Social Media Tools, Facebook

3 Common Facebook Ad Mistakes Everyone is Making

Facebook Ads

Facebook ads are a very powerful tool. There are so many options for marketers, it is a bit like flying the space shuttle for many of us. We just don’t quite know what we are doing yet.

For many Facebook marketers we are having to learn how to create good Facebook ads by creating a few bad Facebook ads first.

But there are plenty of best practices and lessons to take note of to help improve that learning curve a bit.

Make sure your business is not falling victim to these very common Facebook ad mistakes.

1. Targeting Non-Fans

It turns out when you target Facebook ads to fans, you get 700% more click throughs, according the data king Webtrends. Additional data from TGB Digital shows that ads targeted at fans increases actual conversions (not just click) by as much as 400%.

Yes, you need to build an audience first, and yes, increasing your fan engagement helps support any future conversion efforts. But ultimately, when you want to convert with Facebook ads, targeting fans is the way to go. The data does not lie.

When we think through this process, it makes complete sense. The more relevant an ad is to you specifically, the more likely you are to notice and act on it.

And we know most Facebook fans are existing customers or potential customers of a business. Ads targeted at existing customers and Facebook users already familiar with a business will clearly see a higher success rate.

Here’s an example — I keep getting this Mastercard ad that is basically an attempt for Mastercard to get email addresses for their card owners.

Mastercard Facebook Ad

The campaign is smart. But there is one big problem.

I don’t own a Mastercard. I never have. And since I don’t own a Mastercard, I am also not one of their Facebook fans. This ad is specifically for card holders.

Mastercard (370,000 fans) needs to invest in finding their fans on Facebook and then convert them. If we look at their competitors, Visa (850,000 fans), and American Express (2.4 million fans), both have invested more in building a Facebook audience.

2. The Superbowl Ad Syndrome

With a superbowl ad, companies spend a large budget on one or two ads targeted at, well, basically everyone. They reach 90 million Americans with one campaign.

On Facebook, the smaller and more relevant the audience for an ad, the better it performs. For instance, take a look at this ad from Aspen Heights, what I believe is a real estate company:

Aspen Heights Facebook Ad

They already have a relevance issue with “Aspen” in the name. This ad was targeted toward me, but I live in NYC. Aspen makes me think of Colorado and skiing. Maybe there is nothing they can do about this as it appears they are filling positions across the country, but still, strike one.

The ad is actually for job openings they have. Besides the fact that I am the founder and CEO and clearly not looking for a job (strike two), when I click through on this ad, I don’t see anything about NY (strike three). A little job title targeting and custom landing page work could have helped here, but ultimately the relevance is missing.

Also, the ad copy references that they are hiring in Austin. Again, I am in NYC (strike four). I suppose they might be looking to relocate people or maybe there is a job posting that is in NYC that I cannot see.

But here’s the deal. You have a split second to get my attention with a Facebook ad. If it isn’t clear that this ad is relevant to me in any way, I’ll immediately turn my attention elsewhere.

Therefore, communicating relevance in the ad is extremely important. And the way to do that is create several version of your ads that are targeted at unique audiences.

Instead of creating one ad or one sponsored story to promote everywhere, a la the Superbowl commercial strategy, work on creating many ads targeted at small audiences.

3. Not Testing Images

Images are the first thing that Facebook users will see. Making an assumption that you know what image will get your Facebook ad clicked on the most is a bad idea. There are some great best practices when it comes to Facebook ad images, but if we do not test our assumptions, we are missing an opportunity.

Always split test your Facebook ads, especially your images.

Webtrends has a great set of slides when they present on Facebook ads. They ask the audience to guess which Facebook ad image performed the best out of a group of 12 images. Here is the slide:

We see the smiles, the faces, pictures of women, etc. And most of us have heard those things make good ad images. It turns out, for this specific example, the ad that outperformed everything else by far, was the odd festive image of decorations.

Who knows why. The point is, when you have the ability to put a dozen or two images out there to TEST and see which image performs better, do it. You save money in the long run and create an ad that will get noticed more and create more clicks.

When we surveyed Facebook advertisers earlier this year, we found that most advertisers are not following advertising best practices. They were not split-testing ads, they were running ads for longer than they should, and they were missing out on some key targeting opportunities.

Take a closer look at your Facebook ad campaigns and see if these tips can help your results moving forward.

Want to learn more about Facebook advertising? Check out Advanced Facebook Ads 2012, featuring speakers like Jay Baer, Chris Penn, Justin Kistner, Marty Weintraub, Vitrue, Buddy Media, Wildfire and more.


Facebook Comments


  1. dfdquaglia says

    @gabymenta muy bueno el hash #martesmenta si a ud no le importa un día de estos le sustraigo la idea…

  2. jasonkeath says

    @davefleet Thanks for the share Dave. Sorry we were not able to connect at Blogworld. Heard your session was a good one.

  3. says

    Great advice Jason! Any advice on how many fans you need in the first place in order for your ad to make a difference? For example, if I only have 500 fans, is it even worth it to do an ad targeting those few people? (btw – I just made that number up for reference). Also, I’d love some advice for creating an ad solely for the purpose of attracting more fans. 

  4. jonathanjaeger says

    The reason the Aspen Heights ad says ‘Aspen Heights’ in the title is because that is the title of the page (and when you are running a like-generation style advertisement, you have to use the title of the page). However, if they’re looking to employ people, they should not do a like-gen ad, they should do a direct marketing style ad with a different title.

  5. Carra Manahan says

    Great points. Totally agree that it’s important to target your fans when posting ads. The ad needs to provide some sort of value and it’s likely that people who like your brand page will be interested in the type content you’re promoting.

  6. says

    Awesome points – especially the part where images are to be tested. Sometimes some marketers skip the fact that what looks good on a letter-sized image will NOT look good in that small frame. 

  7. says

    Great advice Jason. I keep telling clients that it’s the smaller audience number we are after. By properly defining your target market your ad will be more successful. 
    Thanks for sharing your insight. 

  8. TimothytHaines says

    Jason – Love the thoughts on split-testing images. You’re right: I was missing this one!

  9. DanEwah says

    Great post, well a little caveat for ‘Targeting Non-Fans’; You’ll have to target non-fans until you have built up your own fans that you can engage with and subsequently target with ads. Thanks for the brilliant post

  10. John says

    ‘There are so many options for marketers, it is a bit like flying the
    space shuttle for many of us. We just don’t quite know what we are doing
    That’s got to be the worst analogy ever.
    I hope you die.

  11. James says

    Yes, I agree – That analogy really ruined the article for me.
    I happen to be an astronaut and have recently received my ‘Pass’ in the practical assessment portion of space shuttle handling. (i’m still awaiting my theory test score, but I think I did well enough).
    Stating that I don’t know how to fly a space shuttle has really hurt my confidence.
    I hope you die.

  12. Chief Executive Aspen of Heigh says

    ‘Maybe there is nothing they can do about this as it appears they are
    filling positions across the country, but still, I’ll continue to use it as an example to prove my point despite admitting up front that the example is flawed.’
    I hope you die!!!!

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