Facebook Ads, or How to Piss Off Strangers

Well now, that backfired.

As a relative newbie to Facebook marketing, and with a fledgling business (I do find the idea of calling Etherea Magazine at this point in time a business very amusing), when Facebook offers a bunch of free advertising, I jump at the opportunity.

Which is what Facebook did, so I jumped!

I set up the excellent story “This is How the Revolution Begins” by Aaron Emmel to be promoted – you know the drill, lure them in with a free story and then hit them with the sales pitch (Maybe buy the whole magazine? Why not a subscription? Support us on Patreon? Just a prick of blood from your finger on this contract here, and we guarantee you a LIFETIME of magazines).

When setting the demographics for the promoted post, I started with Australia (we are an Australian Science Fiction and Fantasy Magazine after all), and then put the next top 5 countries that visit the website. I also chucked a few interests like “Books”, “Magazines”, and “eBooks”. Broad stuff I know, but Speculative Fiction reaches all over the globe, and to get a large catch, you need to cast a large net.

I didn’t bother with any age demographics (why would I?), and I signified that I wanted people who have reacted to promoted posts in the past to see the ad.

That was a mistake.

Anyway, I let the ad run, and moved on to other more productive ventures with my day.

Lo and behold, that afternoon there is a notification, the ad is running and has been seen by nearly 100 people. And someone has reacted to the post!

With a frowny face.


I was perplexed, did they not like the story? I know that people who have a negative reaction to things are more likely to give feedback than those who enjoyed it, so maybe that was the reason?

This is How the Revolution Begins is one of our more socially critical stories, with easy parallels to issues from today. And I do know that Facebook is more conservative in its outlook than other modes of social media, so maybe the story just irritated the reacting person?

Wiping it from my thoughts, I went to bed, leaving the ad to run overnight.

Morning has arrived, and I grab my phone to see how the post is going.

Reaction and comment notifications!

Hell yeah, the ad is working.

Wait, frowny reactions, and angry comments (even images!).

Oh no.

Were they a criticism of the story, or the magazine?

No, they were complaints about the ad appearing in the newsfeed of said commenters unannounced (how they think Facebook works is beyond me, but that is for a post another day).

Ironically, I had created the perfect storm when setting up my demographics. With asking for people who reacted to posts to be shown the ad, that isn’t an agreement that they will react positively. By leaving the age range blown out, there is the possibility that people seeing the ad may not be tech savvy, used to the constant bombardment of media ads that we all persevere with every day, and who don’t understand the Facebook business model.

Indeed, from the analytics, the ad was mainly shown to people in the 65+ range.

A lesson learnt on my behalf. So I dropped the age demographic down significantly, and left the ad running.

I am happy to report, when I checked the post this morning there were no reactions whatsoever.

Ah, much better.


Categories: Article

3 replies

  1. how Facebook works is science fiction to me!

  2. That is good to know if I decide to do Facebook ads for anything! lol

Leave a Reply to Fiona SmithCancel reply

%d bloggers like this: