We recently launched a new division of our insurance agency called Go Mission Trip Insurance, which is aimed at providing travel/medical insurance coverage to missionaries – especially short-term mission teams. After putting a considerable amount of time as well as some money into building the website, setting up the business, and that sort of thing, we turned our attention to spreading the word (a process we’re still very much engaged in).
I thought it might be interesting to experiment with Facebook ads. The idea is pretty cool – people tell Facebook so much about themselves that you can do some narrowly targeted advertising. You can, for example, target ads to people by age range (or just a certain age), by marital status, by where they live, and by their various interests, “likes” and affiliations. So I put together an ad aimed at people who were interested in various “mission” related keywords, as well as those who “liked” a bunch of mission agencies, seminaries, and notable figures. The first ad bombed — not sure anyone saw it and don’t know that anyone clicked through.
So I went back to the drawing board, changed the ad around, widened the scope, and… BOOM! After a week or so I realized our traffic had gone through the roof and that it was clearly the Facebook ad doing it’s thing. “Well,” I thought, “it’s a good thing I had put a cap on how much money we can spend each day!” But… and it’s a very big but…. I soon learned that Facebook increased my buy without my permission.
I won’t get into my specific reaction(s) to this when I realized what had happened. But let’s just say that we don’t have much of a marketing budget (I mean… hardly anything – we’re not a big company!), and this was going to hurt. Turns out that, sure enough, when you get into the nitty gritty of Facebook’s ad program, they can (and evidently, they DO) increase your cap automatically if your ad is getting a lot of play.
This, of course, begs the question: Why give me the illusion of control by letting me set a cap?
The moral of the story is that you need to be very careful in setting up your Facebook campaign, and you need to keep a very watchful eye over it’s success rate. I’ve not given up on Facebook ads (though I don’t have any more money for it right now!), but next time you better believe I’ll be very careful. You should too.