How can you tell that Facebook Ads are not a waste of money?
This post was written by Yariv Dror – Co-Founder & CEO, StoreYa.com and Zack Fagan – Inbound Marketing Manager, StoreYa.com
A recent YouTube video put out by Veritasium called “Facebook Fraud” has caused quite a stir. The video has well over a million views, and nearly 10,000 comments. What’s in this video (aside from a shocking title) that’s got everyone so excited, and more importantly, is what it says true?
The gist of the video is that when you pay for Facebook advertisements, it is really hurting you more than helping you. The idea is that when your ad is broadcasted, many of the clicks and likes you get are really coming from “click farms,” or small companies that pay their workers for clicking on ads, surfing the sites for a bit, and possibly even registering for email lists. Obviously, likes from click farms actually do nothing for you, and, as was argued in the video, hurt you, because now your organic reach is diluted. When you post something, it will be seen by some of your real fans and by some of your “fake” fans. The fake fans won’t engage with your posts, and therefore your posts won’t spread to more people. This in turn forces you to pay for more Facebook advertising in order to increase the reach of your posts. Essentially, a vicious circle is created. Or so they claim.
Countering the accusation with a case study
In order to counter this statement, I’d like to take a look at a case study from one of our clients, Nava Zahavi. Nava is a jewelry designer that imported her web store to Facebook using StoreYa when her fan page had only 170 likes. At that time our team at StoreYa took over the advertising campaign for her Facebook store. Over the course of six months, working with a $4,000 budget we helped her gain 16,000 fans, and earn $18,000 in sales. The success of this campaign can be seen from both the number of fans gained and from the revenue generated. But in light of the comments made in the video, I am going to focus on the ROI (Return On Investment) and on the engaged fans driven by this campaign when claiming that it had a positive outcome.
As mentioned above, according to Veritasium, investing in Facebook advertisements is not effective because even when targeting specific audiences, many “fake” fans click on your advertisements resulting in low levels of engagement. For this campaign we specifically targeted women in the United States of a particular age with an interest in jewelry, or a specific type of jewelry. At the end of the six month period this is what the distribution of fans looked like:
Notice that, as would be expected, the vast majority of the fans were in fact from the United States, and only a very small number came from Indonesia, India, and the Philippines. So the first thing that we can learn from this campaign is effective targeting. By utilizing the filters that Facebook provides you can reach quality users, and build up your fan base with real people.
Contradicting the “Virtual Cat” Claim
In the “Virtual Cat” example from the video, the presenter did make a strong point. He showed how even while using targeted ads he still ended up getting many fans that appeared to be fake. The problem with the study that he conducted, though, is that it lasted for a very short period of time while targeting many different countries. It’s very hard to tell the effectiveness of a campaign after just a few days especially when the campaign targeting isn’t focused. It takes longer to cultivate a strong following.
How do we know that? Easy, by looking at our campaign’s results – the sales, and their frequency as well as the new fans’ engagement habits:
Nava’s Campaign google analytics stats
Nava’s advertising costs
Starting with only 170 fans, Nava used mostly paid ads to drive new fans
In the stats taken from Nava’s campaign you can see that in the beginning there were not as many sales. As time went on, more money was invested, more was learned about how to conduct the campaign, the brand name spread, and the results improved as well. Towards the end of the campaign not only was there a steady flow of purchases, there was also an increase in the number of purchases per day.
But let’s not stop at current sales. The real beauty of advertising on Facebook (as appose to other media channels) is that you gain fans that are interested in your brand, people to whom you can sell again in the future!
Here is how the engagement looks now:
Nava’s Facebook insights. Left column shows the clicks, likes and comments per post
One last A/B Testing Anecdote
After 6 months we were looking for automatic tools that could manage the campaign instead of us. We engaged with a large and known company in this field which used different type of targeting for the same campaign that we managed for 6 months. They spent $1,000 over a period of 1 month, and got zero purchases. We then stopped their campaign. Now this isn’t to say that we can do miracles and they can’t. They are an amazing company. But we wanted to raise this story to strengthen out that it is all in the targeting. If you do it well you sell and you get engaged fans. If you are not focused, you might be wasting your money in vein.
To conclude, yes, you might get fake likes even when advertising on Facebook, BUT – If you target your ads well, give your campaign time to develop, then you can see real results from Facebook advertising – short term sales as well as long term engaged fans enabling you to make future upsells.