When it comes to marketing your business, Facebook and Twitter seem like a perfect method to drive traffic and generate leads. However, most small businesses that use social media advertising experience a steep learning curve and ultimately do not generate leads and sales for their business. I want to help you not waste money on social media ads by sharing a few quick fixes that every small business should implement before advertising on Facebook and Twitter.

Facebook and Twitter make it look easy for any entrepreneur to get their message in front of their audience. After all, just connect your credit card and boost your posts and promote your tweets, right?


Facebook and Twitter are only as effective as how well you use them. If you casually provide details about your business, they will also unintentionally promote your content in front of an audience without regard to interests. By default, the advertising options make it too easy for a small business owner to advertise to everyone in the United States. Soon, you’ll see a generous amount of reactions to your content often called “engagement.” This engagement doesn’t translate into leads and sales because the traffic is untargeted.

Targeting is critical to every social ads campaign. Even products with mass appeal like Coke have targets. They align these targets to their business need or at least base them on a specific demographic they are trying to reach. Be it millennials or seniors; they have their audiences programmed for every ad campaign they operate. Without targeting, Facebook and Twitter will perform remarkably well–at running up your limit on your credit card.

Understanding the context of social ads is vital to ensure they connect with an audience with a message that resonates with their desire and understanding of your business. It also means understanding the platforms and how the ads affect the user experience and on which devices. Just asking people to buy your product will result in poor returns. I’ve seen so many ad campaigns fail because they went for the jugular in selling a product or service. They get some engagement, but mostly it’s from tire-kickers. For those who interact with the ad, nothing. Small business owners should treat every ad unit within a campaign as an essential asset of your brand, and that also means you build trust by (over) delivering on expectations. Provide value first, then ask for the sale when it’s right. You can’t merely produce social media ads with the same copy and headline techniques that are successful with pay-per-click (PPC) like AdWords.

Facebook and Twitter can achieve stellar performance if you have your Pixel configured correctly and you have those ad campaigns using events tracked from the Pixel data. If you don’t have at least one campaign using conversion events that fire when a lead or a customer created, you’re missing out on some killer conversion optimization. The Facebook Pixel is the technology that unlocks AI-driven algorithms to reach customers who convert. While the CPC tends to run higher than average CPC bidding, it is a fantastic way to prime your campaigns to generate leads with a healthy conversion rate.

This is why I advocate that every small business has a robust strategy that addresses the content and social advertising to work hand-in-hand. Without content, you will experience limited returns from social media. Without social ads, the content might not gain the exposure necessary. And without both, the context can get lost in the marketing tasks if they operate independently.

One note about Twitter. Their conversion tracking is very young and not as mature as Facebook’s. They did nail brand awareness campaigns, but don’t expect anywhere close to the same ROI from Twitter as you do Facebook. You can have conversion optimization on Twitter but requires a more inclusive sample for it to be effective.

Photo: often your target audience isn't necessarily the largest audience.
Often your target audience isn’t necessarily the largest audience.

How to save money on Facebook and Twitter Ads

  • Understand and build laser-targeted online audiences. If you don’t know what they do, what they read, who they listen to, what movies they watch–get on the phone with them and talk about their interests. Imagine that you had to tell an investigator where to find your customers in a crowd of a million people (make that two billion). With an unambiguous picture of your customers, build a specific audience on Facebook and Twitter respectively by starting big and using exclusionary logic to reduce the audience to approximately 100K people. And if you have an existing customer list, you should upload them and build a custom audience and a lookalike audience as well.
  • Identify and activate the first content asset you can provide that doesn’t sell. It could be a blog post, a video, and third-party review. Ideally, it should be an asset that is respected and valued by your audience to instill trust. Consider raising interest for that asset with an emotional hook or trigger that will drive them to act and consider that as one of your first few Facebook and Twitter ads. It could be fun and witty, but for the love of all things beautiful in this world, no cat GIFs. If you have a limited online audience, it might also be appropriate to focus on that metric to build your organic audience so your content can scale beyond social ads.
  • Turn off the bells and whistles of your Facebook account. Even if you do business locally, resist the urge of promoting your business to everyone within a 10-mile radius. Your business can serve not everyone, and you are paying for the impressions (the attempt) for people to see your ad, not act on it. While these bells and whistles are inactive, focus your energy on building a handful of landing pages. Even if it’s not using your domain, it will be better than sending visitors to your homepage. Eventually, get the landing pages to run from your domain.
  • Verify that your technical infrastructure is configured correctly. I know this is easier said than done for most small businesses. Make sure you can track all web traffic with Google Analytics. Verify your Facebook and Twitter Pixels have been installed on all of your pages. On your thank-you page for lead generation or a customer purchase, you are firing an event that signals that a lead has been generated or a product was sold. Lastly, make sure your site loads fast and is served over HTTPS, so customers don’t have any hesitation about interacting with your business. Check your website on PageSpeed Insights, GTMetrix, and Web Page Test to confirm optimal performance.

The reality is that before you spend any money on social ads, you need to focus on the basics to ensure you can track all activity and conversions. You might have had some top-of-funnel conversions and not even know it if you’re not tracking everything. Content is a long process for even the most successful brands, but you’ve got to invest in it if you want your digital marketing to perform well.