Basically, with Facebook advertising, you have multiple audiences with different conversion intent and interest-level in your product/offer.

The cold audience are the people who have never heard of your brand before.

As you take good care of them and nurture them with high-quality content and other perks, their ice-cold hearts start to gradually melt down…

Ok, let’s not get too dramatic here.

But you get the idea: the more your nurture a cold audience and familiarize them with your brand, the warmer they’ll get.

And that’s when the right advertising channels and ad messages come to play.

You need to match the conversion intent and advertising channels to target potential customers at the right moment.

ppc 600x338

There’s a right time for each advertising channel.

 

As you can see, social media advertising’s somewhere in between the two extremes: people indifferent of your product vs. diehard fans.

Your Facebook ad messages need to match the temperature of the audience.

If you’re asking a cold lead to buy your product… Why would they do that? (Unless you offer an irresistible discount, which will sooner or later bankrupt you.)

ppc expert 600x338

Not all your offers are ???

In the Facebook advertising land, ice cubes are usually the people you’re targeting with a Saved Audience (the one composed of interests, demographics, etc) – they’re likely to never have heard of you  before.

By using Facebook Custom Audiences, you’ll be able to reach the audience on the warmer side of the scale.

These people have visited your website or engaged with your branded content, and have a high potential to sign up for an offer or buy your product.

Which makes them a lot more likely to click on your ad and complete the conversion on the landing page.

The reason we saw a huge increase in our ad campaigns’ conversion rate was that we started targeting warm audiences instead of cold ones.

We had previously relied on Facebook Saved Audiences to deliver our ads to potential buyers. But switching to smaller, yet super targeted Custom Audiences, made all the difference.

There are multiple types of Facebook Custom Audiences, and it’s up to you to find the most suitable ones for reaching your goals.

Here are all the types of Custom Audiences that you can select based on your advertising goals.

 

Types of Facebook Custom Audiences

 

There are four different options to create a Custom Audience:

  1. Customer file
  2. Website traffic (specific website visitors, converters, non-converters)
  3. App activity
  4. Engagement on Facebook

There are 15 different identifiers to choose from, the most frequently used ones being:

  1. Email
  2. Phone number
  3. Mobile advertiser ID

 

Create custom audience from customer file

Creating Facebook Custom Audiences from past website traffic

Want to target people who have previously visited your website? If so, this Custom Audience is the one to use.

To create audiences based on your website traffic, you first need to install Facebook Pixel. You also need the Pixel for tracking conversions, so there’s a good chance you’ve got it set up already.

The average CTR of retargeting ads is 10x higher than that of regular display ads.

If you want to increase your Social Media ROI and have a custom audience created for you,

please call Social Butterfly Marketing today 239-290-8681

Twitter has just made a big change to the way tweets work.

From today, Twitter is cutting back on what types of content will use up its 140-character limit.

Now, @names in replies, media attachments (like photos, GIFs, videos, and polls) and quoted Tweets will no longer be counted against the valuable 140 characters that make up a tweet. This allows for richer public conversations that are easier to follow on Twitter and ensures people can attach media to tweets without sacrificing the characters they have to express themselves.

Twitter first announced this update back in May but didn’t quite confirm a date when these changes would reach Twitter’s 300m+ users. However, today the company confirmed the update has been rolled out. 

twitter-update

What’s changed? Full details on Twitter’s 140 character update

This update has been much anticipated by many Twitter users and on their blog, Twitter shared the full details of what’s changed:

  • Replies: When replying to a Tweet, @names will no longer count toward the 140-character count. This will make having conversations on Twitter easier and more straightforward, no more penny-pinching your words to ensure they reach the whole group. [Editor’s note: It appears this update hasn’t quite been rolled out yet]
  • Media attachments: A URL at the end of Tweets generated from attaching photos, a video, GIF, poll, Quote Tweet, or DM deep link will not count towards the character limit (URLs typed or pasted inside the Tweet will be counted towards the character limit as they do today).
  • Retweet and Quote Tweet yourself: We’ll be enabling the Retweet button on your own Tweets, so you can easily Retweet or Quote Tweet yourself when you want to share a new reflection or feel like a really good one went unnoticed.
  • Goodbye, .@: These changes will help simplify the rules around Tweets that start with a username. New Tweets that begin with a username will reach all your followers. (That means you’ll no longer have to use the ”.@” convention, which people currently use to broadcast Tweets broadly.) If you want a reply to be seen by all your followers, you will be able to Retweet it to signal that you intend for it to be viewed more broadly.

twitter_may24

How ‘new’ tweets are displayed

The diagram below, shared by Twitter on their dev blog, shows the high-level change to Tweets:

tweet-structure

This diagram shows that when displayed to users, @mentions, URLs and media will all appear outside of the tweet itself, leaving a full 140 characters to play with when composing the text for your tweet.

