While no one (except perhaps Mark Zuckerberg) can definitively predict what the future of Facebook advertising will be, there’s one thing that we can say with certainty: organic brand is dead.
Zuckerberg himself said as much when he wrote that Facebook users will “see less public content like posts from businesses, brands, and media.”
So, what does this mean from you? Two words: Facebook ads.
If you want to continue boosting brand awareness, reaching wider audiences, and attracting qualified leads on Facebook, you’ll not only have to invest in the platform’s advertising offerings, you’ll also have to be more creative with your efforts.
In this post, we’ll explore ways to help you do just that.
1. Be smart about retargeting
Retargeting will continue be an effective way to convert users. That said, consumers today have long caught on with retargeting ads. People are no longer surprised when they see an ad for a product that they were just looking at. They know they’re being tracked, so the old tactic of following users around the web with the same ad simply doesn’t cut it anymore.
You need to be smarter with how you retarget users. One way of doing this is to segment your audiences based on when they last visited your website.
Remember, a person who landed your site three days ago will have a different mindset from someone who hasn’t visited your website in two weeks.
To get the most ROI from retargeting, switch up your messaging depending on website visit recency. For example, an ecommerce site selling high-end jewelry may implement the following retargeting sequence:
- 3 days after visiting the site, the brand retargets the user with an ad reminding them about the items that they viewed.
- 7 days after visiting the site, the brand retargets the user with an ad inviting them to speak to diamond specialist so they can get their questions answered.
- 14 days after visiting the site, the brand retargets the user with special offer.
The “right” sequence will vary depending on the business. To make this strategy work for you, take time to understand the commerce journey of your customers. Figure out what goes through their mind and what they’re objections are before they complete a purchase, and then craft your retargeting messages accordingly.
2. Leverage video
Consumers are increasingly watching videos on Facebook. So much so that the social network is now a serious competitor to YouTube. That’s why if video isn’t part of your Facebook advertising strategy, you could be missing out on eyeballs on sales.
Here are some best practices on leveraging Facebook ads with video:
Accompany your videos with text - If your video content doesn’t immediately communicate what’s it about, consider adding a border with enticing copy to grab people’s attention. This, coupled with a compelling headline could keep users from scrolling long enough to pay attention to your video.
Start strong - Another way to grab people’s attention? Kick off your video with persuasive imagery. The first three seconds of your ad must be powerful enough stop people in their tracks.
Here’s a great example from Darren Hardy. In the video ad below, Hardy is saying “Hey, woah! Don’t keep scrolling so fast!” but his body language is speaking louder. If you were scrolling through your feed and saw this video, you’d probably stop and hit play just to hear him out. (Hey, it worked on me!)
Be authentic - Fancy videos that feature polished actors don’t have the same appeal they used to. These days, consumers want to do business with brands and people that are genuine and relatable. This is particularly true on Facebook. People on the site don’t want to view ads that look like the ones they see on TV. They want to see and connect with real people.
Figure out how you can relate better to your audience and find ways to make your brand come to life in a very authentic way. For example, many marketers are using video ads in which they’re speaking directly to the user, such as this one from Umbrella Mirco Enterprises.
3. Use Dynamic Product Ads
Dynamic Product Ads enable you to run targeted and relevant campaigns at scale. These ads automatically promote the right products to users depending on their interests and online activity (as tracked by the Facebook pixel).
Simply upload your product catalog, set up your campaign, then Facebook will automatically display your product ads (along with up-to-date pricing and availability) to relevant audiences.
The success of your Dynamic Product Ads will depend on how well you configure your campaign. One of the strengths of DPA is it enables you to showcase your catalog to users based on their interests, whether or not they’ve been to your site before. That’s why it’s important to carefully map audience interest to the right catalog. This will increase the relevancy of your ads, and improve results.
It’s also a good idea to use a large product set. As Facebook puts it, “The larger your product set is, the more Facebook can do to pick the best among them for your audience.”
Facebook also notes that “You may see better results when you optimize on lower-funnel events, such as Purchase and Registration, rather than View Content or Add to Cart.” This is because “Product recommendations are optimized based on the goal you've specified.”
