Advertising On Facebook For Likes Is A Waste Of Money Ross Kimbarovsky | February 12th, 2014

We’ve experimented with many advertising and marketing channels over the years, including Facebook. A few years ago we tested whether promoting our posts on the crowdSPRING Facebook Fan page could expose us to more potential customers. We received more likes and fans, but discovered that our new fans were not engaging with us.

During our experiments, we varied our targeting – sometimes our targeting was broad and at other times, specific. We tested custom audiences. We repeated our experiments and confirmed our results: advertising on Facebook for likes is a waste of money.

In fact, the problem is even worse than it initially seems. In addition to wasting your money, you also negatively impact your ability to engage your real customers and fans.

Remember that your advertising dollars ensure that your posts would appear on News Feeds of your fans, their friends, and perhaps other targeted customers. If more people engage with your posts, your posts would be more prominently displayed. In fact, Facebook’s algorithm is built to reward posts that have strong engagement. However, many of your advertising dollars are spent to display your promoted posts in the News Feeds of phony accounts that never engage or interact with the promotions.  More importantly, when you later post non-promoted content, that content is also shown to phony accounts that never interact/engage with your content. As a consequence, your overall ability to reach your fans and customers suffers.

Here’s a terrific video from Veritasium discussing their own experiments and their similar conclusion that advertising on Facebook for likes is wasteful.

Has your experienced differed? Have you run successful Facebook campaigns and discovered new, engaging fans?

From many minds, the perfect design. Post your project today and let the crowd wow you!

  • Ahamdi Okpara

    I’ve always viewed the “Like” thing on Facebook as far more social (just for the feeling) than business; and I think it largely has to do with the site’s main purpose which influences the spirit and frame of mind millions of its users log in to the site with. That is already a distraction.

  • Ross Kimbarovsky

    That’s a good point. It’s doubtful that individuals are buying likes (unless there’s a nefarious reason for it). On the other hand, from the perspective of the millions of businesses on Facebook, the “social” aspect has a definite business purpose.

  • Gokul Salvadi

    I was running advertisements that would play my music and would direct to a page where I had a banner saying “Like the music? Like the page”. I thought it was good for the reason that a user can not like the page instantly. But recently those kind of ads turned expensive all of a sudden, facebook tactically forces for ads to get ‘generic’ likes. Not doing it anymore.

  • So when he announced he was cutting the lot off in aid of Cancer Research UK, friends, family and work colleagues flocked to his fundraising webpage to pledge their support.

  • Besides providing online courses to their own (generally fee-paying) students, universities have felt obliged to join the MOOC revolution to avoid being guillotined by it. Coursera has formed partnerships with 83 universities and colleges around the world, including many of America’s top-tier institutions.

  • First Peek Ultrasound

    I think it also depends on what you are selling. People go on to Facebook to relax, get distracted, or be social. So if what you’re selling falls into one of these categories, then Facebook ads are more likely to work. We have experimented with and without advertising dollars behind posts. With no advertising dollars, we still get likes and some engagement. But with advertising dollars, we get on average $450 for every $100 we spend. We get a slightly less engagement percentage but overall greater number of actual likes and comments.

    So I don’t want this blog to dissuade others. If your business falls into one of the above categories, try the experiment yourself.

    PS We have tried both location targeting and targeting of friends of friends and both have worked for us, but what works best is alternating these methods.

  • Ross Kimbarovsky

    Thanks for providing another perspective based on your experience.

  • Besides providing online courses to their own (generally fee-paying) students, universities have felt obliged to join the MOOC revolution to avoid being guillotined by it. Coursera has formed partnerships with 83 universities and colleges around the world, including many of America’s top-tier institutions.

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