20 Facebook Advertising Mistakes that Could be Avoided (pt 1)


Facebook marketing tips

Zucks = done well

Love it or loathe it, with 800 million users, Facebook marketing has changed the the way we socialise, interact and market on the web.

With instant potential access to 800 million+ users, who have shared enough details about themselves that could make a market researcher wet themselves with joy, it’s little surprise that Facebook advertising is one of  the world’s most powerful digital marketing tools. However everyday millions is wasted on poor Facebook marketing

So how can we do Facebook marketing better ?

Over the past month I’ve been working with a Social Gaming Startup that we’ve grown to 3 million users (1 million MAU’s) in 6 months. One of our primary user acquisition methods is Facebook advertising. In this post I’ll share 20 of the most important Facebook marketing tips I’ve learned  and mistakes to avoid

As it’s quite a lot to take in, I’ll break this post into 2 parts, 10 today and 10 in the next post.

If you’re using Facebook advertising now, I’d love too hear if you put these Facebook advertising tips into action (and the results). If you do not use Facebook advertising right now, but might in the future – I recommededn bookmarking these posts, so you know where to find it when you do begin marketing on Facebook.

Should you have any specific questions – please add them to the comments on the bottom of this page.

1.  Focussing only on CPC

With Facebook ads you pay only when someone clicks on your ad – so it’s easy to only focus solely on your Cost Per Click (CPC). However your Click Through Rate (CTR) is also very important – as Facebook wants ads that are more engaging and will prioritise AND lower the Cost Per Click price of ads that have a higher CTR

2.  Applying your Effort in the Wrong Places


facebook advertising tips

There are 3 main elements of a Facebook ad: Image, headline & text body – and not all are created equal.

-          The image has the largest impact.  I estimate 80% of the impact of the ad comes from the image. This is what does or doesn’t catch someone’s eye -> you can have a great image & crap text and still do well, but not the other way round

-          Headline – next most important à I’d give this 15% of the impact

-          Body test – least important à I’d give this 5% impact

The amount of time you spend testing and optimising your ads should be split in accordance with the above

 3.  Using Broad Demographics

Reason why Facebook CPC is so powerful – you can hyper target the users that will see your ads à meaning that only only paying when your target customers click your ads. These are typically:


Age: 13 – 17, 18 – 24, 25 – 29, 29 – 24, 25-39 etc


State (available for the US only)

Remember all that stuff the marketing teachers told you about ‘know your audience’ – this is it in action

You do know who your target audience is don’t you?

4.  Using Broad Interests

Another of the joys of Facebook ads is that you can also target psychographic information: What are your user’s interests? These are based on the pages that your users have ‘Liked’ or games they have played

Got a new Social Network for Carrot lovers you want to market? Try targeting these types of pages

 5.  Bidding too High

Facebook will give you a suggested CPC bid for your ad – do not use this bid price if you’re looking to get most value from your ads. My advice – begin 30% below the price Facebook suggest and slowly nudge upwards only if you need to drive more volume

6.  Using Dull Ass images

Remember point 2 – that 80% of impact comes from images? Well this is the moment

Use images that are bright, visually striking and stand out.

What works:

-          Close ups of people. Time and time again what achieves the highest CTR are close ups of smiling girls (however this might result in highest conversions, or CPA’s – see point 20)

-          Relevant Striking Images- time and time again, the images that resulted in highest converted click through was this image: Lessons – a close up image of a 3D football game à grabs the attention of football fans/gaming fans (our audience)

-          Ask your designer to brighten the face of who-ever is in your picture (almost a halo effect) this only works

What does not work:

-          Far away images of people – the image is small, unless it’s a close up it won’t engage people

example of facebook ad

What on earth is this picture supposed to be????

-          Dull colours

-          Logo’s, unless yours is very vibrant, it won’t catch people’s eye

bad facebook advertising

Facebook ads: What NOT to do

7.  Not testing boarders

Putting a thick border around your ads can make them much more striking – try it! We’ve found it increases conversions.


good facebook ad

Borders RULE!!!

