Why Facebook Ads Still Work with Liz Melville
Facebook has made an incredible amount of changes to their advertising platform since 2005. If you’ve relied on Facebook Ads to reach your clients, you may have noticed that it has gotten a great deal harder to place your ads.
Liz Melville has worked in Facebook advertising for years and knows all about how important organic content is, how to deal with an ad that got disapproved and what language to avoid when writing an ad. Liz also says that as Facebook continues to evolve, it could provide huge new opportunities for your own business.
How the Algorithm Works
Liz was a hotel manager and worked in financial sales before she got into social media marketing in 2009. “I had a small hobby business and was telling friends on Facebook about it, selling things just by telling people,” Liz remembers. That’s when she realized that she could actually build a business with Facebook. “I seized the opportunity and started helping people with their social media. By 2015, I started specializing in Facebook ads. Organic reach was going down and as a Facebook marketer, I felt that I wasn’t serving my customers as best as I could if I didn’t understand the paid aspects of Facebook.” A year later, Liz was an expert in Facebook ads.
Facebook has changed a lot over the years and making effective ads has become harder. “It’s estimated that the average person with a Facebook profile sees anything between 1500 to 15,000 pieces of content on their newsfeed in one day, just from their average number of connections, friends, the groups that they're in and pages they like. So Facebook introduced an algorithm and started to filter out content based on what it felt you would most want to see,” Liz explains.
That meant that if people were not engaging with a piece of content, it would go down in ranking and end up getting seen less. With all the content that gets posted, being seen has become an issue. “The key to be seen is to serve great content people want to engage with. I see business owners who really take time in crafting their content getting great engagement. Remember that if nobody is engaging with your content, it’s not just the algorithm that is against you, it’s also that your content is not good enough. Even if you invest money in it, it’s not going to magically get engagement.”
The Importance of Constant Organic Content
Know what people are reacting to before you spend money on it, Liz advises. Otherwise, you’re wasting your money. “People should start out with great organic content. Craft your message, tweak it, hone it. Look at what images people are reacting to, find out what works. If you’ve understood that, your ads will be far more effective.”
If people like your content, Facebook will reward you with lower ad costs. Your content will rank higher and reach more people. “It’s a good circle to get into. Your ad costs go down, your organic reach gets better. It’s about starting with organic content and making it great.”
Consistency plays another big role. “Most entrepreneurs I see having big launches are constantly putting their message out there to raise awareness, to invite people into their world.” People need to be able to see you, continuously.
Once you’ve created organic content, it’s time to test an ad – even if you don’t have many page visits and just a small following. “You need to think about how you can build your audience. An engagement ad is easy to set up because you can just put a post on your page, go into ads manager, choose the engagement objective, set your targeting, and then choose that post as your ad creative.” Like this, you can test how people respond to your ad and see if you’re using the right targeting.
“It’s important that you do some research first. What are the interests of the people you’re targeting? What makes them tick? What lifestyle do they have? Write down all the demographics, but then get into the psychographics, too. What books are they reading? What shows, what TV programs?” The fact is that we tell Facebook a great deal. So much that if you’re a good marketer, you can build a profile of your ideal clients and target them directly.
But information isn’t limited to Facebook. “Go on Google and type in things like ‘the best books that online entrepreneurs want to read’, or something else related to your niche. Doing this research on Google will show you lots of things that you can then incorporate in your Facebook ad.”
Liz believes that there comes a time when running your ads can easily be outsourced. “When you’re at the stage where you’ve tried and tested ads, you know how to put out an offer and know it’s converting, that’s when you can think about outsourcing the work. It frees up your time and you can concentrate on what you actually set out to do.”
However, thinking about outsourcing before you understand how it works yourself is not a good idea. “As a business owner, you need to control the numbers and understand them. So many people tell me that they’re not tech savvy and don’t want the responsibility of running Facebook ads. But if you don’t understand how it works, you end up investing in ads without knowing what you’re doing and lose a lot of money.”
