I’m constantly on Facebook, scrolling through my feed reading the news and looking at pics of cute Pomeranians. I’m not alone—the social media platform averages 1.09 billion daily active users.
Facebook and Instagram Daily Users (via Pew Research Center)
Despite talk that Facebook’s reach is waning, it’s pretty clear people love the site more than ever—70% of Facebook users in the U.S. log into Facebook on a daily basis, compared with 59% on Instagram, 38% on Twitter, 27% on Pinterest, and 22% on LinkedIn, according to stats from Pew Research Center.
All these users spell out huge potential for marketers, and Facebook has emerged as one of the best advertising platforms for both B2B and B2C businesses. In the past few years, as organic reach on Facebook has declined, savvy marketers have been advertising on Facebook to get results.
There’s a lot that has to come together to make a Facebook ad successful—you need the right targeting, a great image or video, and compelling copy. Today, I’m focusing on why writing matters in Facebook ads, as well as some strategies on how you can write great Facebook ads that actually convert.
Why Facebook Advertising Works So Well
There are tons of users on Facebook, but sending an ad out into the void doesn’t result in tons of conversions. The key to Facebook’s advertising is targeting. Facebook has the best ad targeting of any site.
This targeting allows you to get super specific about what audience your ad reaches. If you sell garden hoses, you can reach people who are interested in vegetable gardens and home improvement. If you sell a software-as-a-service (SaaS) tool, you can target those who’ve visited a landing page on your website.
Here are some of the ways you can target your ads on Facebook:
- Custom audiences – allows you to target existing customers or leads
- Location – allows you to target by location (city, state, country)
- Gender – allows you to target by gender (male or female)
- Interests – allows you to target by interest (such as fitness, entrepreneurship, fashion, literature)
- Behaviors – allows you to target by past behavior, such as someone visiting your website
- Connections – allows you to target by people who already like your page, or who have connections that do
Check out this epic infographic to see all of Facebook’s ad targeting options in detail.
All of Facebook's Ad Targeting Options [Infographic via WordStream]
Need Facebook Advertising inspiration? Download our free guide! 10 Smart + Easy Facebook Marketing Ideas
The Two Types of Facebook Ads
There are two types of Facebook ads that marketers can use:
1. Sponsored Posts
These posts appear directly in the Facebook Newsfeed. Users see the ads as they are scrolling, and the feature as prominently as posts from close friends. Here’s an example of a Sponsored post from Farm Hill:
Facebook Sponsored Post from Farm Hill
2. The Right-Hand Column Ad
The right-hand column ad appears—you guessed it!—in the right column of the Facebook feed. These ads are smaller, but they can’t be scrolled past like sponsored posts in the News Feed. Marketers often use right-hand column ads for retargeting purposes. Here’s an example of a right-hand column ad from West Elm:
West Elm right-hand column ad
Note: Sponsored posts include a fair amount of copy, so I’ll be focusing on copywriting tips for these posts, although the tips can be applied to right-hand column ads as well.
But Does Copywriting for Facebook Ads Really Matter?
Yes! When you envision a Facebook ad, you might think of a large image. Images are extremely important in Facebook ads, but copywriting is also essential.
If you’re spending money on a Facebook ad, you want to make sure it does its job. Good ad copywriting can persuade your audience to click through to your website. Good copywriting functions as a guide—it shows people where they need to go.
Great advertising copy can persuade, excite, and entertain. It makes connections, cuts out excess information, and makes the choice to proceed seem obvious. It’s an essential part of a successful ad.
So here's how to do it: Use these principles to write the best ads you can.
9 Strategies for Writing Your Best Facebook Ads
1. Use Facebook Targeting to Narrow Your Audience, then Write to It
When it comes to selling online, it’s tempting to write like you’re on stage at a conference. But if you want to be effective, you must write as though you’re writing to one person—and one person alone.
This person, your target, is the one you need to woo and persuade. Just as though you were an in-person salesperson, you need to focus all your attention on this person and their needs.
On your website, you have to write copy that speaks to all potential customers, and you probably have a few different personas. On Facebook, however, you can narrowly target your audience. For example, you can target your ads to women who are over 30 that live in the U.S. and are interested in fitness and wellness. Then you can write targeted ads that speak to that very specific audience.
Facebook Audience Definition
2. Write Different Facebook Ads for Different People
This goes along with the idea of targeting. Your customers turn to you for a variety of reasons, so why would you use one blanket ad? Facebook’s strength is its ability to target, so don’t treat your ad like a billboard.
For example, imagine you’re a clothing retailer. You sell men’s and women’s apparel, as well as shoes, accessories, activewear, underwear, and even bath and body products. Many customers will be interested in some of what you have to offer, but many will be most interested in one area. Simply put, women will be interested in what you have for women.
I love this video ad from Old Navy promoting its activewear. The ad is targeted to those who’ve listed fitness as an interest. In this way, Old Navy reaches the right audience with its ad.
Old Navy's "Get moving in style" Facebook video ad
3. Ensure Your Facebook Ad Copy Goes with Your Visual
Many smaller businesses—and even larger ones, especially in the B2B space—don’t have a ton of visuals on hand. When it comes time to run an ad, there’s a scramble to make sure an image gets attached.
