10 best Facebook ads articles in 2014 you need to read

I read lots of articles each day. In fact, I reckon that I read more than 3,650 Facebook ads articles this year alone - that’s about 10 articles on the same topic everyday.

I had Google Alerts send me daily alerts for keywords like “Facebook ads how-to” and “small business Facebook”, create lists for good resources such as Jon Loomer’s using Pulse, and subscribed to great blogs such as Socialmouths.

But good articles are hard to come by; great articles even rarer. By the 10th article, I realised that most Facebook ads articles talk about the same things, albeit in different ways. The rare few which stood out often over-promised in the headline and fail to deliver.

If you were to ask me to categorise what I’ve read, this is how I’d do it:

  1. Excellent with compelling actionable takeaways: 0.03%
  2. Great articles with few actionable takeaways: 9.97%
  3. Good articles with retrospective takeaways: 20%
  4. Forgettable: 60%
  5. Complete trash: 10%

Consistently producing articles that go under the “excellent” category is almost impossible if you’re writing more than once a week and I’d be the first to admit that.

In fact, I think that out of 100 blog posts I wrote this year on my blog, Agorapulse, Postplanner, Social media examiner, and Socialmouths combined, only 10 fall within the first 2 categories. I know it because when you finish writing a fantastic article, you’ll undoubtedly experience a eureka moment.

I’d love to tell you why, but that’d detract from the main purpose of my post today. So let’s backtrack.

In this post, I listed the top 10 articles I have read on Facebook ads this year and shared why I thought they were excellent.

1. How Spending $162,301.42 on Clothes Made Me $692,500 [Case Study] by Neil Patel

If I hadn’t read about all his achievements online, I’d have thought that this guy is crazy. Part of me thinks that he got so bored with experimentation that it drove him crazy. But I love how this talented man takes experiments to the extreme to prove a point.

Key takeaways

  1. To quote the article, “People believe what they see.” So if you want to convert using Facebook ads, first figure out how to choose or create great images that show your target audience what they can realistically become after taking the action you want them to.
  2. Instead of focusing on pushing your products, think about how you can pull people to want your products. Being on social media hasn’t really changed things. Pull marketing still works. Just look at Mondelez.
  3. Data convinces. Just look at all the comments in the section below the article. If you want to stand out among the crowd, you need to cut through the noise. And presenting solid data is an effective way to do it.

Read the full article here.

2. 5 Facebook Ad Split Tests to Cut Lead Acquisition Costs [Case Study] by Emeric Eernoult

I met up with Emeric in Paris earlier this month. It was a great honour to finally meet someone I have heard so much about online - to think that we have worked together for 10 months already!

But I didn’t include this article because of our friendship.

Emeric wrote this after spending $15,000 split-testing his ads for 3 months. Sure, it might not be an exhilarating 6-figure experiment like what Neil Patel did, but that doesn’t make the experiment any less worthy.

In fact, some of his findings had me surprised! Read on to find out more.

Key takeaways

  1. Track the entire sales funnel and not just the base metrics at each stage of your funnel. For example, if your ultimate goal in the campaign is conversions, you shouldn’t rely on results such as the number of new page likes to decide which ads to stop or continue.
  2. Don’t rely on just Facebook ad reports. Make use of Google and an advanced tool such as Mixpanel.
  3. You should be testing even fundamental variables such as age and gender, but only if you’re sure that they’re your target market

Read the full article here.

3. How a Small Spice Shop got 736 Page Likes in 6 Days (Without Ads) [Case Study] by Francisco Rosales

Francisco is another expert I got to know online, and he really knows his stuff!

This article he wrote 8 months ago convinced me that Facebook apps can be highly effective in helping any business achieve its goals despite all the overrated hype about running contests to gain page likes.

Key takeaways

  1. No one really starts from zero on Facebook. Everyone has leverage, even if you just started your business yesterday. Think about your friendships, existing customers, past customers, neighbours, and other local businesses. Don’t forget about your existing online assets such as your website and email list too. What is the best way for you to grow your community on Facebook? This small spice shop took advantage of their 15th anniversary to engage their existing fans and promoted the campaign among their email subscribers and website visitors.
  2. Know who you want to target and who you don’t. I don’t mean just limiting the location where your target audience come from. This small spice shop targeted existing fans with a purpose - they wanted to make them feel exclusive, make non-fans feel excluded even if they were locals and existing customers, and empower fans to invite their friends.
  3. You can probably succeed without ads on Facebook, but you have a better chance at success if you combine both tools. They’re not mutually exclusive.

