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3 Common Facebook Ad Mistakes Everyone is Making

Authors: Jason Keath Jason Keath
Posted Under: Social Media
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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. And if you want a few more advanced social ad tips, consider joining us at the next Social Fresh Conference.

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 converting them. If we look at their competitors, Visa (850,000 fans) and American Express (2.4 million fans), they’ve both invested more in building a Facebook audience.

There are tons of ways for Mastercard to target an ad like this to their exact cardholders. That small step would greatly increase the success of an ad like this in the future and even reduce their costs in the process.

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:

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, that’s 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 New York (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. Aspen should have created ads for each city, maybe with an image that is highly relevant to that city and copy that focuses on that city.

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 social marketers on the future of social media marketing as an industry we found that Facebook and Facebook ads are a huge focus for most businesses. And still, many businesses are not following some of these simple social advertising best practices. Always split-test your ads, let your ads run for a longer time period than a couple days, and don’t miss out of some of Facebook’s best targeting options.

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 social advertising and other key social media techniques? Check out Social Fresh Conference, the longest running social media marketing conference, featuring speakers like from leading brands, software vendors and social networks themselves.


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