Facebook ads have followed a distinct “less is more” trend over the past year. That is, at least in terms of quantity. Last June, the company announced it would be streamlining its range of 27 (often confusing) ad products, and now it’s also reducing the frequency of those ads you see on the right-hand side of your newsfeed.
That would seem like bad news for advertisers, except that these new ads will be much larger, a feature that early tests show encourages more engagement. That opens a lot of creative doors for small businesses on Facebook, but you’ve got to make a good game plan for taking advantage of them. Let’s take a deeper look at how best to create ads that entice engagement and make the best of this enhanced visual canvas.
Take better photos
With photos that are 3.5 times bigger comes a more pressing need to take or buy higher quality photos — and we mean the whole shebang here, from the photo’s resolution to its composition and the content featured within. Think of your photo as your prime chance to lure eyes away from a much more enticing newsfeed. Bright colors can help, as can those that surprise or delight, or those that are simply beautiful to look at. Follow the sizing guidelines carefully, as you don’t want the uploader to cut off any key features or framing automatically.
Don’t have the budget to take your own photos? These new ads are integrated with Shutterstock’s extensive library so just take your pick.
Write a story
The rollout of these new Facebook ads comes on the tails of the demise of the Sponsored Story, those controversial promoted posts you used to see in your newsfeed. What was great about Sponsored Stories is that they gave advertisers more text space in which to write a story that was closer in tone and in content to just another friend’s update — something that’s key on a social platform. Bigger right-column ads bring back some of this functionality in that they allow much more room for text. So, once your compelling photo has drawn eyes in, I recommend taking full advantage of every text character devoted to you to construct an ad that’s more like something interesting a user’s friend would post, whether that’s close to a status update or more like the title and short description of an article they might post.
These stories will be all the more compelling if you take advantage of the site’s new targeting features, which will help you get more specific than ever before with your desired geographic and demographic targets. This means you’ll be better able to create stories that appeal to highly specific audience, both in content and in tone.
Invest in landing pages
Another helpful change with these bigger ads is that interested users can get to the site you’ve linked to by clicking anywhere on the ad not just on a link. This has obvious benefits for click-thru rates, but it also means it’s all the more pressing to ensure what they’re finding on the other end is up to snuff. In fact, combined with the hyper-targeting we just discussed, this is an excellent opportunity to invest specific landing pages to suit your unique target audiences. Landing pages could be blatant pushes for business, like a deal microsite or product page, or they could be a way of bringing those specific targets deeper into your brand, like a helpful guide with a VIP membership access pass at the end. Whatever your strategy, it’s a great idea to turn clicking into a fun experience, rather than something humdrum that brings a viewer to a run of the mill product page.
Test, test and test some more
Of course, just like with any form of Facebook advertising, it’s important to test, test and test some more both before and while you invest heavily in any number of strategies. You can do this by giving each ad a relatively short run of 4 to 5 days as you target, tweaking images and text, and trying again until you find what garners the highest CTR and conversions. This is especially important when using these new ads, as your old strategies may not be as effective in this new format.
(By the way, if you’re worried about how much time creating all of these ads for different tests will take, don’t. Facebook’s new upload manager allows you to create multiple ads at once).
While your Facebook ads may not run with quite as much frequency, bigger ads means greater engagement, and that can only be a good thing. What do you think of the new ads? Let us know in the comments below.
Britt Klontz is a digital content strategist at Distilled, an online marketing company. Say “hi” and give her a shout @Britt_Klontz, she’s always up for having a conversation about digital marketing tactics and social networking in general.