With their ever growing popularity, social media platforms have undoubtedly become the most effective way for small business owners to grow their client base. But, as simple as it is to post an ad on these sites, there are several pitfalls that you will need to avoid in order to make the most of these new mediums. In episode #134, Gene Marks and Elizabeth Larkin along with special guest, Hannah Stacy discuss four common advertising mistakes that can negatively impact your social media presence.
2:44—Today’s Topic: What Mistakes Should I Avoid When Advertising on Social Media?
3:18—One common mistake that business owners make is targeting the wrong audience. As a business owner, there are three types of audience settings available to you on Facebook: core audience, custom audience, and lookalike audience. Be sure to test out which particular audience responds the most to your posts before you invest in an expensive campaign.
6:27—Avoid using bad photos. While you don’t need to hire a professional photographer for your ads, make sure that you have a strong grasp of how to take your own quality pictures.
9:34—Don’t abandon on your business page once you set it up. In order to keep your audience members engaged, you need to be posting on your page at least once a day.
13:15—Keep your “Events Page” updated; this enables your followers to spread the word to their friends and followers.
Submit Your Question
Elizabeth: Welcome back to the Small Biz Ahead podcast. I’m Elizabeth Larkin from The Hartford. I’m here with Hannah Stacy, our special guest, also from The Hartford. And Gene Marks, our small business expert and owner.
Elizabeth: You used to get upset when I called you our small business expert and now you’re just like …
Gene: Yeah. I’m like, I hear it enough-
Elizabeth: You’ve given it up.
Gene: You know, it’s funny, because people refer to me as a small business expert. I mean, I’ve been running a business for a long time. I don’t wanna say I’m an expert or anything ’cause I meet so many people that are so much smarter than me and do things better. But, all I can do is share what I’ve learned.
Elizabeth: The other thing is, you work with like 500 clients who are all small business owners.
Gene: Yeah. But, I don’t know. Again, that doesn’t make me an expert. It just makes me experienced with a lot of small businesses.
Elizabeth: Do you think you learn more from watching the mistakes they make, though, ’cause you can kinda step back and look at them? Or, the ones you’ve made?
Gene: Both. I learn more from my clients. I learn more from, obviously, the mistakes that I make. I learn more when I do stuff like this. I learn stuff when I come to The Hartford and find out what you guys do. Like, the employee benefits you guys have. Or, different issues that you guys might … I mean, I bring that back to my business and my clients.
Gene: I think big companies have a lot to teach small businesses.
Elizabeth: We’re happy to help you, Gene.
Gene: Yeah. Thank you. You’re here to serve.
Elizabeth: Okay. After we hear from our sponsor, we’re gonna talk about the mistakes that small business owners make when they are using social media. We’ll be right back.
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Question: What mistakes should you avoid when posting Facebook ads?
Elizabeth: So, Gene, did you know that Hannah actually used to work in social media before I stole her away to manage the Small Biz Ahead blog?
Gene: I found that out about four minutes ago. I was asking Hannah, I said, “Tell me. What’d you do before The Hartford?” Yeah. I just got a bunch of social media experience.
Elizabeth: Did you work with small business owners? Did you do small business stuff?
Hannah: When I first started, I was the copywriter for all lines of business. I was doing small commercial writing and I was picking out photos. Then, I moved into … I was in charge of the Instagram account. So, any events that we would have, like PR events, communications events, I would be posting on our Instagram account.
Elizabeth: So, you know how to build an audience on social media.
Elizabeth: That’s what we’re gonna be talking about today. I just opened up a yoga studio and I’m trying to figure out how to create Facebook ads to market my business. What mistakes should I avoid when using social media ads?
So, Gene, you got very excited about this question.
Gene: I did. Yeah. ‘Cause I’ve been in to Facebook and Facebook ads over the past couple of years. Not only to expand my audience, but also to drive more people to my business and to my website and all that. So, I learned. Like everything else, you only learn, Hannah, from doing stuff.
Gene: One of the big things that I learned is about Facebook’s audiences. When you are looking to create … First of all, there’s a bunch of things you need to do to create an ad … creatively and graphically … design and all that. But, no matter how great an ad you have, if it’s not hitting the right eyeballs, then it’s gonna be useless. Facebook really has just three types of audiences that you can target with your advertising.
