There are still marketers who do not believe Facebook advertising works. For those people, this article is for you. By avoiding these three mistakes, learn how your brand’s Facebook advertising efforts can be effective.  

I’m still surprised when I meet a person who doesn’t believe Facebook advertising is effective. It is -- if you implement a few best practices and avoid common mistakes. 

Last year I read an article about Facebook ads by Nicholas Carlson of the Business Insider. The article, “Facebook Ads Don’t Work Only Because Marketers Keep Making These Mistakes,” addressed key things marketers should and shouldn’t do when investing their efforts in Facebook advertising.

There were three issues Carlson wrote about in the piece that really hit home with me and I’d like to elaborate on them here.

These are the three things that anyone who is advertising on Facebook must stop doing immediately:

1. Acquiring Low-quality Fans through Incentives or Gimmicks

Brand managers often believe the more page Likes they acquire, the better. This kind of thinking is all wrong. When it comes to Facebook fans, the principle of quality over quantity applies.

Luring new fans in with advertising incentives, like seasonal deals and giveaways -- and asking them to Like your page in order to access the deals -- is effective, but it’s not a solid long-term marketing plan. Providing value to fans shouldn’t be a one-time thing, but rather an ongoing effort implemented by your brand.

One of the biggest misperceptions about social media is that popularity and influence are one and the same. This is simply not true.

In fact, the idea that quantity matters more than anything else is the reason that buying Likes is still in practice. It is more common for brands that are new to Facebook because purchased Likes quickly boost their Page like count. The issue with cutting corners -- and buying Likes is definitely taking a shortcut -- is that although a Page may have a large number of “fans,” quantity does not guarantee engagement.

In fact, brands that purchase likes often see dramatically lower engagement than pages that acquire fans organically. The reason? Pages that don’t spend the time acquiring the right kind of fans, a.k.a. quality users who have a true interest in the brand, are wasting their efforts on users who bring no value to the table.

2. Ignoring Targeting and Optimization

There are more than one billion active Facebook users, and Facebook’s Ads Manager is like a one-stop shop that lets you reach the ones who are most relevant to your business. With a decent understanding of your brand’s target market, it’s simple to reach the types of quality customers who will most likely find interest in your brand.

Facebook offers simple targeting options such as gender, age and education, but if your brand wants Facebook ads that perform really well (and who doesn’t?!), a more sophisticated targeting approach is necessary.

When creating a Facebook ad, it takes just a few more steps to take an average Facebook ad that will yield so-so results to a rockstar ad that will bring in high conversion metrics.

Step 1: Evaluate the ad image

A traditional Facebook ad that appears on the right-hand column of the Facebook homepage is tiny (100 x 72 pixels), so it’s important to have a simple image that portrays a clear message. It’s even more important to be thoughtful about the image you choose.

Before selecting an ad image, it’s best to ask the following questions: Will this image be appealing to the users I’m trying to reach? If the image were a standalone display ad, how well do I think it would perform with my target?

Step 2: Perfect the headline

After the ad image, the next place a user's focus is pulled is the bolded headline copy of a Facebook ad. Use the headline to speak directly to your target audience. Try to appeal to their needs, wants and/or desires. Often the best way to do this is by asking a simple question that’s relevant to the message of the ad.

For instance, if you’re advertising your product, instead of using your ad copy to talk about the features of the product, use copy that’s relevant to the benefits of your product. Does your target market include people who often work on deadline and are always in need of more time? Is one of your product’s benefits that it saves time? If so, an example of an effective ad headline would be: “Need a time-saving tool?”

Step 3: Target users by specific interests


The best advice when creating a Facebook ad is to always target using “precise interests.” The more specific, the better. Choose “precise interests” by identifying both broad and narrow interests. One good practice is to include competitors into the “precise interests” section. For example, if you’re Pizza Hut and you’re advertising a really large promotion, target Little Caesars' fans with your Pizza Hut ad.

3. Thinking that Facebook Ads don't Drive Performance

If your brand has done a good job creating well-targeted ads, the ads will drive performance. Carlson mentions this powerful example in his post for Business Insider: A company by the name of PetFlow gets 20 percent of its transactions and 30 percent of its new customers directly from Facebook.

The reason most people believe their Facebook ads don’t drive performance is because they’re most likely not tracking their performance the right way. After creating Facebook ads, the next most important step is to identify the way you’re going to track conversions.

Conversions metrics differ depending on the type of ad that’s running. To track a user-to-fan conversion, or the number of new fans your Page was able to earn as a result of an ad, use Facebook’s Ads Manager. To track an ad’s performance based on the number of sales you acquired, enlist the help of a third-party link tracking company like Improvely.

There is plenty of proof that Facebook advertising can be an effective tool. The key to a successful campaign is to first focus on quality and then create a calculated targeting and tracking plan. Test this advice the next time you create Facebook ads and see if your brand’s faith in Facebook advertising is renewed.

Image courtesy of Michael Onisiforou (Shutterstock)

Editor's Note: Read more of Jim's digital marketing insights in 5 Investments Businesses Can Make in Social Media that Will Pay Big Dividends