It always blows my mind when I talk to a business owner who refuses to invest in social media advertising, and yet expects their organic growth to skyrocket. It’s simply not going to happen! Yes, investing in a social media presence is incredibly important for marketing your business, but with changing algorithms and exponentially more competition, the pressure is on entrepreneurs to invest in social ads, too!

In fact, research shows 78 percent of social marketers are either “very” or “somewhat satisfied” with the value they’re getting from Facebook ads – and it’s not just big companies making the investment. Forty-one percent of small and medium businesses use social media ads to drive revenue. If you’re not already, it’s time to consider hopping on board.

Okay, yes, it’s a financial investment, but one of the best things about social media ads is that you can get good results without spending an arm and a leg. Depending on your competition, target users, and timing, you can actually manage a campaign with a click-through rate as low as $0.45-$3.77 per click.

When you compare this to traditional advertising costs (which can be hundreds of thousands of dollars), social media advertising is exceptionally affordable. Plus, it’s a great way to reach consumers on platforms they’re already using.

But once you decide that social media ads should be part of your overall marketing strategy, how can you make sure to protect that investment? In my experience, campaigns that fail are guilty of making one or more of these five all-too-common mistakes. Make sure this isn’t you.

Forgetting to Set SMART Goals

This should be a no brainer, right? You’re counting on your ads to improve your business, but how exactly are you going to measure success? Make sure to set SMART goals for your ad campaign: make them Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely.

For example, aim for a certain percent increase in your website traffic, or a specific number of new leads. Once you determine your SMART goals, keep them front and center as you prepare, create, run and measure your ads. Why? Without setting and reviewing goals, you won’t really know if your ad campaign is successful.

Defaulting to Your Favorite Social Media Platform

Even though I keep active professional profiles on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram, I personally spend most of my off-the-clock time on Facebook.

You might prefer to spend your spare time scrolling on Instagram, but is that where you should put your ad dollars? That depends. Is that where your target users are? If so, then great – run your ads there! But if not, you may want to consider investing in Twitter, Pinterest or LinkedIn ads instead. Be sure to research your target audience (which is important for any digital marketing tactic), and focus your ad budget on the top one or two platforms they’re using — rather than simply sticking to your personal faves.

Not Creating a Strategic Landing Page

I don’t know about you, but when I click on an ad, I expect to be taken to a place where I can immediately learn about the product or service advertised. If I’m not, chances are I’ll click away within seconds. When your social media ad is up and running, where will target users be sent when they click? If your answer is your company website’s Home page or Contact page, you definitely need to re-think your strategy.

Don’t take the lazy approach and just pick an existing page on your website. Instead, create a customized landing page to use specifically for your ad campaign. When designing it, make sure to use similar language and images to make the page a natural next step to the ad. It’s also imperative to provide a strong call-to-action on the landing page, directing your captive audience to do what you’d like them to do: contact you for a consultation, purchase your product, sign up for your email list, etc.

Skipping the Research

Can you totally wing your company’s ad campaign and hope for good results? Sure, but why would you risk wasting your hard-earned cash? The most effective social media ad campaigns require a little research. I’m not saying you have to hit the books and learn everything there is to know about social media advertising, but in addition to knowing who your target audience is and figuring out how to reach them, it’s worth doing some A/B ad testing at the campaign’s outset to learn what types of ads will perform best.

By running two virtually identical ads at the same time, with just one variable between them – like a different image or using a unique headline – you can glean all sorts of helpful insight into which ads will maximize results in the future.

A little testing up front can lead to learning incredibly valuable information, including everything from the types of ads and images best to use, to the colors and copy that resonate best with this audience. So, when you start your ad campaign, plan on doing some A/B testing up front – you can spend less money per ad at this point, and then when you know which ads perform best, raise your daily budget on more ads like those to get the biggest bang for your buck.

Forgetting the Analytics

You can do all of the things I’ve recommended above, but if you don’t take this one final step, your social media ad campaign likely won’t be nearly as effective. ALWAYS check and pay close attention to your analytics while you’re A/B testing. For each and every ad you run, review as much information as you can. In addition to looking at the analytic data provided by the social media platform you’re using, pull up your website analytics (Google Analytics is a great resource for this; if you don’t already have it, sign up today). Look for ad trends you can learn from. Ask yourself:

  • How are users engaging with the ad? Is their response positive, negative, or neutral?
  • If they visited your landing page, where did they go from there?
  • If you ran a video ad, did they watch the whole video? If not, how much did they watch?
  • Is there a positive impact on the areas your goals are related to? For example, did website traffic increase? Did you receive more email sign-ups?

While reviewing analytics does take some time, it’s an important step to continue making smart decisions about social media ad campaigns in the future.

Now you know five common social media advertising mistakes you should avoid. Put my recommendations into practice, rock your next campaign, and let me know about your successes! In the meantime, can you of think of any common social media ad mistakes I missed? Let me know in the comments below!

 Erika Taylor Montgomery, CEO of Three Girls Media, Inc., a boutique award-winning content marketing and public relations firm in the greater Seattle area. The firm specializes in working with small and mid-sized businesses worldwide, designing one-of-a-kind campaigns that provide custom quality content and personalized public relations with each business’ specific goals and budget in mind. Learn more at

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