Ads on social media are hot, hot stuff right now.
I think it all started when “organic” reach on social media declined to scarily low ground.
A steep 50% + organic decline in Facebook page reach, identified across a short time span in 2014, was an eyeopener for a lot of marketers (benchmark study from social@Ogilvy):
Ogilvy said in the same study:
“Organic reach of the content brands publish in Facebook is destined to hit zero. It’s only a matter of time.
In 2012, Facebook famously restricted organic reach of content published from brand pages to about 16 percent. In December 2013, another round of changes reduced it even more.
By February 2014, according to a Social@Ogilvy analysis of more than 100 brand pages, organic reach hovered at 6 percent, a decline of 49 percent from peak levels in October. For large pages with more than 500,000 Likes, organic reach hit 2 percent in February.”
So, what can marketers do?
The answer: pay a small sum and start doing ads on the platform. Facebook ads are, according to Wordstream, one of the most cost-effective advertising platforms. Check out their CPC (cost per click) study. $1.72 is an extremely low advertising cost – but that’s the “average” cost!
And there have been incredible, inspirational success stories from marketers making BIG income using Facebook ads:
And there are tons more stories like these.
A critical element to the success of a Facebook ad is the copy in that ad.
Double whammy: it can also be the hardest task on your list.
Writing ad copy is a different animal from writing blogs, articles, or other content.
It’s not a predictable, plodding cow. It’s a wily horse.
Meanwhile, Facebook ad copy is like a zebra in a herd of wild horses.
Don’t be fooled. It looks like a horse, but it’s not.
It’s something else, a totally unique task. To learn how to write Facebook ads that work, you have to know how to approach the zebra so you don’t make it shy away. You have to use a strategy separate from what you’d use for other types of ads.
Let’s start with a basic question…
How Important is Ad Copy on Facebook Ads?
Rule of thumb: ad copy is nothing without great visuals. (The same can be said vice versa: you need great ad copy for a great ad visual.)
The proof is in the stats.
Take this oft-cited BuzzSumo finding, for starters: Facebook posts with an image get 2.3 times the engagement as posts without an image.
On Facebook, ads show up in the news feed and look like posts. Ergo, if your ad has no image, not even a placeholder, we have an issue.
The image takes up the most real estate, and has the most impact, in a Facebook ad.
Facebook Ads Manager has a variety of ad formats to choose from, but note that all of them are image-centric.
Okay… So, What Role Does Ad Copy Play?
You may be wondering why we’re worrying about ad copy at all in the face of the facts.
The ad copy supports the image. The two play off of each other.
The image is what draws the eye, but the ad copy is what seals the deal for the click.
Facebook says as much on their Ad Copy Cheat Sheet:
Without the ad copy, your ad will be much more confusing. Users won’t know what to do with it. Users won’t have a reason why they should stop and pay full attention.
With the ad copy, you provide that reason. You provide the essential why. You answer the customer’s dearest question: “How does this benefit me?”
How to Write Facebook Ads, Step-by-Step
Knowing the rules is the first step to complete knowledge.
Picasso, for instance, didn’t begin his foray into abstract art without first intimately knowing the rules of drawing from life.
In the same way, to write great Facebook ads, you have to understand the basic rules first.
Know your limitations, then stretch them with your imaginative, creative, effective copy.
Step #1: Begin with the Image
Before we dig in, we need to qualify something. Steps one and two are interchangeable.
Sometimes, you’ll start with a great image and can pull inspiration for the copy from that. Other times, you start with a great idea. This means you flesh out a catchy concept and find the perfect image afterward.
If you’re beginning with the image, think about three things:
- Use as little image text as possible, if at all. Facebook only allows text to occupy 20% or less of your image. Images with more text get less exposure. (Check that your image fits this rule with this little tool.)
- The headline needs to match up with or echo the on-image text (if you’re including any).
- If you use on-image text, make sure it’s a value proposition, according to SEMrush. In other words, what will viewers get out of the deal? (A discount? A freebie? A better life?)
- Users will see your image first, your copy second. Make sure your image is relevant to your entire ad message.
Here’s an example of an Amazon ad that uses image text properly:
Step #2: Move to the Headline
In Facebook Ads Manager, you may notice that you’re presented with one text box to enter your ad copy. Don’t start there, though.
Instead, check the box underneath that says “Add a website URL” to access more options. You’ll see something like this:
The text box for entering your headline is further down the page. Don’t worry about doing things out of order – you’ll want to create your headline first to give your copy a general direction.
The headline is most likely what a user will see second, after the image. As such, this becomes a huge focus for your copy creation.
Here are some keys for a great headline on a Facebook ad:
- Make it actionable – It should serve as an underscore to your actual call-to-action. To encourage action tenfold, start with a present-tense verb. I.e. get, do, go, look, save, shop, buy, etc.
- Think about formulas for great headlines – You probably are aware of the different formulas and power words you can use to craft a great blog headline. The same principles work here, too. Two can’t-fail techniques are to use numbers or ask a question.
- Keep it short and snappy – Kissmetrics recommends keeping your headlines down to five words or less. (That’s… not a lot of words.) If you’re struggling with this limit, you can give yourself a bit more wiggle-room as long as your message is still clear and concise.
Another tip from the Ad Copy Cheat Sheet.
Step #3: Add Supporting Text (the Body Copy)
Annnnd we’ve returned to that first text box. (“Text” on Facebook is essentially your body copy.)
Since you’re only saying one thing in your Facebook ad, use the body copy to reiterate your headline. That’s right: Echo your headline and image, but say it in a different, compelling way.
Need an example?
