Social Media

Please Stop Wasting Money On Facebook Ads

It seems harmless: why not ‘boost’ that Facebook post for $5?

But I’m here to tell you that not only is this a potential giant waste of money but of your time and effort.

The exercise I am going to propose you do is a complete buzz kill but I’ll do it with you to show you how important it is.

I think it’s important to think of the following numbers related to your business.

Average Sale Price
I have an ecommerce site. After paying credit card fees and expenses, I make about $2/order. (I’m not in it for the money, guys, and I have plans for it, I swear!)

Conversion Rate/Lead to Customer Rate
Of the roughly 3,000 people going to the site I’ve tracked, we’ve gotten 55 orders. So that’s a 1.8% conversion.

Ad Budget And Cost Per Click
Clearly I have some kind of budget per month (let’s say for round numbers $100) but I clearly don’t want to pay more for an ad than I am making so let’s say I’m willing to pay $1/click as a maximum bid.

So let’s stick this in a calculator, shall we? I used this one on Hubspot but just Google ‘Facebook ads calculator’ and you’ll find a ton. I adjusted the sliders and got my result:

It doesn’t take a genius to see that to buy Facebook ads, I am losing money. Which is why for this site I don’t.

And what’s great about the calculator thing is you can adjust certain variables. Like what if I lower the amount I’m willing to pay for a click to $0.50 instead of $1?

Wohoo, I’m losing less money! What if I made $5 per order instead of $2? What if I increased the conversion rate on my website (ie made sure more of our website visitors bought something)? I can see what changes actually move the needle and adjust my website and marketing strategy accordingly.

Now paying $5 for an extra 3,000 eyeballs (ie the boost) doesn’t force you to think about how effective your website is, how good your pricing is, and other admittedly more fundamental questions so I get why you’d do it. But please, stop handing Facebook money and spend ten minutes with a Facebook calculator and your actual numbers. It is totally worth your time as you might be doing a bang up job marketing but people get to your site and don’t buy. You can put lipstick on a pig but you know how that goes…

Why Not Everything Has To Be Profitable

I did this exercise with a potential client and she was totally deflated. She had been holding these low cost events (not unlike our $25/person workshops at Anchorspace) and wanted to advertise them… but with the exercise understood taking out ads would cost her more money than she’d make.

Now I could tell she loved the events so I didn’t tell her to not do the events. And I didn’t tell her not to advertise. What I did tell her is if she was going to keep doing her events, she’d have to stop looking at them as a moneymaker and instead think of them as a loss leader (getting people into her business where they buy other things) or marketing tool (something to get her name out there, regardless of whether people came or not). In other words, not everything you advertise has to make you money directly. But if it’s not making you money, you should have some other reason to do it that makes sense. 

(If you like this, I’m doing a Facebook workshop on Friday. You should come, virtually or in real life.)

Facebook Ads can be a great tool but I see so much wasted effort. By knowing your numbers, using a Facebook calculator, and having your non-revenue generating activities have another clear purpose, you will be spending your money and time more purposefully and effectively going forward. 

Creating a Video Series on Social Media

Producing video on social media has been getting easier and more popular, over the past few years. We’ve talked about how short videos are a great way to market for businesses and nonprofits, but another trend that I’ve noticed lately is how “shows” are becoming more popular on social media, too. (I mean, we were fairly on trend with Tech Thursday).

These aren’t quite the same caliber as a good Netflix binge, but it’s still interesting to see the ideas people and brands are coming up with. One recent example I can think of is Kristen Bell’s Momsplaining, which she does through Ellen DeGeneres’ YouTube Channel. Each episode is only between 4-7 minutes long, they’re produced but not with a set the way Law & Order is.

These video series aren’t just on Youtube. On Facebook, there are “shows” like Charlene’s World, which share fairly hilarious videos of a young girl and different personalities she’s invented including Bossy Boss Lady, Classy Jen, and Blaze.

Betches just started a new web series called “Please Advise with Aleen,” which is a guide to corporate life for 20-somethings. They also have other videos that live on their website but get shared on their social media channels.

It seems like from established celebrities and brands to “Joe Schmoe down the road,” the preferred new way to share not just one video but a series of videos is through social media. The fact that Kristen Bell & Ellen are sharing Momsplaining on YouTube instead of trying to make it a full t.v. show might signal that they’re trying to meet their audience where they are- on social media.