There’s your core audience. Those are the people that are already following you. If you’ve got a bunch of followers and you wanna send them an ad, or even a post … although we’re talking about ads right now … You can just do that as part of that when you create your ad. You can select to send to your core audience. That’s where it’s gonna go. By the way, that’s like the cheapest option for you, as well, ’cause it’s just your core audience.
They also have, besides core audience, is something called custom audiences. Custom audiences, I believe, is the most popular option for most companies, big brands and small businesses. With a custom audience, Facebook gives the ability to choose your audience, based on a demographic.
For example, we’ve just launched a training platform for one of our products. So, I wanna find anybody on Facebook that might be a user of this product, that’s based in the U.S., that might have a job that has something to do with sales. A lot of other people might wanna target a demographic differently. So, this is a yoga shop, for example. This person who runs the yoga shop, we don’t know what his or her name is, but that person is probably looking for somebody that’s into yoga. So, you can actually create a custom audience where Facebook will choose for you people that have likes where they like yoga or they like fitness. Also, if it’s a yoga shop, I’m assuming it’s not a chain. It’s probably a local shop, so you wanna then focus it on just a local area, as well. You don’t wanna be sending out ads all around the country. That’s meaningless to you.
So, again, there’s the core audience. There’s the custom audience. The final one is called look a like audiences. There, the owner of this yoga shop, if he or she already has a database, like a spreadsheet, of … maybe they’ve got a bunch of customers and these customers all have a certain … she’s got some demographics about them. Maybe their age, or their gender, or any kind of likes or whatever. He or she can upload that spreadsheet and then Facebook will allow you to match other people that are Facebook users that are like this audience. Do you know what I mean? So, it’s a look a like. Then, you can target ads to them, as well.
So, you have to figure out who your audience is going to be. What I’ve also learned is, you’re never gonna figure it out. You’re always gonna have questions. You’re gonna mess it up because that’s what I did. And you’re gonna waste some money on doing certain campaigns until you, ultimately, get it together.
When I talk about custom, core, and look a like audiences, you wanna do small campaigns, testing with each of those audiences. Then, therefore, you can find out where you’re getting the most bang for your buck and then expand those campaigns.
Elizabeth: Okay. So, out of all the mistakes you can make, number one is targeting the wrong audience-
Gene: Yeah. That’s correct.
Elizabeth: With your ad dollars.
Elizabeth: So, Hannah. You brought up bad photography.
Hannah: Yes. A lot of the times, you see on Facebook, whether it’s an ad or just a regular post, the photography isn’t that great. Nowadays … a lot of people used to invest in nice cameras and do photo shoots, but iPhones really do the job. Just as long as you know to get the right angle, to not go too close, and to make sure that it looks good when you actually post it. ‘Cause sometimes when you post on Facebook, it can be blurry. Especially if you do videos. Then, also, some people like to do collages and I recommend not doing collages. It’s just too much to look at. Just one awesome picture.
Then, make sure you don’t crop strangely, as well. Sometimes people will be posting a photo of somebody and they’ll crop somebody out of it. For example, if it’s a yoga studio, and say you’re doing a highlight for your instructor and you’re taking a photo from their profile picture and you’re doing or saying, “Come see Hannah. She’s teaching tonight.” and she uses a cropped photo of me, it just doesn’t look very good. So, make sure you have quality, professional, good looking photos.
Elizabeth: And, Hannah actually is a yoga instructor.
Hannah: I am.
Gene: Are you really?
Gene: Okay, so you can relate to this.
Hannah: Yes. Definitely.
Elizabeth: I totally agree with the collages. Why do you think people do that? ‘Cause they don’t look good.
Hannah: I think … there’s so many apps now. And, one of the apps is using a collage. I used to do this back in the day. I think it was more relevant a few years ago when you would post-
Elizabeth: When she was 14 years old.
Hannah: Like, if you’re writing happy birthday to someone and you do a collage of photos. But, on your business page, I just don’t think it looks good. It’s just too much to look at.
Gene: It might also be, as well, if … I’m thinking, again, the yoga studio … I don’t know. Maybe they wanna include a bunch of customers in one picture. They don’t wanna leave anybody out. But, then it turns in to just a mess.
