12 Facebook Advertising Myths Debunked

When we started working on AdEspresso, one of my biggest concerns was that small to medium size businesses were not yet ready for it. And I don’t mean ready for an alternative to Facebook’s Ads Manager but for advertising on Facebook at all. Most users saw the new social media advertising channel as something for big brands to spend money on before moving on to the next big thing.

But I was sure that was not the case. And I was sure because Facebook Ads were already working for us. As a medium-sized web agency, we were not just generating brand awareness but real traffic and sales for our customers. We could have done better but still the results were there!

Nowadays, Facebook is seen by most marketers as both a mature platform and a reliable advertising channel. However, some early-day myths have survived and it’s time to debunk them, once and for all.

This post was written in early 2015, and with a year of big changes, we’ve got a whole new round of myths to debunk in May of 2016, all of which are specific to the Facebook Ads paid advertising platform.

If you’re impatient, click here and scroll to the bottom to discover the latest 5 Facebook Ads myths Ana Gotter demystified for you. If you’re not, enjoy your reading!

1) Facebook Ads are just for branding

This is probably the oldest of the seven myths listed here. Its roots date back to the early days of Facebook when no one was yet sure how to use it and, as a matter of fact, only top brands were brave enough (or had pockets deep enough) to experiment with it.

Even as Facebook advertising evolved, many advertisers continued to see it as a sort of alternative to email marketing. You were spending money to acquire subscribers in the form of “likes” to then target with messages.

What they didn’t see coming was that, as everyone jumped on-board, the value of those subscribers kept falling to today’s level where, on average, only a single digit percentage of a page’s fans see every post.

While organic reach was decreasing, early adopters started to discover that Facebook Ads were extremely effective at generating direct sales, leads, and, later, mobile app installs. Those that moved early achieved great ROIs.

Today, most advertisers understand the real value of Facebook Advertising as a way to generate traffic and real business value. A quick query of >$10M in Facebook Ad spending managed through AdEspresso reveals the following:

Objective Percentage
Post Engagement 31.7%
Website Conversions 27.8%
Website Clicks 23.8%
Mobile App Install 8.0%
Page Likes 7.7%
Events 0.8%

Advertisers are focusing on creating engagement, conversions and clicks to their websites. Only 7.7% of the campaigns are targeted to getting more Likes!

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2) Most Facebook Ad clicks are fake

I wrote about this topic last year. Facebook is a big successful company and bashing Facebook Ads is fun and a great way to attract attention.

Will your campaign receive fake clicks? Of course it will. Every advertising platform gets a small percentage of fake clicks from bots and click farms.

Is the percentage of fake clicks higher than Google? I don’t have data to back this, but I think it is. Facebook is still in its early days compared to Google and they definitely need to work on their fraud detection systems.

Should you care about fake clicks? No. It’s just a small percentage. It can be frustrating, I know, but it’s irrelevant to your overall campaign performance. As long as your ROI is positive, keep advertising. Testing and optimizing your Facebook Ads can be more rewarding than trying to eliminate a small click fraud.

3) Facebook Ads are not a good way to promote B2B products

This myth is extremely simple for me to debunk because we’ve promoted AdEspresso, a B2B application, with great success using Facebook Ads over the last 2 years.

Facebook is a Social Network so people browse Facebook to connect with their friends, find interesting news and, of course, check out cat pictures.

But guess what? Companies are made of people and Facebook Ads are a great way to target them.

With Facebook Ads, you can target users by the industry they work in or by their job titles and purchase behaviors. There is no reason not to advertise a business product on Facebook.

Of course, you need to understand your channel and adapt to it.

Something like “We create stunning Websites for $990” won’t work. And, posted on a social network, will be perceived as an impolite intrusion on the user experience. That’s why Facebook is penalizing these kinds of posts by Facebook Pages.

And while you’re not penalized when you advertise them (yep, they’re partially willing to trade UX for money), they simply won’t work. Instead, you should engage with your user.

Try something like: “Feeling stressed because your website never works properly and your boss is mad at you? Let’s talk. We’ll help you get it right”.

Or maybe instead of pushing for a sale, try to generate leads, advertising some free eBooks to download in return for users’ emails and information.

4) Facebook is purposely reducing organic reach to force users to advertise

Facebook is a corporation, a big one, with investors that is publicly listed. Their goal is to make money, you can bet on that.

Facebook is also not stupid. They understand something that many don’t: Facebook’s customers are its users, not its advertisers.

