Enough: 5 Worst Pieces of Advice I heard in January about Facebook, and many people listen to them!

Worst Facebook Advice January 2014

I wrote last week that I was going to share a comprehensive tutorial on using Graph Search to conduct a thorough research of your fans and target audience. But I shelved it because I read many pieces of appalling Facebook advice from self-proclaimed experts and I thought that I need to do my part as a member of this community to correct those horrible mistakes!

Worst Advice #1: Always bid for CPC

Just because ads based on CPMs (Cost per 1000 Impressions) are often ineffective does not mean that you should always bid for CPC (Cost per Click) in your campaigns.

It’s true that these impressions often count for little:

  1. Ads that we often scroll past quickly, especially on mobile
  2. Ads that are loaded but we don’t even scroll that far to see it
  3. Ads that appear on the sidebar

But the opposite is also true: although the number of impressions and actual number of users who sees your ad don’t match, it doesn’t mean we should ditch CPMs altogether. After all, what are the chances that no one sees your post when it’s loaded 1000 times?

This argument reminds me of the recent past when marketers were encouraged to pay for news feed ads and ditch sidebar ads. Jon Loomer did an experiment which disproved that. By the way, you’ll find me referring to Jon’s blog often because he’s the only person I know who writes in-depth stuff about Facebook Ads.

So what is CPC exactly? Here’s what Facebook says:

Cost per time when someone clicks on your ad. Facebook

But it’s not exactly clear what is meant by “clicks on your ad”. For news feed Ads, it could include clicks on

  1. “See more”
  2. “Sponsored”
  3. Like/comment/share count
  4. Like/comment/share
  5. Clicks on the Page name
  6. “Like Page” button (Page Like ad)

Click types 1, 2, 3, and 5 are included inside “Other Clicks” count in Facebook Insights.

On the other hand, clicks on sidebar ads are a bit clearer. Assuming that you launch a sidebar-only “Page Likes” Ad, clicks on your ad could mean:

  1. When someone clicks on “Like Page”
  2. When someone clicks on your ad and a popup version (lightbox) of the ad appears
  3. When someone clicks on your Page name and goes to your Page through the ad

Even so, you see that bidding for CPC means that you don’t always pay for your desired action (e.g. link clicks). You’re charged for a range of actions that your target audience take on your ad. Of course, when you compare such results to other forms of advertising, it is considered good. But precision is an advantage of Facebook and you should take advantage of it! That leads me to my next point:


What you should bid for: Cost per Action

Here’s the main takeaway from this advice: First, you should decide what your desired action is out of your campaign. This is also emphasised by Facebook in its updated self-serve ad platform: Post 38 Image 1 Enough: 5 Worst Pieces of Advice I heard in January about Facebook, and many people listen to them!

In any case, I’d urge you to use the Power Editor instead, usable only on the Google Chrome browser. When you finally get to the step to bid for your campaign, this is what you should see:

Post 38 Image 2 Enough: 5 Worst Pieces of Advice I heard in January about Facebook, and many people listen to them!

You should see options to choose between CPM, CPC, and oCPM. We each have our preferences. If you’re knowledgeable about bid prices, you’re encouraged to use either CPM or CPC according to your needs. Use CPM for maximised impressions and exposure and CPC for maximised number of clicks on your ads. In my opinion, I prefer using Optimised CPM, or oCPM in short. This option allows me to specify the exact kind of action I would like to track, such as link clicks or event registration.

To do so, you need to setup your conversion specs manually. You will be charged based on how much the actual bid is. Currently, you’re able to only decide your maximum bid. If your maximum bid is too low, you might not get enough actions on your ad. Instead, I suggest a “skimming” strategy where you set it high at first but lower the figure rigorously and watch your numbers closely for the first few hours of launch.

Do you still have lingering doubts as to whether you should use CPM or oCPM? Read this.


Worst Advice #2: Don’t post plain text posts

Whoever said this?! Okay, it’s more than just 1 person, but this popular article is full of bad advice like this!

So Facebook announced last Tuesday that they were going to treat Page’s text posts differently from personal text posts - and they were going to decrease the reach of text posts from Pages. (Read: “decrease”, NOT “kill”)

It bizarre me when I see so many self-proclaimed social media gurus jump the gun and recommend their audience NOT to post plain text posts anymore. Why not?

This seemingly absurd advice stems from a widespread industry problem that many people are using flaws in the news feed to game the system - hence resulting in griefs when Facebook announces new measures to improve its system. When you repeatedly try to game the system, you only end up receiving such treatment over and over, only to result in more griefs (for you, not me!)