Also, when a tweet is posted in reply to another account, the name will be displayed in a format similar to below graphic, giving the feel of a threaded conversation (when a Tweet is in reply to multiple people, the name of the person whom the author is directly replying to should be prioritized):

tweet-reply

5 Ways to Make Full Use of Twitter’s 140 Characters

1. Provide more context in replies

One huge benefit of this update is the fact that user @names will no longer count against your 140 characters. Now, whenever you start a tweet in reply to another user, you still have room to say everything you wanted to in your tweet, without having to consider the length of their Twitter handle.

This opens up more space to provide additional details that previously may have taken a couple of tweets. For example, if you’re responding to a customer service question, you could share your reply in 140 characters, but also add a GIF saying “Thanks for reaching out” or a screencast video to further explain how to fix their support issue.

2. Utilize visuals more often

Visuals are a great way to stand out on Twitter. Studies have shown that visual and media attachments on tweets are a big factor in boosting engagement and retweets. One study by Twitter found that photos average a 35% boost in Retweets and videos get a 28% boost:

However, until now, it’s been tricky to convey the message you’d like in your tweet text and also include a media attachment in 140 characters.

When these changes are rolled out, Twitter users will be able to utilize the full 140 characters to share their copy and still include media, without infringing on that limit. For marketers, this means more opportunity to include stunning visuals, videos, product demos, and more within our tweets. For customer support teams, it also provides the chance to share additional content such as screenshots and screencasts to help customers with their support tickets.

3. No more need for the .@ to begin tweets

These changes bring an end to a long-standing Twitter peculiarity where tweets that began with usernames were visible only to users who followed both the person tweeting and the person named. This lead to many users beginning conversations or tweets that mention other users with a ‘.’ before the @name, for example:

tweet

This quirk has always been a little confusing for some of Twitter’s users, both new and old. And Jack Dorsey hopes this change will help to make Twitter a bit easier to grasp: “Unfortunately those rules are hidden, and then they find out later,” Dorsey said to The Verge. “So then they have to learn this weird syntax that kind of looks janky. So we want to take that away first and foremost to remove some of the confusing aspects of the service.”

4. Quote yourself to share longer thoughts

It’s become fairly common to break up a tweet into a couple of sections to fully elaborate and share thoughts. However, with Twitter’s quote option, you can share two tweets that are intertwined and easy to follow – meaning users won’t have to scroll in the timeline of visit your profile to see the first part of your tweet. This gives you 280 characters to play with.

How does it work? Simply share your first tweet, and then quote that tweet and add the rest of your message in the 140 characters available to you in the second tweet.

5. Opportunity for better conversation

Twitter, at its heart, is all about conversation and connecting with others. One of the most important factors in this update is that we now have the opportunity for better conversation on the platform. With usernames not counting against character counts, we can fully embrace the 140 characters available to us to express ourselves.

Previously, having a conversation with two or more participants could become a little difficult as usernames could take up anywhere from 5-20+ characters, leaving little room to get your thoughts across.

In an interview about these changes and how they’ll benefit conversations on Twitter, Twitter CEO, Jack Dorsey, told The Verge:

“Generally, we want to make sure we’re encouraging a whole lot more conversations on Twitter. This is the most notable change we’ve made in recent times around conversation in particular, and around giving people the full expressiveness of the 140 characters. I’m excited to see even more dialog because of this.”

How this update affects Buffer

Here at Buffer, we’re keen to ensure everything works as it should when Twitter roll these changes out. The updates have a significant impact on tweets, and we’re working to have these changes in place when Twitter open these character count adjustments up to the public.

Over to you

It’s incredibly exciting to see these changes come to Twitter and I can’t wait to see how everyone begins to make the most of their 140 characters alongside all the great media-based content that’s shared on Twitter.

