Using Facebook Ads: 3 Common Missteps and What to Do Instead

Ever since Facebook got into the business of paid advertising, two things have happened:
1. The world of marketing has gotten a tool that just gets better and better for reaching your target audience; and
2. Facebook has gotten sneakier and sneakier with how to take your money.
To be fair, Facebook was actually straight-forward about the latest big change. When they slashed your organic reach, at least they were clear that the goal is to get more businesses to spend money on advertising.
But there are a number of ways that small business owners are straight up throwing away their money on Facebook ads. What’s worse is that it may even seem like these paid campaigns are working, so the logical thing seems to be to keep spending money on them.
Below are outlined the top three ways Facebook will gladly take your money for ads that aren’t helping your business.

1. Promoting your page for more likes.

This has always been one of the easiest ways to use Facebook ads. Why? Because the objective is so crystal clear: you spend money and get more likes on your page. Good deal, right?
There are two major problems with paying to get more likes. One, the number of people who like your page does not reflect how many people actually see your posts in their News Feed. Now that Facebook has slashed your reach, why would you pay to get more fans who aren’t going to see your stuff, let alone engage with it?
The second flaw in this plan is that sales don’t usually happen on social media. I’m not saying you should abandon your whole social media marketing plan, not at all. But the most strategic thing you can do on social is to drive people over to your website to get them to sign up for your email list. That’s where the magic (usually) happens: in people’s inboxes. You don’t have to worry about whether Facebook is going to show your fans the post about your Black Friday sale – if they’re on your list, you’ve got a direct line to their inbox.
So if you want to use Facebook ads to promote something, you absolutely should. Driving traffic to a landing page where people can opt in to receive some rockin’ free content is the best use of your bucks, I promise.

2. Automatically promoting all of your page posts.

I had a client who I’ll call Lauren. Lauren’s Facebook page was AMAAAAAZING. She posted these inspiring messages of positivity combined with gorgeous graphics, and the page had a TON of engagement. Right now it has over 15,000 fans.
Remember what I said about how your fans numbers should be the least of your worries? This is the case that really drove that point home for me. It turned out that Lauren had been spending money on promoting nearly all of her page posts. Every time she saw that a photo or a quote was getting really low engagement, she couldn’t help herself: she would put money behind promoting it. She literally couldn’t stand to see such low engagement numbers.
Sound familiar? Having just launched my own Facebook page (because boy, was I avoiding it), I cringe every time I see how few people my posts are reaching. And what about engagement? Don’t even ask. It’s a graveyard over there.
I have started running ads, but not to promote any of my posts. I learned far too well from Lauren’s case.  She had all these fans and tons of likes and shares, most of which had come from Facebook ads. Even still, I still had hope that we could sell her product to her fans.
Once I got behind the scenes of her page, that hope disappeared. Most of the fans that she had acquired over the years were spread out across Asia. Out of 15,000 fans, only about 1,500 of them lived in the US. How many of those US fans were actively engaged with her page? It’s impossible to say. I can tell you this: we didn’t sell a single one of her products with Facebook ads.
Here’s the thing: sometimes it’s a great idea to promote some of your posts so they reach more of your fans. After all, your fans liked your page because they want to know more about what you have to offer. But you need to be strategic: how will your business benefit if you get more likes on that inspirational quote you posted?
Promote your posts wisely. And if you’re doing it now or have ever done it in the past, please stop:

3. Boosting your posts.

I’m just going to say it: the “Boost Post” button is hands-down the biggest scam when it comes to Facebook advertising. I’m a big proponent of using ads on social media to grow your list and to help you sell to your list and fans, but all this encouragement to boost your posts is absolutely preposterous.
Remember Lauren who promoted nearly all of her posts? She did it using the Boost Post button. They’ve designed this to be easy for you: all you need to do is select the amount of money you want to spend and you’re set. $5 to reach more of your fans? That doesn’t seem to bad.
But what Facebook fails to tell you is WHICH of your fans they’re going to show your post to. If you take a look at the demographics of your fans inside Insights, you may see that lots of them fall outside your target market. So why would you want to spend money to reach those fans if they’re almost certainly never going to become customers or clients?
Here’s the kicker: there is a way to boost your posts and target people more specifically. Why doesn’t Facebook show you that option?
As you can see, you’ve only got two options in the “Boost Post” box: show your post to your fans, or show it to brand new people using targeting. But what about the option to target only your fans that live in a particular country or are in a specific age group?
You can actually get super specific with your targeting, but only if you promote this post from inside Facebook’s Power Editor.
Instead of sending you to the Power Editor (which, I’ll admit, is a bit more complicated than this simple “Boost Post” box), Facebook doesn’t mention it anywhere here. They want to keep things simple for you, even if it means you pay for less than stellar results.
But you’re better than that. You’re more than capable of learning how to create and run Facebook ads that actually do something for your business.
So you’re going to stop promoting your posts without thinking about it strategically. You’ll never again actively put money behind getting more likes. When you run ads to build your list, you actually get more page likes in addition to more sign-ups. Added bonus!
And from here on out, you will never touch the “Boost Post” button.
Got it?

Now that you know exactly what you shouldn’t be doing, you may still have questions. Facebook ads can be really tricky, and the whole act of spending money on your business when you’re not sure how it’ll pay off can be really nerve-wracking. So take a deep breath, and leave your questions in the comments below. I’ll get you sorted out in no time.



Claire Pelletreau

Claire Pelletreau is a confessed conversions junkie and Facebook ads consultant. She loves Facebook as a marketing medium because of how quickly you can see what works and what doesn’t. She considers Facebook to be the nimble marketer’s playground. She learned from Laura Roeder, running paid campaigns for her hugely successful launches. Today Claire runs her own private consultancy, helping small businesses bring in more subscribers and sales than they ever imagined.

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1 Comment

  1. Brad

    Do you have any split data testing showing the same post being promoted on the same page 1-using “boost post” and then 2. using power editor? what was the outcome? Thanks Brad


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