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Facebook Advertising

By Lowell Brown

What You’re Getting Wrong About Facebook Ads (And How to Fix It)

I was really excited to have been interviewed on a recent podcast episode for the Agents Of Change Podcast, hosted by Rich Brooks of Flyte New Media.

Included below is a full transcript of the podcast episode and discussion we had about what people commonly get wrong with their Facebook Advertising campaigns and what they can do to fix them. I really hope you find some valuable tips and strategies to help you get greater success with your marketing efforts.

Are your Facebook Ads working as hard as you’d like them to? Do you find that the promise of leads and sales from advertising on Facebook hasn’t been fulfilled? Well, today we’re going to be diving into what most people are getting wrong with their Facebook Ads and how to fix it in your own campaigns.

Lowell Brown, CEO of Going Social, explains the ins and outs of creating effective Facebook and Instagram ads that drive leads, convert traffic, and convert sales. And more importantly, he fills us in on what NOT to do so your ad doesn’t get rejected. 

Rich: My guest today specializes in helping local businesses expand their market reach, generate more web traffic and leads, and convert more sales faster through Facebook and Instagram ads. While he’s helped all types of businesses, some of his favorites include real estate agents, fitness, health, and lifestyle experts, online course creators, and local service providers.

For over 20 years, he has been working with small and medium-sized businesses on various digital marketing initiatives through his company, Going Social. He provides social media campaign planning, one-on-one and small group coaching and consulting, social media account management, and of course Facebook and Instagram advertising campaign management services.

And it’s from that experience that we’re going to dive into everything you can do to improve your Facebook and Instagram ad account and their effectiveness with my friend, Lowell Brown. Lowell, welcome to the podcast.

Lowell: Thanks for having me, excited to be here.

Rich: All right. So, let’s just, let’s start right in. When a business comes to you for help saying that they’ve been told that they need to advertise on Facebook or Instagram, what do you recommend as a first step?

Lowell: Sure. So the first thing that they usually come to with is just like you said, they’ve been told they need to do it, or they think this is the be all end all magic bullet that’s going to solve every business problem they may have.

So the first thing that I always start with is asking, I kind of want to start a discussion about what their expectations are. Sometimes people come in with expectations that are just really out there and not necessarily obtainable with a certain budget or the assets that they might have and be ready to go with. So I always start with, first of all, trying to understand what their expectations are so we can have that discussion about what is and isn’t reasonable. And the other thing is, I always take a position of what are the business goals when we’re talking about Facebook Ads. So what do they want to achieve from running Facebook Ads? Is it going to be that they want video views? Do they want to just build brand awareness? Do they want to drive traffic? Are they looking for leads? So that’s how we start the conversation and try to put a frame around what is it that they want to accomplish and how can we get there.

Rich: I’m glad you brought up objectives, because I wanted to talk to you about it. And more or less, how do you determine objectives? Because of course we have business objectives, and they may be in complete alignment with one of Facebook’s pre-chosen categories, but other times it may not work quite as much. And then if you have more than one objective, you’re talking to a business and they want brand awareness, but then they also want to drive traffic to their website. How do you divvy up the attention and the ad spend in a situation like that?  

Lowell: Yeah. Great question. So again, it comes down to trying to figure out what’s the most important thing for the business. So if they’re looking for leads, we want to drill down and determine how many leads are they expecting to get? What’s their budget for spend? Where are they trying to target? So all of these things come into play, and really it comes down to budget is one of the major things. You know, depending on how much they have to spend or are willing to spend on these ads, that can affect how many types of campaigns we’re going to run.

The other thing is also the audience. So what areas are they trying to target? I’ve had clients where they’re literally a very local business and they’re only looking to hit people right around their own neighborhood. I’ve also had clients who will say, “I want anybody anywhere in the world.” And obviously when you’re doing that, it’s like, take a step back, let’s really drill it down. What have you done? Who’s your real target market and how can we reach those people? Where’s the best place to reach them? So we start with that looking at what are the goals? What can we play with, what can we reach? And all of that comes into play and can affect what we can really do.

