My First Facebook Ad Campaign – Part 1: Pros and Cons

I recently tried to use Facebook ads for the first time in order to promote a Legal English program for my employer. The results? Mixed.

A couple of notes before reading my entry below:

  • This posting refers to the “right column” and “newsfeed” Facebook ads–and not the sponsored stories (more on that later);
  • This was my first ad campaign on Facebook, so this blog post should not be considered information from an “expert;” I simply wanted to share my thought process and experience with this first campaign. Comments and suggestions are most welcome, as they would certainly help me to improve my strategy over time.

Now, on to the rest of the post.

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Pros and Cons of Facebook Ads

Pros:

The ads are really easy to set up. Simply use an image with a few words to catch the attention of your target market; then add a few sentences to describe what you are selling. The finished product is a simple, professional-looking Facebook ad that will appear both in the right column of the user’s Facebook page, as well as in the user’s Newsfeed (the latter being the item that is likely to be clicked on most often).

Facebook gives you the power to track some key metrics. This includes:

  • how often the ad has been clicked on;
  • the average price-per-click;
  • how much you have spent on the ad so far;
  • the number of impressions.
FB metrics 1

You can track key metrics, like click-throughs, impressions, and total amount spent very easily.

Define your target market easily–and specifically. Facebook ads make it very easy to specifically determine which types of people will see your ad.

For example, in this instance, I was attempting to promote a one-month American Law and Legal English course. I was able to use several key words that appear in user profiles, such as “law,” “lawyer,” “judge,” “law student,” etc. I was also able to target countries that are known to have high numbers of lawyers, such as Brazil, Italy, France, etc. In particular, Brazil is a key market for this type of course. As a result, I was able to target users whose profiles include the names of some of the most renowned law schools in Brazil. All the while, whenever a new criterion was added to the targeting matrix, the Facebook interface showed me how many people could potentially be reached by my ad.

Control your costs with ease. You can set a budget to be as high or as low as you want. Since this was my first attempt, I did not want to dedicate a large part of my budget toward it; so, I decided to set a campaign limit of US$ 250, knowing that I can always go back and raise the amount, if necessary.

You can try a few ideas to see what works. Since the designated budget amount is for the entire campaign, I was able to run a series of different ads within the framework of that campaign in an effort to determine which ideas would be more successful (more on this below). Facebook makes it very easy to run multiple ads in a single campaign and to track the performance of each ad separately.

The downside

All of this sounds very good so far, eh? Well, if it sounds too good to be true…well, you know the rest!

Widespread exposure…but where? My first ad had a great deal of exposure. I was happy to see so many impressions, and to see that it had a click rate of approximately 3%.

Unfortunately, I have not yet been able to find a mechanism within the Facebook Ads Manager that tells me where the clicks are coming from. I cast the net so wide in the target market that there was no way to see where the majority of the clicks were coming from. In particular, I was interested in seeing if I was getting any clicks from Brazil, where I know from experience that the number of Facebook users among our potential students is quite substantial.

Why no impressions? After creating my first ad in the campaign and running it for a few days, I realized that I still had a large part of my budget leftover; as a result, I decided to add a few more ads into my campaign, each one focusing on a specific market (i.e., Brazil, France). These versions of the ad also ran in the local language (i.e., Portuguese, French), to see if that would make a difference to the target market.

After having such widespread success with my first ad, I was surprised to see that the Portuguese version of the ad was getting few impressions, and the French version had none at all. It seemed as though Facebook was not running the ads.

Metrics 2

I could run a series of ads in the same campaign to see what worked and what didn’t…but it seemed that Facebook was not running all of the ads.

I searched online for advice, but the only counsel I could find was to raise the pay-per-click limit. Facebook gives suggestions for how much you should pay for each click in each ad; however, I had already set my limit as higher than the amounts that were recommended, so it seemed that this was not the issue.

It seemed that I was not alone; many of the small business owners wrote complaints on Facebook’s forum, indicating that the inconsistency of impressions is a widespread problem. To make matters worse, many of them also indicated that Facebook’s customer service team was less than responsive.

What were they actually clicking on? When I set up the ad, I set it up so that individuals would click on a bit.ly link (that I could track more easily), which would take the user directly to the information about my Legal English program; however, that was not the only item that ended up being “clickable” on the ad. Individuals could actually click on a link that would take them to my organization’s Facebook page (not necessarily a bad thing, but still not what was desired when the ad was first set up), or they could simply click the “Like” button to like the Facebook page–without actually viewing the content to which the ad pointed. As a result, I was paying for clicks, but ultimately those clicks were not the one that I had in mind.

Summing it up

Overall, I was really baffled by this experience. On the one hand, I had many impressions with a large-scale ad, and many clicks. On the other, some of my ads had zero impressions, and I could not figure out what to do in order to change that.

There is more to the story; however, in an effort to keep the post from being too long, I am breaking it up into parts:

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