Anyone with a great deal of traffic and billions of users can easily attract advertisers. That’s the easy part. What Facebook has always been focused on is attracting those billions of users and keeping them on the platform.

This is something that Myspace missed. They let marketers ruin their platform, transforming it into a spam-filled website that ruined the user experience.

If you were to see all the posts from all the pages that you liked, you’d have thousands of promotional posts in your newsfeed with no way of seeing what your friends are doing and those lovely cats pictures.

While, of course, the reduction of organic reach has increased the volume of advertising, it was not done to sell more ads but to provide users with a better experience, showing them only what they care most about.

And be advised, the more companies join Facebook and start posting, the more the organic reach will decrease. It’s a simple matter of competition to find space in the user Newsfeed.

I’ve recently discussed this with Sean Ellis and others on Check out the conversation if you’re interested in learning more.

5) CPC is the best way to bid

I hear this all day long. “I want to use CPC bidding, therefore I’ll pay only for clicks and if no one clicks on my ads, I won’t pay a dime.”

Consider this:

Fear. Fear is what is making you go with CPC. Fear of spending money without generating a single click. And I’ll be honest. That might happen. It’s part of the learning process.

On the other hand, when you bid in Optimized CPM, Facebook will apply a complex layer of optimization to help you get more qualified traffic that is likely to actually purchase.

The cost per click is an irrelevant metric. Track your conversions. Track your revenues. And optimize for those metrics. It’s better to have a $2 click that converts into a sale than 10 $1 clicks that don’t convert into any customers.

Read this post to learn more about Facebook Ad bidding.

6) Advertising in the Right Column is useless

These kind of assertions are just plain wrong when it comes to Facebook Ads.

I’ve seen extremely successful campaigns where Facebook right column ads generated a 3x ROI improvement compared to the Newsfeed. I’ve also seen right column campaigns fail miserably.

There’s no way of telling if the Right Column will work for you until you try it.

Of course, it’s true that the Click Through Rate with this placement is usually 10 times worse than on the Newsfeed but there’s also much more inventory there and the prices are much cheaper.

Users also have fewer distractions in right column ads because they can click on them without any likes, comments, or shares getting in their way.

Pro Tip: Use pictures with strong visual contrast to attract users. Retargeting in the right column usually works very well as users already know your brand and are more likely to notice them even if they are in a less visible place.

7) There’s no harm in buying Fake Facebook Likes

This myth should be dead and forgotten by now. I didn’t even want to include it in the list. It’s 2015 and marketers around the world should have better things to talk about.

But just a week ago I bought one of the top 5 Facebook Ad books on the Kindle store and after just 10 pages, the author was claiming there’s no harm in buying some Facebook Likes to make your page seem more popular.

Selling Facebook likes is a scam and buying them will only hurt you:

Check out this post with real world data proving that buying Facebook Likes is not the way to go.

Join the conversation, let’s talk on Twitter!

2016 Update of Facebook Ads Myths

While we’ve hopefully debunked the 7 myths about Facebook advertising discussed above, there’s a whole new round of myths that have made their rounds in the past year since this post was originally published. Since we want everyone to stay up-to-date with all the right information, we’re updating this post with 5 more myths specific to Facebook Ads as a platform, all of which are currently hurting businesses and advertisers.

1. Instagram Ads Cost Too Much/Don’t Matter

Instagram Ads counts, to me, as part of Facebook’s Ad system, so this myth is definitely making the list. Some businesses aren’t using Instagram Ads because they think they cost too much, or that the results you can get from Instagram Ads don’t matter. Neither is necessarily (or at least automatically) true.

Instagram Ads can certainly be more expensive on average than Facebook Ads, but they can also drive good results. Especially for mobile app installations, Instagram Ads have positive ROIs and have higher click-through rates and engagement rates.

For businesses who weren’t interested in creating engagement or views on Instagram or driving mobile app installs, they felt that there weren’t objectives that justified the slightly higher cost. Some may have even missed when Instagram made a recent objectives addition.

In addition to views and app downloads, you can now choose ad objectives send traffic to your website or create ads designed to inspire conversions—and sales.

These two Instagram Ad objectives are a big deal for the platform, allowing businesses for the first time to provide clickable links on an individual post designed to send users to their site and to convert. These two objectives provide a massive opportunity for new sales from a new audience, so Instagram Ads definitely do matter.