You know, if they don’t have a big enough budget, then we can’t run multiple different campaigns. And we sometimes don’t even want to do that if we’re just getting started. Because when you’re getting started, you really have to look at not only testing ads, but also seeing what audiences work and how we can best target those audiences.

Rich: If we’re looking at something like website traffic or conversions, to me that it seems like there’s some very clear KPIs there. Either we got the leads, or we didn’t. But brand awareness feels more nebulous to me. So when you have a client, who’s like, “I just want to get my name out”, what are some of the things you can do to make sure that your ads or their ads are being effective?

Lowell: Yeah. So the most important thing, it’s not just about hitting eyeballs. So in some cases, when you’re running a brand awareness or kind of a reach style ad, what most people think is, “Hey, let’s just run the ads. I just want to get as many people as I can to see the ads.” And they’re not really thinking beyond that of what are the next steps? What do we want to do?

Typically what I try to do is talk through a process of, okay, we want to learn a little bit about the audience, and we want to make sure we’re hitting the right audience. So what are some ways we can do that? Instead of just trying to blindly show an ad and not really worry about who we’re hitting, we want to look at certain things to identify if it’s the right person.

So usually what I will try to do is set up a few different audience groups and we build that around looking at what is the brand, what does the company do, what are the clients and past customers, current customers, what are they like in terms of are there similar products or businesses they may have dealt with? Is it a simple age, demographic kind of thing? So we try to first look at what are different audiences we can get to. And then we look at different things. What kind of messaging should we have in the ad copy to reach those people and really have the ad speak to them. And that will build up some better ways for us to know what’s working and not working really comes down to looking at the ad stats. And some of the performance metrics you want to look at are things like, how many times is someone seeing the ad. And that has to do with the frequency. If they’re seeing it too frequently, maybe we’re not hitting the audience wide enough. If there’s too small of an audience that we’re hitting, and they’re hitting it too frequently, that’s one issue. The other issue is they’re going to eventually ignore the ad. So the ad is just going to become an ineffective, right?

So we look at things like that. If we’re having still with these brand awareness ads, if we do have a link for someone to go to a website or something like that, how many times are they clicking it? We look at things in terms of the actions on the ad itself. If people are not engaging with the ad, we know that maybe it’s not resonating with them. Those are the kinds of metrics we look at to identify is it the targeting that’s not working? Is it the ad copy? Is it the visuals? Is it all of these things combined? So we try to get a holistic view of what’s happening both to the audience and with the ad. And also how Facebook is delivering the ad to see if it’s working or not.

Rich: So there was a lot of good stuff in there Lowell, and I just want to make sure I’m hitting the high points here. That one thing is just because you’re trying to get reach, you’re not trying to get reach with everybody. So you really still want to be clear on who your ideal customer base is. And if there’s a way to target them on Facebook – there used to be more ways, now there’s a little bit more privacy in place – but use those tools to the best of your ability to really narrow the focus of who you’re putting your ad in front of.

The other thing is, there are signs of engagement. Now in the real world, if I see the same highway sign over and over again, that’s not necessarily a bad thing because there’s repetition, but I can’t engage with it. But when Facebook looks at me not engaging with an ad, even if I’m seeing it every time, that actually starts to hurt me. Plus it probably also bores the person too because they haven’t engaged with it.  So even in a branding campaign, I should still be thinking of ways to get people to engage, to click on the image, to click on a link, to watch the video, whatever it may be.

Lowell: Yeah, exactly. And one of the things that a lot of people don’t consider as well, is to use engaging headlines, but also have a call to action within the ad copy. And sometimes you do have to be careful with certain words you’re using in the ad copy, because Facebook doesn’t like those click baity things. But if you can pose something in a way where you’re going to make somebody think and make somebody want to start a dialogue about a given topic, that’s really where you can get a golden ad to actually really produce something for you.

