Facebook ads can be a blessing… Or a curse.
When they’re good, they are gooooood.
And when they’re bad, they are frustrating, expensive, and disappointing.
But fortunately, Facebook ads are not a gamble (contrary to what a lot of people say).
They simply require know-how, strategy, and of course, relevance to their intended audience.
And when people share stories with me of their unsuccessful and expensive ad campaigns, the culprit is usually a lack of know-how, strategy, and relevance to their intended audience.
Or a combination of these three things.
Or – GASP – all of these three things.
Facebook ads are not mystical. They aren’t even magical.
They might seem complicated, but they are simply complex.
(I know “simply complex” is an oxymoron, but just go with it.)
In this wee blog post, I’m not going to be able to give you all of the know-how, the strategy, and the tools you need to know your audience and be relevant to them. That would require an entire program to teach and implement that wisdom.
(Speaking of, that program comes back March 10!)
What I can do is give you a little Un-Advice.
Just what you wanted, right? 😉
So, close those extra tabs and put the kids in front of some slightly educational, but mostly silly TV show for a hot minute, because I need you to get this.
And certainly before you think about running another Facebook ad campaign (or click on the dreaded “boost post” button).
Without further ado…
The first surefire way to waste money on Facebook ads is to not have a goal.
It’s like going into IKEA without a game plan.
(Anyone else associate trips to IKEA with both joy and anxiety?)
You walk into the store, you check out the modern Swedish housewares, you get distracted by the random succulent plants, you go play in one of the 300 square-foot showrooms, you realize you need – yes, need – the random lint rollers and those weird things that hold grocery bags, and somewhere in there, a cinnamon roll finds its way into your hand.
And then it’s gone.
And then you have a sugar crash a couple of hours later and curse the name of IKEA. And have no idea why you went in the first place.
(And then you do it all over again a few months later.)
This seems to represent a lot of people’s experience with Facebook ads. Yikes.
But, if you go in with a specific goal and set expectations as to what you want the ad to accomplish, where you want it to send people, and what success looks like to you with the ad, then you are good to go.
This starts from the planning stage but also extends to choosing the actual objective on the campaign level. Facebook ads can only really do what you optimize them for. If you are running a page likes ad, but you are frustrated that you aren’t getting more business, that is not a valid frustration. (Sorry.) You’ve optimized an ad for page likes. This does not necessarily mean more business (it could, but that is essentially not the point of that type of ad). You aren’t sending people in the direction of the money (your website), but rather, keeping them on the platform.
In the same vein, if you optimize for something like video views, yet are frustrated that no one is liking, reacting, commenting, or sharing your video, again, that’s not really a valid frustration. You didn’t optimize for engagement, you just optimized for viewing. It’s the least commitment a Facebook user can make, so all you can hope for are views. If the engagement comes with it, you got lucky! But the ad did what it was supposed to do if people are simply viewing the video.
That said, it is perfectly fine to simply run an ad because you want to spread brand awareness; I’m A-OK with that. (In fact, that is one of the ads objectives as well.)
I also think that ads that send people to webinar registrations, lead magnet opt-in forms, services or pricing pages, or sales pages are great, too! You are running a business, not a hobby.
Having a crystal clear goal and setting some expectations upfront about what you actually want your ad to accomplish is not just a good idea, it’s a necessity.
Then and only then do you actually know if your ad is successful. Or not.
The second surefire way to waste money on Facebook ads is to not utilize the magic of persuasion and suggestion.
I see way too many ads in my newsfeed that remind me of book reports.
That is to say, they simply make a few statements and leave it at that. That doesn’t count as interesting or engaging. I don’t need an ad to tell me that a business simply exists.
I need an ad to tell me how it might be able to solve a problem of mine. Bonus points if it outright suggests what specific problem will be solved.
Even if you are just doing a simple brand awareness ad, you still need to provide Facebook users a reason to care. Remember, you are competing with cat memes and political rants. There are a lot of things going on in the newsfeed.
Things like this:
So it wouldn’t be just “Vegas Hair Salon. Cut, color, and more.” But “Come see why Las Vegas says we are the BEST hair salon experience in town!”
After all, how do you persuade someone?
Think about how you persuade your spouse or your partner.
You charm them, you compliment them, you entice them, you tease them, you appeal to their emotions, you appeal to their intellect, you make suggestions, and so on.
