4 Deadly Mistakes to Avoid When Advertising on Facebook

Jeff Tan
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Advertising on Facebook has become a must-have strategy for businesses. As of October 2019, Facebook had 2.45 billion monthly active users. This makes it attractive to businesses all around the world. As a result, there are 7 million advertisers on Facebook.

As Bill Gates said, “The future of advertising is the Internet." With this amount of competition, it’s crucial to understand how to write high converting Facebook ad copy. But besides that, there is another important thing you shouldn’t overlook.

This one important thing has caused many businesses who advertise on Facebook to have their ads shut down in just one night! What is it?

Facebook ad policy.

This is the thing most people don’t bother to look at. Who would want to read the boring, dull policy? However, when it comes to scaling your business, reading it is extremely important.

Previously, everyone could advertise online. You could promise people to “lose 27 lbs in 7 days” and see the money rush into your bank account. You could call out people’s attributes by saying, “Are you suffering from being broke?” so they can relate. Yes, these are what the great copywriters had taught us.

But the game changed.

The change may sound like a bad thing but it can be good news. This is a chance to outperform your competitors. In this article, I will cover 4 deadly mistakes to avoid when advertising on Facebook. These are the most common mistakes the advertisers make.

Let’s get started.

1. Do Not Have More Than 20% Text on an Image

According to Facebook, “We've found that images with less than 20% text perform better.” Facebook decided on this guideline to create a better visual experience for its audience.

But what would happen if the text took up more than 20% of the photo? Those few years before 2016, Facebook would reject ads with more than 20% image text. This has increased the difficulty of advertising on Facebook. Many advertisers have struggled so Facebook has improved this experience to allow advertisers more flexibility. Now, what has changed?

The good news is, excessive image text may not get your ads shut down immediately. However, your ad will reach fewer people. That means your advertising cost will become higher than those who follow the 20% image text rule. Keep in mind that if you have high image text, the ad may not run at all. You don’t want that.

Try to use little or no image text when possible.

Following this guideline will maximize your return on investment (ROI) of advertising on Facebook. But there are some exceptions. For example, text on book covers, album covers, product images, games, and event posters is allowed. But remember, a text-based logo is not an exception.

How do you determine whether your image text has exceeded 20%? It’s simple. Just use this text overlay tool provided by Facebook to check your ad image. It will tell you right away whether your ads will run or not. You could reduce the font size to pass the system but it may be difficult to read.

2. Do Not Call Out Personal Attributes When Advertising on Facebook

Based on Facebook ad policy, any advertising on Facebook must not contain content that directly or indirectly asserts or implies personal attributes. You might be wondering, "What is an example of a personal attribute?"

It includes race, ethnic origin, religion, belief, age, sexual orientation or practices, gender identity, or disability. And it is not limited to medical conditions (including physical or mental health), financial status, membership in a trade union, criminal records, or names.

Let me show you some examples for a better understanding. You cannot ask questions or make statements such as:

  • Are you earning less than $50k a year?

  • Are you a vegan?

  • We have a proven money-making strategy for 20-40 year olds.

  • What have other entrepreneurs said about our strategy?

You can say instead:

  • Want to earn more than $50k a year?

  • Let's meet a vegan!

  • Proven money-making strategy for teens.

  • What have entrepreneurs said about our strategy?

Why does Facebook want to do this? Well, people feel that type of advertising on Facebook is speaking directly to them. They thought Facebook had leaked their personal data. This is in breach of the Data Protection Act.

Obviously this has become a big disadvantage to the old-school copywriters. You cannot call out your audience as the classic ad copy does. Your ads will not be scalable if you call out the personal attributes. This has been a disaster for those big corporations who used to do so. Many of their ads got shut down all of a sudden. Hence, it’s important to hire copywriters who can write scalable copy.

3. Do Not Make Deceptive, Exaggerated or False Claims

This is another nightmare for old-school copywriters because they used to write hooks like these:

  • Make $1,000 per month without effort.

  • Burn 27 lbs fat within 7 days.

  • Cure cancer with this magic pill.

Unfortunately, when it comes to advertising on Facebook, your ads will get shut down if you do this. Why? According to Facebook, "ads must not contain deceptive, false, or misleading claims like those relating to the effectiveness or characteristics of a product or service or claims."

More than that, ads must not set unrealistic expectations for users such as misleading health, employment, or weight-loss claims.

You may argue that the claim is truthful. But it should be viewed from Facebook's perspective.

Besides, you cannot make an exaggerated guarantee. For example, you cannot say something like, “Guaranteed to make you $10,000 a month or your money back."

Again, this policy has turned away many businesses. Now, advertisers must know how to write compliant copy so the business can scale.

4. Do Not Use Graphics that Are Misleading, Sexually Suggestive or Violent

Facebook doesn’t allow us to use "before and after" photos for advertising on Facebook. Why? According to Facebook, these "before and after" images attempt to generate negative self-perception to promote products. Facebook treats these kinds of images as misleading. These images were previously used by industries such as weight loss, muscle building, hair treatment, etc. As a result, this has become a big challenge for these industries.

In addition, Facebook has prohibited images that show a car crash or a gun pointing at the reader. It might seem to be a good attention-grabber but it’s sensational and depicting violence. Facebook states that "ads must not contain shocking, sensational, disrespectful or excessively violent content."

Another attention-grabber that most advertisers previously used is a sexually suggestive image. Do you think that a sexy model could grab a lot of eyeballs? Absolutely. But sadly this is now prohibited. Facebook doesn’t allow nudity, excessive visible skin or a partially clothed model. Even if it is just a man showing his abs, it’s non-compliant. But the funny thing is, a nude statue is compliant.


To recap, these are the 4 deadly mistakes to avoid when advertising on Facebook:

  1. Do not use more than 20% text on an image.

  2. Do not call out personal attributes.

  3. Do not make deceptive, exaggerated, or false claims.

  4. Do not use graphics that are misleading, sexually suggestive, or violent.

One of the greatest struggles for marketers nowadays is dealing with compliance. Who knows if there will be more policies to come? Facebook is updating regularly. Only those who keep themselves updated can succeed.

You don’t want to wake up in the morning only to see all your ads have been shut down. Luckily, this can be completely avoided simply by writing compliant copy.

If you are looking for professional copywriters who stay up to date with industry trends and can write compliant copy, you can book a call with a consultant here.

Image credit: https://www.shutterstock.com/image-photo/ostersund-sweden-feb-5-2015-close-250329685

Jeff Tan

Jeff Tan is a copywriter and has been part of the Copywriters.com family since the beginning. He has a background in marketing and accounting. He is dedicated to bringing the best results to his client.

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