Rich: Okay. Now once we’ve decided what our objectives are and we start moving into actually developing out some ads, I’ve always been curious about the optimal way to organize our ad account. I know that we have campaigns, and campaigns are made up of ad groups, and ad groups are made up of individual ads, but I’ve heard different approaches to how you might decide when you’re going to put something into an ad group versus a new campaign versus maybe an individual ad. What are some rules of thumb that you go by to try and decide how you’re going to organize a typical Facebook Ads account?

Lowell: Sure. I tend to try to group ads based on either one thing that you want to test. So if there’s too many variables within a given campaign, it’s hard for Facebook, and for you, to identify, okay, well, what are we measuring here? And how can we test something against something else? And that’s typically what you want to think of when you’re organizing the ads and the ad copy. I’ll give a couple of examples.

So in one case, we recently had a client that was trying to create a campaign for something that’s relatively simple. And it was something that they knew, okay, we know who our audience is and who we want to target. Now, usually when I’m doing Facebook Ads, I identify if the client wants to have Facebook and Instagram, or just one or the other. Sometimes that will automatically affect how many campaigns I’m creating. Because Facebook, if you group things together with Facebook and Instagram, sometimes what happens was Facebook will just determine Facebook is working better and we’re hitting more people and we’re getting a better result than we are Instagram. Then they’re just going to kind of give more weight to Facebook.

So if you want to have more control to be able to evenly distribute the ads, or just have more control that way, automatically I will set a different ad set. So if we think about it, you’ve got a campaign, then you’ve got an ad set, and then you’ve got ads. So think of the ad set as a group of ads, and the campaign is kind of the overall goal of what we’re doing here.

So in some cases what I’ll do is I’ll say, okay, here’s a campaign, but we’re going to have one campaign that’s for Facebook, one campaign that’s Instagram. Now to take it a next step further, if we’re trying to look at different audiences, in some cases, you’ve got a cold audience, and these are people that may not know your brand. They may not know your company. They may not have ever heard of you before. So we consider those cold audiences. Those are people that may not directly on the first impression of your ad, do business with you.

So usually you can target people in those audiences by general interests. You’re looking at a theme. Then we get to kind of a medium audience or where they may have heard of you, they may have in the last year kind of looked at your website kind of thing. And then hot audiences are people who really know you. They’ve heard of your brand and will endorse it. They’ll tell their friends about it, their past customers, they’re ready to do multiple purchases. So when we’ve got audiences like that, we don’t want to group them altogether because you’re going to get mixed data. So I will typically break out different ads sets with different audiences. That’s one way to do it.

Another thing is if within a given cold audience, for the example I was talking about before, where we were targeting a relatively simple company, but they had different groups that they could market this product that they had to. So in one case we took one audience and we said, okay these are, as an example, this was parents with children of a certain age with certain interests that relate to parents. And that was one campaign that worked well, Well on the separate side of that, this company, the products they had would not just appeal to parents, but there’s other audiences that might interact with that as well. And what we want to do is really, instead of grouping everything together, what we want to do is we want to break the campaigns to test if we tried to target this. Also let’s say teachers or educational professionals, would that perform better than parents? The only way you’re going to know that is by testing. And by testing you have to run a campaign to one audience, run a campaign to another audience, and see what’s going to perform better, if one does better than the other or not. So that’s kind of where I go in terms of thinking about how do we structure these campaigns.

Rich: So if I’m hearing you correctly, like if I’m thinking about different audiences, I’m doing that at the, is it ad groups or ad sets?

Lowell: They call it ad sets.

Rich: They do. Alright. So I’ve got Google on the brain. So ad set. So one place where I might want to test different audiences reactions to different types of ads would be in the ad groups. And then underneath that, I might try different assets, headlines, images. Those would be individualize ads within an ad group.

Lowell: Correct.

