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Veritasium Video Response: Should You Be Concerned?

Published: February 19, 2014

Author: James Scherer

Veritasium’s Facebook Fraud video has stirred up quite a storm. Since it has over a million views (and growing), I feel somewhat obligated to respond.
Many of the more knowledgeable Facebook advertisers will already be aware of the flaws in Veritasium’s argument, but for those who are concerned with promoting their Pages on Facebook, I recommend you read this article before you cut your losses and run for the hills.
I’ll quickly introduce my thoughts on the video and then give you a breakdown of the three main strategies you can use to avoid the results found by Veritasium.

My thoughts on the Facebook Fraud video

If you did everything that Veritasium has, you’d find the exact same results. There’s nothing I can do about that.
I also agree that Facebook is benefiting from the lack of knowledge people have about Facebook advertising:

-Encouraging people to pay for a promoted page
-Not teaching them how to get the most out of it
-Encouraging them to pay again when they find an un-engaging audience

These are all things that absolutely need to be addressed.
So I understand why Veritasium came to the conclusions they did. My issue with this video is not the methods they used, but the sensationalist and overarching results they came to.
Without complete information, a very popular YouTube channel stated “Advertising your page on Facebook is a waste of money”.
It’s not – and too many small and medium-sized businesses who could benefit from Facebook Advertising now won’t consider it – all because of this video.
That’s where this article comes in.

Promoted Page Advertising Rules to Remember

-Always go with ‘Advanced Options’ when promoting your page (it’ll come up when you hit the little gear in the bottom left):

Advanced options

-You may think that making your ad’s reach as wide as possible is the right course of action. It’s not.

-I recommend advertising your promoted page to a maximum of 150,000 people, honing in on them with precise interests (or the more advanced strategies I get into below).

NOTE: The Reach of Veritasium’s Virtual Cat Ad would have been 26,000,000 Facebook users. To get the most out of Facebook promoted Pages, I’m recommending you reduce that Reach by more than 1,730%.
At the crux of my Facebook advertising strategy for small businesses, though, is this single maxim:
Every time your Promoted Page Ad is viewed by a Facebook user who isn’t actually interested in your business, you are throwing away ad budget and your own valuable time.
Luckily, there are a bunch of strategies (on top of targeting by precise interest) to ensure you’re showing your ad to people only interested in your business. Here are a few of them:
1. Target your Promoted Page by Custom Audience
Hopefully you’re already familiar with Custom Audience targeting. It’s the bee’s knees for social media marketers and advertisers interested in generating Page Likes.
Custom audiences
Custom Audience is the definition of targeting by individual. In my opinion, targeting a promoted Facebook Page toward a custom audience list is where businesses on Facebook should start to build their brand profile.
You have customers. You have leads. Why aren’t those people (who have already engaged with your business) your Facebook Fans?
3-Step Guide to Building your Facebook brand profile with Custom Audience Ads

1. Import your existing leads or customer email addresses into Power Editor or your Facebook Ads tool
2. Name your Custom Audience based on the segment of emails you’ve imported (RSS feed subscribers, newsletter recipients, new customers, old customers, lapsed customers, etc.)
3. Target a Facebook Ad promoting your Facebook brand Page at your existing customers or leads. Consider an Ad like “Enjoying your AcmeShades? Like our page to receive weekly discount codes exclusive to our Facebook Fans!”

Boom! Facebook Likes. And these Fans will absolutely engage with your Facebook content and activity. I mean, they’ve already shown through their patronage or subscriptions that they’re interested in what you sell or the services you provide. It’s fans like these that Mashable foundare worth up to $174 each to your business.
To get a step-by-step guide on Custom Audiences (including how to create one and how to target your ad with Custom Audience targeting) check out my article How to Target Facebook Ads Based on Custom Audience.

2. Target your Promoted Page by Lookalike Audience

Lookalike targeting is where it gets even more exhilarating. Lookalike audiences allow you to get in touch with those Facebook users who are similar to your existing customers but aren’t your existing customers. Yet.
Again, we’re targeting individuals here. The amount of people you import as a Custom Audience, Facebook will create the same size audience of lookalike users.
No, these people don’t know your business, but they have all the characteristics of people who do (and have already bought from you).
You can create a lookalike audience with top 1% specificity (though it’ll be smaller) or top 5% specificity. I recommend you test out both strategies and see the results you get.
A slight complication is that lookalike audience targeting is only available through Power Editor (a Google Chrome plugin you need to get if you don’t have it yet). But that’s okay, because Power Editor is awesome and allows you to do a whole lot more than Facebook’s in-built ad editor does. And you want to get the most out of Facebook advertising, right?

3. Use a Like-Gated Contest to Generate Page Likes

Another way to get Page Likes – and perhaps the most successful – is to run a Like-gated Facebook contest.
With Facebook contests, you don’t have to target quite so specifically as you do with precise interests (though of course, you will find great success targeting a Custom Audience with a Facebook contest).
But really, the prize you set for your contest is a targeting strategy on its own. Think about it: if your contest’s prize is one of your products (or a gift card – my favorite prize of all), you’re ensuring that those Facebook users that enter your contest are interested in your products.
Backing up a bit, I’ll explain exactly what a Like-gated contest is:
A like-gated contest is a contest that’s only available to people who Like your Facebook Page. Facebook users see your Facebook Ad or Post, love the prize you’re offering, and really want to enter to win. However, unless they click ‘Like’ (thus the ‘Like-Gate’) they aren’t allowed entry. As soon as they do, boom! You get a new Fan, and they get access to your awesome contest.
Let me break this all down:

-Create a Facebook Like-gated contest with a prize you know your customers would like (perhaps something that’s been selling very well recently).
-Create a Facebook Ad with optimized appeal.
-Target that ad at people you think are likely to appreciate the prize (or a custom audience of people who have already expressed interest in that prize!).
-Exclude your existing Fans to ensure you’re not wasting ad budget.
-Remember to choose ‘Pay-Per-Click’ when setting your budget.


Hopefully that gives you a little more information of the flaws in the Veritasium argument. Nothing is ever as simple as it first sounds, and the conclusions that many people are drawing are far too simple.
Facebook Ads do work – but you need to know how to work them. Otherwise you’re making decisions based on only half the information.
This article doesn’t dispute that engaging with click-farms is a terrible idea (it totally is). Nor does it dispute that Facebook needs to do something to make it easier for small business owners to promote their Pages without wasting money.
But it does dispute the final conclusion that Veritasium makes: ‘Advertising your Page on Facebook is a waste of money.’
Only if you don’t look too closely.
What are your thoughts on Facebook promoted posts? Have you used them and found success, or failure? Let me know in the comment section below.

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