A Love-Hate Relationship with Facebook Advertising

Two months ago, I started a new Facebook Advertising campaign and every single day since then, I have thought about how I can improve my campaign. Whether checking results, using Facebook’s Audience Insights to create better-targeted ads, or searching Google for the latest and greatest advice, I’m still constantly questioning how my Ad Set will perform. While I may never unravel Facebook’s algorithm, I have learned some important lessons to share with you.

Facebook Advertising has an extensive range of targeting options.
Facebook Advertising offers you creation, campaign management, and reporting tools. You can create an audience by uploading a list of people, choosing a Lookalike Audience, or selectively choosing your audience using demographics, locations, interests, and behaviors. Using Core Audience, I have spent numerous hours each week testing my target audience in Audience Insights and attempting to schedule my ads for the following week. Every time, I am surprised by both new and removed targeting options. Facebook can and will change their targeting options in the middle of your campaign and they don’t feel badly about it.

Facebook’s goal is to make money.
They aren’t helping you with your Facebook Ads because they genuinely want each and every advertiser to get the most of their ad objective—more website views, sales, installs, leads, etc. Every ad campaign comes with a budget for daily or lifetime spending. The larger the budget over the shortest period of time will get better results than the opposite. For example, with a $400 budget spent over the course of one week, I was able to get many more clicks (my ad objective) than I did for another ad with a $200 budget spent over the same time period.

Target audience and budget matter the most.
Contrary to conventional thinking, I can say that changing either the creative or the message did not improve my results as much as increasing and decreasing my lifetime budget or changing my target audience. Changing the creative had almost no effect on my clicks, while changing my budget raised my clicks by over 1.25%. Similarly, changing my audience led to changes from hundreds to thousands of clicks.

Success one week does not guarantee success the following week.
Every week is different in the land of Facebook. Choosing a different strategy does not ensure success and sticking with a current successful strategy also does not ensure success. Facebook consistently is comparing your ad to other ads on Facebook. New ads are created and submitted every minute, so success cannot be automatically expected. Therefore, how Facebook ranks your ad constantly changes. This ranking helps to determine if your ad is shown to people or if other ads will be shown in its place.

Remember that you can use your brain, not just Facebook’s tools.
With so many Facebook Advertising options, you can easily forget that you may not always need Facebook. Technology is constantly improving and becoming more capable, but humans are still valuable. My recent campaign focused on targeting people by job title, but as I considered adding interests, Facebook got really confusing. Should I be narrowing my audience using the “and” option, or should I be setting up my campaign as job titles “or” interests? I analyzed Facebook’s estimated daily results for both audience options, which still did not bring clarity. That’s when I remembered to use my own brain. While people are likely to list their job title on Facebook, will they also search for and like pages related to their occupation? Likely not. The almighty Facebook may not be as fantastic as you think.

Don’t get too wrapped up in all of the flashy tools and statistics that Facebook Advertising provides. Facebook was created to connect people and ultimately make money. It is a business, after all. Don’t lose faith in yourself because next week could be completely different!

Written by Amanda Plavner