Rich: Awesome. And if I’m also understanding what you’re saying, that Facebook and Instagram might be two different campaigns. Even if a lot of the goals are the same, whether it’s brand awareness or traffic or whatever, you might do it by splitting it up into two different campaigns.

Lowell: Exactly.

Rich: Alright. It makes a lot of sense. So let’s I guess if we’ve gone from campaigns, to ad sets, to ads, let’s break it down even further. Let’s talk about the assets for the ads. So I’m thinking primarily photos and videos, but obviously copy my play into it too. So when you’re working with clients, how do you know if you have the right imagery for them? And how important is it getting custom photos from a company versus maybe using some stock photography, especially in terms of like the company?

Lowell: That’s a great question. So I actually will first ask the client, what have you done previously in terms of advertising, digital advertising, even print advertising, because I want to get a sense of the voice of advertising they’ve taken before, the language they’re using in the ads. And I also want to kind of get some metrics if I can from them in terms of what have you run this out? Did it do well, did this other ad do well? That way it doesn’t always extend across the different types of media. So a print ad won’t necessarily directly be able to carry over and perform just the same as it did on Facebook.

I had a client who was in in debt collection services, and they did a lot of print, they did TV, they did radio. So this client was able to give me the visuals and give me the audio from a radio ad and give me things like that. While I could use those in other ads, we did adjust them a little bit, because you also have to take into account how the user will see the ad, how they will interact with it, and what will happen.

One of the things that is commonly important when it comes to Facebook and Instagram ads is the visual side of things. And by that I mean a picture and what’s on it, and what’s the size going to be. So I’ve had clients who have said, here’s an ad we’ve used, and we’ve used this in other places, even Google ads and things like that and it’s worked really well. We want to use this exactly. The problem is when you carry it over to something like Facebook, Facebook shows the ads in all kinds of different sizes and in all kinds of different placements. So if an ad has text on it and the text is really small, and you shrink down that visual really small, people aren’t going to be able to read what’s on that ad on that picture. And that’s not going to help to engage them. So sometimes I will look at what they’ve had and I consider, okay, does this work, does it not work? Can we use parts of it back kind of thing?

I do try to test if it works with the client, we’ll try to test images. In terms of single image ads, we might do carousel ads, which are popular with things like real estate, where they want to be able to show let’s say different pictures of a home or different listings that an agent might have. If it’s e-commerce, that’s also great because you can show multiple similar products. Let’s say it’s like someone selling men’s shorts where you want to show variety of colors or different styles, that kind of thing. So there’s those ads. There’s also video. With video, you can either have an animation of text and graphics moving. You could just have a professionally produced video, all kinds of things like that.

So we want to look at what kind of things can we get in terms of visuals and creative? How can it be used and how can we also say you have to consider the attention span on Facebook? So that’s an important thing because people are scrolling. Right? So the game with Facebook is it’s invasive. It’s the opposite of Google. Google is intent. Someone goes to Google, let’s say, they’re looking for a roofer. They’re going to type in ‘roofer in Maine’ or where wherever their location is. And, you know, the ad is going to be delivered because there’s that intent. They’re looking for it. And they’re looking for it right now with Facebook, the advertising that comes up, you want to make sure that it’s interesting to the person. So you want to make sure that it’s targeted in a way that they have some affinity to that brand or that product or whatever the company is trying to sell. But the they’re not necessarily looking for it right then.

So you’ve got to create these visuals, the headlines, the copy, in a way that it’s going to say to someone, oh, wait, you know what, I’ve got to stop scrolling, I got to stop seeing all the updates from my friends and be able to break through that barrier to get their attention. Even if it’s for five seconds, 10 seconds, 30 seconds, whatever it is.

Rich: So obviously getting in front of more people is going to cost us more money. So when you’re working with somebody on budget, do you focus on a lifetime budget, or do you focus on daily limits? Or is it a ‘depends’?

