Why I Won't Advertise on Facebook

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If there is one rule that is more important than any other in business, it is this: make it easy for your customers to pay. Sure, "cash is king," and "know your numbers," and "the customer comes first," and all of that. But all of those are just ways to get people to become and remain your customer, or to keep your business afloat. Much as the purpose of their being your customer is to service them, to deliver great value, if you are in business, then all of that is to get paid.

In other words, the absolute worst thing you could do is make it difficult for your customer to pay you. The moment a customer parts with their money is the moment when they are recognizing the (hopefully greater value) service you have provided them by allowing you tp pay your bills. This is the one point, more than any other, that should be 100% easy and frictionless. Web companies have spent untold billions to find ways to make checkout easier, payment easier, shopping cart abandonment lower.

And yet, the actual payment itself can sometimes be an afterthought. Last week, I came across a classic case of "payment doesn't matter".

I have never actually paid for an advertisement on Facebook. Sure, I have run some of the analytics, and helped companies with it, but I am a strong believer that the head of marketing should always be able to draw up the campaign herself, the CTO should be able to design the software himself, he VP finance should be able to calculate the ROI herself. There is simply no substitute for hands-on experience.

So I decided to have some fun. I logged onto Atomic's Facebook account, and paid to promote one of my recent articles. I didn't need the extra exposure - although it never hurts - but I wanted the experience; a few tens of dollars is a pretty cheap education. I finished the process, selected PayPal, and sent the campaign on its way.

Two days later, I received an email - not a Facebook message, which itself is suspicious, since companies that don't use their own services are suspect - stating that the payment didn't go through. I went back to the payment page, tried to pay again, and again had it fail. After multiple tries, I went to my PayPal account, and saw zero history of any attempt to set up a Facebook connection. Quite simply, Facebook had done something wrong on the integration, and hadn't even bothered to catch it on their own or send a good message to the customer.

The next few days involved emails to Facebook - no way to call, of course - phone calls to PayPal, and insistences by Facebook that, "it is a problem on PayPal's end," without any more helpful detail than that. Miraculously, 24 hours after my insistence that the problem is Facebook's but I would reach out to PayPal anyways - which I did, getting through on the first try and waiting fewer than three minutes on the phone - it suddenly worked.

I don't mind spending time getting an ad campaign set up correctly, or tweaking a post, or a Website. But once I have agreed to pay, it should be seamless, and issues should be handled quickly and professionally by my vendor. Unless I absolutely must, I won't be buying anything off Facebook for quite some time.