Read the full article here.

4. How Using Facebook URL Tags Can Help Measure Viral Impact of Posts [Tutorial] by Jon Loomer

I don’t think I need to introduce Jon Loomer. He’s the de facto Facebook ads expert and most advanced marketers will remember him when you mention Power Editor.

But this tutorial stood out because no one I knew ever mentioned the use of Google URL tags to track how far your social media posts go.

Key takeaways

  1. As mentioned, you can track how impactful a single Facebook post or tweet is just by using URL tags. It’s not exactly foolproof since someone who sees the link can copy the link and remove the tag before accessing your web page, but you can still find out at least how many people clicked on the link.
  2. The impact of a Facebook post is not limited to just a single platform. Jon Loomer’s link was re-shared by readers on Twitter, email, and so on. If you know that your Facebook posts are being shared elsewhere, the least you can do is to optimise how those links appear, such as implementing Twitter cards and Rich Pins.
  3. Learn how to set up Google URL tags from this tutorial.

Read the full article here.

5. How a small business promotes itself [Case study] by Paige Henson

This article was a surprise find! I read it en route to Venice last week and clipped it to Evernote immediately.

Facebook ads cannot thrive without content. You can think of content as the backbone and ads as your limbs. If you want to move your limbs and do something, first you need to be able to stand upright.

Likewise, without content, your Facebook ads will come empty. You’d effectively be promoting nothing.

But what kind of content should you put out on Facebook? Paige highlighted some great tactics used by a local business in this article.

Key takeaways

  1. Store owners Laura and Steve Bell did not start with a Facebook page. They started a group that attracted 400 members who shared the same desire - they wanted a Trader’s Joe, a neighbourhood grocery store with amazing food and drink from around the globe, in their very own city.
  2. When they spotted the opportunity to build a local Trader Joe’s, they jumped on it. Like their innovative approach to create a group instead of a page, they brought the same attitude to the content they share. They posted photos just before lunch hours, photos that showed customers having a good time, photos that showcased rare finds, and more.
    1. Posting photos just before lunch hours is an effective tactic for restaurants. I did it before for a regional restaurant chain in Southeast Asia and it worked to great effect.
    2. Posting photos that show customers having a good time is a common but effective tactic as well. Who doesn’t want to have a good time during their breaks between (often mundane) work?
    3. Showcasing rare finds and local produce is making good use of their leverage. No other store in the city can offer the same kind of food and drink choices like they do, so why not make use of it to accentuate their differences even more and get variety-seeking people to their store?
  3. They post several times a day but keep it under control. Some say that posting more often is a good counteracting tactic against lower organic reach. I beg to differ. But that doesn’t mean that it won’t work for you. Have you tried posting more and less often to see what works?

Read the full article here.

6. How to build your email list on Facebook on a tight budget [Case Study] by Jenny Brennan

Like Emeric, I’ve also met Jenny in real life, a couple of months back in Dublin. Her rise among the ranks of hundreds or perhaps even thousands of Facebook marketing consultants caught my eye.

In this post, she shared a particular example when a consultant was able to make use of his client’s small budget to generate real and tangible leads for the business.

Key takeaways

  1. Despite being a popular tourist destination, Özenç prioritised residents as the main target audience for the client’s business, which made good business sense. It was also perhaps the most important strategic decision they made that resulted in their success.
  2. They were creative with their campaign and didn’t fall prey to simply running another Facebook contest. Instead, they created a personality test having done their research to find out what their customers liked. And they were able to get 2,200 people to participate as a result. Even I am tempted to try the personality test!
  3. The client didn’t have website visitors to target, customers to retarget, or an email list. But they came up with 3 highly relevant options using a mix of interest targeting and still got them to work.

I remain interested to find out how these leads convert to sales, but in the meantime, it’s all good so far.

Read the full article here.

7. The Ideal Naming Convention for Facebook Advertising Campaigns by Jon Loomer

Jon Loomer made the list again. Truth be told, most advanced marketers use some sort of naming convention in their Facebook ads, but I was particularly interested in knowing how a successful advertiser like Jon did it.

I’m sure that there are several ways of doing it effectively. But it’s difficult to determine if stuff like these are really good just by reading. Therefore I planned an experiment in January to find out how much time I save on managing a client’s ad campaign by adopting his naming convention.