Lowell: It is a ‘it depends’. But lately, so what Facebook has been playing with over the last couple of years is something that they call ‘campaign budget optimization’. And what that is really trying to address is to give Facebook and the Facebook algorithm more control to choose how, where, and when to spend your money.

Now, in some cases, I’ve had campaigns where we’ve run with that and let’s say the client says, okay, I’ve got a $1,000, I want to spend that $1,000 within this next 30 days. We’re going to set up multiple campaigns. Let’s say there’s one for Facebook, one for Instagram, and then we’re going to duplicate those two to go across different ad group audiences. So let’s say we go back to that previous example. We’ve got one for teachers, one for parents, one for medical professionals. So now we’ve got let’s say six different campaigns in there, right? So one way you can do it to say, hey, Facebook, we’ve got this one campaign, there’s six ad sets, got $1,000, go nuts. And you’re leaving it up to Facebook to choose what they’re going to spend on which campaign and in which way, and which ads to serve up. So you’re really giving Facebook all control.

Now, sometimes that works out and sometimes it ends up kind of hurting you because Facebook sometimes will make a judgment too fast. They’ll determine, hey, you know what? We like this audience, we’re going to throw more money at that audience or that one ad set. Kind of what I tend to do is until I’ve really mastered or nailed down or identified that can work, because maybe we don’t have too many variables and we really hone down on both the creative and the ad audience, I tend to go with controlling the ad spend by the ad sets or a daily ad spend. And that way you can really get control of, to say, you know what, this particular ad group I want to let it go for $10 a day. I want this one to be $8 a day. Sometimes what I do is I will actually give more budget spend to Facebook than Instagram. If a client has a much bigger audience on Facebook, and also depending on how the ads perform, I wouldn’t be able to have that control unless I did drill down that.

So if I left it to campaign budget optimization, you’re letting Facebook decide, but you’re not able to say, hey, you know what? I want to tweak things a little bit. I want to push it more to Instagram, force that to happen there and see if we can either build up more engagement, grow the campaign, grow Instagram accounts, that kind of thing. So it really does. I prefer to really have more control over that side of it.

Rich: All right. One of the things I’ve heard from a lot of experts, both on Facebook and the Google side of things, is that they recommend that to start you just focus on one small geographic area, rather than share, showing it to everybody across the country or even across the globe. Even if we can serve all those people, they want to keep it into a tight geographic area. What’s the benefit of that?

Lowell: It really comes down to understanding both your audience and how the audience is going to perform, and if you’re hitting the right audience. And also the creative, nailing the creative. Rather than, and I do the same thing in terms of amount of budget, I’ll spend sometimes with clients, it’s the same kind of thing. So rather than go all out and if a client says, hey, listen, I’ve got $10,000. I want to hit everybody in the U S. I’ll say, you know what? Let’s slow that down a little bit. Let’s try a campaign either 15 days or 30 days, let’s try a smaller area, and let’s really learn what we’re doing. We’ve got to test a few things first. We got to dip our feet in the water and see what works. And rather than waste $10,000 doing the wrong thing, I’d rather spend less figuring things out and nail it down. And then once we know it works, then we can test a bigger audience or smaller audience pieces and make sure that it’s consistent everywhere.

Sometimes you might find that in a different geographic area, people will react or respond differently to ad copy or visuals or things like that. So let’s nail down what we know works first. And that’s why I would say, hey, you know what? Let’s focus on a couple cities here, let’s test a product. You know, let’s test these headlines, let’s test these pictures. Let’s zero in on the audience and see if the audio performs well in terms of whatever those metrics are. Maybe it’s getting traffic to the website or getting purchases or whatever. Once we know that works, let’s put more money into it. Let’s fuel the fire and let’s make it go, because we know it’s going to be more successful. We’ve gotten more information to prove that rather than just wasting money trying a whole bunch of different things on too big of an audience.

