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Beginner’s guide to social ads that work

Your company maintain a home page on Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram. You post regularly and your posts get likes and shares. Your message gets out to other people’s feeds. Congratulations.

But alas, you need more exposure leads than those free options will get you. You need to cross the line into paid advertisement on social platforms.

This article will show you the basics of paid advertisement. Social ads are an entire field of expertise. I’m just going to cover the basics, focusing on what has worked for me. Also, each platform works differently. Some platforms have lots of setting that for things like audience targeting and media use, while others are more basic.

OK, here we go.

Jump right to video, if you can

When working recently with a client’s ad agency, we tried replacing some of the still images we were using with short videos. In response, engagement skyrocketed. You can find lots of data to back up the fact that video ads are more effective than still image ads.

My hunch is that when we¬† were cave people, we scanned the horizon for things that moved because there was a possibility that those things might eat us. Or that we might eat them. Make your ad move and it will get people’s attention. More on that later.

Keep in mind that a video ad does not necessarily mean live action. You can use still images and animated text. Look through your feed and you will see examples of this. There are apps that allow you to load assets, then output a video ad. In some cases you can create them that right in the platform on which your ads will appear.

A step up would be to use a video editing app like Adobe Premiere or Final Cut Pro. Sometimes you can pull a longer video out of the company archive, grab some good clips, and piece them together with some branding and text. If you can’t get your hands on original footage, use stock footage that tells your story. If you cannot find appropriate stock, use still images and Ken Burns style animation.

Or, if all that sounds like too much, you can always hire a freelancer. Set up a drop box, load it up with some assets, and the freelancer will create your video.

Keep it short

If it’s a video ad, guess how long it needs to be? 10-15 seconds. That’s the recommended length on most platforms.

People scrolling through their social feeds have no tolerance for long-winded ads. They are busy people with lots of cat videos to watch.

Your objective is to catch the user’s attention as they scroll through their feed. Give them just enouph of a story that they pause and take a look. That’s it. Once they engage the ad, the place you take them next does the rest of the work.

Subtitle it

Most people have the sound off when they scroll through their feed. For that reason you need subtitles on your video.

Unlike closed captions, which you may want to add as well for accessibility and searchability, subtitles are always on. Make the text large so it is easy to read on a small screen. Just like the images, make the text move.

Make it visually stunning

Remember the context. The user is scrolling through a feed. They will stop only on things that grab their attention. Make those first two seconds of your video a dynamic visual.

It’s OK to leave a little mystery in the story you are telling. That makes people want to tap on the ad, turn on the sound, and see what’s going on.

Make it square

Think about the aspect ratio of the creative media used in your ad. Your audience is not in a theater, viewing it on a horizontal screen; they are at the bus stop, scrolling through their feed in portrait mode.

A square or even portrait video gives you more canvas in which to tell your story.

Brand it

Your ad will appear alongside all sorts of things in the user’s feed. It will already have your logo and business name, since these are added by the platform. However the image or video should reflect your brand’s style as well. Reference your company’s brand guidelines and asset library.

You can add large type across your video and images, but keep in mind that some platforms limit the amount of text on the image. That seems silly to me, but its a real constraint. Your ad will be held back if you have too much text.

Choose the right objective

When you create your ad, the platform will ask for your campaign objective. The term “objective” may be a little heavy handed. It means the action you want the user to take as a result of the ad, since most people’s objective is to sell their products.

If you are starting out, perhaps you want to collect emails to add people to a newsletter mailing list. Or, if you have a nice website that does a good job of selling your project, your objective might be to get them to the site and have the site do the rest. Have your ad match that objective.

Advertisers usually have several ads with discrete objectives. They may launch an awareness add to capture and record those who may have an interest, then follow with harder selling ads.

Write well

Make sure your ad copy is short, effective and matches your desired action.

Show them a story, invite them to learn more, ask them to sign up or download something.

Target it correctly

Social platforms allow for advanced targeting of users. They will ask you to set up an audience for your ad, which may have parameters like geographical location, age or gender. Take the time to look through all the options and select the audience you are seeking.

 

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