Creating an effective Facebook ad: telling a non-linear story

Creating an effective Facebook ad: telling a non-linear story

A regular Facebook ad looks like this: it’s usually a link post that has a short sentence above a large image/video/carousel.
Under the image you have a headline.
Under the headline you have a description, a site URL (usually) and a CTA button.

Basically, you have 6 marketing messaging sections in these ads (including the image). So how do you decide what to write in each? In other words – With so many options, how do you write one cohesive, effective, marketing message?

That’s what we’re going to talk about in this post, but first, let’s talk about Krembo. Do you know what a Krembo is?

Topics covered in this post:

  1. The Krembo conundrum 
  2. Always have a strong visual
  3. One message per Facebook ad
  4. Make sure the text-reading order doesn’t matter

The Krembo conundrum

Krembo is an Israeli treat that EVERYBODY loves. Why? Because it has everything – a thin chocolate coating, sweet marshmallow filling and a wonderfully crunchy cookie.

But while just about everyone you ask would agree on its deliciousness, the answer to what is the best way to eat a Krembo is far from unanimous. Some start with the chocolate, others with the cookie and some “drill” a hole in the chocolate coating so they could eat the marshmallow first (I personally always start with the chocolate and save the cookie for last).

The nonlinearity of a Facebook ad

How is eating a Krembo related to Facebook advertising? Well…

Just like with Krembo-eating, each of us consumes information in our own unique way. This is especially true with a Facebook ad because there are so many ways to engage with them. Some go from top to bottom – scanning the first sentence above the image before reading the headline under it. Some don’t pay any attention to the line above the image and only read the headline and description below. And there is yet another group that never actually reads anything in the ad – for them it’s just about the image or video in the ad.

This is a problem for the old-school brand storytellers among us – sure, they know how to tell a good story, but they can only do it effectively if they can structure it with a beginning, middle and an end. If you don’t know where your users start reading or where they finish, all the structuring is basically worthless.

So… What are you supposed to do?

Simply follow these rules:

1. Always have a strong visual

Have you heard the phrase ‘thumb-stopper’?

Taken from the world of mobile scrolling – thumb stopper is the thing that catches your attention while you’re scanning your Facebook news feed for interesting content and makes you stop scrolling. While that thing can sometimes be a massively interesting headline (usually click-bait), the thumb stopper will almost always be visual – either an image or video.

We are all visual creatures, we can’t help ourselves but be fascinated by something that is visually appealing. This is why, when creating a Facebook ad, you must choose your visual carefully. Make sure it conveys the exact same message as the text and more so – make sure it’s something that’ll stand out in a crowded news feed (no, in case you were wondering, a stock photo likely won’t cut it).

Are you promoting a product/service that would be perfect for different audiences for different reasons?

Or maybe a product/service that would be perfect for different audiences for the same reason?

Great! Make a Facebook ad for each audience type and value proposition and use Facebook targeting to reach the right people with the one message that’s best for them.

Do not clutter your ad with too much information, do not try to shove in all your value propositions and do not try to talk in broad terms so that your messages would fit all your different audiences at once. All of these will just make for confusing ads that won’t convert as well as they could and end up wasting you money.

Write focused messaging for each audience group and emphasize the same value proposition a number of times throughout the ad (in the different available messaging sections) so that they stick in a user’s head (repetition is your friend).

[Another tactic advanced marketers tend to use (mostly as part of branding efforts) is sequential content- make a few ads for your brand, each telling a different story about your brand or continuing the story told by the previous ad and then schedule them to be promoted one after the other.

The first ad would target a specific, yet large enough, audience relevant to the brand. The second ad would then target a custom audience made up of people who were exposed to the first ad. The third ad would target a custom audiences of those who saw the second and so on.

In this manner you can actually go back to the regular way of brand storytelling with a beginning, middle and end since you control the sequence in which users see your ads.]

3. Make sure the text-reading order doesn’t matter

By now you probably already get the fact that people aren’t necessarily going to go through the messaging sections in the order you wrote them. This means you need every one of the six messaging sections to be a standalone section – be strong enough within itself to trigger some action by the user – that action would either be to continue on to read another section of the ad or click the CTA button or the link.


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