How to create Facebook campaigns that inspire action

Facebook advertising has become a necessity for brands to include in their digital marketing strategy. And with over 2 billion daily active users, it would be silly not to.

But how can you create Facebook ads that actually inspire action?

Designing ads for Facebook

While the basics of good design still apply, designing ad creative to be used on social platforms requires a slightly different approach.

Here are the top 5 things you’ll need to factor in to make sure your new ad creative hits the mark:

  1. No one size fits all. You can’t expect to use the same piece of creative across all ad types. Make sure you shoot and design your ads with the format in mind.
  2. Static images won’t cut through the noise. The more video you can incorporate into your ads the better.
  3. Free stock images and footage can be spotted a mile off. It’s worth investing in either a paid stock subscription or producing your own set of creative assets you can use in your ads. This will give your brand identity and build up recognition.
  4. Remember the regulations. Facebook has a 20% text limit on all sponsored ads so make the images and video do the talking and add everything else you want to say into the caption. Plus, length of videos vary depending on ad type so make sure you know this prior to editing.
  5. Be creative. If you’re stuck for ideas and inspiration keep an eye on what your competitors and other sectors are producing. And Facebook Success Stories showcases lots of creative examples to spark ideas.

Choosing the right ad format

Choosing the right ad for your Facebook campaign can seem confusing at first. One way to simplify the process is to think about your ad format in relation to your end goal. Whether that’s to increase awareness, help consumers in the consideration stage, or get them to convert.

You can jump ahead to each section below:

Awareness ads

Awareness ads allow your audience to get to know your brand. They’re more generic and reach out to a wider audience than other types of ad. These work well if you want to inspire or engage potential customers, acting as their first visual interaction with your brand that taps into their interests. This will get your brand front of mind for your core customers.

The best ad types for this goal include static image ads, video ads and carousel ads.

Ad types

  • Static image

Static image ads for awareness need to have strong creative. Whether it’s an editorial fashion shot, an inspirational interior or a delicious meal snap it needs to engage the viewer and make them want that product. It’s their first impression so make it a good one.

These ads work best in square formats (1080×1080) because this allows it to work for desktop and mobile viewing. The maximum caption length is 125 characters and any images that are made up of more than 20% text may not be accepted by Facebook guidelines.

If you’re unsure whether your image meets these requirements, Facebook has a handy image checker tool.

  • Video ads

Video ads must apply the same creative rules as static images, only on more frames. Videos are great for showing off more than 1 campaign shot in a single ad. You can promote more of a story and take the user on a journey with your brand. Stop-motion, GIFs and animations work well for brand awareness on social as these are usually under 15s and give the viewer a little snippet of your brand, leaving them wanting more.

Video ads have the same caption length as image ads and work best in a square format, however, the standard 16:9 ratio (1920×1080) can still be used.
Facebook videos can vary in length from 1 second – 2 hours but keeping it short and sweet is best. You want to engage your viewer in the first 5 seconds of the video, so they don’t just scroll past. Aim for your video on Facebook to be under 2 minutes.
It’s also important to include sound for a full video experience – whether it’s a backing track or voice over. Just remember to also include captions. 85% of videos on Facebook are watched without sound and you don’t want your audience to miss something important.

Marks & Spencer stop motion food videos for Facebook
Marks & Spencer cleverly reach their target audience through sponsored GIF ads. They are all under 10 seconds and give the audience meal plan ideas for the week. The creative is eye-catching and enhances the quality of both the brand and its food products. And a stop-motion GIF makes it more interesting than a static image ad to catch the viewers’ attention while they scroll through their feed.

  • Carousel ads

Carousel ads are the most versatile and work well for the top of the funnel strategies. Carousel ads work well to highlight different products, showcase specific details about one hero product or service, or tell a story about your brand. You can feature up to 10 images or videos within a single ad and each card can contain its own link. These are square cards and look best in a 600×600.

The caption text limit is also 125 characters and the link description limit are 20 characters, so be concise. Also, like static image ads a 20% text limit applies so use your text areas wisely. For carousel ads you can add a call to action button to each card to encourage click-through. These include shop now, learn more, book now and contact us depending on your goals for this ad.

Topshop creative carousel ad for their TopshopIT campaign on Facebook

Carousel ads are a great format if you want to showcase your brand more creatively. Brands can link the first card to the rest of the set to make a panoramic effect, encouraging swiping and click-throughs. Topshop cleverly did this for their ‘TopshopIT’ campaign, spreading the imagery across 4 cards and promoting their new messaging in a creative way.

Consideration ads

Once you’ve made your audience aware of your brand you can target them with more refined ads to reach them at the consideration or ‘middle of the funnel stage’. The key element to include in all consideration ads is a link. Your audience is already aware of your brand and you now want to continue the user journey and take them off social and onto your site.

