Less is More: The Dos and Don’ts of Facebook Advertising

It’s hard to determine whether or not Mark Zuckerberg himself truly envisioned what his simple social media platform would become 12 years after he first launched the site from his college room in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Indeed, what started as a way to connect with people in an online world has now become the domain of all elements that drive our world: non-profit causes, e-commerce behemoths, social activism extraordinaire, political wrangling and, of course, lots and lots of controversy.

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That said, Facebook has certainly become a mainstay for businesses large and small seeking to enhance their profiles and promote their brands in a virtual world where “likes” can quickly convert to dollars and cents. But there are also lots of pitfalls the for-profit sector needs to avoid when leveraging the moneymaking potential of the site. Read on for a simple list of some definite dos and don’ts of Facebook advertising, and truly make the most of this online juggernaut that has, in all reality, redefined how we interact with our world at large—and especially our retail world.

  • Be as clear as possible and include a prompt to take some sort of action. By telling your audience why they received the message from you, you encourage them to react quickly. And in your call-to-action statement, don’t be afraid to include an incentive: a discount for an immediate purchase, a free gift etc.
  • Leverage the best possible imagery you can. Remember that Facebook users are bombarded with photos and videos constantly, and it can be hard to really grab a potential customer’s attention. So choose images that are eye-catching and meld your brand or specific product into that imagery through strategic use of your logo.
  • Before you create a Facebook advertisement, consider your message carefully. Does it resonate with your target audience, whether they are tweens or seniors, Millenials or mid-lifers? Is the message one they’ll find they can relate to? For instance, hitting older age groups with an intense hard-sell headline accompanied by a fast-and-loud video won’t likely get you very far. Likewise presenting Gen x-ers with a too tame headline won’t hold their attention, and it’s unlikely you’ll see such efforts translate to sales.
  • Maintain consistency by keeping your ad simple and pair a headline with a message in a way that doesn’t overwhelm readers. This means staying true to the key elements you want them to be responsive on, whether it’s a great deal on a product or service or the fact that you’re offering free shipping for a limited time. Repeat these key elements over and over and you’ll reinforce their desire to act quickly.
  • Proofread everything you post multiple times, preferably with multiple readers. Nothing can put a stigma on your brand or product quicker that an obvious display of a lack of attention to detail. Misspellings, typos and grammatical mistakes are inexcusable. Remember that your ad is going live in front of tens of thousands or even millions of viewers: you may have an opportunity to go back and correct mistakes after posting, but for far too many readers the damage will be done.
  • Lastly, advertising industry gurus recommend one hard and simple rule: if you use an image with your ad, be sure it doesn’t contain more than 20 percent text. Too often the text within a photo gets lost or is far too hard to read, and really it’s the image itself that is going to encourage a reader’s attention first. So keep photos clear and uncluttered, and reserve the bulk of your text for the message body.

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