In terms of social media that supports very short term video content, this article, which talks about experiments creating a Snapchat-only show and an Instagram show (back when Instagram only supported 15 second videos). Since the article is from 2016, I’m guessing the Snapchat attempt at a series wasn’t very successful (Instagram has since extended it’s video length allowance to 60 seconds). A lot of celebrities will post Snapchat stories, but it doesn’t seem like the “Snapchat series” has made a comeback just yet.

Of course sometimes a web series will eventually air on t.v., like Derek Waters’ Drunk History, but for now, it seems like video series are sticking to social media for the time being.

So when you have some things to say but can’t fit it in one video, consider doing a series on social media. You may be surprised at how large the audience is there… and how many other people are making series too.

We Doubled The Amount Of Social Media Posts We Did And Nothing Bad Happened

You’ve probably heard about Facebook’s algorithm changes and other social networks similarly controlling what updates we see, from who, and when.

One of the overly simplified ways of dealing with the fact less people on social media are seeing your stuff is… just post more often. It makes sense this would increase the odds of people seeing things.

Based on what other marketers are saying about this, basically they all agree you should post a lot. These guys in a recent podcast recommended posting to social networks 30-40 times…. a DAY.

The other part of my brain doesn’t want to be a promotional jerk… so how do I consolidate these two parts of me: one part humble small town gal not wanting to annoy her friends and one part shark like business woman who wants to be wildly successful?

I doubled what we were posting to Facebook and Twitter. And I posted a TON on Pinterest (like 1000%+ more than usual).

Did I annoy the crap out of my friends?
Did I increase traffic to my website?
Was it all ‘worth it’?

Let’s find out!

Web Traffic Hasn’t Changed Much, If At All

So if we know I doubled how much I was sharing mid January, you can kind of see website views going up.

That said, I expanded the view back a few months and you see I was getting similar traffic (though maybe more sporadically?) back in November 2017.

If I compare traffic to the same period last year, I see social media referral traffic is up 50%… But if the overall traffic is the same, it’s impossible what would have happened if I *didn’t* do extra social media. I don’t feel comfortable saying this made a difference or it didn’t, we’d clearly need more data to say anything meaningful, but at least we know it is driving traffic to our website.

Followers Didn’t Massively Leave Our Channels

One way to tell if you are annoying people is they’ll stop following you. So I went and looked at our Twitter Followers and Facebook Likers to see if a mass exodus had happened with our double updates:

As you see, we lost four whole Twitter followers (on par for a typical month) and the people unliking on Facebook during the double down period seems to actually be less than the month leading up to it.

In other words, no mass exodus.

Our Views, Reach, And Engagement Were Up

The logical thing happened that we all expected, which is to say by posting more, more people did see our stuff.

Views up 22% on Facebook
Reach up 67% on Facebook
Impressions up 3.6% on Twitter
Profile visits up 28% on Twitter

It makes you wonder if tripling (or 1000% more posts) would have had more of an effect… but Pinterest might be able to help us there….

Pinterest, Where People Should Really Be Annoyed By Us, Was More Successful

Because I’ve been front loading our blog posts, etc. into Pinterest, I’ve been adding hundreds of pins over the last two weeks in particular (way more than I usually do). In other words, I would have expected a mass exodus here if anywhere. But as you see with the numbers above (by the way, four of those five boards are just our stuff), we got literally over 18,000 views on our posts. Holy crap.

So to gain 18,000 views, how many people did we have to lose?

So to have 151% more views and an increase of 52% more daily viewers, we lost 2% over the course of the month.

I mean losing 2% to gain 50%… that’s some math I can be ok with.

So to summarize the month of doubling our posts, I would say it was totally worth doing. We got more eyeballs on our stuff (and more traffic from social media to our website). And the quantitative data (followers change) and qualitative data (people telling us we were being annoying) shows that doing this extra marketing wasn’t nearly as annoying (or even noticeable) to our base as we thought it would be.

If you’ve been thinking of stepping up your social media game and posting more, I hope this post is encouraging to you. We’re going to keep running this experiment for another couple months but so far, so good…. and I don’t think we are the only ones who would see this kind of benefit.

Be Kind Online: The New Year Edition

It’s a new year, and you may be making resolutions to improve your self/life in 2018. If you’re struggling with an idea, I can help you out- and the good news is, it’s actually really easy to do!

