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Why Most CMOs Underachieve with Facebook Advertising

As a social media agency, Facebook is a word we throw about around 5-10 times an hour per person. But it’s becoming a bit of a dirty word.

Possibly the most damaging hit to Facebook’s armour - being fined $500,00 for a lack of transparency and failing to protect the information of its users. The reality is that the monetary fine wouldn’t even count as a scratch. Facebook’s worth was an estimated $140 billion at the time. $500,000 was effectively pennies.

However, what did make an impact was bad publicity. The Manifest found that nearly half (44%) of Facebook users viewed Facebook more negatively after the events and 15% of them viewed it ‘much more’ negatively. Most interestingly, 41% of Millenials use Facebook less compared to 37% of Generation Xers and 24% of baby boomers.

The social media giant’s growth slowed heavily in 2018 despite showing revenue boosts causing a decrease of $120 billion in stock market value. Zuckerberg blamed it on a shift in focus to safety and security, but the reality is people care about their privacy - and Facebook couldn’t secure it.

Yet, according to Smart Insights’ 2019 report, Facebook are still far and large ahead of any other competitor. In fact, YouTube are second, but WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger come in at 3rd and 4th with Instagram at 6th. That means that out of the top 10 most used social media networks across the globe, Facebook owns four of them - and 3 of the top 5.

For CEOs, this is important. Facebook’s domination continues to reign and acquiring Instagram ensured their longevity for years to come. They’ve proven that they can overcome roadblocks, and now, they have an heir to the throne.

81% of 18 to 29-year-olds are on Facebook along with 78% of 30 to 49-year-olds Yet, the demographic where Instagram is most popular is among 13-17-year-olds. Facebook covers the older generations whereas Instagram is establishing itself as a leader among the youth. If Facebook declines as its older ages phase-out, they already have people coming through on Instagram.


But why is this important?

Instagram is becoming an all-inclusive platform. They’ve recently introduced IGTV which isn’t a like-for-like substitute, but covers the same bases as YouTube. Soon they have plans to add direct shopping through the app. One less reason to click-off.

Plus, they’ve already been expanding as a go-to news source. According to the Pew Research Center, 68% of U.S. adults get their news through social media. In 2013, 13% of adults got their news through Instagram, but in 2018, it was up to 32% whilst Facebook sits at 67%.

If you’re not on Instagram establishing a following, building engagement, and building brand awareness, then you’re missing out on an already ridiculously important tool for scaling that’s only going to grow more so.

Even brands that are on each platform are undervaluing their importance. Uncurated feeds, basic copy, and no ads in sight. If you want to be a brand that survives, you need to be mobile, and there’s nothing that screams mobile more than Facebook.

How does Facebook stay on top?

It absorbs other brands - particularly, Snapchat. Take a look at the timeline below.

2011: Snapchat is launched.

2012: Facebook buys Instagram.

2013: Snapchat adds stories.

2014: Facebook buys WhatsApp.

2016: Snapchat adds over 200 stickers including speed, battery life, and location.

2016: Instagram adds stories.

2017: Facebook adds stories.

2017: Snapchat adds Snap Map.

2017: WhatsApp adds stories.

2019: Facebook conceptualises ‘Threads’ for Instagram that will allow you to share your location with close friends as well as speed and battery life.

Why would you use Snapchat if Instagram can do the same and more people are using it?

If you have an idea that works and Facebook can use it, they will. That’s why they have such a monopoly and also, why nobody will come close to knocking them off for the foreseeable future.

What does this mean for business owners and CMOs?

Place your focus on social media.

Facebook is an ever-growing beast that will only take up more of you and your customer’s time. On average, people in the UK spend more than a day every week online. That’s 24 whole hours spent searching the web - and it’s rare to find a set of tabs that Facebook isn’t part of.

In 2018, the average time spent on social media per day was 2 hours and 22 minutes, a figure we’ve seen increase year on year. In fact, 16-24-year-olds spend over 3 hours on purely social media a day making for a total of 21 hours a week.

In 2017, digital advertising in the U.S. made $83 billion - up 15.9% since 2016. Of which, Facebook contributed 26.5%.

In 2018, Facebook’s ad revenue exceeded $55 billion, highlighting how much of a pay-to-play platform social media is becoming. The competition’s fierce, but it’s like that for a reason.

Anyone can use Facebook’s advertising platform - and many people flop. If you don’t know what you’re doing, you’re just throwing money away.

It’s a bit like heading into the middle of Kings Cross and chucking a load of flyers in the air. Sure, some people might see it on the floor, but it’s not long before it gets trodden on or swept up. You could have the best advert in the world, but if you’re not showing it to the right people at the right times enough of the time, then you’re wasting money.

However, if you set them up right, monitor them, and actually use them as they’re supposed to be used, then they’ll be your best performing advertisements yet.

For example, we set up ads for a clothing brand with a budget of around £50k. Simply by making the ads engaging and getting them in front of the right people, they made £800k in total revenue making for a 16x ROAS in a two month time period.

“But that was for a big brand, what about small brands?”

The story’s the same. Another clothing brand we worked with started off with barely any data at all, but by running ads and learning from them, they’re now on a 26x ROAS.

And this isn’t unusual. Success in social media doesn’t need to be an unheard-of prospect.

Social media might be ‘pay to play’, but you don’t need a big budget to make big bucks - you need the knowledge, patience, and the ability to learn. It’s not enough to notice that an ad doesn’t work, you need to know why and how to stop this from happening again.

The key here is that data is king. For big brands, it’s a no brainer. You know your target audience, you know who’s buying your products - it’s simply about getting the right ads in front of them, and there’s no better place than Facebook.

For smaller brands, it’s understandable to be scared, but you have to invest in order to see returns. The more you spend, the more you learn, and the more profit you’ll make in the long run through tweaking and targeting. You don’t need to spend high amounts at the start, but if you’re not running Facebook ads, you’re not going to grow. Unfortunately, it’s as simple as that.

You can run ads through Google, but Facebook’s capabilities are a completely different ballgame. If you want to advertise an energy drink on google, the user has to search for energy drinks or something related. On Facebook, you already have a large amount of data on your audience. You can target by likes, interests, occupations, locations, and much, much more. You can be as specific or as broad as you like depending on what you need.

If you’re not running ads on Facebook, then at best you’re missing out on a potentially extravagant revenue stream, but if you invest in social, and invest right, then you’re not just going to see it come back, it’s going to bring its friends.

If you want to make social work for you, then check out our services or give us a call on

+44 (0)20 8789 2061.

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