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How to Design Facebook Ads: 5 Tips for Beginners

How to Design Facebook Ads: 5 Tips for Beginners

Social media is a platform for visual storytelling. Sure, a Facebook post from a friend is typically accompanied with text, but sorry, I’m not really interested in clicking “Read more.” Instead, I’ll likely head straight to the photos.

You probably do that, too. Why? A couple reasons:

・90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual
・65% of people are visual learners

So when you’re scrolling through Facebook at night, avoiding sleep even though you’re so tired, you’re processing everyone’s photos as if you were smack-dab in the middle of it all. You’re with them on vacation; you’re with them at dinner; you know who got Susan the best baby shower gift (and the worst); you know how far along Mary is; and you’re basically partying with Steve and his friends every Saturday.

tldr; on social media, you don’t have to read much of anything to know what you’re supposed to digest; all you’ve gotta do is look at a picture.

A good Facebook ad creative does the exact same thing: gets the message across quickly, simply, and efficiently–mainly through images.

Cut the 💩: act natural.

People are far more likely to interact with an ad that looks like everything else they’re seeing on their Facebook feed. From a social advertising perspective, that’s what we call organic. 

Facebook knows it’s hard to make an ad not look like an ad. It also knows from its own data collection that social ad creatives covered in text don’t perform as well as those without text. To mediate the situation, Facebook stepped up and was like, “Social advertisers, you can use text on your images, but don’t exceed 20% coverage.”

In other words: only 20% of an ad creative can contain text. If Facebook sees that there’s even 21% text, its algorithm won’t give your ad as much reach. Conversely, if you follow this rule, the algorithm will make sure your ads get more exposure. Make sense? 

If you’re not sure if your image exceeds 20% text, just use Facebook’s Image Text Check and it’ll give you a heads up.

Let’s get (ad) creative.

If this is one of your first times designing a Facebook ad, you’re in luck. And if you’re feeling a little intimidated, don’t. You actually have a lot of creative wiggle room when it comes to ad creatives on Facebook, but there are some governing best practices you should abide by.

As such, we’ve put together 5 tips for those who just hopped into the world of designing and creating Facebook ads.

1. Consider colors.

If it makes sense with your brand, you can ditch using a photo as the background of your ad and replace it with color(s). Solid colors don’t always look the greatest, so try to add a gradient to overlap the background if you’re going for the minimalist approach. Doing this gives you a range of different shades without diverting attention away from your ad’s main objective.

Let’s take a look at these creatives we developed for a company called LawnGuru. LawnGuru is a mobile app that functions sort of like Uber or Lyft, except for lawn care and snow removal. We definitely took a minimalistic approach, but we were able to add a little splash all with a simple gradient.


2. Show, don’t tell.

A great ad creative shows what the product does without a hefty description on-image. Take this ad for Brio Product Group, an oral and personal care company. Having worked with Brio, let’s talk about this creative we made:

I’m not telling you a whole lot about Brio’s product; I’m showing you. Instantly, you see Brio’s sleek design and packaging–a representation of not only the product, but the brand itself. You also see a woman with a great smile, and obviously we all want a great smile. 

The solution? Hey, Brio. Nice to meet you.

What about Brio’s ad for its beard and hair trimmer, Beardscape:

Instagram wasn’t too fond of this guy’s silky smooth body (can anyone say “reported”?), but our audience certainly was: this babe resulted in the most Brio sales to date. This is likely due, in part, to “shock value,” however we believe that more than shock is the illustration that Beardscape = smooth and hairless.

3. Show, and really don’t tell.

Showing just the product in its natural habitat is also an effective social advertising technique, like this Fathead image:

I didn’t have to do any overt convincing for sports-obsessed Fathead customers to imagine how sweet their house would look with a Fathead on the wall. It speaks for itself.

4. Don’t forget about copy.

Even though the mantra is “show, don’t tell,” this mostly just applies to your actual creatives. The combination of creative and copy are important simply because its purpose is to influence the user to take the action you want him/her to take.

The role of the image is to grab your audience’s attention enough to move onto reading the copy. If you can’t snag ’em with creatives, you won’t snag them with copy.

Here’s a better illustration of what I’m talking about:

It’s one thing to show how easy a Fathead installation is; it’s another thing to show you–which is what influenced our design choice in that first ad in the carousel.

5. Test, test, test.

As someone who lives and breathes Facebook ad creatives, I definitely know a thing or two about best practices. But ultimately, you need to know what works best for your unique audience. How do you do that?

You run tests.

When you run your tests, be sure to test no more than 3-4 variations. We actually had a few more color variations for those LawnGuru ads up there for this exact reason. In your own Facebook ad tests, other components like logo placement, for example (again, see LawnGuru), should stay the same; that way, you’ll be able to see which one of those variations you should focus on.


That about wraps up our tips for designing winning Facebook ads. Stay tuned for ongoing blogs about all-things social advertising–both beginner-esque and for industry vets.

And last but not least, just know that if you’re not into the whole idea of managing and designing your own Facebook ads, we’re down to take it over. Social advertising is our jam, so get in touch to see how our data-driven techniques can help your business stand out and generate revenue on social media.

Hally Darnell

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