Rich: All right. So I understand what you’re saying. And I just want to push back a little bit just so I can explain it to somebody else if this question comes up at a cocktail party. So let’s imagine you’re your customer says, “Okay, I understand that, but why do we have to choose geography as our constricting thing? Why can’t we just show the ads to everybody between 50 and 60? Or why can’t we just run $3,000 worth of ads and then take a look at it? Like, why is it all about the geography?” Because I’m hearing that from other people as well.

Lowell: In some cases it’s about the numbers with Facebook and testing it. Okay. So if you’re. Spreading yourself too thin in terms of the targeting, then you’re really not going to get accurate feedback from Facebook. If you’re trying to hit too big of an audience with too small of an ad spend, then you’re just kind of getting a little… it’s like, “Hey, I’m going to try to fish in a big ocean, and I’m going to go here and I’m going to go here and I’m going to go here, and I’m going to travel three hours and go there and there. You’re not going to get the same results every time you put your rod in the water, because different people with different interests are in different areas. So it’s all about kind of testing things.

And when you’re spreading yourself too wide, too thin, it’s just not enough data to collect. And it’s not enough to really know if that’s working. So it’s just about really fine tuning and really honing in on the interests of those audiences and getting enough feedback in a short enough time span to then really be able to target.

And again, it comes down to, in some cases, you might find that certain areas or certain cities work better because there’s such a smaller, dense population of people with those interests in that area that it’s really going to work. Instead of saying to one small area of a city, rather than going across a whole state kind of thing. So I really believe that you can get more feedback if it’s really narrowed down as much as possible to the right audience. And then once you know that audience, then expand.

Rich: Is it in part also because sometimes as we need to see an ad more than once to respond to it. So if we spread ourselves too thin, too small budget, too wide an audience, that somebody might only see an ad once – and let’s be honest, we’ve all missed an ad scrolling through – so maybe showing the ad two or three times trying to find that right amount of people to test the ad out is part of the process?

Lowell: Yup. Definitely. So it is about the frequency. And there’s both not enough frequency, and what sometimes does happen is, too much frequency. So I’ve had clients where they also on the flip side of that, they’ve seen that, hey, we’ve shown this ad. We’ve shown this ad for three months and it worked really well. We’re going to pause it for six months and we’re going to do it again. Well, the people that have seen it already, they may be more likely to ignore it the next time you run it. So yes, 100%. It’s a little bit of someone’s going to see that message once the audience, the population, is too great that they’re probably not going to see it again, because with the ad spend amount that we’re working with and the population, unless Facebook really thinks that person is really the ideal customer, and they found the golden nugget for you. They’re going to keep showing it to more people because they just want to collect more data.

So in some cases, yeah, that is definitely accurate where you’re again, you’re spreading yourself so thin that you’re really not getting enough granular data to be able to make a decision about the ad itself and what’s working within that ad or various ads in that campaign.

Rich: There’s that old adage about advertising, that we need to see an ad seven to nine times before we even notice it. That obviously sounds high when we’re thinking about Facebook Ads. Is there an optimal number or range that you found where ads tend to be the most effective?

Lowell: Generally what we have seen is, and again, you can see this over time. It’s not always this way, but you generally look at the ad performance. And when you see things start to taper off, that’s when you know there’s something with your campaign that’s off. It could be that frequency. It could be just that the targeting’s off, that kind of thing. But generally if you’re hitting about three to four times in terms of frequency, that’s like the cusp of when things happen. Once you get above three or four, you’ll start to see people are ignoring most ads in that case.

So I try as much as possible to stick in that two to three number, four sometimes It also does depend on the type of ad in some cases, so it’s not always that’s the number. But I tend to look at things, and when you get to that three, four, you’re like, okay, I think it’s starting to get a little dry here, we’ve got to do something.

And sometimes that can mean you can stick with the same targeting, it’s just time to throw a different visual on that ad. Maybe tweak the visual a little bit but throw a different headline or throw different copy or something like that. And that way you’re testing it again.

