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7 Tips to Avoid a Facebook Screw Up

By now, you’re probably aware of the power of Facebook as a marketing channel. If, though, you’ve somehow managed to spend the past decade avoiding social media, consider this: more than a billion people are active on Facebook every day ( In fact, in the US, one in every five Internet page views is Facebook (Zephoria). Simply put, Facebook has a lot going on.

All of that activity adds up to an enormous potential for marketing success, but it also means that navigating through the competitive cacophony of noise to reach your intended audience is trickier than ever before—and the costs of screwing up a Facebook marketing campaign are higher, too. But take heart—we’re here to help.

Here are 7 tips to avoid a Facebook screw up. Use these to cut through the competitive chatter and reach the audience that matters most—your current and potential customers.

1. Targeting personas may be tricky.

Facebook’s interests and demographics are powerful targeting tools. But Facebook’s selectable “interests” may or may not align with all of the characteristics of your personas.

For example, if there are 3 retirement age American “personas” that make up your customer base, unless they differ highly in some way, you may find that there are only one or two small differentiating factors that you can use for targeting purposes. When your personas have broad demographic variables in common (like age, income level, house ownership, education, etc.), having more specific “interests” (TV shows, hobbies, books, political leanings, celebrities, etc.) becomes important.

2. Fans, email lists, and a relevant list of “interests” on Facebook are important.

The three things we find work well together are a large fan base of “likes” on a business Facebook page, being able to use email lists for direct targeting and generating lookalike audiences, and a solid establishment of interests your customers may have. Without one or two of these, it can become a greater challenge to get good performance out of a Facebook campaign.

Are you working with a startup? Then they probably don’t have a large base of Facebook page likes built up that you can target as a large, engaged audience. You also may not have an email list of customers to upload to Facebook to create a custom audience or to generate a lookalike audience. Losing those last two hurts the most!

3. Going local shrinks your potential audience size significantly.

If you are launching something new and decide to only target one city or a small area, keep in mind that this instantly cuts down your audience size and puts you in competition with a lot of unrelated businesses who may be bidding for that same ad space. Are you a restaurant running a promotion? Facebook may work surprisingly well, since the “buy in” for a meal is a low number. Looking to get more clients for financial services? That’s a bigger undertaking, and you may still be competing for ad space with that burger restaurant down the street that’s running a 2 for 1 special, driving up your bid and CPC.

4. Test your audiences in Facebook early to find any potential issues.

While in the proposal phase, it pays off to try out audiences ahead of time. Since targeting multiple personas in Facebook might encounter problems, do a dry run on Facebook first. Build some test audiences with a dummy ad you don’t plan to run and see what you are able to target before committing to any large ad spend. Find out what interests you can target that may work for your campaign. If you find your audiences are not different enough, or are too small, it’s better to find out before you’ve committed to spending a large budget over many months.

5. Sometimes going broad can help!

When you run a Facebook campaign on a much broader audience, it can fill in gaps about the customers you have that are active on Facebook. That’s where a test campaign can help.

6. Don’t be afraid to lead with a smaller budget test campaign.

Are you trying a new audience of interests, a new mailing list, or a lookalike audience? Start with a smaller-than-planned budget to dip your toe in the water. Get some clicks, see what your audience breakdown is, and learn from there. The test campaign may reveal that your audience is mostly mobile or desktop traffic. You may find out that 90% of the clicks you get come from women over 45 years old. With this small run, you can write new ads and get new imagery to better target your next, larger campaign based on the traits of the people who actually click your initial ads.

7. Budget really can make a difference, but not necessarily when the audience is too small.

We have found that increasing budget really does help you to get your ads out there—to a certain point. If, after you target a specific city and a specific persona, your audience is still small, you may actually find that Facebook can’t spend your entire ad budget in the time you allow.

Hopefully, these 7 tips to targeting your Facebook ad campaigns serve you well. Take them into consideration, and start harnessing the incredible marketing potential of Facebook today. Have any other targeting tips you think are important to help cut through the Facebook noise? Let us know! We’d love to hear from you.

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