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4 Ways to Waste Money on Facebook Ads (and What to Do Instead)

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Disappointed about the results of your latest Facebook campaign? You’re not alone. 62% of small business owners agree with you. 

Still, Facebook makes a whopping revenue of over $17 billion each year. Just from ads. It can’t all be wasted money, can it?

Just like any other ad platform or marketing tactic in general, Facebook has its high and its low points. It fits some business models and it’s a horrible match for others.

You can’t know if it’s a fit for you unless you test it. But if your test breaks a few basic principles, it won’t be conclusive and you may end up wasting money and losing revenue.

At Idunn, the digital marketing agency I run, we’ve taken over a lot of Facebook advertising accounts for our clients. These are the most common Facebook ad mistakes we’ve noticed in their history:

1. Set Broad or Vague Goals

This is the number one failure cause in Facebook ads. A lot of business owners want to conquer the moon with a single campaign. They want brand awareness, traffic, sales, and, if possible, a few lifetime clients with a single ad.

It’s OK to have multiple business goals. But it’s not OK to cram them all in a single ad. How much can a poor little ad really do, realistically speaking?

What to do instead: Facebook allows you to choose from a myriad of goals. Choose a single one and tailor your ad to support it. Do you want newsletter sign-ups? Advertise that. More sales? Create an ad for each product or product category, NOT for your entire online shop. 

Before you do that, make sure you know what goals are most important for your business and which of them fit the Facebook ad model and ad restrictions. For instance, know that you can’t advertise dating platforms or that there’s a limit to how you can advertise medical services.

2. Target too many people 

$100 to target 2,000,000 people? Sure, why not?

Well, first of all, because you won’t even reach a fraction of those people with a tiny budget.

I’m not saying you need a massive budget to achieve your goals with Facebook ads. I’m saying that you need to find the right balance between your budget and your targeting parameters.

More importantly, are there 2,000,000 people who are really your ideal clients? Probably not, especially if we’re talking about that many people in a restricted geographic area. 

Perhaps there are only 10,000 people who might be interested in buying from you. This means that the money you spend targeting the other 1,990,000 is literally wasted.

What to do instead: be merciless when you set your targeting parameters. Restrict geographic areas, demographic traits, and common interests. Analyze your buyer persona in-depth. Find out who they are and what else they like besides your products or services. Add only that to your targeting parameters. Why waste money only to annoy people who see your ad but will never buy from you?

3. Only target cold audiences

Why bother with people who already know your business? After all, they know they can always buy from you, right?

Not really!

The current Facebook organic reach is only 2.2%. This means that of all the people who have liked or followed your page, only an average of 2.2% will see your updates. 

People who have checked your website once have probably already forgotten about it. Even those who have bought from you in the past may have forgotten you.

I know, it’s sad. But it’s also true.

A lot of businesses want to target new clients, when it’s much easier to sell to past clients or to people who have heard of you.

What to do instead: install the Facebook pixel on your website. This way, you can target people who haven’t visited your website in a while, people who have bought from you within a certain timeframe, or, better yet, a combination of the two. Talk to people who already know you every once in a while. Your ROI will thank you!

4. Set the ad and forget about it

No matter how much you A/B test and research before setting your ad campaign, it might underperform. Facebook works on a bidding system, which means that your ads’ performance is closely tied to how many people target the same audience as you at the same time.

Sure, you can predict this around major holidays and times of the year like Christmas or Black Friday, but the truth is we’re all pretty much blind to what happens behind the scenes.

This is why it’s very important to keep an eye on your ads, especially if you’re running long-term campaigns. If you only check the results when the campaign is over, you may be in for a nasty surprise: a drained budget and zero results.

What to do instead: check in frequently, ideally once per day. Find out which placements perform better and remove the ones that underperform. Look at which audience segments interacted more with your ad and edit the ad to focus on them. Also, very important: always answer ad comments!

Wrapping things up

The cost of social media marketing varies greatly depending on your ad budget and whom you hire to manage it. If set properly, a $100 campaign can bring your more revenue than a $1000 one that was set by a beginner.

If you’re looking for affordable social media marketing services, my team of expert marketers and I are just a click away. Let’s talk!

About the author


Adriana Tica

Adriana Tica is a trend analyst, marketer and writer with 15+ years in the field. She owns two digital marketing agencies, Idunn and Copywritech, and a recently-launched consulting business. On SiteProNews, she shares Ideas to Power Your Future on topics like digital trends, marketing, SEO, copywriting, and more.