We’ve all been there.
Lounging around, relaxed, mindlessly scrolling, scrolling, scrolling through Facebook.
Then, something magical happens. For a split second, something grabs your attention.
The scroll stops. Your face might form a subconscious expression of approval. Maybe a little air escapes your nose, or you sit up to focus better.
And you click.
What’s the secret to that creative? A piece of content so appealing, so appetising, that people can’t help but engage?
Well, that’s the golden question. We have a few nuggets of wisdom…and we’ll get to those in a moment.
Once someone’s curiosity has been piqued, the copy can then weave a narrative and tell a story (we wrote all about how to write high-converting ad copy here). But for that initial impression, it’s the creative that does the heavy lifting.
Well-executed creative can accomplish so much.
- It can build trust with your audience
- Establish an emotional connection
- Help you stand out against your competitors
But first, let’s define it.
Creative is essentially the visual component of your Facebook ad.
The creative you use will be determined by the type of ad you are running and the ultimate goal of your campaign, such as lead generation, audience building, or conversions.
Ads can be image or video-based, a carousel of each, or even interactive. They can be professionally-made or user-generated content (UGC), depending on how you want your brand to come across.
Here’s a closer look.
Tried and tested, the humble static image ad is not to be underestimated. They might not have the flash and pizazz of video, but they still rank better at driving click-through rate (CTR) on social media. Simple, effective and easy to create, there are some recommended best practices for image creative.
First – ensure your photos are high-quality. Nothing says unprofessional or ‘no marketing budget’ more than a pixelated, low-res pic straight out of an iPhone 2G. For free stock options, StockSnap.io and Pexels are good places to start.
The actual size of your ad will depend on its placement, such as Facebook desktop news feed, the right-hand side column, mobile feed, Instagram, or Messenger. Fortunately, Facebook has a handy guide for optimum resolution and image quality. Paying attention to these will also ensure your pic isn’t cut off or cropped incorrectly.
Now, you also don’t necessarily want your creative to scream ‘gigantic marketing budget’, either. By that, we mean: aim for something organic, something people might already see in their feed. Because, if your audience doesn’t immediately recognise your ad as content, they are more likely to engage with it.
You can always have a quick scroll through your phone’s camera roll for some inspiration for pics users would normally share.
Here’s the big tip – people like people. Images with faces are around 38% more likely to receive engagement. It makes a brand immediately relatable and adds that valuable trust. For this reason, if you’re a business owner, featuring yourself in the creative can be a highly effective way to build your brand.
Finally, Facebook used to have a hard and fast 20% rule, where copy couldn’t compromise more than 20% of the image or the ad would be removed. This is now more of a guide rather than a rule, but the official word is that images with less than 20% text will generally perform better. So, let your image do most of the work.
Marketers have been claiming for a while now that video content is king, and for good reason, because there’s plenty of evidence to support it. Analytics platform Databox ran a few tests and found when compared to images, video creative received up to twice as many clicks, 30% more conversions, and an almost three-times-higher CTR.
There is no question when executed correctly, video can drive mammoth audience engagement. However, this execution is also the challenge.
Like image creative, you don’t want to overproduce your video – keeping it simple and low-key will make it endearing, relatable, and ultimately, trustworthy.
We’re increasingly mobile consumers, so consider designing for phones first and foremost. Your videos are 1.5 times more likely to be seen there compared to on a desktop. Of course, this depends on your target audience; unsurprisingly, millennials can focus better on mobile videos than older demographics.
For video, you need to capture attention quick smart. Within three seconds, to be precise – those first few moments deliver up to 47% of the value of your creative. Up to 10 seconds, this number goes up to 74%. Time is a premium, use it wisely.
According to Facebook, you want to keep your videos at around 15 seconds in length. Introducing your brand near the very beginning is likely to lift your conversions, so don’t hide. Be visible!
If you can, try and create a video that works without audio. Sometimes, your audience is going to be in a situation where sound isn’t an option, so it pays to try and craft a message that will be effective regardless.
And keep the autoplay sound off. We’re not in MySpace anymore, people hate that.
You can even make your video ads interactive across Facebook and Instagram, with features such as live polling increasing the chance of your audience engaging with your brand. It’s a great way to learn more about them, too.
If you need some help in putting video ads together, InShot is a useful tool for quick on-the-fly editing and formatting optimised for socials. The mighty Canva is also handy for creating both native videos and animating stylish GIFs.
With carousel slides, you can display up to ten images and/or videos within a single ad. This makes it ideal for showcasing multiple products, each leading towards a different landing page for maximum conversion optimisation. Or, you could cover multiple features of a single product or service.
Carousel ads have a pretty decent track record for attaining results – up to 10 times more than a static image, according to a Kinetic Social report.
They work because not only will your audience be engaging and interacting with your ad, they also provide more scope to tell your story and highlight benefits.
Making the ad itself is relatively straightforward, as long as you follow the recommended image/video specifications.
