Digital Advertising Facebook Ads

4 Costly Facebook Advertising Mistakes You Might be Making

Most Facebook advertising failures stem from a failure to understand how the system actually works.

Loads of businesses have witnessed massive successes from Facebook Ads, as the guys over at Facebook will tell you. However, there also exists a faction who swears against them and have declared them as the biggest scam since Enron. Most of these failures stem from a failure to understand what they were doing while assuming it is easy or straightforward as one might think. Without the right information, it is easy to make all manner of mistakes when advertising on Facebook.

In all honesty, Facebook Advertising is quite complex, and without an understanding of the platform, you can waste quite a bit of money. Here are some major pitfalls you want to avoid:

1. Boosting your post

If you have a Facebook page or Instagram Business page, you see this blue button beneath all your posts prompting you to boost them. Sometimes they will notify you that your post is doing better than 90% of your other posts, or that other pages are boosting posts similar to yours, so you should boost this post.

Please don’t.

That is just Facebook advertising to you. If you’re gonna survive the internet, you have to be conscious of all the times when you are being sold to. Remember, a fool and his money are soon parted. Advertisers are getting smarter with each day, finding sneaky ways to advertise to you without setting your alarm bells off. Now, if Facebook/Instagram is telling you that your post can be successful by reaching more people, they’re probably right, and you might want to consider it. But boosting is not the way to go about it.

The reason you shouldn’t boost your posts is that you have very little control over your ad; you barely get a say on its placement, objective, or billing format. Sure, your ad runs, but it’s not the most effective use of your money. If you are to do any advertising on Facebook or Instagram, always use the Ad Manager. It gives you a lot more options, starting out from your campaign goals, to much greater flexibility on the audiences you want to reach and a say on the ad’s placement. You also get flexibility on your budget, and can be able to A/B test different campaign variants to see which ones are successful. It requires a lot more time than boosting your post, and you’d have to do a bit more research, but you can drive results a lot more effectively this way.

2. Paying for likes

This one makes me face palm every time I see someone doing it. First of all, the likes on your page are not a reflection of its performance. I have seen pages with thousands of likes but get miniscule engagement, and pages with only several hundred or a couple thousand likes who have core fans that are always eager to engage with their content. Facebook knows that. They understand that vanity metrics do not necessarily have an impact on a company’s bottom line. Don’t forget that they control the platform – they actually made some changes to their algorithm earlier in the year so that page posts have very little organic reach, like they recently did with Instagram as well. Basically, even if you have a large page, you’ll still need to advertise to reach majority of your fans.

There’s smarter ways to grow your following. Use other campaign objectives and incorporate a strategy that will have people like your promoted post when they see it. One such way is giveaways, like I explained here. You can advertise a post or promotion that encourages people to tag their friends or share it. This gives you an organic reach on top of your paid efforts, not to mention that you can invite everyone who likes your boosted post to like your page.

If you’re a new page and just want to obtain a significant following, paying for likes makes sense. But only for the beginning., and it only works well for ubiquitous brands. Niche-specific brands may have a hard time growing an engaged audience. At some point you need to develop strategies that get people taking meaningful actions from your posts: meaningful content that makes them love you and recommend you to their friends. Give them a feel of the kind of brand you are, instead of having them just like your page.

3. Incorrect targeting

Most of us are on social media looking for fun, and people are interested in brands, products or services that do something for them, be it: entertainment, solving a problem, or meeting a need. This is why targeting research is so important: to ensure effective deployment of your Ad spend. Otherwise you might have the best Ad in the world but it is all for naught if delivered to the wrong people. This one area deserves keen attention when preparing your Ads. Give it plenty of time, and do it on a fresh mind – the entire campaign depends on it.

I have a system that I use when doing my audience research – it’s a series of questions, who’s answers I use as audience interests for my targeting:

  • Who are the authority figures, thought leaders, or big brands in your niche?
  • What books/magazines/newspapers does your ideal customer read?
  • What events do they attend?
  • What websites do they frequent?
  • Where do they live?
  • What tools do they use?
  • What is COMPLETELY UNIQUE about this group?

These 7 questions will give you a 360o understanding of your ideal client, and ensure that your ad is only served to relevant people. Some of the questions don’t apply to all audiences, though, but you need to answer at least 5 of them for you to define your audience exhaustively.

4. Rushing to close

If you met a stranger on the street and they asked you to marry them, would you?

It’s the same thing with marketing. Yet too many advertisers make this mistake on Facebook/Instagram regularly. Conversion ads typically don’t do that well with audiences that don’t know you. That is why even the Facebook Ad goals are categorized in a specific order: Awareness, Consideration, Conversion.

Your typical customer journey probably looks something a little like this:

  1. Awareness: First, the customer hears about you. Maybe through an Ad or word of mouth from a friend, or they discover your website/social media page. Now you’re in their radar.
  2. Consideration: If the customer likes you, they take down your number or bookmark your site, maybe follow you online. They will consider you when next they require what you’re offering. A customer presently in need of your offering might do an online search for providers in your niche, and will weigh the options. The tiny details matter here: they’ll be comparing the features of each options and weighing which one fits their need and which one they like.
  3. Conversion: The customer pulls out their wallet. They finally sign the dotted line and/or hand you that cheque.

Think about it: you don’t usually try to close leads on day 1, do you? The same logic applies to online advertising. The typical sales funnel can provide some insight on how you should advertise to customers depending on their stage in the customer journey:

The traditional sales funnel should guide the logic in your approach to online advertising

For the most part (with some notable exceptions in retail), the process of engaging new clients using ads needs to follow this process. Some customers will skip from Awareness to Conversion, but trying to convert a cold audience is seldom ever profitable. That is why your first targeted Ad will never be profitable. But if you are smart enough to integrate it into a larger campaign, it can still be supremely powerful.

The way Facebook Ads work, when you start a campaign, it starts off by testing your audiences — showing your ad to the various audiences you specify in order to find out which works best. Once it identifies which promising channels, it is able to capitalize on these niches for maximum performance. 

If you start off with large daily budgets or Conversion objective ads, the algorithm is under pressure to generate results, and it may not gather enough of the data it requires to optimize placements. This usually results in lower performance. You should not expect much ROI on the first 2 days of your campaign, since Facebook is actually collecting data to improve your ad’s performance. At this point, think of advertising as simply paying for data. On day 2–3, you already have an idea which channels will work well, so you can kill of the non-performers and focus on squeezing as much return from the promising areas. Then you can gradually increase your daily budget and also create multiple adsets in order to squeeze as much money from the Ad as possible.

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