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8 Lessons In Facebook Advertising From Big Brands

facebook advertisingHave you used Facebook ads to promote your business?

Perhaps you’ve been thinking about trying Facebook advertising but you are confused by all the options.

This article will share examples of companies that have succeeded and failed at Facebook advertising so you can see what works best.

Facebook news feed ads (sponsored stories) give your business an opportunity to be in the middle of the social experiences that drive the people’s lives – but is it a good option?

“Advertising works most effectively when it’s in line with what people are already trying to do. And people are trying to communicate in a certain way on Facebook – they share information with their friends, they learn about what their friends are doing – so there’s really a whole new opportunity for a new type of advertising model within that.”

That was a quote from none other than Mark Zuckerberg himself and there is an important message inside there. “Advertising works most effectively when it’s in line with what people are already trying to do.” You’ll notice this is a common trend in this article.

I’m going to show you several examples of real Facebook news feed ads from real companies and the different reactions they got from users. You can learn from these and avoid making these costly mistakes!

Facebook News Feed Ads: Case Studies

Lesson #1: Don’t Insult Your Audience’s Intelligence

The picture below shows a recent Facebook news feed ad from Canada Drives advertising a promotion to put 0% down on a loan towards a new car. Anyone who knows these deals is aware that they are high-risk, volatile loans with extremely high interest rates.facebook advertising example canada drives

Their Facebook advertising campaign took a left turn when they decided to use this photo of a young man and a brand new Jeep Cherokee (a $40K vehicle brand new). This didn’t work out too well because the picture they painted was one that doesn’t sit well with conventional wisdom. As you can see from the comments below this didn’t go over well and they were perceived as a company that just wanted to profit even if it means taking advantage of people.

A young person with bad credit buying their first car should not do so with a high-risk loan for an expensive car.facebook advertising

Lesson #2: Keep Your Customer’s Best Interests At Heart

It’s no secret that Pepto Bismol profits when people make unhealthy choices. If everybody stopped eating poorly, there would be fewer reasons to use their product. If your doctor told you one thing and cheered you on while you did the opposite, wouldn’t you be a little bit frightened?Screen Shot 2013-07-09 at 6.00.13 PMWhether or not it’s the truth, Pepto Bismol’s Facebook advertising campaign showed that they only care about one thing: profit. In this day and age, the companies that will prevail are the ones that are passionate about bringing the most effective solutions to their customers. Don’t believe me? Look at the comments Pepto got on both of these ads…Screen Shot 2013-07-09 at 6.00.27 PM

Lesson #3: Make Your Facebook Ads Relevant

Rogers and Samsung probably thought they had a home run with this ad showing off a really cool new feature of the Samsung Galaxy S4. And you know what? It actually is pretty cool.Screen Shot 2013-07-09 at 6.03.32 PM

The problem is that the ad is completely irrelevant and has no context within the Facebook news feed environment. Like many of the examples I’m showing in this article, it’s just pure spam.

People reacted with comments showing how they thought the point Rogers/Samsung was making is trivial and were annoyed by the ad.Screen Shot 2013-07-09 at 6.06.38 PM

Lesson #4: Be Careful

Rosetta Stone makes an excellent product but is unfortunately susceptible to the problems that nearly every software developer faces: piracy. When they decided to promote their big sale using Facebook news feed ads, it didn’t take long for people to start suggesting that other users just download it for free instead.Screen Shot 2013-07-09 at 6.07.54 PMThere were multiple people who were sharing direct links to torrent sites where people could pirate the entire Rosetta Stone series in minutes. Facebook will not protect you from these experiences, that is your job.Screen Shot 2013-07-09 at 6.08.39 PM

Lesson #5: Stay On Top of The Comments

As we learned from Rosetta Stone, you need to be vigilant with watch the comments to ensure things remain civil. Kit Kat did a great job of this with their recent promotion for the new Kit Kat Hazelnut bar.Screen Shot 2013-07-09 at 6.09.25 PM

Unfortunately, things did decline towards the end of their promotion as they got hammered with anti-GMO activists and individuals protesting Nestle’s business practices. Which leads us to our next point…Screen Shot 2013-07-10 at 9.38.04 AM

Lesson #6: Your Skeletons Will Come Out Of The Closet

The bigger the company you are, the more cognizant you must be about the view of your brand in the public eye. I’m not going to call anyone out in particular on this one but I had an example of a company that is known for using sweatshops for creating their products.

A popular department store that sells those products was advertising a 50% off sale and showed several items from the brand that is tied to sweatshops in the photo. This resulted in many comments of people protesting and educating Facebook users on the company’s practices.

If you have skeletons in your closet, reconsider using Facebook news feed ads. They will come out.

Lesson #7: Add To The “Natural” Facebook Experience

When you use Facebook news feed ads, you are interjecting yourself into an environment where you will likely fall between posts ranging from photos of loved ones to updates on friends and family lives.

If you want to slap your ad in between, that’s fine but don’t expect a positive response. It’s about as effective as walking into a family picnic to handout business cards.Screen Shot 2013-07-10 at 9.39.54 AM

LG did a fantastic job of positively engaging new fans on Facebook with a simple post with a question. I can already see the business owners getting up in arms over this…but it’s not actually an ad! LG’s ad worked well and left a positive experience because the focus was completely on the person reading it, asking an honest question and wanting to know how they felt.

Think about the natural Facebook experience and how you can create something that fits into it. Context is what sells your content.Screen Shot 2013-07-10 at 9.40.04 AM

Lesson #8: Focus On The Good

Chapters Indigo is the largest bookstore in Canada and they are large advocates of getting children reading books – yes, real books made of paper. They run a charity that provides grants to schools to upgrade their libraries and other similar initiatives. By anybody’s standards, it’s a great cause.Screen Shot 2013-07-09 at 6.11.27 PM

Although I only caught the ad early on, Chapter’s Facebook news feed ad had exclusively positive comments. This was because it focused on the fact that 20% of Canadian schools received $1.5 million and 5,800 children now have brand new books to read.Screen Shot 2013-07-10 at 9.43.01 AM

Coming Out Clean: The System Is Not Perfect

There is one major flaw that was recently implemented into Facebook Sponsored Stories options and that is excluding the ability to advertise just to people who like your Facebook page.

If you are hitting a broad and somewhat uncontrolled audience then you have to use a completely different type of copy and content to promote then what one might use if solely promoting to fans of your page.

What do you think makes for great Facebook news feed ads? Let us know in the comments below.