As one of my favourite Facebook coaches points out - the reach of text posts will decrease but is unlikely to fall lower than the reach of other post types.


What you should take away instead: Use text posts when you need to

It’s simple! Every Facebook offering has its own value-add. There are proper times to use link posts, photo uploads, multiple photo posts, and text posts. Just use them according to your needs and don’t game the system.

It’s not wrong of you to make use of existing flaws to game the system. But if you do, then prepare to lose the chance to take advantage of the system.


Worst Advice #3: Paying for engagement is nothing to be ashamed of

This advice is less of a problem, but it is still fundamentally incorrect. The problem lies not with “nothing to be ashamed of”, but the implicit premise that when you pay for Facebook Ads, you’re paying for engagement. You’re not.

In essence, you can only pay to reach more fans and non-fans. Paying to reach more people does not necessarily result in more engagement, especially if you compromise on the quality of what you post.


What you should take away instead: Engagement is the function of (Reach + Quality of Posts)


Worst Advice #4: Keep your posts “short”

While writing in a concise way that attracts attention and reads easily is a good virtue, it is by no mean a golden rule.

I wrote here last week that the length of your post should be determined by the purpose of your update. If there’s a need for you to write a long post, write it. You should not be bound by misleading best practices that were founded on some statistics, such as “Shorter posts get 23% more interaction”.

While such statistics are true, it does not mean that if you write shorter post, you’ll get more interaction. Correlation does not imply causation. Read my post here again for a detailed explanation.


Worst Advice #5: Buying new Page Likes is a bad practice

Buying new Page Likes from Bots is bad.

Promoting your Page to a highly relevant group of target audience is NOT.

However, it is worth noting that promoting your Page to your target audience is the most lenient form of attracting them. The screening standard is low for both of you.

An improved suggestion is to promote your posts for Page Like - that way, fans who like your Page are certain to like the stuff you post. The hidden premise then is, “if I keep up with the quality of my content, this fan will continue to engage with my content when he/she sees it”


You’ve just cleared up 5 misconceptions on Facebook Marketing!

I HATE it when people jump into conclusions. Really. When people see Y% gets more engagement doing X, they think X leads to Y. NO. The Internet age has already been around for so long that I think it’s time to be more discerning between good and poorly-informed advice.

I’m not sure if I’m going to maintain this column going forward. But if I do see ill popular advice going around again in the community, I’ll be writing about it. So do check back again or sign up for my monthly updates!

Questions? Comment below!

Jason How

I help social media teams and small business owners eliminate Facebook ads and content that suck. Brands that I have worked with include household brands like Seoul Garden and International Volunteer Day, an initiative of the Ministry of Community, Culture, and Youth (MCCY). When I'm not busy with numbers, I can become a real glutton.

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  • Emeric

    Great article Jason, I LOVE it! Sharing it now on our FB page, scheduled to be published tomorrow :-)

    • http://jasonhjh.com/ Jason HJH

      Thank you Emeric, greatly appreciated!

  • http://antoniocalero.com/ Antonio Calero

    Excellent post mate, I’ve found it thanks to @disqus_a6LgXoOOIo:disqus who shared it on Twitter. It seems we have similar ways of thinking towards Facebook Marketing.

    • http://jasonhjh.com/ Jason HJH

      Thank you Antonio!

      I’m thankful to Emeric for sharing this article - he’s certainly a thought leader in Facebook Marketing who is well-respected for his views and I’m glad he found this a worthy read.

      Hope to hear from you again and perhaps we can discuss even more about Facebook Marketing.

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  • Katherine Sullivan

    Awesome again Jason! Thanks so much for sharing, you’re quickly climbing the list and becoming one of my favorites :)

    • http://jasonhjh.com/ Jason HJH

      Thanks Katherine for believing in me; hope I can deliver and consistently provide content that you’ll find useful.

  • http://jonloomer.com/blog Jon Loomer

    I missed this somehow. Thanks so much for the mentions here, Jason. Looks like I agree with you on a lot of things!

    • http://jasonhjh.com/ Jason HJH

      Thank you Jon, your compliment means a lot to me! I’m always following your blog to learn about the latest ad features of Facebook. See you again!

  • http://www.antavo.com/ Zsuzsa Szabo

    Wow Jason, interesting! I love the cover photo of this blog post :)

    • http://jasonhjh.com/ Jason HJH

      Thanks Zsuza, see you again!

    • http://jasonhjh.com/ Jason HJH

      Thanks Zsuzsa, let me know if I can help!

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