Relying Too Heavily on Facebook Ads is a Big Mistake

by Jim Tobin on Apr 17, 2013
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Facebook Ads Facebook ads are a big deal, an important tool, and powerful. But, marketers are relying on them more than we should.

We’re Out of Balance

This, to me, is a mistake.

Not because there is anything inherently wrong with advertising or Facebook advertising as a way to spread your message, but because marketers have thrown the budget balance out of whack.

We see brands spending millions in a few months to acquire fans without doing a single social promotion to activate those fans.

That’s insanity.

Why bring in millions of new fans and not try to activate them? We don’t have to use Facebook apps, but we can drive new fans to promotions that encourage them to advocate for your brand in some form or fashion.

When we do that at Ignite Social Media, we always see a 20-45% increase in organic lift. On $1m in ad spend, that’s at least $200,000 in value, and a great social promotion can be done for well under $200,000.

Marketers Are Comfortable with Ads

Research from January of this year found that 64% of marketers planned to increase their social media ad budgets in 2013. Only 2% plan to decrease.


I like that the space is being legitimized, but where are the social promotions from some of these big spenders?

We now see 10% of the total digital advertising budget going to social media advertising. Of that, 57% is going to Facebook, with 13% each going to Twitter and YouTube.

social ad spend emarketer

Organic Performs Better than Paid

If you want to drive business results, the data shows that organic exposure correlates with better buying behavior than paid exposure.

It’s easier to buy impressions, but it’s clearly better to earn impressions if your goal is to sell more product.

Original research we developed with ComScore and our client Chrysler Group shows a 76% lift in likelihood to visit a brand website after organic exposure, versus only a 28% lift in likelihood from paid Facebook exposure.

Chrysler Facebook

People who visit the websites after organic exposures also visit six times 6x more web pages than those who don’t see the updates.

Finally, there’s a 55% lift in likelihood to search for brand search terms in the four weeks after organic exposure, while there is no lift in likelihood to search for those terms after you’ve seen a paid Facebook exposure.

Don’t Forget the Promotions

As you carve up your social budgets for 2013, don’t forget the promotions. Ideally, mobile enabled, highly shareable promotions will be a routine part of your social media planning.

If you can’t think of what would make your fans with you on social media in a promotion, the wisdom of running ads in the same space becomes even more questionable.

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Jim Tobin, president of social media agency Ignite Social Media and author of the 2008 book “Social Media is a Cocktail Party,” will speak at Social Fresh East in Tampa on the Keys to Facebook Success. Register...

  • I hear you. I mean, Facebook Ads are a really powerful tool and medium how to get very much targeted and interested people on your Facebook Page. But this should be just a starting point, in my opinion. Once you have a reasonable number of fans on your Facebook Page, you should work with them, engage them, entertain them, give them some added value, give them a reason for their like of your page. Anyway, great article – thanks for sharing it with us Jim.

  • Great post (RT to my followers). I cant agree more with you and Michael. FB ads are a strong strong tool and can certainly help build your presence, but just like Google PPC ads for organic search traffic- they are a stop gap measure and not ‘the solution.’ It is nice to have some incoming traffic/likes etc but using resources on building out content and promotions that will drive these metrics organically is exponentially better in the long term as those efforts dont just go away as soon as someone clicks the ad. First time at your blog, really have enjoyed it.

  • LocalSearchHQ

    Thanks for sharing your views on Facebook Ads. To some extent I do agree with some of your points. But, I consider Facebook as a very useful tool for marketing business. However, nowadays there are many other social networking sites which have come up like Twitter, LinkedIn where one can promote business. Overall, I feel social networking sites are a great medium for promoting business.

  • Anna Pham

    Hi there Jim, I totally agree that relying too much on facebook, or I means any type of media social or method of online marketing is not a good way for promoting your blogs. It should be a balance and mixed methods that make the best for the blog. Thanks for sharing and keep up with more posts.

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