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Why you shouldn't 'spray and pray' when advertising on Facebook

12th Nov 2012

So you’ve decided to advertise on Facebook. You’ve got witty copy that packs a punch and an eye-catching design which you hope can grab the attention away from your audience’s social lives. What’s next? Send it out to the whole of Facebook, right? Make sure as many people as possible see it?

Stop right there! Facebook advertising simply doesn’t work if you use the ‘spray and pray’ tactic. I conducted a straw poll of some friends to see what the “typical 20-something” thinks of the ever-present squares at the side of our screens.

One point kept cropping up in my feedback – if the adverts are irrelevant, they’ll be ignored, and they often are. Case in point, a friend who’s in the midst of a physics PhD is constantly encouraged by adverts to develop his craft become a welder. Perhaps he has talents he’s keeping quiet, but it’s more likely that the company in question decided to target by just age and gender, therefore missing the mark completely, on at least this occasion.

Even great establishments such as the White House can get it wrong – the Obama regime has been in the news recently, annoying voters with by blanketing North America with ads encouraging them to vote Democratic. So even though his 'likes' soared, a lot of people were turned off him completely. 

The best way to stand out from the crowd and make sure your ad reaches the right people is to make use of Facebook’s targeting function. This allows to you to target your audience based on a number of key demographics, including location and age. Even more usefully, you can choose your audience based on their ‘interests’. Facebook is a little coy about how they decide what users are ‘interested in’, but it’s a safe bet to say it’s a amalgamation of every interaction users have with Facebook, from status updates to likes. This information allows advertisers to narrow down their audience to those only really interested in the subject matter. It doesn’t cost any more than standard advertising and means much more effective advertising.

However that’s not the end of the story. Facebook is currently rolling out a new feature called custom audience targeting, which allows advertisers to upload customer information from outside channels and target them directly. So if you have a great list of potential customers, who’ve given you their email addresses, Facebook will scan its own database to look for matches. This feature isn’t available to all yet, but watch this space....

To find out more about Facebook advertising, or social media strategy, please email me on or call on 0161 870 8194.