The days of brands expecting high user engagement on Facebook from posting a blurry event photo or a stock image in a wall post are quickly coming to an end. Facebook has made it clear to marketers, through numerous algorithm changes, that it wants -- and its users expect -- a compelling reason to engage with a brand's ad.
This means that marketers need to jettison generic ad creative and text-heavy wall posts in favor of high-quality, engaging ad creative with smart imagery and limited text. Facebook will reward them for doing so with greater exposure in users' News Feeds.
Here are three ways marketers can get smarter with their Facebook ad creative.
Embrace News Feed Algorithm Changes. Facebook noted in a recent blog post that it is decreasing the exposure it gives to brands' text-based posts in favor of image-based posts. It urges marketers to use the link-share button rather than sharing an embedded link to display larger images in wall posts. So marketers need to put more research and focus into the images they use in Facebook ads because the ad size is so large on Facebook (especially in the News Feed). The relatively short lifespan of a Facebook ad means that brands must have a vast quantity of unique, constantly refreshed images at the ready to keep their ads and content near the top of users' News Feeds. This is especially true for direct-response advertisers, who must rely on engaging, creative ads to entice a consumer into making a purchasing decision.
Here's an example of the type of text-heavy, image-deficient wall post that Facebook wants marketers to move away from:
Here's an example of the types of image-based wall posts that Facebook wants marketers to use and that will deliver better results for direct-response advertisers:
Learn Facebook's Custom Audiences Service. Facebook recently expanded Custom Audiences to give marketers the ability to target specific users across any device. The service relies on splitting users into specific groups, based on how they have previously engaged with your brand. For instance, a travel website could use Custom Audiences to reach consumers who searched for flights on the website but never made a reservation with a targeted message in their Facebook News Feed: "Come back for 10 percent off your next flight reservation." The ad creative and copy need to be specific to both the user group and its stage of the buying cycle.
Combine Custom Audience Targeting with Lookalike Audiences. Facebook's Lookalike Audiences, a cousin of Custom Audiences, enables advertisers to target new users who are likely interested in the business because they are similar to customers on a list already cultivated. With Lookalike Audiences, marketers can get very close to ensuring that every piece of ad creative they produce with Facebook is targeted at a specific user group based on those users' similarities to the advertisers' existing customers.
As marketers we need a more nuanced and sophisticated approach to Facebook ad creative. A "create-an-ad-and-be-done-with-it" mentality isn't going to work.