The Biggest Mistakes Companies Make with Facebook Advertising

Effective Facebook advertising: follow these tips to get more out of your paid campaigns.

Facebook is reported $27.54 billion in revenues in 2016 (54% more than the previous year!), so there’s no question that this powerful platform can drive serious results. Yet there’s still a huge misconception among businesses large and small about what it takes to successfully set up, manage, optimize, and measure a Facebook Advertising campaign.

All too often, we come across businesses that are taking the “set it and forget it” approach — creating an ad or two, launching, and then crossing their fingers. The result? Lackluster ad campaigns that aren’t generating leads/conversions/sales, and brands that wonder what went wrong. Hands down, this is the biggest mistake we see companies making with Facebook Ads.

A successful Facebook Advertising initiative — one that drives cost-efficient results, achieves business objectives, and actually improves the bottom line (rather than draining it) — involves a lot more than a cheesy stock photo and a few lines of copy. In fact, here are just some of the elements and activities involved:

1. Pre-Planning:

Before you start advertising, it’s important to determine the answers to the following questions: What is the goal of the campaign? How will we track and measure success? What specifically will we advertise? What will the call-to-action be? Where can we drive traffic to? (A well-optimized Facebook Lead Ad or landing page is crucial.) What assets — image or otherwise — do we have available to us for the creation of our ad campaign? What brand guidelines must we follow?

2. Conversion Setup:

Once you know the objective of your campaign, i.e. the action, it will be time to set up conversion tracking. This step involves creating a custom Facebook Pixel, placing it on the page where you want to track conversions (the “Thank You” page a user would land on after submitting a lead form, for example), and testing it to make sure it works properly.

3. Ad Creation:

This may involve working with a designer to create custom images or using stock photos along with Shutterstock or Canva (818-recommended image creation tools) – as well as writing unique, engaging copy for your ad text, link headline, and link description that fits within the parameters of a Facebook ad. Get this wrong, and your campaign is doomed from the start. And don’t forget that Facebook ad images must be sized properly and include less than 20% text.

4. Targeting:

One of the most overlooked aspects of creating a Facebook campaign. Just select an interest or two, and you’re good to go — right? Wrong. Even if you know exactly who your audience is, there are so many possible ways to target them on Facebook. Will you use behavior targeting? What demographic targeting makes sense? Should you narrow your audience by income? Is targeting by address applicable? How about custom audiences, website remarketing, or lookalike audiences? The opportunities are endless.


We put this one in all caps for a reason. Without this step, which begins shortly after launch and continues on an ongoing basis, your Facebook Ad campaigns are limited by whatever settings/copy/creative you started with. What’s more, you won’t be able to learn anything about the types of ads that work best, and you’ll likely find it difficult to improve the ROI on your ad campaigns over time (which is accessible with structured ad testing). Some of the things you will want to test include:

  • Ad text
  • Ad headline copy & link description copy
  • Ad imagery
  • Display link copy
  • Call to action button text
  • Targeting
  • Placement (desktop newsfeed, desktop right column, mobile newsfeed, audience network, and now Instagram)

This is something that can take anywhere from 5-15+ hours per week, depending on how complex your campaigns are, how many campaigns you are running, and how many different possibilities there are to test.

6.  Management & Optimization:

“Set it and forget it” = money flushed down the toilet. Campaigns need to be checked (and adjusted as needed) on a daily basis in order to maximize results. Is your budget being allocated properly? Are your ads being shown? How is your audience responding? Are there underperforming ads that should be turned off, or top-performing variations that should receive additional spend? What is your campaign’s ad frequency, and has your audience been exhausted (i.e. time for some new copy and creative)? Are you getting the results you’re looking for? If yes, how do you boost those results even further? If no, what’s not working? What needs to be changed? Your campaign is a living, breathing “animal” that needs constant care and attention to thrive.

Companies who skip over some or all of these steps — or who don’t put in the necessary amount of time for each — are setting themselves up for a big disappointment.

While there is tremendous potential for brands across numerous industries to sell products or services, acquire new customers, and generate quality leads through Facebook Advertising, it’s not something you can do lackadaisically. Ready to finally get it right? Get in touch.

By Jennifer Spivak, social media conversion expert, speaker (Center for Women & Enterprise, The Startup Institute), and adjunct professor (CUNY).

Get in touch here for your very own onsite Facebook advertising workshop with our 818 Agency team. 

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