4. Try your hand at Instagram Stories
Instagram Stories is an attractive option for many brands, particularly because of the high user engagement on the platform and relatively low CPCs. And with more than 300 million daily active users, you can bet the people are loving the feature.
Last year, Instagram made Stories ads available to all business, following a successful test with other brands. One of the companies included in that test was Airbnb, which saw a double-digit point increase in ad recall because of Stories.
And in February of this year, Instagram announced that it would be bringing carousel ads to Instagram Stories, “allowing advertisers to have up to three pieces of media per Stories ad, before it was just one.”
If you’re planning to leverage Instagram Stories ads, here are a couple of best practices to keep in mind:
Make it about the narrative - If you’re looking to drive product sales, then Instagram Stories may not be the best format for you. (If this is is your goal, try Shoppable Instagram posts or Facebook DPAs instead.)
Instagram Stories perform best when they’re used to well… tell stories. It’s best to use these ads to showcase your brand’s narrative. Use Stories to tell people what you’re about. In other words, if you want an audience to get to know your brand better, Stories are a good way to do it.
You can always add a CTA (e.g. “swipe up to learn more”) to drive people to your site or product page, but the point of Instagram Stories is to enable audiences to experience your brand, not just to push products.
Jazz up your images and videos - Instagram Stories allow you to add emojis, GIFs, drawings, and more. Take advantage of those features and do what you can to jazz up your assets. People viewing Stories want to see more personality, so show off yours.
5. Use the carpet bomb method
Carpet bombing is a Facebook advertising practice that aims to reach as many people as possible within a given location, so you can build a smaller audience that you can retarget with more relevant messaging.
It seems counterintuitive because textbook marketing tells us that we need be to as targeted as possible with our initiatives. That may be true in many cases, but when it comes to Facebook, having an audience that’s too small (because of strict targeting parameters) could result in poor performing campaigns.
This is where the carpet bomb method comes in. With this method, you start off by serving up an ad to a wider group of people, and then building an audience using those who clicked on your ad.
Let’s say you run a toy store in a suburb 15 miles from Los Angeles. If you were to limit your targeting to consumers ages 25-45 who live the suburb that you’re in and are interested in toys, then you might end up with an audience of 3,000 (which is too small).
In this situation, you could implement carpet bombing by expanding the audience that you’re targeting. So, instead of your local suburb, you could expand to the Greater Los Angeles Area. And rather than just focusing on people aged 25-45, you could expand that age range to 65 years old.
You run the campaign and then track the users who clicked-through your site. From there, you can build another audience on Facebook and then retarget them with a more relevant offer.
6. Consider manual bidding
As its name clearly states, manual bidding means that you set and optimize bids yourself, rather than letting Facebook do it for you.
While there aren’t a lot of established best practices for manual bidding, there are a few that have tried the method successfully.
The team at AdEspresso experimented with manual vs. automatic bidding and found that high manual bids delivered better results. Why? According to the site, “it guarantees that Facebook will deliver your ads to many people – sometimes with a higher CPC and CPA compared to automatic bids or sometimes (in our experiment) with a surprisingly lower CPA. At the very least, it seems you are guaranteed more conversions when bidding much higher than what you’d actually want to pay – it seems Facebook doesn’t go anywhere near your bid amount. Our “biggest” week we bid 15 dollars for a CPA, but our actual average CPA for that week was only $3.80.”
Similarly, the folks over at AdLeaks recommend setting your bid higher as well, at 2 to 3 times the suggested amount. Doing so "starts your ads off at a better placement in the newsfeed which leads to higher CTR’s and lower CPC’s than you would have received bidding in the middle of the suggested range. (Auto bidding is essentially the same as bidding in the middle of the suggested range).”
It looks like manual bidding does have its advantages. And with Facebook advertising being more competitive, taking bidding into your own hands could help you compete. Just bear in mind that manual bidding is best suited for experienced advertisers with larger budgets; if you’re just starting out or don’t have a lot of funds to spend, stick to automatic bidding.
With the number of Facebook marketers moving north of 5 million, the platform is getting pretty crowded. Cutting through the noise requires creativity and boldness to try new things. And with Facebook advertising, this means checking out new formats, being smarter with your messaging, and continuously refining your efforts to achieve the best results.