Firestarter: The Anatomy of Social Ads


Legendary UCLA basketball coach John Wooden once said, “It’s the little details that are vital. Little things make big things happen.” And that’s just the message our most recent Firestarter event, “Storytelling in 150 Characters: the Anatomy of a Social Ad,” brought for attendees.

Human beings are social creatures, and stories are one of the most effective ways to engage our brains to process information. While a social ad may seem like a small medium to build a story, using the sparse character count and a single image to sell a narrative is necessary to take your social ads from dull, easy-to-miss budget-eaters to impactful, memorable click-drivers.

Here’s a look at some of the best practices and key takeaways from the Firestarter panel discussion.

Organic and paid social best practices

If you want to ensure the effectiveness of any ad, starting with the best practices is key. A status that’s too long or a confusing image at the wrong resolution can torpedo a campaign before it even begins.

Get the ideal character counts, optimal image dimensions, and other tips for organic social and paid ads with this complete social media best practices kit.

Download the Social Media Best Practices

Key takeaways for compelling social ads

Best practices for social post character counts and image sizes are great, but narrative is the real driver of a click. To make sure you’re optimized for each platform, here are a few other valuable tidbits to help you take your social ad game to the next level.

  • The user’s eye will be drawn to the ad’s image first, followed by the headline. Put the most important and attention-grabbing copy there.
  • The headline is more important than the description. Grab the reader’s attention with stats, dates, FOMO (fear of missing out), or “need to know” info.

“Best practices for social post character counts and image sizes
are great, but narrative is the real driver of a click.”
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And, for a few specific tracks, don’t miss these results-improving tips.

Cause-marketing social ad tips

  • Ninety-four percent of consumers are more likely to switch to brands that support a cause. Copy for ads supporting nonprofits should focus on the cause, not your brand.
  • Similarly, the ad’s image should foster an emotional connection with the cause, not your brand. But a small brand element can be included to help with association.

Event marketing social ad tips

  • Make sure to include the most essential event info users need—name, date, time, location—in the image (allowing for Facebook’s 20% rule) and the supporting headline.
  • Include value to the customer from the event, like key learnings, sessions to expect, and stats in the status copy to provide more incentive to click.

New channel strategies

  • Video content holds five times more attention on Instagram and Facebook than static images in ads.
  • Repurpose content from other channels to merge initiatives. For example, Instagram/Facebook Stories can be animated, have overlays added, or feature moving text on a static image.

Share these, and even more, tips, best practices, and strategies with your colleagues by grabbing the “Storytelling in 150 Characters” quick reference guide. It’s an amazing asset to have on hand when you’re trying to fine-tune your next ad campaign.

View and Download the Social Ad Reference Guide

A big thank you to everyone who attended the Firestarter panel discussion for a successful close to the 2018 season! The next Firestarter kicks off the 2019 series, so sign up for our newsletter to stay informed of the next event. Till then, don’t hesitate to drop us a line if we can help you reach your marketing goals.

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