Rich: How soon after launching ads should we check our results?

Lowell: The general rule of thumb is within about 48 to 72 hours. Facebook needs a little bit of time to run with things. And generally what I’ll do is I will set it up to run. I’ll try to give myself some time in terms of Facebook’s approval process. So the other thing to think about with all these timelines is, when you create your ad and you say, ‘okay, Facebook run it. I’m ready for it to go now’, Facebook may start to run it right away. It may take up to a day for them to go through their process of approval and decide yes, that’s okay, or no, we’re going to flag it because there’s an inappropriate picture or headlines or text copy.

There are all kinds of a million different variables that could shut it down. But if it’s okay and it runs through, give it a couple of days before you want to see the results. You got to let it run a certain amount of time for Facebook to build up data. Even then I usually won’t make changes right away. I’ll let it run a little bit longer, but keep tabs on it every day or every couple of days and check in on it. Things can change rapidly with Facebook. So things could run great for the first two to three days, and then you start seeing a real drop. Something else could be going on with what Facebook is doing. Or it could be the other way where it starts off slow, doesn’t look so great, and then you start seeing some trends. So it’s generally not something that when you’re running Facebook Ads you can set it and forget it.

And I still do see a lot of clients do that. They think that okay. I don’t know if they think it’s more Google where you could kind of run ad campaigns a little bit longer, or if it’s just they don’t know how Facebook will really work with this and what key performance indicators to look at. But I do see a lot of clients that I’ve audited, they’ve said, “We’re looking for some help with our Facebook Ads. We haven’t had some good response, but we know we can do better.” I’ve gone in and I’ve seen that they’re leaving their ads running for months and not even looking at it. And that’s just a big no-no. You’ve got to always watch the ads and watch the performance of the ads to look at identifying is it working? Is it not working? Is it time to change things? But generally two to three days, let it run. Keep an eye on it, but just don’t change anything. And then just continue to keep an eye on it.

One important thing to remember as well, is that you don’t want to repeatedly change things in an ad campaign that’s running. If you do that, you’re going to skew your results.

So I’ll give you an example. If I create an ad and I let it run for a week, and I’m using two different pictures, and then I suddenly decide the ad is not performing. Well, I want to prove this. I want to improve it. I want to change something up. I’m going to try a different image. If you swap out the image in a campaign, that’s all we’re doing. You’re getting mixed data. Now, the first part of the results are with one image. The second part are going to be something different, and then you’re not going to know what’s really working and not working.

So when we want to do things like that, usually what we’ll do is we’ll stop one ad set or a set of ads, we’ll create a new set of ads, and then we’ll see if that helped. Adjusting a headline, adjusting some copy, adjusting pictures or video, or whatever it is.

Rich: So keep your data clean, is what I’m hearing. So, you touched on something that I want to ask you about. I see a lot of ads getting rejected for seemingly no reason. What steps should we take to get our ads running again?

Lowell: If this happens to you, the first thing you want to do is look within Facebook’s Ad Manager. And if you go right to the given ad that’s been declined or flagged or stopped in any way, Facebook will generally tell you why. It’ll show an error message on the ad. If you open it up in Ads Manager to look at it, it’s not always very explanatory in their explanations. They might just say, ‘hey, there’s a problem with this’. Or ‘we don’t like this’, or they’re usually giving you a little bit of information. It usually comes down to, in most cases, it’s a visual. So the actual picture there might be something wrong with, that either it’s not formatted correctly or there’s something in it that they feel is inappropriate.

I’ve had the URL be flagged because of something that actually happened on the landing page, not even within the ad. So I’ve had things where, because they want to also avoid fraud, so if they see that the ad says one thing and the landing page says something completely different, they don’t want the advertising to come across as misleading.