I’d be curious to hear your thoughts on these updates in the comments below: What are you most excited about? Will these changes affect how you use Twitter? I’d love to continue the conversation with you. 

YouTube, the Google-owned video network, boasts over a billion users — almost one-third of all people on the Internet — and every day people watch hundreds of millions of hours on YouTube and generate billions of views. On mobile alone, YouTube reaches more 18-34 and 18-49 year-olds than any cable network in the U.S.

What’s amazing, though, is that only 9% of small businesses in the U.S. are actively using YouTube, and my hunch is that figure would be pretty accurate worldwide, too.

So why aren’t businesses investing in YouTube?

In short, because video is harder to produce than a blog post or an image.

Or at least that’s the perception many of us have.

In reality, though, video is becoming much easier and cheaper to create. This means there’s a huge opportunity for your business on YouTube.

If you’ve been debating getting started on YouTube or have maybe experimented a little and not yet found your feet, this post is for you. Throughout this post we’ll dive into:

  • The basics of getting your account set up
  • How to create a YouTube channel
  • How to create the perfect channel art
  • Top tips for optimizing your channel.

Ready to start? Let’s go.

youtube-feature

How to create a YouTube channel

Creating a YouTube channel using your Google account

If you have a Google account, you can watch, share and comment on YouTube content. However, Google accounts don’t automatically create YouTube channels. Getting a new channel set up is a simple and quick process, though.

1. Go to YouTube and sign in

Head over to YouTube.com and click ‘sign in’ in the top right corner of the page:

youtube-sign-in

Then log in using the Google Account you’d like your channel to be associated with:

google-account

2. Head over to your YouTube settings

In the top right corner of the screen, click on your profile icon and then the ‘Settings’ cog icon.

youtube-settings

3. Create your channel

Under your settings, you’ll see the option to “Create a channel,” click on this link:

create-a-youtube-channel

Next, you’ll have the option to create a personal channel or a create a channel using a business or other name. For this example, we’ll choose the business option:

youtube-channel

Now, it’s time to name your channel and select a category. The channel options available include:

  • Product or Brand
  • Company Institution or Organization
  • Arts, Entertainment or Sports
  • Other

youtube-channel-name

Note: a new Google+ page will also be created for your brand. 

Congratulations! You’ve just created a new YouTube channel 🙌

youtube-channel-complete

Next, let’s fill out all the information and create some channel art to get your page looking awesome (click here to jump to the next section).

How to create a YouTube channel if you don’t already have a Google account

If you don’t already have a Google account set up, you’ll need to create one before you get started on YouTube. To do this, simply follow the below steps:

  1. Head to YouTube.com
  2. Click ‘Sign In’
  3. Now, choose the option to create a Google account
  4. Follow the steps to create your Google account

Now, you’re all set up with a Google account and can follow the above steps to create a YouTube channel.

How to create YouTube channel art

YouTube channel art is essentially YouTube’s version of the Facebook cover photo. Channel art features in a prominent place on your YouTube channel, which means it’s absolutely vital for any YouTube channel to use customized art to share your personality or more about your brand with your audience.

Here’s an example of Gary Vaynerchuk’s YouTube channel art:

gary-v-youtube

Gary is well-known for his public speaking at conferences and for sharing all he knows about marketing and building businesses with his audience. This is reflected in his cover photo, which displays Gary in mid-flow giving a presentation at what seems to be a large event. The inclusion of his handle @garyvee helps users to identify him on other social chanels and his signature branding makes the art feel personal.

Here’s what you need to know to create striking YouTube channel art…

The perfect sizes for YouTube channel art

The best place to start with your channel art is with the optimal image size that works across multiple devices. For the best results, YouTube recommends uploading a single 2560 x 1440 pixel image.

  • Minimum width: 2048 X 1152 px. This is the “safe area”, where text and logos are guaranteed not to be cut off when displayed on different devices.
  • Maximum width: 2560 X 423 px. This means that the “safe area” is always visible; the areas to each side of the channel art are visible depending on the viewer’s browser size.
  • File size: 4MB or smaller recommended.