2. Facebook Ads Only Work for Remarketing Campaigns

Remarketing campaigns on Facebook Ads have massive potential for big ROIs and lots of profit. With an audience that’s familiar with and receptive to you, it’s easier to make sales. Because of this, remarketing gets a ton of attention to Facebook Ads. This makes sense.

Unfortunately, remarketing campaigns are getting so much attention that I’ve seen people posting online that those are the only types of campaigns that really work or are cost effective through Facebook Ads. This definitely isn’t true, with evidence including the following examples:

Retargeting is an important part of most business’s marketing strategy, and it’s a great way to push customers further along the digital sales funnel, but it’s definitely not the only thing that matters. Accessing new clients and generating new leads can not only bring you immediate sales, but help your business continue to expand and grow long term.

3. Likes Don’t Matter

When talking to a client recently, they said something that surprised me: My ads did ok, they said, but it’s annoying to get more likes than conversions. Likes don’t matter.

While most marketers and businesses would agree that they’d rather have users converting instead of just liking an ad, it’s not true that likes don’t matter. They are actually a lot more important than you might think.

Likes on your ads matter for two very, very important reasons. The first is social proof.

Social proof should never be underestimated on any kind of social networking site; since Facebook is just that, users will naturally notice if no one else has liked or commented on your ad. Ads with a lot of visible engagement are more likely to get clicks—and conversions—from other users who see it.

Social proof matters; it’s a visible indication that other users found it valuable, like social media’s very own word-of-mouth marketing.

The second reason is the relevance score. The relevance score is a metric Facebook uses to determine how relevant your content is to the audience seeing it. It’s calculated largely by how your audience interacts with your ad. If someone hides your ad, that counts against you; if they click, comment, or like (or otherwise “react” to the ad), that works in your favor. The more likes you have, the better your relevance score. And when your relevance score gets better, the cost of your Facebook Ads goes down.

If your ads are only getting likes and no conversions, then it’s time to try to shake things up and figure out why you’re not seeing the results you want, but likes on an ad are important and they do matter—don’t take them for granted.

4. Facebook Ads is Dead

For the past six to eight months, there’s been a recurring idea popping up in different articles online: that Facebook Ads is dead.

No. No, it is definitely not. If I had a nickel for every time I saw a post claiming that Facebook Ads was dead, I could quit my day job. Since I’m here writing this post, we can go ahead with the assumption that Facebook Ads is, in fact, not dead.

Facebook Ads is changing. Some advertisers have also been experiencing slightly increasing bid prices overtime as the competition rises, but even with that—and the competition from Twitter Ads and Promoted Pins—Facebook Ads is still a huge force in online and social media marketing, accounting for more than 18.4% of global digital advertising.

This is good news. With revenue staying high from the ads platform, it’s practically guaranteed that Facebook will continue to release new tools and features to advertisers over time. Recent examples of updates include Instant Articles, Facebook Canvas, and Lead Gen Ads, all of which are remarkably valuable tools for marketers and businesses.

5. I Can Put All the Text I want in Images

About a month ago, Facebook quietly did away with their famous 20% rule, which mandated that images could have no more than 20% text on them or they’d be rejected.

Though the official 20% rule is out the window, that doesn’t mean that there’s no guidelines or regulations about text in images; Facebook still has some “recommendations” which will heavily influence the reach of your ads.

While some text can help get your point across, too much can hurt the reach of your ads.

Less text is still rewarded, with the ideal amount of text on an image being nothing more than a small logo. Moderate amounts of text may result in the ad having slightly limited reach; if you use what Facebook considers to be “too much text,” your reach will be severely damaged, if your ads even display at all.

Moral of the story here: Facebook’s 20% text rule is gone, but less text in an image is still prioritized. Even if an ad initially gets accepted, too much text can significantly hinder your reach.

Stay Up to Date

While Facebook Ads is evolving, just like the rest of the platform, it’s certainly not going anywhere. With the evolution and changes happening, however, it can be difficult to stay up to date with the best and most accurate information. Make sure to check in with resources like our blog at AdEspresso, which has current information provided by our expert social media marketers.

Wrapping up

This article can be summarized in just 6 words. The AdEspresso motto: Never assume anything. Always test everything.

No matter what you hear from self-proclaimed Facebook Ad Gurus, always take it with a grain of salt. Don’t believe everything you read. It might be dead wrong or just way out of date and no longer true.

With as little as $100, you can run your own test and confirm what you’ve read before investing further. Start doing that now!

Have I left out any other Facebook Ad myths? Let me know in the comments!