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It’s easy to make a disappointing ad on social media

Pull up a social media newsfeed and you’re bound to stumble upon some dreadful advertising. Why? Because social networks will encourage any business, from Fortune 500 companies to teenage lawn care services, to make ads.

And when you’re making an ad, there are plenty of ways to sabotage it into a sure-shot failure before you even press send.

Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and LinkedIn all have their own ad platforms. Pretty much anyone can make an ad in them if they tinker around long enough. Each one is a little different, but they’re all similar in this regard: if you don’t have a plan for your ads, you will waste your money.

That’s not to say that having a plan is a sure way to creating a perfect social media ad every time– there’s plenty of trial and error involved.

However, there are ways to ensure that your ad isn’t a total dud. If you make sure that you avoid each of these common mistakes, you’ll have a head start towards successful ad campaigns.

Here are some ways to sabotage your own ads:

  1. Poor targeting

What social networks can promise you when you make an ad is traffic (or impressions). Brands are buying eyeballs when they run social media ads. Facebook, Twitter, and the others can promise that they will serve the ad you made to someone. But who?

There are plenty of targeting options on the major social media ad platforms. But they won’t force you to use them. They’ll let you run an ad targeted to every man, woman, and child in America.

And brands do it all the time.

Impressions will be through the roof when you target a massive audience, but it’s not a measure of success. You can get plenty of impressions targeting fur coat ads to Arizonans in the summertime, but how many are you going to sell?

Do your research. Know your audience. Then target your ads.

  1. No call-to-action

Imagine this for a second: your ad finds its way to someone in your target audience. They scroll down their newsfeed, spot your ad, nod their head in approval, and then keep on scrolling.

So close, but no call-to-action. Every ad should have a goal. Send someone to a page on your website, ask them to like your Facebook page, or make them watch your video that you spent so much time making.

Most of the time, a brand has a call-to-action in mind, but they haven’t explicitly stated it. And in newsfeeds, you’ve got a matter of seconds to get someone’s attention before they’re gone.

Lucky for you, on some Facebook ads, there are built-in call-to-action buttons. You have to choose from a list (“Call Now, Learn More, Use App,” etc.), but they are quite handy.

However, nothing’s better than telling someone what you want them to do in the ad copy. If you build in a call-to-action with your words in addition to other options, you’ll be in good shape.

  1. Only making one ad

Trial and error is a big part of social media advertising. Each ad that you put out is an experiment. Sometimes an ad has all of the right components and it ends up being a dud. That’s life.

But making just one and hoping for the best sets you up for a very limited experience. When you have multiple ads running under the same budget, you’ll get a chance to watch each of them perform and you’ll find out which are successful in real time.

Making multiple ads gives you a chance to experiment and learn which images and text your audience is connecting with. How can you do that with only one ad?

Determine what success is to your brand

Not every business is going to have the same goals. Some want Facebook likes, some want sales, others want as many video views as possible.

Once you determine your audience, plan your messaging, and determine an ad budget, it’s all a matter of serving ads until something resonates with your audience.

Success may not come immediately, but the social media world is massive. If you have an audience in mind, social networks will help you find them. And if your action is worth taking, you’ll start seeing the numbers turn in your favor soon enough.

Just keep making those ads and watching them grow.