Facebook can be an extraordinarily powerful advertising platform for your brand. It’s certainly the most powerful advertising platform among those of all the different social networking sites. However, most brands simply don’t take the time to understand all the best features of Facebook’s Ads Manager. They assume that the same tactics that might work elsewhere online – or, even worse, offline – will also work on Facebook.  

By understanding the six most common Facebook advertising mistakes, however, you’ll be in a much better position to improve the performance of your next Facebook advertising campaign.

Mistake #1: Focusing on quantity over quality

In most of the traditional advertising world, such as TV or radio ads, creating an ad that will reach as many people as possible is the ultimate goal. However, that’s simply not true on Facebook, where it’s actually preferable to target as narrow an audience as possible to ensure that those who see your ads are going to be genuinely interested. Spreading a broad net is tempting, but you are likely to get a lot of impressions but low engagement.

Here’s just one example: if you are a small boutique with just one geographic location, why would you want to run a “national” ad? On Facebook, you can geo-target, so that ads only reach users within certain geographic areas, such as the specific city where your boutique is located. This automatically improves the odds that a Facebook user will click on one of your ads since it will be much more relevant.

Mistake #2: Not doing basic A/B testing of ads

People automatically have a lot of biases and assumptions about what kinds of ads will work. It’s often the case, though, that certain messages and certain images just don’t work well on Facebook. Remember, many people are getting ads on their mobile devices as well. As a result, it’s absolutely critical to do some basic A/B testing for each campaign.

Split test adverts to ensure that you’re using the best one for the job. Images are key and you may not be sure which will lead to the most engagement. Rather than using your gut and relying on your personal preference, assume you’re always wrong and rely on the opinions of others to determine what they like.

For example, if you’re running a Facebook campaign for a new product that you’re promoting, there are various ways to target the ads. You can create one ad featuring a close-up image of the product, one ad featuring an image someone actually using the product and one ad that focuses on more of the emotional or psychological benefits of how you will feel after using the product. This same type of thinking is applicable to just about any kind of Facebook ad.

Mistake #3: Obsessively checking analytical data

Facebook advertising provides analytical data from the second a campaign goes live and it can be tempting to sit there refreshing the page as you watch the number of impressions climb. Nothing telling will become apparent in the first hour, so rather than wasting time, set up the campaign and leave it to run for at least 24 hours before studying the data. The longer you leave it to run, the more data you’ll have to base your decisions on.

Mistake #4: Ignoring the data completely

When you’re running a Facebook ad campaign, there’s simply no excuse for ignoring the data. Facebook provides a wealth of important analytical data to help refine campaigns that are running and inform future campaigns. If you set up your Facebook Ad campaign and then ignore it until it’s over, you’re missing out on the chance to optimise your ad and make the most from your spend.

Just remember – you need to understand the various uses of a Facebook advertising campaign to make sense of the data. Within Facebook Ads Manager, you always need to set your “advertising objective.” There are always some objectives that are going to be easier to achieve than others. Simply getting people to “like” your Facebook fan page is a lot easier than getting someone to install an app.

Mistake #5: Not checking (and double-checking) for mistakes

Facebook ads are deceptively easy to create. However, do yourself a favour: always give your ads a quick once-over before they go live. The Internet loves to mock businesses that promise a good service and pride themselves on attention to detail but cannot even spell check their own work. If you think you’ve checked your work enough, do it again at least one more time.  

Mistake #6: Not understanding your audience

Targeting an audience on Facebook shouldn’t be difficult. After all, you already have so much data about them – you have their demographic information (age, gender, location), as well as their psychographic data (interests, likes and behaviours). And yet many brands insist on talking to Facebook users in a way that simply does not resonate with them.

For example, one mistake made by brands trying overly hard to attract consumers is using jargon and text speak. It’s tacky and makes you look juvenile. Regardless of how informal your business is or the age of your average demographic, you’re still a business and it’s more than possible to engage with all generations without calling them ‘m8’.

The power of Facebook advertising

Those are just the most common mistakes made by advertisers on Facebook. Ultimately, all of these mistakes ignore in one way or another the powerful built-in features of Facebook’s advertising solutions. Remember – Facebook wants you to succeed as much as you do, so there’s no excuse not to have a successful Facebook advertising campaign.

Unlike traditional advertisers who must blast out the same ad to everyone and have no ability to change an ad if it’s not working, Facebook advertisers have the ability to start and stop a campaign on the fly. You can target ads to as small a niche audience as you would like. You can tap into some really informative data to ensure that each new campaign is much better than the last. And, best of all, you have enormous flexibility in setting the final budget of any campaign, so you always know how much you’re spending and what kind of return you need.