Mon 10 Dec, 2018

How to build a strong creative strategy for Facebook advertising

Why do you need a good creative strategy for Facebook?

 Often many companies under-develop their creative strategies, or continuously repeat content that has performed well in the past with only minor adjustments.

Sometimes, they get lucky and small changes have a reasonable impact on performance. But most of the time this lack of methodology means that they don’t learn from their creative tests; what themes have worked? Which elements resonated? Which didn’t?

This means they can’t optimise their performance and are often making the same mistakes 6 months later.

Having a good creative strategy in place not only scales performance – it sustains it. Being methodical and planning your refreshes carefully and at regular intervals means you can run a sequence of specific tests and learn key insights from each one.

From there, you can formulate your next steps on how to evolve your concepts and take your campaigns to the next level.

What does a strong creative strategy look like on Facebook?

It’s important to remember that the Facebook ecosystem contains a wide variety of placements, some of which will perform significantly better with creatives tailor-made specifically for them. What works on Instagram Stories for example, may be very different to what works on the Facebook Newsfeed.

Whilst many find success using “automatic” placements (where Facebook runs ads across all placements and optimises dynamically to the best performing), there’s no reason to run the same ad across all of them: you can now run a different creative on a specific placement whilst targeting all of them.

This means you can run your ads and let Facebook optimise for all placements, whilst running a tailor-made Instagram Stories ad that is different from the vertical ads you’re running on Facebook’s newsfeed.

This gives you an opportunity to add stickers or content in these ads that appears native to Instagram Stories, which helps them resonate more effectively amongst the different user base.

You should diversify creatives across multiple size formats      

Testing a variety of executions across different size formats is best practise, as there are some subtle differences and benefits to each. For example, whilst full portrait ads (9:16) benefit from maximum screen real estate and generate a strong impact, in the Facebook Newsfeed there are some masking issues that cover content at the top and bottom portions of these ads, unless clicked on to expand the video.

By contrast, with vertical ads (2:3) you can avoid these concealing problems, despite slightly smaller screen real estate.

Make sure you produce creative that’s tailored to achieving your end goals

A good creative strategy will be tailored to your diverse campaign goals, and carefully balance your objectives and tone of voice for your target audience. Do you want to drive awareness, encourage installs, or strengthen the lifetime value of your customers? Different creatives will need to be designed to achieve each of these separate objectives successfully.

Take advantage of seasonal triggers, such as New Year or Halloween, to ensure you’re still front of mind at these times of the year. If you’re looking to drive high ROAS from your campaigns, showcasing the core reasons users should spend money is crucial.

Keep your videos short and concise

You often see video ads that take 10 seconds to build up and last way longer than 30 seconds. Whilst longer ads work on certain channels, like TV or YouTube, users scrolling through their newsfeeds on Facebook and Instagram have much shorter attention spans.

If you’re going to run video ads, make sure they’re no longer than 10 – 15 seconds and that your core message or reasons to click-through (and make a purchase) are featured right at the very beginning – ideally within the first 3-5 seconds – to avoid losing customers.

How to approach building a creative strategy for Facebook

There are two distinctive stages when it comes to producing a good creative strategy for gaming.

Step one:  Brainstorm ahead.

You need to get everyone who needs to be involved looped in with each other. If you’re working with an agency, make sure the communication between them, your UA team and your creative team is flowing.

Remember creative that’s designed for website brochures or TV isn’t going to work on social media, so you need to come up with a range of new concepts rather than repurpose existing content intended for other channels

In-house creative resources can often be limited and take long periods of time to produce a final result that’s ready to go out. Therefore when you start brainstorming it’s wise to map out concepts over a 6 – 8 week period so you can create a concept bank and schedule its input.

This means the design team can work on future creatives whilst your agency or in-house team test the current concepts, which means there’s always fresh creative to add in and reduce ad fatigue.

Ideally, you should be refreshing your creative every fortnight at least, though of course this does depend on your audience and budget sizes too.

Step two: Test your ideas.

Trying out as many ad formats as you possibly can means you get a stronger idea of what works well for you, and you should spend some weeks testing to establish which placement drives the best results for certain ad formats.

Experimenting with new angles and ideas for your ad copy is also something that needs to be factored into your testing schedule.

In terms of the actual creative imagery and videos, a strong approach for each refresh is to get your design team to focus half of their resources on producing an entirely fresh concept to test, and the other half tweaking an existing best performing concept.

This way you’re able to innovate each fortnight with 50% of your output on new ideas, whilst the remainder should revitalise existing themes that are known to resonate well – and should contribute to a stable ongoing performance during creative refresh periods.


Our next Hatch:Facebook workshop is on the 14 – 15 May. This 2-day intensive workshop will equip you with the advanced skills and techniques you need to create and run a highly effective Facebook advertising strategy in 2019.

Taught by leading industry expert Jamie Norsa, Paid Social Growth Manager at Dreamcloud, you will learn everything from planning and targeting right through to bidding and executing your creative strategy, plus the various A/B testing methods you’ll need to measure and optimise performance.

If you want to find out more you can download the 2-day course agenda here, or drop us a message for further details and how to book your place.

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