Creating great Facebook ad takes some base knowledge, some common sense, and a grounding in what your audience likes (and what Facebook itself rewards). Here’s our guide to writing a brilliant Facebook PPC ad.

Newsfeed ad versus right-hand ad

Facebook PPC ads appear in two places – the newsfeed and the right-hand column. The default option is for ads to appear in both locations, and when creating the ad you’ll get a preview of how the different ads look. However, if you have a preference for one type of ad over the other you can choose to exclusively show your ad either in the newsfeed or in the right-hand column.

So what’s the difference? Adverts in the right-hand column have more opportunities to be seen by Facebook users, as they’re not confined to when people are checking their newsfeed. However, being smaller and usually appearing in conjunction with other Facebook ads, they’re not as eye-catching as large newsfeed ads, which essentially just look like a regular Facebook story on your feed. Both adverts have the same amount of copy and a call-to-action button. Deciding whether you want to choose one over the other is really a matter of preference – for example you might feel the image/s you’ve chosen for your advert look best on the newsfeed only.

What do you want from the ad?

Facebook ads have a sophisticated range of options to help you get the conversions or actions you want. It allows you to pick whether you want to send people to your website, increase brand awareness, increase app engagement, get people to claim an offer, and much more. Use this to your advantage and go in with a specific action or goal. Do you want to get 1,000 people clicking through to a landing page off the back of this ad? Do you want to get 500 new likes? Do you want a video to get 10,000 views?

Target effectively

In a similar vein, Facebook offers many targeting options. You can target people based on specific geographical areas (and you can get pretty specific – up to a radius of 17km around a particular town, for example), as well as based on age, demographic split, and education. All this is pretty basic though compared to the other options, which include the ability to target people based on interests, those who like similar pages to yours, and even down to behaviour, such as technology early-adopters. The options can feel overwhelming, but don’t be afraid to be really specific in your targeting. You can always expand your range once the advert has been seen enough by those you’re targeting, to widen the pool. You can measure this by the Frequency Score, which will appear in your advert results once it’s live, and indicates on average how often people are seeing the advert. If it’s drifting over the 5 mark you might want to consider mixing things up, so you don’t keep showing it to people who aren’t interested and risk annoying them. But it’s important to consider that other things (not least other adverts) can potentially be distracting your audience from the adverts – sometimes it will take a few goes before they decide to click.

Write great copy

Strong Facebook ad copy is punchy, straightforward and concise. It needs to effectively communicate what you’re offering and get people to click. There are three elements: the title, the call-to-action button, and a longer description.

The title should be clear, short, and get straight to the point. It should speak to your viewers. What is the advert offering? What’s the reason people should click? Think about communicating this rather than describing your service – there will be room for this in the description itself. So for Virgin StartUp, rather than say “Get startup loan funding of £25,000” we might say “Start a business in Birmingham” (based on targeting).

In the description you have a bit more wiggle room for you to expand on the title, but still stay as concise as possible – people skimming through Facebook won’t have the patience to read more than a couple of seconds of copy. Explain what you’re offering, and include an encouraging call to action – if it can have a sense of immediacy, such as ‘Start today’, this can have a positive effect. Team with the most appropriate call-to-action button (there are options available based on your goal, such as ‘Apply now’ or ‘Find out more’) to finish your enticing proposition.

How to create a great Facebook ad - Virgin StartUp

Keep things visual

It’s human nature to click on an image that interests us, and Facebook loves visual content because people do, which means it rewards it. However it’s important to pick the right photo. If it’s a right-hand ad, the image needs to be one that works at a smaller size, so try not to pick one that’s too busy. Bright colours, darker backgrounds (so it stands out) and photos that give off interesting or positive vibes are all great.

You have the option to choose a carousel of images to form one advert, or to pick six images that will form a set of six adverts. A carousel is a great idea if you’re demonstrating a range of products, or a sequence – for example, if advertising a restaurant, you could pick images that show different dishes.

However, picking six images to form six adverts (these will all have the same copy) gives you an opportunity to evaluate and compare which images are most successful for your campaign. You can then focus on using similar images and get insight into what works and what doesn’t for your audience.

Keep it relevant

Facebook algorithms love relevant content, and reward it accordingly. Targeting means your ads will be appearing for the right people, which is great for you, but also great for the user, something Facebook is keen to encourage. After an advert has received over 500 impressions, Facebook will calculate the relevance of your advert on a scale of 1-10 based on how people are engaging and reacting to it. This can be a useful indicator of whether you need to tweak things.

Testing, testing, testing

Between rapidly-changing Facebook algorithms, the reactions of your audience, and pure chance, there’s no exact formula for the perfect Facebook advert. You need to figure it out for your own specific offering – and you do this through testing and refining as your campaign goes on.

Don’t sit back, relax, and simply watch as the results for your adverts gradually decline. Look at which adverts in the set are most successful, and think about why. Do they have great images? How are the images different to the others? Could it be because the frequency is higher, so the adverts are just being seen more? Are some of the adverts actually pulling the set down, and would pausing them for a bit have a positive effect?

As you do and more campaigns, you’ll learn more about your audience and what they respond to. Whether this means tweaking your targeting, using different images, or making your copy more compelling, you can measure the results and improvements thanks to the helpful metrics Facebook provides you with. However, don’t get caught out. Think about the ones that reflect back on your goal, and concentrate on these. The number of impressions your advert is getting (ie how often somebody sees it) may seem impressive, but if it’s not translating to a click-through-rate – or to actual, real-life leads – then it means nothing.

Image credit: Flickr Creative Commons

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