Here it is: Be a little nicer online.

It may sound totally simple, but hey, there’s always room for improvement. After all, we aren’t all at Thumper’s level of self-editing, myself included:


The internet has become a pretty open arena for sharing experiences and opinions, especially social media. It’s also become fairly common for people to put each other down (okay, that’s probably a euphemism).

Without getting sucked into a conversation about online shaming (which these days is less of a blog post and more of a book), smaller scale shaming like a comment on a Facebook post can still be really hurtful. In honor of the new year, here are some ideas for being nice(r) online:

Before you comment, realize that you may not have all the context. When I was pregnant, I had someone comment on a photo of me on a hike that I was reckless/careless to do something like that by myself (paraphrasing). I instantly felt ashamed of something I’d formerly been proud of- I took the picture down and didn’t post any of my hikes for the rest of the summer (note: my response is on me, not the commenter). Here’s the thing: this person (and everyone else who saw the picture) didn’t have the full context- I was actually not alone on the hike. The person I was with is much more private and I was simply being respectful of his desire not to be on Facebook, so I just shared a picture of myself. Which brings me to the next point…

Be respectful of others “space.” Nicole talked about the questions she asks herself before posting something online in a blog post “Manners on the Move.” One of her “rules” is not tagging photos or checking in somewhere without a person’s consent. Everyone has their own gut checks for social media, which is fine, just remember to be respectful of how others choose to be present online. It’s easy to ask for permission if you’re going to write about someone on a Facebook post, even if they don’t have Facebook. Recently someone wrote a post about my 80 year old grandmother on Facebook, and she found out through one of us grandkids. It wasn’t negative, but she wasn’t really thrilled about being written about by a close friend of hers without knowing about it.

In the below Instagram post, Whole-30 founder Melissa Hartwig explains her personal metrics for sharing on her personal social media accounts: “Does it feel gross?” We all have our own views on what feels “gross” to post, so it’s a fairly universal metric.

A post shared by Melissa Hartwig (@melissa_hartwig) on

Think of ways to be helpful instead. One example I can think of is mom’s shaming other moms on baby/kid pictures. Unless someone is clearly putting their child in danger, it’s probably more helpful to keep opinions to yourself. If you want to be helpful to say, a mom who is maybe a little off in how she straps her kid in a car seat, consider sending a private message that offers actual helpful tips for correct practices. Commenting with a threat to call DHHS and have the child taken away, for example, is pretty unhelpful (and yes, this is an example I have actually seen).

Quietly remove yourself from negativity. Let’s face it, we all have a friend or two on Facebook that is a total negative Nancy. You are only ever in control of your own actions and responses, so if there’s a person or group online that rubs you the wrong way, you can always remove their stories from your newsfeed. It’s basically just passive resistance- instead of getting involved in a back and forth on social media, it’s like just quietly receding into the background.


Overall, I think the world, online and off, could benefit from trying to understand each other before jumping to judgments. While Facebook and other social networks allow us to connect in a more widespread way, sometimes we lose sight of what it means to connect in a meaningful, kind way.

We Bought 500 Facebook Likes And Nothing Terrible Happened

Some people are obsessed with the amount of Facebook likes (or Instagram followers or insert social media thing here). I’ve personally always thought it didn’t really matter how many of anything we had so long as these people contributed to the overall community we were trying to create and we had paying customers. (I wrote a blog post about how I truly believe you don’t need infinite customers to survive in business and I still believe that to my core.)

That said, I’ve always wondered would anything terrible happen if we bought likes.

I’ve heard the rumors, that Facebook will do witchy things to your page or your brand would be compromised. But what would happen if, for once, I did take a shortcut?

I did it for science, and I did it for you. (Note if you are a paying client, I’ve never purchased likes for you. I only experiment on my own companies when I do something seemingly risky.)


To be fair about comparing the before and after of this, I knew I had to measure what I thought was important. So I decided to look at the following the month before and the month after I sold out:

  • Number of fans- If I buy a set amount, did this change and did it stay changed after I paid the fee? IE not only am I getting what I’m paying for but does it last.
  • Number of interactions on the average post- Would having more likes make my posts more visible/create more exposure?
  • Number of private messages- Did having more likes lead to more potential money?