8.  Not using consistency where possible

If you can have elements of your ad that reflect whatever you’re advertising it will result in higher conversions. People don’t like surprises. Surprises = clicks of the ‘back button’ which is bad bad. Take our game I Am Playr as an example:

We put a small logo in our ads

Facebook quality ad

Goalie with logo ---> winning combo!

As the first thing people see after clicking the ad is our logo on our accept app screen à this gave consistency of the logo to people.

facebook app permission

the first thing someone sees

Result? A slightly lower Click through Rate, but a Higher Click to Conversion rate – which is the ultimate goal (increased ROI)

 9.  Having a Lame Headline

After the image, it’s the headline that’s most important. What works well here are clear requests – questions work particularly well. When you see a question, your subconscious reaction is to answer it = increased engagement with your ad

As do celebrity names (if you have the authority to use them)

I love what Appsumo doing with this headline

Facebook ad headline

Awesome headline!!

10.  Not using the word FREE

People like Free – If you’re giving away something free, frickin say so!!!!!

I’ll post the second 10 Facebook advertising tips later this week

If you have any questions – or anything you’d like me to cover in the next post – please add it to the comments below


About Howard

Howard is a Startup Marketer, Blogger & founder of 3 startups. Currently working with a London based Social Gaming startup.

View all posts by Howard

3 Responses to “20 Facebook Advertising Mistakes that Could be Avoided (pt 1)”

  1. Erik Larson Says:

    These are good tips, Howard. Another reason to follow your advice is to avoid getting a large percentage of invalid clicks from profiles that click on ads obsessively. They may be real or they may be bots, I call them ‘booklicants,’ but they don’t care if your ads are good or not and they will screw up your results. I learned this by purposefully publishing bland ads in a failed attempt to do market testing for different product concepts, and the booklicants swarmed in. You can read about it here, it is a warning about the dangers of cruddy ads if nothing else: http://wahanegi.com/dont-believe-the-like/. Cheers.


    • Howard Says:

      Hey Erik – that’s really interesting – I hadn’t come across Booklicants or that the issue existed.

      Have you looked into your Facebook insights to see if there’s a demographic theme of these first users (i.e. all from a certain country etc)

      Would love to learn more about it


  2. Erik Larson Says:

    Hi Howard,

    I did look at the Insights reports, that is where I first got the feeling something was wrong. The demographics of the profiles that liked our page were very different from those that clicked on ads or left email addresses or expressed interest in f2f customer conversations, even though the basic value prop was similar. To be specific, they look suspiciously like the general population distribution of Facebook, not like our target demographics.

    From our research, the target demographics for mobile apps that make you happier are 1) moms if it is easy and reduces fear/stress, 2) middle aged women if it gives insight and helps them connect with already close friends and 3) men and working moms if it just tells them what to do. In our generic ad tests of those concepts, the affinities showed up in much higher CTRs for those segments than for others, just like we expected (as much as 3-4X higher in the case of segment #1).

    However, when we looked at our Insights data, the population of fans looked much more like the general population of people on Facebook…in fact, there seemed to be slightly more young people in general and especially more young men than average, which was certainly not expected. I’m tempted to create pages for feminine hygiene products and painless prostate exams and see what happens…;)

    This observation seems to be true across the countries we tested (Philippines, New Zealand, Canada, Ireland and USA), though we didn’t really get enough data for Ireland and USA to be sure.

    At first that made me sure that the booklicants were just bots, as if someone copied a batch of profiles and turned them into robots, and when they did it they took a slice of people on Facebook at that point in time (say a year ago) which would have looked pretty close to the population on FB today but with a slightly younger bias.

    However, I am less sure they are fake now. For one thing, obsessively liking stuff may be a behavior that some people have regardless of age and gender…who knows why they might do it. More importantly, 1) FB would easily be able to find and kill fakes given their near perfect information and 2) FB would probably have replied more quickly to my repeated attempts to get a refund if they actually knew what to do about it. As it is, after several well documented emails and a carefully written blog posting I still have ZERO response from them. We’re not doing more advertising spend on FB until we hear back.


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