The key is capturing attention with the very first image, so take advantage of the tips we gave you for image ads – use eye-catchy, colourful pics, with minimal copy and an easy-to-grasp concept. Use people in your images, ideally, people from your business!
Another tip for carousel images is to ensure they are edited the same way for consistency. For example, a range of high-resolution, in-focus images of fashion products with a neutral background will look uniform and enticing, rather than ad-hoc and thrown together.
Think of it like this: each card should build on and add value to the previous. You can even stretch an image across multiple cards for an impressive aesthetic that is sure to capture attention.
Carousels let you add anywhere from 2-10 carousel cards – we recommend staying within the 3-6 range to strike the perfect balance between intrigue and fatigue.
Previously known as Facebook Canvas, Instant Experience ads are mobile-optimised, immersive, and full-screen pieces of content that load up to 15 times faster than an external mobile site.
They can be interacted with in a number of ways, including the photo, video and carousel content we’ve discussed already, as well as mobile-specific functionality like tagged product images or tilting your phone to pan around.
Facebook offers a number of templates for Instant Experience ads, like instant storefronts, forms and landing pages, depending on your desired campaign objective. If you’re just starting out, collection ads have a reputation for strong performance and high CTR, and work in tandem with instant experiences.
It’s important to ensure your creative tells a cohesive and compelling story – especially when it’s interactive. Once you know the destination, you need to be leading your audience on a clear journey to get there.
Instant Experience ads work because they provide an opportunity to share a bunch of information on your product or service, discreetly wrapped up in a neat little package of entertainment – so your customers don’t run away scared from seemingly dense content.
It also means more qualified leads, because your conversions will be better informed.
If you have a product or service that needs just a little more explaining, or you want to take your customer on a journey throughout the entire funnel in one sitting, Instant Experience is the way to go.
Because of their informative nature, Instant Experience ads are also an ideal platform for UGC or influencer content.
User-Generated Content (UGC)
The truth of the matter is, brands can sing about how good they are all day long, but most people have gotten pretty good at tuning them out.
Trust is much more easily built in reviews and opinions of our friends, family, and people we perceive to be in a similar situation.
This is why UGC is so effective. The UGC model covers any content posted by users demonstrating the value of a product, service, or culture of a business, in a relatable and practical way.
At its core, it’s real people offering real testimonials. And it’s immensely powerful.
Let these numbers courtesy of Stackla do the talking:
- For 90% of consumers, authenticity is a deciding factor when supporting a brand
- Yet, only 51% of consumers believe less than half of what brands create actually comes across is authentic (despite 92% of marketers believing it is)
- Consumers are around 2.4x more likely to find UGC authentic in comparison to brand-created content
- 79% of people say UGC has a huge impact on their purchasing behaviour
- Consumers find UGC a whopping 9.8x more impactful than influencer content
It’s hard to argue with that – and really, it’s the tip of the iceberg when it comes to UGC stats.
So how can marketers take advantage?
Well, first and foremost, if you have reviews – use them. Encourage people to tag themselves with your product and voilà, instant photo base.
Or, target your most satisfied customers and incentivise them to leave a more detailed account of their experience with competitions, review email sequences or giveaways.
For ad creative, a short, amateur video of a user engaging with your brand is worth its weight in gold.
While it is, by definition, generated by the user, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t apply strategy to the content you display. Think about how you can segment your audience with UGC from different demographics, and highlight different benefits or uses of a product.
Make it original, make it interesting, and make it shareable. Just make sure you ask permission.
Wishpond is a fantastic tool for generating engagement through contests and promotions, while Later lets you search for posts in your community and easily add them to your media library, complete with auto accreditation.
That said, we understand that when you’re starting out, you don’t have access to a vast database of user content.
Luckily, like most things in life, you can always pay someone to do it. Billo is one such platform, full of users ready to produce high-quality video ad content for your brand.
If you need a more established endorsement, influencers are an easy way to build massive credibility and access a large audience across basically any demographic you choose.
The times, they are a-changin’. Some 70% of millennial teens trust influencers more than traditional celebrities, and around 40% of consumers will buy something after they see it endorsed by an influencer on Instagram, YouTube, or Twitter.
You can enlist influencers for traditional marketing content, but if you’ve been paying attention, authenticity is key. Instead, consider using an influencer to create UGC for your brand.
Influencer ad creative can boost engagement, enrich your content and connect with your target market in a way that might not be possible through traditional channels.
You just need to identify who in your space would resonate the most with your users. Research is paramount, and you want to focus on quality over quantity. Shoot for the stars, aim for the best in your niche.
It’s entirely possible your one-off collaborative post blossoms into a mutually beneficial long-term relationship, so treat it as such.
A final tip – working with influencers is like working with celebrities (is there a difference?). Expect to relinquish some creative control in the process.
Need a little inspiration?
If you’re overwhelmed, the Facebook Ad Library is an invaluable resource, where you can see every single ad currently active on the platform. Use it for inspiration and guidance from any brand you choose.