Elizabeth: But, the more pictures you have, the more [fodder] you have for ads.
Gene: I agree.
Elizabeth: One thing about photography I will say, is that if you have an iPhone, Hannah’s right. An iPhone, especially if you have portrait mode or even, you have a Samsung Galaxy something-
Gene: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Elizabeth: They take great pictures now.
Gene: Yeah. Absolutely.
Elizabeth: So, if you’re thinking, “Oh, my god. I don’t know anything about photography.” Your camera phone is gonna get your half of the way there. Just go to YouTube and Google how to take the best pictures with iPhone whatever you have. I think I have a seven, or something.
Hannah: They now have portrait mode too, which is amazing. Say you work at a café, you wanna take a picture of your meal or breakfast-
Elizabeth: A latte.
Hannah: Yeah. Latte. You could take a portrait mode picture and it looks awesome.
Elizabeth: Yeah. They look amazing. Just learn the basics of lighting and you can do that very quickly in a YouTube.
Look at me bringing up YouTube. It’s usually Gene bringing up YouTube first.
Gene: Yeah. But, you’re right. You get good instructions for doing that. And your point, Elizabeth, on using your smartphone … Every photographer might hate us for saying that. There’s certainly a lot of room for professional photographers in the world, but we’re just talking about posting on Facebook-
Gene: For a small business yoga studio. Geez, today’s iPhones and Samsung devices … they’re so good. We lean on them, for now.
Elizabeth: Yes. Okay, so number one was targeting the wrong audience. Number two is using bad photography. Gene, what’s number three?
Gene: We call it ghosting your page. It’s basically, you set up your page and then, you just pretty much bail on it. You’re not using it. It’s just kinda hanging out there. Facebook is all about engagement and interaction. Really, was not originally started as a place where businesses are gonna be and be advertising. It was started for … Look, we’ve all seen the Facebook movie. It’s all over college students supposed to be talking to each other and whatever. So now, obviously, it’s evolved into something a lot more than that. Businesses are expected to still be personal. You should be posting on your Facebook page.
A lot of people ask, “How often should you be posting? How much is too much?” Hannah, how much is too much?
Hannah: I would say once a day is good.
Gene: Once a day?
So, if you have a friend or even a business that you’re following, and they’re posting like six or seven times a day, would you find that annoying?
Hannah: I think it would be a little excessive and I think, also, on Instagram, they have this great new feature with stories.
Hannah: I think if you post a lot there … Like, say you have an event or something going on and you wanna post little videos, that’s a great way to do a lot ’cause then people can kinda choose to watch it or not. Rather than if you’re clogging up someone’s feed. That can be different.
Gene: It’ll be interesting to see where we go with both Instagram … I mean, Instagram is owned by Facebook and Instagram is awesome. Yet, a lot of business owners I meet haven’t figured out the right balance between, “What should I be doing on Facebook? What should I be doing on Instagram? Should I choose one over the other?” So, I like what you’re saying. It could be that if you’ve got photos, videos, or whatever … leave that to Instagram. Then, Facebook is more for sort of information.
Hannah: They’re all very linked now, so when you’re posting on Instagram, you can also say if you wanna put this on your Facebook story, as well. It can go to both places.
Gene: Yeah. That’s good to know. You’ll have a whole different audience that’s on Instagram, that’s on Facebook.
Gene: You wanna hit as many audiences as possible.
Getting back to our favorite yoga instructor. If I was him or her running this yoga studio, I would be posting something on Facebook at least, like you said, once a day. Maybe one or two times a day. If it were me, I’d be posting yoga tips. I’d be sharing information about it.
Elizabeth’s gonna yell at me when I say this, but I’m gonna say it. If you don’t have the time to do it yourself, you might wanna hire a kid in elementary school, 4th grade, 5th grade … No, just kidding, obviously. Somebody in college, I usually say. Like, a marketing student. I don’t know if you did that when you were in college. You do part-time work. If you’re a marketing major … for a small business. Sometimes you can get ’em for free ’cause it adds to their resume and all that.
But, any way, just like one or two tips a day on yoga. Short and sweet.
Elizabeth: I think posting every day on Facebook is actually too much.
Gene: Wow. Really?