So I have had clients who have had their landing page flagged for various things. Sometimes it’s the ad copy. And this can be really tricky because Facebook will not always tell you exactly what you’re doing wrong. They’ll just say, “Hey, there’s a problem in your ad copy. t’s been flagged.” It’ll just disappear. Okay, well, give me more information. Tell me what I got to do to fix this. Right? They won’t do that.

So generally you either have to do some research online, check Facebook’s advertising terms and conditions to make sure you’re in line with that. It usually comes down to a couple words that you might be using. And there are some red flag words. There’s probably a list out there that exists somewhere, but the ones that are most commonly known are things like the word “you”. So if you say, ‘you will’, or ‘you get’, or things like that, or ‘you can get’, or things like that, the word ‘you’ is often a trigger. Because depending on the theme or the topic, Facebook will deem it as a little bit misleading or misguided or giving the impression that someone, like for health related stuff, if it’s ‘you can lose weight fast’ kind of thing, you can’t make a promise in an ad. So there’s certain guidelines you have to follow. And that’ll usually help.

I had one client that was debt collection that I mentioned earlier. Almost every time we created an ad for them, even though I didn’t have the word ‘you’ in it, even though it was completely following policy, just because of the generic type of business they were in, it got flagged almost every time. And there is a way that you can sometimes get on a chat with Facebook Business Support and have them review your campaign. It’s not always easy to do and it does take time, and sometimes you don’t even get a good Facebook Ad Rep who knows enough, but I’ve had times where I was really able to get deep in the weeds of Facebook with a couple Facebook Ad experts at Facebook who were able to say, “Hey, you know what? This is always going to happen.” With this debt collection, they said we’re just going to have to do this every time. And it got annoying after a while, but we always had to have them manually review this company’s ads and approve them and push them along and let the ad campaign go.

It usually is a process where if something gets flagged, you get a notice. You go into Facebook, you do an adjustment, and then it goes through that approval process again. And if it’s okay, if what you change is good, great. Thumbs up. Your ad will show. If not, it’ll get rejected again.

Rich: So it sounds like some industries are just always going to run into problems, or they’re just more likely to. And the other thing is, ironically, you might not want to use the word ‘you’ in your advertising. Which is strange because it’s such a compelling word when it comes to persuasive copy. But then again, maybe that’s the reason that’s been abused.

Lowell: Yeah. And we’ve run odds where we’re using it quite a lot. And because of the generic type of business that it is, it’s completely fine. So it’s really something you have to play with. But it the first thing I always say to somebody is, make sure you read the Facebook Advertising terms of use, and you could just Google that to find that link and they will run through, and they even do show examples of this is okay, this is not okay, and this is why. So that’s always the first place to start. But yeah, it is sometimes tricky and Facebook’s process of approval is the majority of the time it’s automated. So it’s just, you know, if they see this, that, and the other thing, it’s like a checkoff, and then you sometimes have to get someone to actually manually look at it.

Rich: All right. Part of the game, I guess. Lowell, this has been great. And so if somebody is running their own Facebook or Instagram ads and wants to get in touch with you, or just wants to learn more about what you’re doing, where can we send them online?

Lowell: I would love if you send them to, all one word, that’s where you can find me. I’m also on Facebook and Instagram. You can just do a search for ‘going social’ and you’ll come across me or just search for my name.

Rich: Awesome. Lowell, thank you so much for coming by today. I really appreciate this breakdown of Facebook and Instagram ads.

Lowell: Thank you so much for having me. It was a lot of fun.

Show Notes:

Lowell Brown and his team at Going Social take the guessing game out of running successful Facebook and Instagram ad campaigns. Check out his website to see how they’re helping other businesses, and definitely connect with him on Facebook and Instagram for the latest news & tips.

Rich Brooks is the President of flyte new media, a web design & digital marketing agency in Portland, Maine, and founder of the Agents of Change. He’s passionate about helping small businesses grow online and has put his 20+ years of experience into the book, The Lead Machine: The Small Business Guide to Digital Marketing.

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