YouTube also supplies a Channel Art Template in both PNG and PSD formats to help your figure out the perfect layout for your channel are and how it’ll look across platforms:

channel-art-template-fireworks

Here’s an example of how I used this template to create some channel art for the Buffer YouTube account:

buffer-youtube-channel-art

And here’s how it looks across various platforms:
channel-art

2 top tips for YouTube channel art

1. Ensure any text and logos are within the safe area

The text and logo safe area is the 1546 x 423 pixel space at the center of the YouTube channel art template. This is the area that will be displayed on YouTube when your channel is viewed on desktop screens.

Be careful to ensure any important information such as branding, text, taglines, and key images are within this space so that it’s always displayed as part of your channel art across every device.

2. Consider your channel links

YouTube enables you to add links to your channel and these are displayed in the bottom right corner of your channel art. For example, check the bottom right of the channel art below:

channel-links

When creating your channel art, it’s important to think about the space these links take up and ensure you don’t have anything important (such as logos) occupying that space within your design.

How to add art to your YouTube channel

If you’re just setting up your YouTube channel, you’ll notice the channel art space is blank with a clear call to action to add your art:

blank-channel-art

Once you’ve clicked this link, you’ll see a popup window that gives you the option to upload your own custom channel art. If you’d like to, you can also choose to use one of YouTube’s templates from the “Gallery” or choose to upload one of your photos from Google+.

upload-channel-art

Adjusting the crop

Once you’ve uploaded your channel art, YouTube allows you to adjust the cropping of your image so that you can ensure it’s all lined up correctly.

This crop screen is very handy for checking how your design will look on various platforms. The clear section in the middle of the grid shows you the content that will be displayed on mobile and desktop and the rest of the image shows the image that will be displayed on TVs.

art-adjust-crop

Once you’re happy with the way your cover art looks, click “Select” and your channel art will be added to your channel and saved.

Changing your current channel art

If you already have some channel art in place and would like to update it, head over to your channel homepage. From here, move your mouse over your cover art and you’ll notice a little edit button appear in the top right-hand corner:

edit-icon

Once you’ve clicked on this icon, you can update your channel art.

This video from YouTube also explains how to add and edit your channel art:

How to add your channel icon

Each channel also has space for a profile icon.Your channel icon shows over your channel art banner. It’s the icon that shows next to your videos and channel on YouTube watch pages. The key here is to select something that will look good at very small resolutions –  many brands opt to use their logo here.

Your channel icon should be 800 x 800 pixels and one of the following formats: JPG, GIF, BMP or PNG file (no animated GIFs).

To update your channel icon, head to your channel homepage and hover over your current channel icon until you see the edit icon appear. Click on that icon and you’ll be able to upload a new icon:

edit-channel-ico

5 ways to enhance your channel

1. Optimize your description

YouTube gives you a space on your channel to write a little about your brand and the content you share on YouTube. The description is limited to 1,000 characters, so you have a little room to be creative here.

The copy in your channel description won’t just appear on your channel page. It’s indexed by search engines and can also be featured across YouTube in suggested channel categories. A good tactic is to include some relevant keywords and CTAs within the opening lines of your description.

2. Add links to your channel

channel-links

We briefly mentioned channel links earlier in this post and I’d love to share with you how to add these links in 4 super-quick steps:

1. The first step is to head to your channel homepage and click on the ‘cog’ icon next to your subscriber count:

settings-icon

2. Next, you’ll see a Channel Settings lightbox appear. Here you need to toggle on the option labeled “Customize the layout of your channel”:

channel-options

3. Now that you’ve enabled customizations on your channel, pop back to your channel homepage and you’ll now see the option to “Edit Links” under the settings menu on your cover art:

edit-links

4. Click the “Edit Links” option and you’ll then be taken to the “About” section of your channel. Here you’ll have the option to add links and choose how many are displayed over your cover art:

edit-links

3. Add a channel trailer

As soon as visitors land on your channel, you want to give them a picture of the type of content your channel covers and why they’ll want to subscribe and check out your videos. A channel trailer is the perfect way to do this.

A short, to-the-point channel trailer can be a great way to introduce people to your content. A channel trailer should grab attention as soon as it starts and also represent the type of content you create on YouTube.

It’s also important to think about the description you add to this video as it features prominently on your channel homepage.

(These trailers only appear for people who are not yet subscribed to your channel.)

Here are a couple of great examples:

Gary Vaynerchuk

SoulPancake

4. Add your contact details (email address)

If you’re using YouTube as a business or a creator, it can be great to have your contact details on hand for anyone who is interested in your work. YouTube has a section on each channel profile for you to list your contact details for business inquiries.