(You might also threaten, bribe, and bargain with them, but we will leave those tactics out of Facebook ads for now.) 😉
What does this look like in the context of an ad?
Instead of “Sign up for this webinar about launching a business!” we need something more like “Learn the three steps I took to leave my 9-to-5 and launch the career of my dreams!”
But it shouldn’t stop there.
Be specific and share what’s in it for them.
Use bullet points. (It might seem like arbitrary formatting, yet I’ve split-test a lot of things, and I can tell you that ads with bullet points do better than ads with the same information that don’t have bullet points. For real.)
Then tell them how to go about getting that thing or signing up for that other thing.
Maybe you’re not asking for that big of a commitment. Maybe you are just sharing a blog post. That’s OK, but you still need to let them know why they need to read it. What’s in it for them?
Not just “Facebook ads tips and tricks.”
Instead, “Three surefire ways to waste money on Facebook ads.”
The first one feels like an encyclopedia entry at best. The second one makes me raise an eyebrow. It grabs my attention because it addresses a specific pain I have (after all, no one wants to waste money on Facebook ads).
It also appeals to my FOMO, or fear of missing out. (Let’s be real: we all have that to some degree.)
Wasting money and being out of the loop are two things that no one wants, so if you suggest a solution that could prevent either of those things, theyll often take you up on it.
The third surefire way to waste money on Facebook is to target too many audiences at once.
As the saying goes, you cannot be all things to all people, and such is the case with facebook ads targeting.
In that lovely detailed targeting section on the ad set level, we have so many amazing options available to us: demographics, interests, behaviors, and even pages.
However, don’t mistaken the detailed targeting options for a plate at Golden Corral. It’s not a buffet. The goal is not to “get a little bit of everything.”
Instead, we need to choose ONE option. One demographic, one behavior, one interest, or one page to target.
I know. That’s not as fun.
(For what it’s worth, you can target all kinds of other pages, but you’ve got to split-test those separately and in different ad sets. That’s another blog post though.)
When you choose a bunch of pages, interest, demographics, and behaviors all at once, you don’t actually know which of the targeting was effective.
If your ads are getting lots of conversions at a low cost, you don’t know which of the targeting made that happen.
If your ads are expensive with a low relevance score, you also don’t know which of the targeting made that happen.
One bad bit of targeting can weigh down an entire ad set of various demographics, interests, and behaviors. And if your ads are doing well, imagine how much better they could do if you were able to isolate the one bit of targeting that was the winner and let that take even more of the money.
Essentially, all of the different bits of targeting are competing with each other. But it shouldn’t be a competition. Not within an ad set, at least. That’s what split-testing is for.
This might seem like a small detail to nitpick about, yet time and again, when I look on the back-end of unsuccessful ad campaigns, the culprit is often an overflowing buffet plate of an ad set. Instead, just choose one per ad set so at least it has a fighting chance. And only then will you know if it is a relevant bit of targeting – or not.
Real talk: There are a lot of other ways to waste money on Facebook ads. (Oh goodness, I didn’t even go into cold audiences versus warm audiences. Bless.)
But if you could focus on not making these mistakes, and rather, doing the opposite, you will most certainly start to move the needle on your own ads’ success.
Take the time to come up with a specific goal before jumping into your ads. Let that goal influence your objective choice on the campaign level. It’s the only way to measure your success.
Use persuasion and suggestion. Make it interesting, but also make it easy. You are a human being, and you know how human beings work, so leverage that to get them to stop scrolling and start paying attention.
Finally, put that plate back on the stack in the buffet line. Just grab the yeast roll and do your thing. (or whatever people eat at Golden Corral).
That is, don’t fill up your ad set with a bunch of targeting. Just choose one at a time to test so that you truly know what is and isn’t working.
Truly, ads are complex, but they don’t have to be complicated.
Considering these strategies can make a world of difference and help you move from an ad that’s a waste to an ad that’s a win.
P.S. If you want to learn even more know-how, strategy, and really get your finger on the pulse of your target audience, you need FB Everything™!
It’s a my signature program: a Facebook course that runs the full gamut. Not just Facebook ads, but Facebook everything. 😉
To join the waitlist and be among the first notified when it launches, just visit FBEverything.com.
As a heads up, it’s only comes around a few times a year, so don’t miss out!