9 Common Facebook Ad Mistakes

by Josh Barney

Facebook now has more than 2.7 Billion monthly active users (Source).

The staggering growth of Facebook in monthly active users.

And of those, more than 60 million are Facebook business pages (source).

Facebook is a popular platform – in fact, it’s the world’s most popular social network – making it the perfect place for marketers, advertisers and brands.

But just because Facebook works for us and tons of other experienced digital marketers (and media buyers), that doesn’t mean you can simply start a business page, put some money behind your posts and generate a positive ROI.

Facebook advertising is an art (that anyone can learn).

When you’re starting out, keep things straightforward and build your knowledge before trying more complex campaigns.

In this post, I’m going to highlight 9 of the most common rookie Facebook ad mistakes and explain how you can avoid them.

Hitting the ‘Boost Post’ Button

Let’s start with the most criminal action made by anybody who calls themselves a Facebook advertiser, hitting the ‘Boost Post’ button.

I know that the majority of our readers will not relate to this mistake, but trust me, I’ve seen many messages from people who say that they’ve been putting money into Facebook advertising, without seeing any results…

…and after digging a little deeper, we’ve discovered that all they’d done was hit the ‘Boost Post’ button and followed a few basic steps as suggested by Facebook.

boost post facebook mistake
Business pages will often see this button beneath their recent Facebook posts – avoid pressing it!

Businesses have seen the organic reach of their posts restricted in recent years and this has forced many online businesses into hitting the dreaded ‘Boost Post’ button.

This looks great on paper, especially when Facebook tell you that it’s going to reach 1,000’s of people, but the fact remains that when you use this option, you restrict your ad’s success to Facebook’s basic ‘Boost Post’ options.

If you are making this mistake, go over to Facebook Business Manager and set up an account (it’s easy and FREE).

Not sure how to create a business manager account? Follow these steps.

No Pixel 

A Facebook pixel is a snippet of code that tracks and analyses the behaviour (and actions) of your website visitors.

The pixel allows you to optimise your advertising performance and learn more about your website visitors.

The more data your pixel collects, the more valuable it becomes.

facebook pixel
Create and install a Facebook Pixel before running any ads on Facebook!

Using a pixel, you can create custom audiences, track events, optimise your conversion campaigns, retarget users based on their actions (e.g. cart abandon), use the custom audience’s data to create lookalike audiences, and many more incredibly valuable things…

…in fact, I’d go as far as saying that the Facebook pixel is what makes advertising on the world’s biggest social network so amazing for marketers.

Before going any further with your marketing campaigns, I suggest you read our guide to the Facebook Pixel (A Newbies Guide to FB Ads) and install the Facebook Pixel Helper (this is a FREE Google Chrome Extension BTW).

^This tool will check if your FB pixel is working after it is installed.^

Trust me, every penny you spend on FB advertising without a pixel is a missed opportunity.

Wrong Campaign Objective 

I can let a newbie off for clicking the ‘Boost Post’ button, but something I won’t forgive is when any of our readers pick the wrong Facebook ad campaign objective.

The campaign objective you select at the beginning of the ad building process shapes your entire Facebook ad campaign. It tells the platform exactly what you’d like to achieve from your Facebook ad and helps them (to help you) achieve it.

facebook ad campaign objective
Facebook advertisers have a range of advertising objectives to choose from – ensure that you pick the right one!

There are 11 campaign objectives (at the time of writing) and each of them targets different people, with different aims (e.g. link clicks, post shares, lead generation, conversions).

If you select the wrong campaign objective or just go for the one that sounds like it will be most suitable for your ad – you’re immediately limiting your chances.

And the reason that I won’t let any of our readers off is that I’ve created an Ultimate Guide to Facebook Ad Campaign Objectives that holds tons and tons of super-valuable content for anybody involved in Facebook ads. (It took some time to put together too!).

If your ads aren’t getting the results they deserve, your problem might lie in the very first step you take.

Make sure you’re using the correct FB campaign objective.

100% Interest Based Audiences

Yes, Facebook’s targeting options are amazing and yes, you can reach a very specific audience using them…

…but you shouldn’t rely on Interest Based Audiences (AKA Saved Audiences) forever.

When you’ve avoided the first 3 mistakes in this list and you’re set up with a Business Manager Account, working FB Pixel and you understand your Campaign Objectives…

…you can begin to build Custom Audiences and follow that with Lookalike Audiences.

Custom audiences are advertising groups based on their behaviours, actions and interactions.

Interest-Based Audiences are great for learning more about the responsiveness of your ads, building your awareness (and reach), as well as firing your pixel (to learn more about your audience), but the audiences that will actually make the most valuable contribution to your marketing aims are not Interest-Based.

I’ve written a MONSTER eBook guide about every type of Interest, Custom and Lookalike Audiences (including how to create and target your perfect audience), so if you’d like to learn more and discover how to build them, get over there…

…but just make sure you use a VARIETY of audiences (at least until you know what works).

Wrong Audience Size

Now that you know how big a mistake it is to only use interest based audiences, it’s time to cross another Facebook ad problem that we see all the time (with the same audiences)…

…the wrong size!

This mistake can go one of two ways, either too big or too small.

We receive lots of questions about the size of audience that an advertiser should target.

facebook audience size mistake
Facebook will highlight your estimated audience size while you’re creating a campaign.