I did no paid ads or other campaigns to keep the situations as similar as possible.

I went on a website and paid $5 to someone who guaranteed me 500 Facebook likes and had good reviews.

The month before (October 4-November 4, 2017):

Number of fans: 664
Number of interactions on the average post: 120.2 (averaging 15 data points in the Post Reach section of Facebook Insights.)
Number of private messages: None, though three if you count public Facebook comments from people wanting to buy stuff.

This was a pretty typical month honestly.

Then I bought the likes. Can you guess what day I did it?

The month after (November 5 – December 5, 2017):

Number of fans: 1227 (plus 563 net change)
Number of interactions on the average post: (averaging 15 data points in the Post Reach section): 106.7333333333333333333 (you get the idea)
Number of private messages: None though three if you could public Facebook comments from people wanting to buy stuff.

What’s different for me now that we’ve doubled our Facebook audience?

The short answer is… nothing. It makes sense that people who have no idea who we are and liked us to earn the equivalent of $0.05 are going to interact less with us than the 664 people who have stuck with us (as you can see from the graph above) practically forever.

No noticable increase in business inquiries either. No one has even commented on this change in likes so in other words, other people didn’t even notice our new found purchased popularity.

I guess if you have $5 to spend and don’t feel like buying bitcoin, stocks, etc. you could easily buy some fans. Just know that you’re doing it for your ego and not for much else. 

My next experiment might be, if I just post MORE, will these numbers change? But that’s for next time. For now, while you can buy popularity, you can’t buy shortcuts to growing your business. Which I guess you probably knew already.

100 Youtube Videos

Inspired by a lot of short format content I’ve seen (and by friends who ask me questions that have answers which aren’t quite enough info for a blog post), I thought I’d see if I could do 100 videos in 100 days. I also wanted to see if they’d get more views or have different analytics than our longer format (more typical) videos. I’ll report back after the 100 days but if you want to check out the 30ish videos currently there in the meantime, subscribe to our channel!

I set some rules for myself during my 100 video challenge:

  1. Videos were as close to a minute long as possible.
  2. They had to be close captioned.
  3. They had to be useful as stand alone resources.

I’ve been a member of a BNI like organization for the last almost three years and since I give weekly 60 second presentations there, I found staying short to be relatively easy. It was hard, however, to both tell a story and a how-to in 60 seconds, so some videos were slightly more on one side in the other but ALL had an actionable item, even it was just ‘learn more about X’.

Youtube and Facebook both have built in closed captioning on videos (trust me, it’s much easier to go through and fix than type the whole thing yourself) so adding closed captioning was literally an extra two minutes but I think inherently valuable. I’ve watched videos with the sound off far more often than I’ll admit so I’m sure other people do the same.

You notice annoying speech tics in a whole new way when transcribing yourself.
The first few videos, I found myself saying ‘you know’ a lot. This is an old habit I’ve noticed from being video taped in my college public speaking class and later student teaching but something about writing out every time you say ‘you know’ three times in a 65 second video makes you nip it in the bud.

I videotaped a bunch of videos at once and scheduled them to go live in a playlist… but it looked like a bunch of ‘private’ videos to everyone else.
Whoops, I thought I was so clever. Thanks Jon Hill for noticing and telling me. May we all have a friend like Jon Hill in our lives. Share your videos with that friend so they can point out weird technical stuff like that, because it’s impossible to see some things while you are logged in or otherwise ‘in it’.

I felt slimy about putting it all as a blog post, as Facebook videos, as Youtube videos, etc.
Even though I tell people this is possible (to make something once and use everywhere), thinking about doing this daily makes me feel slimy. Now I understand why people pay for someone else to do this for them (someone like us), rather than do it themselves. I know instinctively that there are different people/audiences on each site but it can be difficult to press that “publish” button multiple times when it’s your own project.

I am glad I decided not to make them fancier.
I could have added an intro/exit to each video but I thought that would be pretty annoying to people wanting to binge watch a bunch at once. It also would have added about five minutes of work to each video. In the case of the short form video, I didn’t deem fanciness (background music, screenshots, etc.) necessary. I thought I might regret this choice part way through the process but I don’t.

I still have about 60 videos to make so leave a comment on this post about topics you want me to cover. I’ll report back at the end of the challenge but I hope you watch, subscribe, and share the most useful ones to you.

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