This can result in an image that doesn’t go together with the copy, which presents a jarring experience for a Facebook user. If the copy and the image don’t line up, they’ll wonder what the ad is actually advertising. They’ll be unlikely to click, and your ad will be wasted.
Starbucks stitched together three images to create a great visual for its “World’s Largest #StarbucksDate” campaign. The copy mentions “french press caffe Verona & a chocolate brownie,” which are then visualized in the photos. In this way, Starbucks reminds its audience what they’ll get by coming into the coffee shop, resulting in an effective Facebook ad.
Starbucks' "#StarbucksDate" Facebook ad campaign
4. Stay Focused with One Call-to-Action
The best Facebook ads have a clear goal. Are you trying to increase brand awareness, get a lead, or sell a product? No matter what, your ad should have a clear call-to-action. Without it, Facebook users will see your ad, but they’ll have no idea where to click, or what to do.
Society6 sells iPhone cases, and they show off their products in their Facebook ads. But the ad is a lot more than an image of a lovely iPhone case—it has a call-to-action button (“Shop Now”) encouraging users to come to the Society6 website to browse, shop, and ultimately buy.
Society6 Facebook ad, with call-to-action
5. Keep it Short and Lead with Value
You’re paying for an ad, so it can be tempting to cram in as much as possible. You have to explain your product to people, after all. However, when it comes to Facebook ads, you need to keep it short, and lead with value.
What does someone get out of using your product? How will it help them? These are the areas you should focus on in your copy, and you should get these points across in a clear, concise manner.
For example, TaskRabbit helps people hire others to complete personal tasks, but the value is that users can get everything done when they’re busy and overwhelmed. In the following ad, TaskRabbit shares its value with the copy: “Getting everything done is easier than you think,” “Hire a tasker instead,” and “We’ve got chores covered.” Just three sentences completely explain the value of the service.
TaskRabbit's "Hire a Tasker" Facebook ad, with lead value
6. Use Simple Language that’s Easy to Understand
Copywriting is not high literature. Maybe you were a poet in college, but flowery language will muddle your message. It’s time to cut the verbosity.
Your number one priority should be writing a Facebook ad that’s easy to understand—for anyone, even a 5th grader. When someone sees your ad, they should immediately know:
- What you’re offering
- How it benefits them
- What to do next
That’s why I love this sponsored post from SoFi, which helps people refinance their student loans. The copy in this Facebook ad is refreshingly simple: Pay off loans faster. SoFi explains what it offers (refinancing of loans), the benefits (paying off loans faster), and what to do next (apply now).
SoFi's "Pay off loans faster" Facebook ad, with simple language
7. Be Upfront About the Numbers
If you’re selling a physical product, people want to know how much it costs. If you’re running a sale, people want to know what percentage they’re going to get off. A copywriting strategy that works? Lead with the numbers.
For example, Ball Honda, a car dealership in San Diego, sponsors Facebook ads that drive home the nuts and bolts of how much it costs to get a car. They share the deal people can get if they lease a CRV, and give a date for when the promotion ends. They don’t show the ad to everyone in San Diego—they target those who have come to their website already.
The ad isn’t particularly sexy, but it’s helpful, and it effectively reminds people to come to their dealership when they’re ready to buy a car.
Ball Honda Facebook ad, with upfront numbers
8. Get Some Perspective
You’re working to market your brand every day, so it can be tough to step back and make sure the copy for your Facebook ad resonates. Scroll through your own Facebook feed and take a look at the ads. Which ones make you want to click? Which ones do you simply scroll past?
It’s a good idea to get some perspective from someone besides yourself. You can hire a freelance writer or editor to write the ad for you, or help you brainstorm. You can also bounce the ad off a few coworkers, especially ones outside the marketing department, to see if they think it’s effective. Friends and family—people outside the business—can help as well.
9. Test your Ad Copy
The only way you can improve your Facebook ad copy is if you run tests. Facebook makes it easy to spend a small amount of money to try things out. In the end, the only way you can ensure your copywriting works is through experience.
Try running two different ads—each with the same image, but different copy—to see which resonates most with your audience. Which version gets the most likes, comments, and conversions?
For example, Post Planner posted the same ad, but changed up the copy. In one ad, they asked a question. In the second ad, they made a statement. It’s a subtle copy change, but it can spell out big changes in results.
Post Planner Facebook ad, with experimental ad copy
Write Copy That Drives Results on Facebook
The best ads on Facebook ultimately lead to sales. As a marketer, you need to make sure you’re putting the ingredients together to create an ad that gets the job done, and strong copywriting is an essential part of a good Facebook ad.
Need more tips on Facebook advertising? Check out these resources from WordStream:
- 10 Smart & Easy Facebook Marketing Ideas
- How to Create Facebook Lead Ads that Convert
- 5 Ways to Get Tons of Low-Cost Conversions on Facebook
- The Complete Guide to Facebook Video Ads
About the author
Emma Siemasko is a content marketing consultant and freelance writer who specializes in longform content writing, case studies, customer interviews, and content development, particularly in the software space. Emma founded Stories by Emma, LLC, and has experience working as a content marketer at a top tier company and as a creative writer at a marketing agency.