Achieving ROI with Facebook Advertising: Stay the Course, But Check Your Coordinates

Facebook has come a long way from it’s inception as one college programmer’s “hot or not” web application. It’s evolved into a complex social network filled with likes, pokes, clicks and comments – and a robust advertising mechanism that’s taken a lot of heat lately for a few of it’s inherent weaknesses – namely the black market business of “click farming.”

But before we all abandon ship and pull our Facebook advertising dollars, lets take a closer look at what’s really happening with Facebook advertising, and how clever marketers can continue to achieve their social media goals without reinventing the wheel.

First, let’s review the situation:

Facebook’s advertising mechanism allows businesses to pay to have their content or their display ads shown to large number of Facebook users. The increased impressions (views) typically result in an increase in clicks, and an increase in clicks typically results in an increase in engagement. Sounds good, right?

Well, if everybody behaves “normally” the system does work well. Advertisers pay to reach more people, more people engage with their brand, and more customers are created.

However, the recent rise of “click-farmers” (groups of people who are paid to like certain pages or click on certain ads) has caused a kink in the system. Because click farmers like posts and pages for money, instead of out of genuine interest, they increase clicks without increasing genuine engagement or lead-generation, rendering the likes essentially useless. Total bummer.

Moreover, in an effort to avoid detection by Facebook, click farmers don’t just click on posts and pages that they have been paid to, they also click on ads and posts from legitimate advertisers. This creates a problem whereas money you’ve set aside for your Facebook ads is used up by these click-farmers faster than the ads can expose your post or page to legitimate users. The more money you throw at Facebook ads, the faster your fake following will grow and the sooner you find your ad budget emptied with no real engagement to show for it.

So how does a legitimate business continue to utilize the power of Facebook advertising, without falling prey to click farmers?

The answer is NOT to abandon ship. It’s to tighten your ad targeting.


There is a big difference between advertising through the simple “Boost” box in the admin area of your Facebook page and through a properly set up Facebook advertising campaign.

Facebook advertising, as with most things in life, works most efficiently when you value quality over quantity. Five high-quality clicks (i.e. legitimate, potential customers) are far more valuable than 50 low-quality click-farmer likes. So while you may be able to double your like count overnight by serving up your display ads to all 1.1 billion Facebook users, a huge percentage of those clicks are going to be from click farmers, people who live outside of your distribution area, or people who have no use for your product and no intention of ever visiting your page.

By narrowing your ad targeting through a strategically administered Facebook advertising campaign, you can reach a much higher percentage of potential customers and legitimate users and see very real ROI.

Are you targeting very broad or specific? Did you create a custom audience? Did you retarget your website visitors, your email subscribers or other engaged audiences? In other words did you target relevant fans?

The targeting tools are there, it’s just a matter of putting them strategically to use.

The bottom line is that Facebook advertising is a powerful tool. But like most social media tools, if you do not properly use it – that is, take a strategic, analytical and measured approach – then you could be wasting your money.

About Ethos

Ethos is a multiplatform branding agency that develops and executes integrated marketing campaigns across multiple channels for companies inside and outside Maine.

At Ethos, we believe that the most effective way to set a company’s marketing course is by finding its core truth – it’s ethos. We know that once we discover and communicate that core truth, we can truly make a difference to each client’s unique marketing and business objectives.

With Ethos, you get more than a Maine branding agency. You get a long-term partner whose goals are your goals.

Learn more about the Ethos approach and the work we’ve done for our clients. Want to have a conversation about your brand’s core truth? Contact us!

Written By

The ETHOS Team