Are you wasting money on Facebook ads? Many small businesses try to cut corners when it comes to marketing and advertising online. Without doing extensive research and educating themselves on the working tools of running an effective campaign they often think they can simply post an ad and the flood gates will open. The chances of that happening are like winning the lottery… 3 weeks in a row.  Facebook advertising has become more complex but at the same time simplified for the trained mind. Utilizing targeted audiences and clever campaigns are what drive an ad to be very effective. If you plan on spending a small amount on a facebook ad like say $200 you have to look at what your overall outcome verses your goal is.  As a marketing agency our campaigns are put together with a long term strategy which produces results. It’s like watering a garden and watching it grow. Many businesses and people make mistakes with facebook advertising and marketing.

According to research compiled by Hubspot, Facebook ad revenue grew from just under $2 billion in 2010 to $12.5 billion, with ads on the popular social platform accounting for “more than 9% of total digital ad spending and 18.4% of global mobile digital advertising.”

The platform’s success is due, in large part, to its unparalleled targeting capabilities. Currently, there are no other paid advertising opportunities that allow you to target messages to such specific demographics as 35-year-old women who live in Dallas and like the band Slipknot.

Of course, with great targeting power comes great responsibility. Facebook ads are far from beginner-friendly, and the huge range of ad options make it tough for newbies to get started. To some extent, you just have to dive in and get your feet wet. But as you’re learning what works and what doesn’t, steer clear of these 10 common beginner mistakes.

Mistake #1 – You don’t have any goals

I can’t emphasize this enough: if you want to know whether or not Facebook ads are working for your brand, you have to know what metrics you’re holding them accountable to.


In the case of Facebook ads ROI, you could track a number of different actions:

  • New page “Likes”
  • Post-level engagement
  • Email opt-ins
  • Website click-throughs
  • On-site sales or lead generations

I’m not here to tell you which of these metrics you should be tracking, as your individual business goals must be taken into account. If you’re a new brand, for instance, building brand awareness – measured in number of page followers – may be more important. There’s also the significant challenge of attributing sales to specific traffic sources (like Facebook ads) that means it’s not necessarily a beginner-friendly option.

What matters, though, is that you have a goal in mind. Keep it specific – for example, gaining 100 new page “Likes” a month – and check in regularly to ensure your money is being spent wisely.

Mistake #2 – You’re using the wrong ad format

This typically happens for two reasons: either you’re new to Facebook ads and don’t know how to choose the right ad format for your specific campaign, or you’ve had your ads running for a while and haven’t stopped to analyze whether or not you’re still using the right formats.

Facebook rolls out new ad formats all the time, one of its most recent being the Canvas ad type that enables in-page launching of full-screen rich media assets. Study the platform’s ad types carefully, choose the one you think will best suit your audience and goals and iterate as needed, based on your campaign performance.

Mistake #3 – You only have one ad set

Facebook ads campaigns are based around ad sets – groups of individual ads that include “daily or lifetime budget, schedule, bid type, bid info and targeting data.” It might seem easiest to keep everything in a single set, but consultant Brian Carter explains why this can become problematic:

“An ad group is where you get to choose your budget, and you can put a ton of ads in each ad group, but Facebook is probably going to give most of the reach in an ad set to just one of your ads. So, you’ve got to “keep them separated”.  If you put 20 ads in an ad set, most of them will not be shown to enough people for you to know if they would work or not.”

The bottom line: limit ad sets to no more than five individual ads.

Mistake #4 – Your targeting is too broad

Remember those targeting features I mentioned earlier?  Using them appropriately can mean the difference between an ad that hits audience members who are primed to respond positively and tarnishing your brand image by displaying your messages to Facebook users who don’t care.

In fact, this is one of the places I recommend starting if you’re seeing low engagement with your campaigns. Try adding further targeting criteria one at a time to increase your accuracy.

Mistake #5 – You don’t get to the point

Let’s face it – you aren’t running ads for your health. You’re advertising on Facebook to make a profit, and to do that, you have to be able to capture the (admittedly limited) attention of your audience and persuade them to take an action you’ve specified.

That’s where the call-to-action (CTA) in your ad copy comes into play. Brad Smith, writing for AdEspresso, makes it clear why this is so important:

“Your ad copy is there to sell the click-through, not the product or service. So don’t go on a long winded explanation of features, benefits, outcomes. Instead, (a) grab attention and (b) create enough intrigue so people click through for more. That’s it. Nothing less, and nothing more.”

For best results, Smith recommends ~14 words for your ad post text, and ~18 words for your link description. Basically, keep it simple, and keep it straightforward.

Mistake #6 – You use too much text in your ads

Stop me if this has happened to you before… You have your creative team put together a killer custom image featuring a user testimonial. It looks great, and you queue it into your ads campaign – only to have it rejected by Facebook’s ad text rule.

Though the current iteration of the rule is somewhat ambiguous, the key takeaway is that text-heavy images stand to suffer diminished distribution, compared to those with no or low text. Save time on rejected ads by keeping text to a minimum in the first place.

Mistake #7 – Your images aren’t optimized for Facebook

Many newbie marketers struggle with setting up their ad campaigns, simply because inputting the incorrect-sized image can cause your ad to display strangely. And since unoptimized images can sink your engagement rates, stick to the list of ideal image sizes provided by Facebook.

Mistake #8 – Your images aren’t eye-catching

At the same time, consider not just the size of your image, but its ability to attract eyeballs. I’m guessing you’ve seen ads that feature distorted images or images that are intentionally unrelated to the product being advertised.

Advertisers do that because they know eye-catching graphics get clicks. And while you don’t need to be manipulative, you should follow best practices to capture attention. Wishpond’s blog, for instance, recommends running ads featuring reds, oranges and greens to naturally contrast with Facebook’s white and blue color scheme.

Mistake #9 – You aren’t testing your ads

I say this about every aspect of marketing, but it’s doubly true for any strategy that puts your money on the line: test, test and test again.

Test the images you use in your ads, your specific CTAs, your headline copy, your targeting approaches and even your landing pages.  Simply put, there should never be a time when you’re running a Facebook ads campaign without an active test.

Mistake #10 – You’re saturating your audience

Finally, although you’re undoubtedly excited to get started with Facebook ads, remember that it’s possible to saturate your audience with too many messages.

Users browse Facebook as a social experience; for relaxation. They aren’t there to see ads, and if they start to see yours too many times, they’ll start tuning you out (or worse, start thinking negatively about your brand).

It’s tough to determine when and if you’re hitting that saturation threshold, but one warning sign is diminishing engagement that doesn’t change when you narrow down your targeting criteria. If you suspect saturation, pause your campaigns for a bit and come back only when you have something truly valuable to offer your audience.