Really Angry Comments on Paid Social Ads

I always tell people not to read the comments. Not so long ago Facebook Ads would accumulate this cruft of angry comments. And then the comments would get replied to, causing a firestorm of trolling destruction.

Every so often, I get a Slack or email from our CEO or marketing VP pointing out some comment to me from a paid social media ad. They want to know how I will deal with it or if there is some way for us to mediate these comments.

Frankly it’s not worth the effort.

What Do They Say?

Commenters on the ad all follow pretty much the same script.

  • Please unsubscribe me. (My favorite is the “UNSUBSCRIBE” comment, which is like as if Facebook were an email)
  • Just another stupid [insert whatever you do] peddling pathetic [whatever we sell]
  • This is too expensive
  • I don’t want to see this
  • Stop showing up in my feed
  • (Facebook-only, and a favorite) Your ad shows me as endorsing this. This is illegal theft of my identity
  • (All the above + some vague legal threat usually involving the Better Business Bureau which they incorrectly presume to be a Government organization)

I would share a few quotes but it would have to be heavily censored. It is surprising to me to read what people would write onto the public internet under their real, actual name. The more money people put behind the ad, the worse those comments get.

Dealing with Pinterest Ad Comments

When we started with Pinterest Ads back in 2015, we had been used to some sort of anger. To start with, people just get angry when they see stuff in their feeds. But man, the Pinterest ad commenters are vitriolic.

I can guess it is because Pinterest is where they put and share things that they think are beautiful and which make them happy. Sticking an ad in the middle of that … well I guess I can see how that might get them as red as a steamed lobster.

We asked our account manager for advice and as politely and sensitively as one could be in a professional business environment he told us that people will eventually get over it.

I love that answer. Our manager is probably right in the long run. The Facebook Ad comments eventually died down as Facebook displayed more and more ads. The ragers dealt with it or just quit using Facebook. Pinterest is probably going to see the same thing in the future.

How to Deal with it on Facebook

So why did we keep the ads running up thousands of comments – like barnacles on a wooden ship?

We kept advertising the ads and letting the comments aggregate because we knew that a whole lot of comments, shares, and likes on a Facebook Ad encouraged people to click more. People had assumed that a lot of comments meant that the audience had been engaged with the adverts.

What I eventually realized was that at the heart of it, angry Facebook comments are a function of imperfect targeting. And unfortunately with Facebook, we can never get perfect targeting.

Facebook seems to have moved away from the model of using comments as a deciding factor in showing ads. I have stopped seeing the 14,000 liked Posts being advertised so much anymore. And when I get the emails from my managers asking me to “deal with it”, I just duplicate the ad and relaunch it – restarting it from scratch.

But yeah never read the comments.


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