Your company has a social media strategy in place and the responsibility to write the ads that convert passive viewers into active consumers falls on you. You’ve seen hundreds—thousands—of social ads come across your personal feeds. That’s gotta be enough exposure to make you a quasi-expert. You’ll knock these out of the park, you think. You’ve got this, no problem, you think.
Welllllllllll… maybe you need a little help getting started. You do have a brand (or several) who depend on your messaging to make them money.
Allow us to share what we’ve learned.
Here are the steps we use to write kickass ads for our clients’ social media ads.
Step 1: Research.
Relevancy is the make or break factor of your social ad campaign (relevant ads also save you money). If the audience you think is buying your product is different from the audience who will actually buy your product, then… yikes.
Research is key—and not just demographic research.
Age, gender and income are still important factors to consider, as they’re the way to filter who sees your ads. But they’re no longer the queen of your copywriting chess game. That position has been filled by psychographic data. Having a reliable understanding of your target audience’s attitudes, opinions, behaviors, values, activities, etc. turns you into an intuitive consumer-whisperer. One of the best ways to fill in your target audience’s psychographic profile is by listening. More on how and who to listen to in step 4.
Step 2: “Brevity is the soul of wit.”
Ads on Instagram and Facebook allow for up to 125 characters of body text to make ad magic. To paraphrase, however, just because you have the space, doesn’t mean you should use all of it.
Adspresso analyzed 37,000+ Facebook ads and came to the conclusion that the ideal word count for body text is 14 words (80~ characters) and five words for headlines. Ads with these counts saw the highest rate of engagement.
Say what you want, say it well, say it briefly.
(Fun Fact: Hamlet’s Polonius, one of Shakespeare’s most notoriously long-winded characters, is where this quote came from.)
Step 3: Death of a Salesman
One of the reasons there’s a high ROI on social media campaigns is because people don’t go out of their way to avoid ads like they do TV commercials. Social ads are less obtrusive, so people have a higher tolerance.
That principle is challenged, however, when ads are perceived as too “salesman-y.” Small business owners are finding that sales pitches on social media actually drive away users. Instead of going “buy our product now, pretty, pretty please,” go for a more conversational tone that engages the viewer through values, lifestyle aspirations or helpful and relevant information, which can include how your product solves a problem.
Step 4: Blend in with your surroundings.
No, not like that.
Y’all already know how much content is out there in Social Media Land. The feeds of your target audience are curated sources of information they choose to listen to (or at least be exposed to).
It’s hard to win by being a disruptive presence on a person’s feed. A better strategy is to personalize.
And how, you ask, does one make an ad sound personalized when you’re writing for a broad swathe of people? Well A, by choosing the correct audience (see step 1) but mainly B: by sounding familiar.
This is where we circle back to that whole listening thing.
It’s easier to ingratiate yourself to your audience when you sound similar to the content they’ve chosen for themselves, and you can learn how to sound similar by listening.
Listen to posts from people in your target market; listen to the celebrities your target market listens to; listen to ads that are also targeting your audience. That’s a lot of listening, you say. It is, but it helps you match your tone to the language that fills their feed, making you sound organic rather than hokey.
Step 5: Don’t be afraid of the “out there” options.
I know we just said that being a disruptive voice in your audience’s feed isn’t always a sound strategy.
But sometimes it is.
If you went on YouTube in 2013, you might remember the video that started with a posh lady in a bright blue dress opening the door to a toilet stall and saying, “I used to hate pooping in public.”
I bet that was one of the few long-form ads you watched all the way through, too. You weren’t alone, it was the fifth most viewed ad in the world in 2013.
Shock value works in small doses. It needs to be well-executed, sound honest even as it sounds ridiculous and not be antagonizing for antagonizing’s sake. These ads walk a tightrope of being too provocative and being just provocative enough. We encourage you to tread in these waters, because these high-risk ads can have high rewards. But you have to have a very sensitive cultural ear (see step 4) to execute an ad that plays on people’s love for irreverence without going overboard and inciting the mob.
You’ve got the knowledge, you’ve got the cause, now go write ads that bring home the bacon. But like a magician who never reveals their secrets, we’ve got a few more tricks up our sleeve. Take a look here to see our success stories. Reach out here if you want to be one.
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