This can be found under the “About” section of your channel. To find it, go to your channel homepage, click “About” from the navigation and then scroll down to “Details.” Here you’ll see the option to share your email address:

email-address

Over to you

Thanks for reading. It’s been great fun to dive into how to create a YouTube channel and I hope you picked up one or two tips from this post. If you create a YouTube channel of your own or already have one up and running, I’d love to hear from you and learn from your experience in the comments below.

Do you have any tips to optimize your YouTube channel? 📹

How great is the Internet! One of the most impactful, viral, influential services you can perform online is to read stuff and tell people what you like.

It’s true!

If you’re looking for a competitive edge, a way to establish your authority, a way to get more followers, one of the best, proven paths to online success is content curation.

It’s both as simple and as difficult as finding great content and sharing it with your audience. The difficult part is that there is a lot that goes into a world class content curation strategy. Where do you look for content? How do you find the best stuff? How do you find the time to find the best stuff? And then of course, what do you do with it all once you find it?

These are fantastic questions, and they’re just the type of challenges we’d love to help you solve. We’ve partnered with the folks at Pocket, who’re a huge part of our curation process, to share our research and lessons with you about how to build a remarkable (and remarkably effective) content curation strategy.

We’ll be talking a lot about great curation tools in this post. Our two must-haves are Pocket for reading and Buffer for sharing. Feel free to grab a forever-free subscription from each. We’ll be mentioning them a lot below. 🙂

The Ultimate Guideto Content Curation

What we hope you’ll learn in this post

Content curation is a favorite topic among us on the Buffer team, and we’re so happy to have a chance to share our best tips with you. To make it easier to find the parts of this resource that are most helpful, here’s a look at all we’ll cover.

Click to jump to any section:

  1. The one-a-day formula for great content curation
  2. Content curation tools
  3. Where to find great content
  4. Advantages of being really good at content curation
  5. Who does it well: Curation heroes
  6. Curation automation

The one-a-day formula for great content curation

Successful curation can be split into these three areas:

  1. Discover
  2. Read
  3. Share

How to Curate Content (1)

From a high level, those three elements are all you need to master in order to get really good at content curation. Exciting, right? That’s not too much to ask! Of course, the really great content curators know that a detailed, comprehensive, strategic approach to each of those three steps is really what sets apart great curation from the rest.

I’d love to share how to get this comprehensive, strategic approach for yourself.

Let’s start by looking at a sample curation day (it just so happens to be my day), and all the different detail that goes into the Discover-Read-Share formula.

Discover Read Share

Discover

  1. Check your newsletters for interesting stories. Add to Pocket.
  2. Check Feedly for interesting stories. Add to Pocket.
  3. Check Twitter for interesting stories. View by list and hashtag. Add to Pocket.
  4. Check Facebook for interesting stories. Add to Pocket.
  5. Check aggregation sites like Inbound.org, Growth Hackers, Hacker News, Panda, Digg, etc. Add anything interesting and relevant to Pocket.

Read

  1. Read everything in Pocket
  2. Mark shareworthy content as “favorite”

Share

  1. Favorite content is automatically added to Buffer via an IFTTT recipe
  2. Browse the Buffer feed to adjust titles, images, hashtags, and mentions.
  3. Schedule or share

Total time (once you get in a good flow): 1 to 2 hours each day.

As you may know, reading articles online can take far more than one to two hours per day. It can take all day! (And what glorious days those are.)

However, there are very few of us who are able to curate content full-time for a living. We’re likely curating as a guilty pleasure, while the other demands of the job beckon us. So it’s vital to be ruthlessly efficient with your curation strategy.

How?

Here are some tips for each of the three key parts to a daily content curation workflow.

Tips on how to discover content, fast

  1. Curate from curators – newsletters, communities, etc.
  2. Have a list of 25 (maximum!) go-to content sources
  3. Follow interesting people and make it easy to see what they share
  4. Give new content sources a probationary period

Seventy-five percent of any curation strategy is discovery.

