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I Created a Facebook Ad for My Flopped Story

by Laquesha Bailey 2 years ago in social media
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Promoting My First Vocal Story Through a $1 Facebook Ad

I Created a Facebook Ad for My Flopped Story
Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

I discovered Vocal through a Facebook Ad on December 27th, 2020 and immediately began work on my very first story. The next day, I published my first article on Vocal. This story was entitled "4 Practical Ways to Optimize Social Media Use for a Happier Life". It detailed all the little strategies I use to more effectively manage my online life and ensure that it has a less pejorative effect on my mental health. Anxious excitement swelled in my chest and my heart fluttered erratically as I clicked that "Submit for Review" button and waited.

The post was published and it didn't do as well as I had hoped for a number of reasons. For one, I didn't post it anywhere mostly because I was embarrassed. None of my friends or family knew yet that I enjoyed writing or that I was planning to make a hobby out of it and I didn't want to broadcast that fact across Facebook and Instagram so early. Also, I hadn't yet known about the Vocal Creators Facebook group so I just kind of let the story sit and marinate and to date, it has accumulated a whopping total of FOUR views! And ZERO likes! Which is honestly hilarious.

The idea of promoting this story on Facebook popped into my head randomly one night while I was in the shower. What can I say? Shower thoughts are the best thoughts. This is more of an experiment than anything else. Given that I only plan to use the lowest tier of Facebook Ad, that is, a whole dollar, I don't expect my earnings on this story to increase dramatically. I think I'll be lucky if I get 10 more views. I also predict that the likes on my story won't increase at all because, in my experience, people are generally unwilling to go through the motions of creating an entire account to validate the content that they consume, even if they enjoyed consuming it.

The plan: I'm going to run a $1 Facebook Ad on this story for 5 days (so $5) straight, from Monday 18th January, 2021 to the end of the day on Friday, 22nd January, 2021 and just...see what happens. I imagine I will lose more money than I make on this promotion but I've made worse financial decisions in my 22 years of life so screw it!

Here's the AD:

Setting up the ad was easy enough, though I wished the program was intuitive enough to grab the original picture from my story instead of me having to download and then manually upload it to Facebook. Additionally, there was a tiny word limit for the headline and caption of the ad. Ideally, the title of my blogpost would have been the headline for the ad and my subtitle "Take Control of Your Digital Life" would have been the caption but alas, it didn't work out that way. Instead, I was left using my story title as the caption and a random alliteration that I came up with "Millennial Mishaps" as the headline. Not ideal.

Moreover (and forgive me if I'm being nitpicky), I wasn't able to link the ad to my personal Facebook account so I ended up having to drudge up an old Facebook page that I didn't realize I still owned from my old book review blogging days. Not pretty but pretty frickin' nostalgic.

In terms of the target audience for my ad, I chose 7 countries and targeted it towards people between the ages of 18 and 30. I figured the narrower the audience, the better chance they'll actually click on it. I selected a few key interests including but not limited to mental health, social media and reading. The ad took a few hours to be approved by Facebook and then it was finally live!


After running the ad for 5 days straight, here is a breakdown of the results.

The ad managed to reach 4,818 people and of those people, 67 clicked on it. Given that in total I ended up spending $4.99, this averages 7 cents per click. Not too bad.

Furthermore, the majority of people who clicked on it were between the ages of 18-24. This is to be expected. It's an article about social media and overwhelmingly, the negative effects of social media affect younger people.

The final demographic we're going to discuss is the split between genders. More men than women clicked on the ad. Maybe that's arbitrary. I don't know that I targeted it more towards one gender or the other but I just think that this is interesting. Finally for the reveal on how this affected the views/earnings on my story...not at all.

My story had 4 views and zero likes when I started promotion 5 days ago and it has 4 views, zero likes now. How do I feel about that? If I'm honest, mostly disappointed. It just seems a bit anticlimactic. Why did the 67 clicks not translate into reads? I have a few theories about that. The first one hinges on me being an idiot. When I selected the seven countries where my ad would be targeted, I included Mexico which, in hindsight, might've been a bad idea.

A further look at my demographics shows that the overwhelming majority of people who clicked on my ad were from Mexico. It might've been poor foresight on my part but I hadn't considered the implications of targeting my story (written in English) to an audience that predominantly speaks Spanish. Yeah, I'm an idiot.

I suppose I just expected Facebook to intuitively distribute the ad evenly across the seven countries selected and that did not happen. My guess is users from Mexico clicked on the ad, saw that it was not in fact in Spanish and immediately clicked away. If you're familiar with Vocal's algorithm, you know that it calculates reads taking into account a number of factors including how long readers spent on the page and how far they scrolled down into your story. Hence, 67 clicks don't necessarily translate into 67 new reads.

Another theory is that my story just sucked. It was text-heavy. There was very little in the way of memes, photos and other forms of media. It was also kind of clunky and disorganized and truth be told, maybe it didn't compel any of the 67 people who clicked on the ad to scroll any further down. That's okay. As a general rule, I release any feelings of anxious self-doubt when I click that "Submit for Review" button and I'm not in the business of feeling bad about things that I post on Vocal. Writing is something I do in my free time, an activity that truly brings me joy and a skill that I'm constantly honing. The article I promoted was my very first one on Vocal and no one hits it out of the park on their first time. Or maybe some people do but I'm definitely not one of those people.

Final Verdict:

Do I recommend Facebooks Ads for your Vocal story? Will I do this again? I think so. I might run another ad if the circumstances are right. That is, if I truly believe in the potential of a particular story and I'm already simultaneously promoting it using other methods. This was an invaluable experience for me and I definitely gained some insight into what not to do when creating a Facebook ad. Yeah, it didn't turn out as great as I had hoped but when do things ever turn out exactly as you hope?

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About the author

Laquesha Bailey

22 years old literally, about 87 at heart. I write about self care, university life, money, music, books and whatever else that piques my interest.


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