The products are more of a focus on this type of content than awareness but not purely product images. New launches and collections or on-site sales work great for getting people interested in buying.

The best ad types for this goal are carousels, link preview image ads and video link ads.

  • Carousel ads

Moving down the funnel, carousel ads also work well for the consideration stage. This is where the context switches from trying to get your audience’s attention, to try to create an emotional connection with your product that gets the audience to consider purchasing. So, the content in these types of ad needs to be different to your awareness ads.

Boots creative carousel ad for promotion of their beauty products on Facebook

A good example of a brand using a consideration carousel to promote their key products is Boots. This ad is simple but very effective. Like Topshop, Boots have used a panoramic effect to encourage swiping and click-throughs. This is enhanced by the simple headlines on the image cards using ‘…’ to strengthen swiping. The bold pink background stands out in feed and highlights the brands. And a simple caption draws the eye to the image and enhances the CTA.

  • Image and video link preview ads

Standard link preview image ads are a step up from static image ads. They let you include a link within the card to drive your audience to your site or landing page. A link preview ad includes 5 core sections; an image/video, caption, headline, link description and a CTA.

The image needs to be eye-catching enough to make your viewer stop in their newsfeed. This is best created in 1200×628.

The caption follows Facebook’s standard requirements and has a maximum length of 125 characters. The headline is the hero text that sits underneath the image and needs to grab people’s attention in only 25 characters. The link description comes underneath this and tells customers what to expect once they click through.

Finally, the CTA button prompts the user on what you want them to do.

Similarly, to image link ads, video link ads include all the same elements but are a moving image rather than static. These also follow the same specs as the standard video ads in the awareness stage but work best in the classic 16:9 ratio (1200×628) for links.

GlossyBox GIF video content for their new Vegan box on Facebook

GlossyBox is one brand using video link ads in their marketing strategy. The promotion of their Limited-Edition Vegan box uses the 5 core elements very well. The video is only 5 seconds long but quickly captures the viewer’s attention by revealing the products in an animated GIF. This entices the user to ‘find out more’ and click the link.

The caption is concise and appeals to their audience with the use of emojis and tapping into the topical Veganuary trend. The headline enhances the USP of this box, complemented with the free delivery incentive in the link description. And the standard ‘Shop Now’ CTA finalises the urge to find out more.

Conversion ads

The final stage of the funnel is conversion. This is where you want your audience to not only engage, but to purchase. The best ad types for this goal are dynamic product ads (DPAs), instant experiences/canvas ads and collection ads. These ads put the focus firmly on the product and include specific details and pricing. Each of these offers something a little different and have very different creatives outcomes.

  •  DPAs

Facebook’s dynamic ads automatically promote products to people who have expressed interest on your website, in your app or elsewhere online. This doesn’t involve creative like the other ads but works by pulling through the products from a feed and continues to target the right people for each product, always using accurate pricing and stock availability.

  • Collection ads

Collection ads are great for ecommerce brands with a variety of products to promote. It makes it easy for people to discover, browse and purchase directly from their mobile in a visual and immersive way. A collection ad includes a cover image or video which is best created in either 1080×1080 or 1200×628. Underneath this shows 4 key images pulled through from the feature with a ‘more’ CTA to entice users to see more. If the user clicks on the cover image it will open a full-screen window with all ‘featured’ products, each with a description, price and ‘Shop Now’ CTA. The caption on collection ads is up to 90 characters and the headline is up to 25 characters.

Debenhams collection ad for new campaign on Facebook

Debenhams’ recent rebrand has brought a lot more engaging creative to their ads, especially the use of collection ads. The use of a square video emphasises the creative, entices the viewer and highlights their new messaging ‘Do a bit of Debenhams’. The video also shows interior inspo and links directly to the featured products.

  • Facebook Instant Experiences

Facebook Instant Experiences, formally known as Canvas ads are probably the most creative ad on offer. You can engage your audience through videos and photos, swipe through carousels, tilt to pan and explore lifestyle images with tagged products – all in a single ad.

Due to the range of elements, the creative specs for these ads vary depending on the feature. They’re also only available on mobile due to how we interact with devices. For any full-screen ads make them 1080×1920 because this is optimised for mobile and fills the device screen.

Choosing the right ad for your campaign is simple. But your goals will constantly change per campaign so you should change your ad creative to fit with this.

Don’t just promote a collection ad because they’re the ‘prettiest’. You need to make sure your ad reflects your KPIs and is going to deliver the results you want. And remember the creative is equally as important as the targeting. If it looks great but isn’t going out to the right audience, or if it’s reaching the right audience but not engaging with them, it won’t deliver and will be a waste of your precious budget.

You need to have a solid balance of both to succeed with paid ads on Facebook and create campaigns that inspire action.

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