In fact, you should be spending 95 percent of your time in discovery and reading; only 5 percent should be spend on sharing. (More below on how to make this a reality.)

content curation percentages

With discovery being the bulk of the curation process, it’s okay if it feels like it’s taking more time than it should. Give yourself the time and space to discover. This is where the true content curation all-stars shine: They find the stories that no one else is finding. They guard their secret sources like family jewels and are always willing to spend the extra few minutes diving deeper into a rabbit hole in hopes that a new wonderland is in there.

1. Curate from curators – newsletters, communities, etc.

One of the biggest hidden secrets of curation superstars: They curate from curators. They subscribe to newsletters full of hand-picked links from peers and neighbors. They browse communities where stories are gathered and upvoted — crowdsourced curation, more or less. If you’re in the marketing space, newsletters like Teachable’s MakeChange and sites like Inbound.org are curation gold.

Here’re a few interesting places to look if you might be keen to find curators in your niche (more on these places below):

Curating from curators helps to build a good base of discoverable content.

Then you have to go a bit deeper.

You have to have your own go-to places to find content that few others have found. These are your go-to sites — maybe an unknown blog, or a low-traffic section of a major news site. For instance, I adore the writing on Post Planner, and I love reading the New York Times’s tech blog. (Whoops, there go my secrets.)

To discover places like these, it helps to keep an open mind for curation when clicking through newsletter links or community upvotes. Do the sites themselves seem to resonate with what you’re wanting to find? Here are some questions to ask:

  1. How often do they publish new content? (or, how old is the article I’m reading now?)
  2. If I like this author, does she contribute often, or is this a guest post?
  3. How well is the article formatted? (This hints at a certain level of content quality.)
  4. How well is the site designed?

And then of course, once you find these hidden spots, make it easy to visit them daily.

The bookmarks hack: This one’s a bit old school but super lo-fi and simple. Once you’ve found a handful of go-to content sources, star them all with a bookmark in your browser, and organize them into a folder. Then each day, start your curation by going to your bookmarks, right-clicking the folder, and opening all the sites at once. It’ll look like this:

content-curation-bookmarks1

2. Have a list of 25 (maximum!) go-to content sources

While you’re building out your Top 25, make sure to keep it at no more than 25. Yes, there may be more than 25 great sites out there, but remember that your ultimate goal with discover is finding the best, original stuff — and your secondary goal is speed and efficiency.

If you have more than 25 sites, you’ll be too busy filtering and hunting. Besides, if your list is more than 25, chances are they aren’t all sites that are original to your discovery. Other curators are probably curating them, in which case you can curate those curators.

Feedly, an awesome RSS tool we’ll cover more below, is where I keep track of my list of sites to follow. Currently I follow 25 total blogs on writing and marketing.

Marketing blogs to follow

3. Follow interesting people and make it easy to see what they share

Along with unique sites, it helps to follow unique people. Take Matt Navarra of The Next Web, for instance. Here is a sampling of recent tweets. The man is a cornucopia of fascination:

Twitter now lets you use any emoji in your account name or bio 😎👌💥https://t.co/1eKOPhAPZI

— Matt Navarra  (@MattNavarra) August 24, 2016

YouTube may soon be a social network with text, image posts https://t.co/BcY1Ga7J42 pic.twitter.com/juQOlwfJOs

— Matt Navarra  (@MattNavarra) August 25, 2016

Twitter’s new Message button lets people DM you from your site https://t.co/dsAqHdFtxT pic.twitter.com/cMxXXT7QxL

— Matt Navarra  (@MattNavarra) August 25, 2016

There are unique people like this in almost every industry (Matt just so happens to be in social media) — and if there aren’t, then wow what a great opportunity for you to be the first!

One way to find them is with a hashtag search. If you have a particular keyword or two that is central to your brand or area of expertise, look for people sharing content with that keyword. Sort by most followers if you can.

Another way to do it is to see who is sharing the articles that you think are pretty great. If someone else has found your secret best stuff, then they probably are a good one to follow. To do this …

  1. Enter a URL into BuzzSumo
  2. Click the “View Sharers” button next to the article’s title on the results page
  3. Voila! See who has shared this content

(Viewing sharers is a BuzzSumo Pro feature that you can try out for free with a trial.)

And if all else fails, you can try following people with a similar job title or from particular companies you admire or compete with. This’ll make sure that you’re staying on top of the stories that are relevant to people like you.

