The 7 Deadly Sins of Facebook Advertising

By Sean Tibor - March 19, 2018

For anyone who's watched the movie Seven with Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman, this is NOT going to be as intense as that bit of 90s nostalgia. Today we're going to talk about some common strategic mistakes people make when advertising on Facebook, mapped against the classic Seven Deadly Sins of the sixth century C.E.

Don't confuse these with the iterative improvements approach that you will take while developing and running campaigns. The errors and mistakes that you find during that process are natural and normal parts of testing and improving online advertising.

The seven errors listed below are absolutely deadly to the success of your Facebook advertising. Any one of these will cause you to waste time, effort, and money on ad campaigns that could have a lot of potential.

#1 - Gluttony

Just like eating too much, spending too much on your Facebook advertising can actually slow your sales and business growth. Most sales and marketing leaders would say that they always want to generate more leads, but having too many leads can overwhelm your sales team and cause them to miss opportunities.


Copy of 7 deadly sins - Envy


How do you know that you have this problem? Here are a few possible symptoms:

  • You're generating a lot of leads from your ads, but your contact rate is poor.
  • Your sales team is spending all of their time qualifying new leads and not turning their older leads into opportunities
  • "One and done" contact attempts. This happens when your team has a steady flow of new leads, so they only make one attempt to contact and close a lead before moving on.

So how do you fix this? The best approach is to experiment with improving lead quality and targeting. Spending a little more time qualifying your leads can mean that sales activities are more effective and efficient. This will increase your cost per lead, but should reduce your overall cost per acquisition over time.

#2 - Sloth

In many ways, the opposite of Gluttony in Facebook advertising is not spending enough on your ad campaigns. Many business owners assume that they can spend a few dollars a day and see results. This usually doesn't work because it's hard to tell what's working against the background noise of your day-to-day business.


7 deadly sins - Sloth


I always recommend that my clients test their advertising approaches in short 5-7 day campaigns with at least a $500 budget. This gives you the opportunity to see what's working and what's not in a short period of time. Once you identify a winning strategy, then you can scale up your spending and start to see significant business results.

#3 - Lust

The old adage is that "Sex Sells," and it still holds true. Your ads need to attract people, but it needs to be done in the right way to attract the best leads. While you may look to tongue-in-cheek Carl's Jr. ads or steamy perfume and fragrances photos as examples of sexy advertising, your image selections have to hold true to your brand.


7 Deadly Sins Nursing Images Comparison


For years, I was responsible for marketing at Kaplan University's School of Nursing and we often relied on stock photography since we couldn't easily get our online nursing students to a photo shoot. Unfortunately, most stock photo repositories are flooded with "Sexy Nurse" photos, which would have repelled most prospective nurses instead of attracting them.

Images should:

  • Feature a real person (or someone who looks like them)
  • Be appropriate to the brand or product (unless you sell swimwear, don't put up bikini models)
  • Look natural and not overly posed

#4 - Envy

"But my friend who owns a restaurant is getting great results with sponsoring posts for $50 a month!"

Many business owners talk to their peers and ask about their marketing efforts. Every business is different, even if the target consumers are the same. Your customers are on a different path to purchase when they try to decide where to eat compared to when they buy from you. Your advertising approach needs to be custom-fit to your buyers' journey and your business offering.


7 deadly sins - Envy


There are many different outcomes available for Facebook advertising, and the platform can be optimized to efficiently deliver each one. If you don't know which outcome is right for your business, consult with a Facebook Ads expert to help you decide.

Types of Facebook Ad Optimization Outcomes

  • Leads
  • In-store visits
  • Post engagement
  • Conversions
  • Landing Page View
  • Clicks

#5 - Wrath

Like Lust, the Facebook Ads sin of Wrath plays on our emotions and involuntary responses. Recently, it has been reported that Cambridge Analytica harvested 50 million Facebook user profiles over several months and created a database of users with their corresponding interests and emotional triggers. From this, advertising campaigns and news articles were created that inflamed user reactions and drove action.

7 deadly sins - Wrath

This type of advertising that plays to viewers' fears, insecurities, and doubts may drive short term results, but can often cause longer term repercussions and negative effects.

Bonus: Responding to Ad Comments

Another example of wrath in Facebook advertising is that you may also receive responses to your ads that irritate, annoy, or anger you. Don't respond. Hide the post from your ad and move on. If the comment violates the terms of Facebook service, you can also report it.

#6 - Greed

Most business owners don't know what to expect from advertising on Facebook. For many, this is their first time using the platform or any sort of online advertising tool. With this lack of knowledge comes a wide range of expectations for the return on investment, often prompting get-rich-quick dreams of spending $100 on ads and getting back tens of thousands of dollars.


7 deadly sins - Greed


Measure your campaigns in terms of return on investment. If you spend a dollar, what can you realistically call success? Your ROI will depend heavily on the lifetime value of a customer to you and your cost of acquisition. Measuring both and tracking your success on Facebook compared to other marketing activities will provide a sanity check against unrealistic expectations.

#7 - Pride

Finally, the sin of Pride in Facebook advertising is simple but pervasive. Whether this is your first campaign or your fiftieth, you can't predict how users will react to your ads. In fact, your first campaign is probably going to fail to deliver on your goals.


7 deadly sins - Pride


The best way to manage this is to start small, set goals, test your campaign hypotheses, and measure your results. Then, make changes and try it again.

  • Be humble.
  • Don't assume.
  • Fail your way to success.


There are a lot of ways to make honest mistakes with Facebook advertising but by avoiding these deadly strategic errors, you can quickly and cheaply correct your course and find a profitable way to land new business from Facebook.

If you're looking to take your first steps towards Facebook advertising or want to get an evaluation of your current efforts, we can help.

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