There aren’t any specific rules, because it really depends on your FB ad objective, budget and industry, but most of the time I’d suggest somewhere in the 500,000 to 2 million ball park, or 2-5 million for those businesses with bigger budgets (and wider appeal).

BTW: These numbers are only a suggestion, the audience you target is specific to your business and FB ads.

If you’re running ads for a local business, your audience size will be much smaller.

When you do make this mistake, you’ll encounter one of two problems:

  1. Facebook audience too big: You’ll end up wasting a lot of your budget on people who are unqualified because you haven’t ‘niched’ your target audience down enough.
  2. Facebook audience too small: Your budget won’t be spent or your ad will quickly suffer from ad fatigue.

If you’re struggling to find your optimum audience size, contact us for some free advice. (But please, make sure you aren’t making any of the other mistakes in this article first!). 

Setting and Forgetting 

This is one of the most frustrating Facebook ad mistakes, because the only reason it happens is laziness.

If you do everything correctly, set-up your ad perfectly and use all the knowledge you’ve learnt to create your ad and get it running, it doesn’t mean you’re finished! That’s just the beginning.

Setting your ad and forgetting is another mistake that we see all the time. Every time your ad delivers to a new prospect, it’s an opportunity for you to learn and optimise.

Track your Facebook ad’s performance in ‘Ad Reporting’ or via ‘Ad Manager’.

It doesn’t matter what type of campaign you’re running, who you’re targeting or how much you’re spending, you need to check up on your ad regularly. Some ads will work and some won’t, no matter how perfect they seem.

Always return to Business manager to check on their performance!

Creating New Ads When You Don’t Need To

If you’ve found an audience who are responding positively to an ad and you’re generating cheap leads, high engagement or conversions, why would you want to waste loads of time, effort and money creating new ads to achieve the same target?

A lot of the intermediate Facebook advertisers (that we see) make this mistake.

Instead of analysing how they can optimise and scale a successful campaign, they go about trying to improve upon it with a new ad and audience.

facebook ad mistakes

If you’ve been running Facebook ads for a little while and you understand (at least) the basics, you should have multiple ads and audiences, and I bet, whilst you’re trying to build new ones, there’s probably a winner already in there somewhere, you just haven’t seen it or thought to optimise.

Winning campaigns can take time and tests to uncover, so it’s incredibly frustrating when we see advertisers who have already found a winner, but have left it in order to create new ads.

The grass isn’t always greener on the other side, sometimes it’s better to scale your Facebook campaigns.

No Ad to Landing Page Consistency

Credibility is earned, not given. If you’re running ads that look nothing like your landing pages, you are immediately confusing your prospects and questioning your credibility.

When you see an ad, you expect the landing page to look like it was created by the same company, otherwise it can instantly turn you off the proposition.

landing page consistency

If you are using images in your ad, there is no excuse for them looking completely different to your landing pages.

Gaining link clicks on your front-end ad is all well and good, but it means nothing if you aren’t converting!

No Videos

Videos are engaging, make viewers stick on your ad for longer and give you more time to get your core value propositions over…

…and Facebook love them.

When running ads, you’ll soon discover that videos can have a much larger reach than images (on the same budget).

facebook video ads

This is due to a variety of factors, but particularly if Facebook notice that people are watching your video ad for longer – a strong ranking factor in the Facebook ad algorithm.

Facebook generally prefer to show video ads to their users, because it keeps them on their platform for longer and people engage with them more, which tells Facebook that their users like them.

If you aren’t running videos in your ads, you’re missing out on a huge opportunity. I have heard loads of different excuses from people who don’t run video ads, they usually look something like these:

Problem: I don’t have the budget to afford a camera or recording equipment.

Answer: Smart phones have amazing cameras. A video doesn’t need to be super high budget to achieve your aims.

Problem: I don’t know how to edit a video.

Answer: Watch a YouTube video on editing, download an editing tool (there are LOADS) and learn from playing around with it, get someone on Fiverr to do it for you (for a really low price) or do enough takes of your video until you don’t need to edit it.

Problem: I don’t want to be on video.

Answer: Be brave, or use one of the many video tools out there to create one for you, whether that is a whiteboard, illustration or slideshow style video – tools like PowToon are great for this.

Problem: I don’t know what to make a video about

Answer: Create something that your target audience would want to watch, that matches up with your advertising aims. Simple!


Facebook advertising can seem like a minefield, but if you set up the basics correctly, learn from people who know what they’re doing and keep a close eye on your ad performance, you’ll get the hang of it quicker than you know.

We have put together tons of different guides and articles about how to get the most from your campaigns, if you can avoid the Facebook ad mistakes in this article and don’t try to run before you can walk, you’ll get there.

Before you take your first steps towards any goal, it’s important that you invest in yourself, that means learning!

Everyone has been a beginner at some point…

…but that doesn’t mean we’ve all had to fail a million times to reach the top (just a few times)!

By coming to the Facebook ad party now, you can learn from others and avoid the mistakes they made when they started out.

Want more marketing guidance, advice or strategies? Check out one of our most popular guides:

Josh is the Founder of We Imagine Media, an award-winning content marketer, best selling author and creator of the www.joshbarney.blog. He creates and strategises content, sharing the most successful tactics with his lovely audience. He hates writing in the third person, follow him on the social links so he can get back to writing as himself.

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