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The Common Traps That Make Social Media Ads Campaigns Fail

It’s tempting to get caught up in the excitement of social media marketing. Social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram have billions of individual user profiles, giving businesses virtually global reach.

It’s more difficult than ever to gain organic social media popularity these days – and for a variety of reasons, including high levels of competition and decreasing organic reach. As a result, millions of aspiring marketers and business owners rely on the power of social media advertising to spread their message.

Unfortunately, despite the enormous potential ROI of social media, the majority of social media advertising campaigns fail.

What are the most common pitfalls that prevent digital marketers from getting the most out of their campaigns? And, perhaps more importantly, how do you avoid them?

Choosing the Wrong Platform

When planning a social media ad campaign, one of the first and most important decisions you’ll make is which platform to use – or which combination of platforms to use.

Some people prefer to trust their instincts rather than conduct research. They see Facebook as the most valuable social media platform, despite not knowing whether Facebook has a large enough population of people who fit their target demographics. Or they believe that distributing advertising across multiple platforms is always the best option, despite the fact that adding a new platform to your portfolio will cost you more time and money.

Take your time with this one. Make sure your primary platform is heavily used by your target audience by conducting research and looking at the numbers – and don’t forget to review pricing, ad campaign tools, and analytics.

Focusing on the Wrong Metrics

Hopefully, you understand the value of measuring and analyzing your work so that you can gradually optimize your ads and see better results. However, it’s tempting to track metrics that don’t tell you anything about your “true” results at the start of your campaign.

As an example:

  • Followers. An increasing number of followers could indicate that your online presence and brand reputation are growing and improving; however, it could also be a superficial metric that means little. Just because 10,000 people follow your page doesn’t mean they’ll visit your website – or even interact with your content.
  • Likes. Likes, on the other hand, are not a reliable indicator of consumer interest or engagement. This is especially true if you’re getting likes from people who aren’t in your target demographic.
  • Traffic. Website traffic is important to track, but it does not provide a complete picture of how your campaign is performing. For example, are people leaving your website soon after they arrive? Or are they reading your content for hours on end?

If you want to know if your campaign is working, you’ll need a more “zoomed out” view. How is your brand’s visibility growing? How long do visitors stay on your blog’s pages? How many conversions do you get, and how does that translate into a positive ROI?

Scaling Too Quickly

In order to achieve faster growth, digital marketers are willing to make significant sacrifices. Most of the time, this is a good strategy; investing heavily in your ad campaign and scaling up your efforts will usually lead to more customers and conversions.

However, scaling too quickly can cause a slew of issues that will plague your campaign indefinitely. Some platforms, such as Instagram, have built-in mechanisms to find out if any Instagram growth services have been used or to detect when an account is behaving abnormally. For example, if a brand-new account begins spending tens of thousands of dollars on advertising, a red flag is raised, and your account may be banned as a result.

Furthermore, scaling too quickly may force you to expend resources prematurely, eventually depleting your budget before you reach peak effectiveness.

Targeting a General Audience

To whom are you speaking? Many people write and publish advertisements instinctively with the goal of reaching as many people as possible. They speak in a generic and professional manner, employing ambiguous language and cliches to appeal to a broad audience. While this technology allows you to reach a larger number of people, it also limits your effectiveness; your messaging will be perceived as too bland and irrelevant to elicit action.

You’re much better off writing and distributing highly targeted advertising, which artificially limits your target audience while greatly increasing your relevance. This can also help you distinguish yourself from the competition.

Focusing Exclusively on Selling

Some of your advertisements should directly sell your product. Some of your social media posts should inform your followers that you have added products and services available for purchase. However, if the vast majority of your ads and posts are focused on hard-selling your products, you’re doing something wrong. Most people aren’t on social media to buy things – and if your only goal is to sell, you’ll turn people off. Make up for this by providing your followers with organic content and other valuable pieces of information or entertainment.

Buying Followers (or Other Superficial Items)

It is possible to cheat your way to greater superficial success on social media by purchasing followers or likes. However, this is a losing strategy. These figures are “empty,” adding no real value to your brand or long-term curation of an interested audience. Furthermore, if you are caught using these shady tactics, your profile may be banned – or your company’s reputation may be jeopardized.


Long-term consistency benefits the best social media advertising and marketing strategies. A single ad campaign will not help you increase brand awareness, nor will a week of organic posting followed by a week of silence. If you want to see better results, you must commit to ongoing support and development.


How many brands are currently promoting themselves via social media? How many of them work in the same industry or have the same target audience as you?

You almost certainly have thousands, if not millions, of direct competitors. If you copy their strategy or don’t offer anything new, you’ll suffer as a result. There is definitely value in studying your competition and learning from their tactics, but if you want to break through the clutter, you’ll need to differentiate your brand and messaging tactics.

Failure to Experiment

Experimentation is the only sure way to improve your current marketing strategies. Standard experiments, such as AB tests, allow you to see how your hypothetical models perform in a real-world setting. You might believe that changing your call to action (CTA) or using a different image will result in a higher conversion rate, but you won’t know for sure until you test these variations.

Too many social media marketers are hesitant to take this step. Either they prefer to focus on a single ad at a time, or they trust their instincts over hard data. In any case, a non-experimental approach will inevitably weaken your long-term results.

Failure to Adapt

In line with this, the most important characteristic for any social media advertiser is adaptability. There is no one-size-fits-all strategy for achieving results that will work for all businesses in all industries. And just because a tactic worked in the past doesn’t guarantee it will work in the future. As a result, the only way forward is to remain adaptable and willing to change as needed to improve your results.

There’s one more thing to mention here. There are numerous methods for growing your online business, and social media is just one of them. Don’t be disheartened if you discover that social media advertising isn’t working for you. It could simply be a sign that you need to revise your strategy or shift your focus to other channels. As long as you keep reviewing and improving your approach, you’ll be on the right track.

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John Harper

#1 File Information bestselling author John Harper loves to dispel the myth that smart men & women don’t read (or write) romance, and if you watch reruns of the game show The Weakest Link you might just catch him winning the $77,000 jackpot. In 2021, Netflix will premiere Bridgerton, based on his popular series of novels about the Why Files.

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