What to Do when Your Ads Get Disapproved
The mass of content being posted is one reason why it’s harder to post effective ads. But Facebook has also become stricter regarding its ad policies. After Cambridge Analytica and Brexit, Facebook has made a point out of cleaning up it’s network and is trying to reduce fake news and advertising that targets people too narrowly. “They need to protect their account holders and make sure they’re not being manipulated. They need to guarantee them a good user experience, and spreading fake news surely doesn’t do that,” Liz explains.
In order to do that, Facebook has tightened up its algorithm. “This protects people from being targeted or even preyed upon. Every single ad goes through screening and they try to make sure that there’s no phrases with a negative sentiment.”
Every Facebook ad is subject to screening by artificial intelligence. “Mistakes can happen. The algorithm has been tightened up so much that it’s getting difficult to get ads through. If you want to advertise on Facebook, you need to get familiar with its policy. Should your ad get disapproved, be proactive, contact Facebook and sort it out. Make them see that you’re a good advertiser.”
To make sure your ads get approved when you’re in a launch, you need to plan ahead. “I’m setting up the ads a week in advance, go through the whole process and when I know they got approved, I use the same idea on other ads during the launch. Like this, you know that there’s a good chance that they get approved. Of course, this takes time. But it helps to avoid getting your ads rejected at the day of your launch.”
Words to Avoid
Sometimes, single words in a specific context are enough to make Facebook disapprove your ad. “One word that Facebook doesn’t like is ‘you’. An ad like ‘Are you feeling depressed?’, for example, because it’s pointing the finger at someone. It’s not that you can't mention medical things, you just have to phrase them the right way. You can’t single out people.”
In the coaching world, entrepreneurs usually have difficulties with words like “money”, “revenue” and “income”. “These are almost always straightaway triggers for disapproval. If you’re helping entrepreneurs grow their revenue and are trying to get your message across, it can get incredibly difficult,” Liz says. Sometimes it can feel that you have to water your message down, but the trick is to combine what you say with the targeting you’re doing. “Try to get as close to the people you want to speak to as possible. Like this, I still believe it’s possible to reach them.”
The Good News
The good news is that Facebook lives from advertisers. They need the advertiser’s money to pay their shareholders. Without advertising, there is no Facebook. “And while it might seem that they’re making it incredibly difficult, in the end they don’t want people to stop advertising. I believe Facebook is going through a phase. Like a school teacher, it has to be super strict to enforce its authority and as soon as people are back in line, it will relax. The people who eventually profit from this approach are the ones who took time to plan their ads out, are sincere and work with Facebook to get their ads approved.”
Facebook ads remain a great way to reach your audience. “A lot of people say they’ve just had a five figure launch without using any Facebook ads. And I think: but what if you had?”
There’s nothing wrong with doing it all organically. But how long will it take you to reach tens of thousands of people with your message? “As opposed to investing in Facebook ads or any other type of paid traffic, where that vehicle is going to take your content out to those tens of thousands of people just like that, in one day. Even when investing a small amount. I think when you want to see accelerated growth in your business, you need to invest in Facebook ads, because it is reaching far more people than you ever could organically.”
Keep a Lookout for Opportunities
A good way to keep your ad spend under control is to work out what your average sales conversion rate is and then think about what's the most you can afford to pay to get a lead on Facebook ads and still make a profit. “You’ll know immediately whether a lead is getting too expensive. And sometimes, you have to look farther down the line: maybe it’s worth it to get these people into your world in order to sell them something at a higher price at a later point? If you can create loyalty, people will come back and buy over and over again.”
As much as Facebook can help your business, Liz says that you shouldn’t rely on it as your only source of traffic. “Facebook might get even stricter with its ad policies and at one point you might have difficulties posting ads. You wouldn’t want to be blocked from reaching potential clients. That’s why you should try different sources of traffic. It comes down to where your audience is – be that Pinterest, Twitter, or whatever else.”
However, always keep a lookout on what Facebook is up to. “Facebook is constantly evolving. There’s talk about ads on Instastories or WhatsApp. Keep yourself up to date with these news, because there might be a phenomenal opportunity for you in there. After all, there is no more targeted network than Facebook.”
You can find Liz’s podcast “Ads That Convert” on all usual podcast players and become an expert in Facebook ads!
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