Let’s say your headline is “Shop for Groceries the Easy Way” for an online grocery service.
Your aim for the ad is to grow brand awareness. You want to tell people what you do succinctly.
Think of the audience you’re targeting. In Facebook Ads, you have to choose this audience before you can get to the ad-writing part.
For instance, are you targeting midwestern moms in their late 30s? Think about the problems your service solves for them. Think about what they have to deal with while grocery shopping – rowdy kids, a long list to get through, not a lot of extra time, tiredness after a long work day, etc.
There’s what your copy can address. It answers the question, “Why will this make my life easier?” It focuses on the benefits of using the service, not the features – a proven sales technique.
Here’s the resulting body copy:
“Skip the errand-running hassle. Shop for groceries from the comfort of your home.”
You can have as many as 90 characters in your body copy, but a 40-character limit is regularly touted as best-practice for good results. In general, shoot for short and sweet.
Step #4: Include a Call-to-Action
Always include a call-to-action with your ads. Always.
You need to tell the customer what to do with the information you’re giving them. You have to direct them, let them know where to go from here.
Just make sure your call-to-action is simple and direct. It should also match up with your headline.
For example, if my headline is “Shop for Groceries the Easy Way,” my call-to-action should be “Shop Now.” Too many directives, like if I used “Learn More” as a CTA in addition to “Shop” in my headline, is just confusing.
Facebook gives you the option to include a call-to-action button on your ad. You choose the appropriate text:
Definitely include this feature! People love the satisfaction of clicking a good button. Don’t deprive them of that on your ad.
Step #5: Write a Supporting Link Description
Don’t skip this next part in our lesson on how to write Facebook ads.
It’s the ominous box called “News Feed Link Description.”
You may be thinking, “What does that even mean?”
Really, you should think of it as more supporting copy for your ad. Here’s where it shows up when you choose to run news feed ads:
Think of it as secondary body copy that can lead your viewer to your CTA. As such, you need to use it to keep driving your message home.
For reference, our example ad so far has the headline “Shop for Groceries the Easy Way” with body copy that reads “Skip the errand-running hassle. Shop for groceries from the comfort of your home.”
What else can we say that supports the assertion that this will make life easier for moms in their 30s?
The best strategy is to continue espousing the benefits of your product/service/what-have-you.
The news feed link description line can be up to 200 characters long. But, for accommodating smaller screens, Facebook recommends keeping it to a brief 30 characters. However long you go, that’s valuable extra space to help sell your message.
For instance, we might write, “No need to hop in the car, schlep the kids, or waste gas. Shop from home and get everything you need – fast.”
If we wanted to keep it under 30 characters, we could go with, “Check off your list – fast.”
Step #6: Double-Check the Ad Preview
Nothing is worse than spending eons of time writing a great ad, only to realize you made a stupid error after hitting “publish.”
That’s why the ad preview feature is a lifesaver. You can check that everything is the right size, length, and category. (Like if you accidentally mixed up the “Text” section with the “News Feed Link Description.”)
If you’re blanking on character limits and what section goes where, bookmark or save a handy cheat sheet that breaks everything down at a glance. Facebook provides quick recommendations for image sizes and character limits. Refer to these so your ad looks good no matter where it appears on the site:
4 Extra Tips for How to Write Facebook Ads with Punch and Pizazz
The general gist of writing ad copy isn’t too hard. Once you know your boundaries, often that can spark more creativity than if you’re working without rules.
So, you get how to write Facebook ads. You’ve got the basics. Now you might want a few extra pieces of wisdom to help take your copy over the top.
1. Know Exactly Who You’re Writing For
We can’t stress this point enough. Once you’ve figured out exactly who you’re writing for, you’re halfway to a fantastic, conversion-generating, wow-worthy, absolute machine of an ad.
Let’s reiterate for good measure: It will make your life 100,000,000,000 times easier to have this specific person in your mind while writing the ad copy.
If you don’t know who they are, stop reading this and start researching.
2. Pretend You’re Writing to One Person in Your Audience
Targeting a specific audience helps keep your writing honed, focused, pointed, and deeply relevant for the reader.
When you pretend you’re speaking to one person, you increase all that. Their concerns, needs, hopes, and wants become immediate. You’re not talking to an auditorium full of people whose faces you can’t see; you’re sitting across from someone and making eye contact.
The difference is huge, and it matters for writing good ad copy.
3. Don’t Be Shy
You’re writing an ad. You have zero time to hedge. You have to say what you mean, and mean what you say.
Your length and space restraints will help you be more to-the-point, but you have to also figure out the best way to say what you need to say.
Don’t provide useless facts, don’t waste time bragging about features, and don’t get too descriptive and lose your audience. Simple and bold is better for memorable ads that stop a mindless scroller in their tracks.
4. Listen to Facebook!
Facebook provides recommendations and guidelines to help you create the best ads possible. It would be foolish to overlook them. Here are a couple more worthy tips from the Ad Copy Cheat Sheet for good measure:
How to Write Facebook Ads Like a Pro: Done
It’s a lot of information to take in, but, like we said, Facebook ads are in their own category for copywriting. They need a special approach.
Of course, the only way to get good at any task is to get in there and get your hands dirty. Jump onto Facebook Ads Manager and start playing around. Practice your approach for different campaign goals like brand awareness, conversions, or lead generation. You can always test out different ads to see what lands and what flops.
When you write your own Facebook ads, you may even come to relish the unique creative challenge they pose.
Hey, stranger things have happened!
If Facebook ad copy is still giving you grief, don’t despair. Our copywriting experts here at Express Writers can take the reins and make ad magic. See our ad copywriting services here.