Gene: So, you think that’s … I’ll talk to some people and they’ll be like, “Oh, you should be posting like 5 or 10 times a day.” A day.
Elizabeth: I think from my yoga studio, I don’t really wanna hear from them more than like once or twice a week.
Gene: Wow. Okay. All right.
Elizabeth: When we’re talking about ghosting a page, we’re really talking about like you do a post, and then a month later, we don’t see anything.
Elizabeth: I don’t wanna overwhelm this new yoga studio owner. And, you don’t just have to post posts. There are other things to post, which we’re gonna get to next with Hannah’s next suggestions.
To recap, we have mistakes you can make when doing ads.
One, is targeting the wrong audience.
Two, is bad photography.
Three, is ghosting your page or never … like, posting on your page once and then never again.
So, Hannah, you have number four.
Hannah: I follow multiple yoga studios and that’s really where I get ideas on what to do that weekend or after work. I love being able to go click on the events page, the events tab, on their page and see what’s coming up this weekend. What workshop is there? What activity can I go to?
I think it’s really important to keep that really updated. Yes, on your website you’re gonna have that as well. But, a lot of people are looking and they’re checking in. Say I look at an event and I see, “Okay, there’s a yoga nidra workshop this weekend that I wanna go to.” I click accept. Then, on my feed, it’ll show up and other people … my friends … can see it. Then, they can then click on it, which is great.
Elizabeth: Yeah. I think actually posting events … I don’t know. I just wanna get back to how often to post. Don’t overwhelm yourself. I think if you’re posting events, that qualifies as a post. You don’t have to post a post post every single day. Events are great because, as Hannah said, if her friends see she’s going, they’re more likely to sign up for it. That’s a great thing to post.
Gene: So, you’re saying, “Don’t kill yourself. You don’t have to feel, like, overwhelmed.”
Elizabeth: Yeah. Don’t kill yourself. If you’re just getting started, you might not be able to come up with seven different things to post every week, but having one or two, I think, is fine to start.
Hannah: What I’ve seen, too, is a lot of yoga studios will post a quote. Just a simple quote, an inspirational quote, which is great. People can comment and like. They’ll post events, which I’m sure at a yoga studio you’re gonna have at least probably one event per week. You could post, like I was saying before, teacher spotlights. Something about the teachers … their experiences, their certifications … Just simple things like that, where it’s not overwhelming.
Elizabeth: People love inspirational quotes. I always have to roll my eyes at them, but people love them.
Gene: People seem to like that. I agree. One final thing, the question was about social media tips and for advertising on Facebook. Events … it’s a great idea if you have an event, you want people to come to it, that’s a great excuse for an ad. You have to have an objective when you place an ad on Facebook. You’re trying to get clicks. In the end, you’re trying to get more business. Otherwise, why spend the money? So, an event like Hannah’s suggesting, is a perfect thing to post and then, you can have a small ad campaign … $50 or $100 or something to a custom audience or a look a like audience that you think they might be interested in that event. Then, you can track that.
Elizabeth: If you’re a local yoga studio, you can have a successful ad for $50-
Gene: No doubt.
Elizabeth: ‘Cause you’re targeting a small … Even if you’re in a city, you might just be targeting … You can geo tag it down to one particular neighborhood in the city.
Gene: Correct. When you think about it, you’re targeting to one geographic area of people that like yoga or fitness. That really narrows down the field. Obviously, you spend more when you’re looking for a larger audience.
Elizabeth: Yeah. Okay. Great. Thank you to Gene and Hannah for joining this week.
Gene: Thank you, Hannah!
Hannah: Thank you.
Gene: Good stuff.
Hannah: Thanks for having me.
Elizabeth: We will be back with our next episode, which is all about tax incentives that you can provide to … Wait. All right. I need to start over. We’ll be back in a couple days with our next episode about tax incentives that can help you provide better employee benefits.
Gene: As you said that, Hannah just fell asleep. But, come back any way because I’m telling you, this is interesting.
Elizabeth: Well, Hannah’s not a small business owner. But, a small business owner’s gonna hear that and perk up. Like, “I can save money?”
Gene: You can save money and attract better employees and keep your employees happier.
Gene: Stay tuned.
Elizabeth: Stay tuned. Talk to you soon. Thanks.
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