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10 Mistakes newbies make with paid Facebook ads

creating facebook ads cartoon

Mark Zuckerberg, Meta’s founder (former Facebook), is famous for this quote: “Move fast and break things. Unless you are breaking stuff, you are not moving fast enough”.

Years ago, when our small family business was in need of manpower, I acted fast and took this quote to heart.

I haphazardly advertised job openings on Facebook and got applications quickly. I was quite proud considering it was my first attempt. But it was too early to celebrate.

I interviewed a couple of applicants. Some started immediately but were AWOL after a few days. In a week, I was back to square one. The next month, when the Facebook billing arrived, it showed I spent $100! A hundred dollars for nothing.

I moved too fast and broke my budget.

If you’re about to make your first Facebook Ad, I hope this article can guide you so you can avoid the mistakes I made as a newbie with paid ads.

Mistake # 1 – I didn’t have an end goal

All I wanted was for people to see that our business had job openings. Many actually saw the ad. There were 50,000+ impressions if I remember it right, but I only had around 50 inquiries. That’s a terrible 0.1% success rate.

I should’ve been clear with what I wanted to do with the leads before publishing the ad. Was I going to interview all of them as a group? Perhaps filter them first, then interview them one by one?

Since I was advertising a product or a service, I should have mapped out the customer journey first.

Mistake # 2 – I used the wrong ad format

Facebook has various ad formats to choose from. When I made the ad, I just posted a stock image of “Now Hiring” and put all the details in the caption.

Maximize the ad format depending on the availability of your creatives. If you want to tell a story, post a video or a carousel. If you want the audience to appreciate your product, you can choose the collection or an instant experience ad format.

Mistake # 3 – I only had 1 ad set

You can have 50 variations of an ad in one Facebook campaign. Be strategic with your ad sets.

Create variations of the creative so you can test if altering it will improve the responses. In another set, you can even revise the captions to see what works best.

Mistake # 4 – My targeting was too broad

When I made Facebook ads for the first time, I wanted to get responses within the city. 

I forgot that I was in a city that’s 31.46 km² in size with a mixed population of kids, adults, senior citizens. It was a failure because I just targeted the location but I wasn’t specific on the demographics.

I had to reject most of the inquiries because the applicants were either too young or too old for the job.

Mistake # 5 – I didn’t get to the point

I was too excited to share everything about the business in the ad. I shared a bit of history, our best sellers, our branches, and only at the end did I reveal that I was looking for people to join the company.

I thought that since it was a paid ad, I might as well include all the info for everyone to see. I was so wrong and it was counterproductive to the main objective.

low engagement social media cartoon

Mistake # 6 – I used too many words

I didn’t know much about the discipline of writing for Facebook Ads then, so I packed everything I could say in the caption.

I realized just recently that in social media, people don’t read much anymore but they stop for the photos they see especially if it’s a familiar face. I should’ve improved the images instead.

I recently realized that people don’t read much on social media anymore, but they do stop to look at photos, especially if it’s a familiar face. Instead, I should have worked on improving the images.

Mistake # 7 – My design wasn’t Facebook optimized

When publishing an ad, it is best to maximize the real estate each post can offer. Here is an article I wrote about design sizes you can use in your ads.

Mistake # 8 – My graphics were not eye-catching

I created my own design in Canva. I asked my sister and friends if it looked okay, and they said yes, so I went ahead and published it even though I wasn’t completely satisfied with it.

Also, due to time constraints, I only created one design. If Deer Designer had been available to me at the time, I would have used it to make my life easier.

Mistake # 9 – I didn’t test my ads

Because I didn’t know how to. 😭

Mistake # 10 – I overwhelmed my audience

It was a good thing I didn’t have enough money for the second round of ads. I spared my audience from word walls and ugly images with no clear call to action.

If you suspect you’re saturating your audience due to dipping engagement in your Facebook ad, consider pausing the ad until you’re ready to offer something valuable.

Camouflage in the social experience

Research shows that Facebook Ads do work. 22% of the world’s population are active users and by tapping even just a fraction of this, a business can grow. In the hands of a knowledgeable advertiser, Facebook is an effective advertising channel.

But remember that people scroll through social media to relax and to connect with their friends and family. Overwhelming them with careless ads is a waste of everyone’s time, effort, and money.

Soft sell ads work well on social media. If you position your advertisement to look and sound like a relatable “friend”, it may get more engagement and success.