as well.
  2. On the popup screen, select all your criteria for a roomie, including their gender, age and distance from you. For distance, you can select any radius from your place or from campus you think it legit to search from.

Also, select some keywords to help define your audience. Facebook will search profiles and posts with these parameters to match you and a potential roommate. Choose things like “student” and the name of your college. If you’re determined to have a roomie that enjoys the same music or Netflix show, you can put those, as well.

But be careful. What you’re entering isn’t telling Facebook to include all of these interests in one person, but that they have at least one. So the fewer detailed audiences you have, the more specific a person you’ll be targeting.

Click “save,” click “next.”

5. Placing your ad

Now it’s time for review and purchase.

promote ad

  1. On the left side of the page, review your ad and placement to make sure everything is right. Don’t worry if your number of people reached is small, you’re targeting a small audience.
  2. On the right side, you’ll need to select a budget. Decide how much you’re going to want to pay over the course of the day (be aware that on any given day, your actual cost may be a few dollars higher than your budget). The higher your price, the longer the ad will run because as soon as you reach your daily budget, the ad will shut off until the next day. The greater your budget, the higher price you can spend on each ad impression. Remember, this isn’t like placing an ad in the paper or the yearbook with a fixed price. Facebook ads are a bidding site and if someone else has a higher budget and can spend more, their ad will be served to the target roomie instead of yours.
  3. Click “Promote,” enter your payment information and your ad is live!

Since you’re not a business or selling a product online, your ad’s default call-to-action is “Send Message.” This is the only way you’ll hear from potential roommates so be sure to keep checking your inbox and notifications.

Your ad will run every day until you turn it off, so remember to come back and deactivate the ad when you find your dream roomie or you’re gonna spend a lot more money than you want. If you have questions, feel free to check out Facebook’s ads help guide.

This article specifically relates to ads posted by tenants who are looking for someone with whom to live. Nothing in this piece applies to ads placed by landlords or property managers.
Photo by Con Karampelas on Unsplash
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Michael HochmanMichael is a Philadelphia-based writer with a variety of interests, including music, TV, politics, travel, and sports (Fly Eagles Fly!). His background includes a decade as a programming executive in network television, six years as a marketing executive at a technology company, and time at two magazines and two advertising agencies. He also sits on the board of a non-profit law firm that assists veterans with disabilities. Michael is a proud Syracuse grad (Newhouse) who has lived in Kansas, Chicago, Saratoga and beyond.

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