If you’re interested to find out how the experiment turns out, remember to sign up for my regular blog updates in the header, at the right sidebar, or at the bottom of this post.

Key takeaways

  1. If you manage ads for a single client with multiple websites, you’re going to find a huge mess in your ad report. A clear naming convention can help you to filter and look at only the important campaigns later on.
  2. The above mentioned is also applicable if you run campaigns with multiple ad objectives. I can vouch for the mess you’ll see.
  3. Jon suggests a logical naming convention that is derived from the campaign structure. For example, since you can decide the budget type, schedule, target audience, placement, optimisation method, and price when creating ad sets, he suggests combining all of them in this format:
    [Daily/Lifetime Budget] – [Scheduling] – [Audience Targeted] – [Placement] – [Optimization] – [Pricing] – [Other Variations]. I would add [Budget] into the format as well.

Read the full article here.

8. The Dirty Reality About Facebook for the Typical Small Business Owner [Case Study] by Jen Phillips April

The folks over at Business 2 Community will probably hate me for this but I’ll say it anyway. It’s hard to find good articles coming by in the publication nowadays, but I’ll always click on the links that are sent to me in Google Alerts and scan through them. Once in a while, I’ll find gold like this one.

Key takeaways

  1. Is Facebook horrible for killing off organic reach? Maybe. But the true horror would begin if Facebook suddenly faces mass exodus from its users, which leaves us with no one to even market to. I would probably say that lower organic reach is less of the two evils. And unless you have a viable solution to offer Facebook that would not sacrifice your page’s organic reach, don’t even bring it up.
  2. Jen detailed a neat PR plan in this article, sharing how local businesses can establish mutually beneficial relationships with other local businesses to promote each other both on Facebook and offline.
  3. At the end, Jen still advises businesses to create a Facebook ad strategy, instead of ditching the platform altogether.

Read the full article here.

9. What Facebook’s Next Round of Algorithm Changes Means for Pages by Jim Belosic

Jim is the co-founder of Shortstack, the most successful Facebook apps company. That itself lends Jim a lot of credibility to what he says but his advice here makes sense.

Key takeaways

  1. Jim advises marketing teams to continue to focus on email marketing when it comes to promotions and it is not without evidence. According to SalesForce, 70 percent of people say they always open emails from their favorite companies. This means that emails will offer you the kind of attention you crave so much for and you can promote however you want to appeal to your customers.
  2. Perhaps as a preview of what’s to come in 2015, Jim also advises businesses on Facebook to host promotions, sweepstakes, and other campaigns on your website. This makes sense, particularly since tabs are far less visible than they used to be.
  3. Don’t focus on Facebook, Facebook, Facebook! Okay, this is going to sound ironic given how I specialise in Facebook ads. But in reality, none of the clients I work with only make use of Facebook ads. We always have an entire marketing funnel in place that makes use of the best tools for their respective goals. And my initial role is go through the strategic planning process with them to find out if Facebook ads would be useful to achieve their goals.

Read the full article here.

10. Buying Facebook Likes Suck, Here’s The Data To Prove It [Case Study] by Massimo Chieruzzi

This post is epic. Yes, I intentionally left it till the last.

It doesn’t take a genius to know that buying Facebook likes is lame. But no one tried to do it just to prove it before the amazing folks at Adsespresso did. Seriously, you should see what they did.

Key takeaways

  1. For a page with only fake likes, I was surprised to see that their posts even received ‘reach’. It was likely due to vendors sending in fake likes after the posts went ‘live’.
  2. To make the post sound even more epic, I’ll quote what Emeric said, “Buying fans is like paying people to be your friends.” You know how it’ll turn out if your friends are your friends because you paid them to do it - they won’t be by your side once you stop giving them money.
  3. Business owners and social media teams need to beware consultants who promise a set number of page likes and make sure to agree on counteracting metrics such ‘Daily count of fans online’.

Read the full article here.

Which were your favourites?

You probably need more than an hour to get through everything, but it’ll be one of the most well spent hours of your life.

Some of you probably read the same articles I did, but let me know if they were your favourites. Even if they weren’t, tell me anyway.

P.S. All the key takeaways here are my opinions. They might not be explicitly stated in those articles, and you’re welcome to disagree. Just share your ideas with me in the comments below and I’ll reply to you personally.

Allow me to end this article in an epic way: whether you like or dislike my list of favourite articles, you should probably share it because someone else might just like or dislike it the way you do.

Here’s wishing an early Merry Christmas to all of you, happy holidays!