Of course, following all these folks is one thing. Being able to see their content in the stream of all content is another. You can do the bookmark hack and travel directly to their feeds every day (not a bad idea). You can try a tool like Nuzzel, which emails you a digest of what your Twitter friends and Facebook friends have shared the past 24 hours (ranked by virality).

Nuzzel screenshot

Or you can make yourself a second profile.

The fake profile hack: Create a new profile for yourself on Facebook or Twitter by entering a new email address. If you’re a Gmail user, you can create a new email from scratch by adding “+” to your current email (e.g., kevan+fake@gmail.com). Then follow your interesting folks from this fake account, and log in with the fake account in a separate Chrome profile for easy switching.

Switch person Chrome

4. Give new content sources a probationary period

As you come across new websites and publications, definitely feel free to add them to your repertoire — eventually. In my experience, I’ve found that a site might look promising for a day or two, though it takes at least two weeks before you can know for sure if it deserves to be a place you visit every day.

Likewise, it’s beneficial to be quick to cut any sites that aren’t quite passing muster for you lately, too.

Your time is valuable! Being a great curator means staying cutting edge with where you look and how long you look there.

Tips on how to read content, fast

  1. Get a read-it-later app (like Pocket)
  2. Stop reading as soon as you know if it’s a yes or no
  3. If it doesn’t hold your attention, it won’t hold your reader’s
  4. It’s okay to skim, within reason
  5. Sometimes images make the best text

Good news is, the hard part (discovery) is behind you. Now you get to read!

1. Get a read-it-later app (like Pocket)

First things first. One of the toughest things you can do when it comes to curating content fast is to read every article on the site itself. You need a read-it-later app.

This plays into the concept of batching.

Batching (or batch processing) is the act of grouping similar tasks together that require similar resources. Doing so streamlines the process and helps you get more done, faster.

It’s a concept you might be familiar with from Tim Ferriss’s Four Hour Workweek or articles like this: How Batch Processing Made Me 10x More Productive. It’s a popular lifehacking and productivity tip, for sure! And it works great with curation.

Batch the tasks that require similar resources.

  • Do all your content discovery at the same time, while your brain is in the hunting mentality.
  • Do all your reading at the same time, while your brain is feeling reflective and choosy.

And in order to read in a batch, you need to have a tool that lets you save the articles you find in order to read them later.

I use Pocket for this. It has a neat card layout to quickly see everything I’ve saved. It strips out all the extra sidebars, styles, and ads so that you’re just reading what the author wrote and intended. And it has a wonderful browser extension that lets me save new articles to Pocket with one click from any page on the web.

The extension hack: Bonus! If you’re using the Pocket browser extension on Twitter, you can add any tweeted link straight to Pocket. Just below the link blurb is a row of icons, one of which is for Pocket. If you click this, the article is added automatically, and it even includes the tweet text from the original share.

pocket-tweet

2. Stop reading as soon as you know if it’s a yes or no

Now that all your content is flowing in through Pocket or another read-it-later app, you can start the process of reading. And apologies if I seem to be mentioning ruthlessness a lot in this article. You’ll want to be pretty ruthless here, too.

As soon as you know if it’s a yes or a no, you must stop and go onto the next one.

Here are some reasons why it can be a yes:

A really great article! 🎉🎉🎉🎉

An amazing image or graphic 👍👍👍

A fantastic quote 😍😍

An interesting statistic 🍔

Here are some reasons why it can be a no: Everything else.

3. If it doesn’t hold your attention, it won’t hold your reader’s

If you find your attention faltering, stop reading. You are likely the most invested person in the world in this article. If it can’t hold your attention, it won’t hold the attention of a far less invested reader!

If you realize it’s not as actionable or interesting as you thought, stop reading.

If you’ve read something similar elsewhere, stop reading.

In general terms, these are some factors that make for a really great, curate-worthy article:

  • It’s unique
  • It’s interesting
  • It’s useful

(These go by the vowel-heavy initialism UIU.)

The faster you can find U, I, or U, the better off you’ll be with your speed of curation.

4. It’s okay to skim, within reason

First and foremost, read every article. Only in emergencies, skim read.

Sometimes, you might find yourself really rooting for an article to succeed. And you just really want to get to the good stuff. Well, awesome – there is a time for skimming, and this might very well be it.

Of course, skimming comes with its risks. What if you skim over an offensive or inaccurate portion of an article, then choose to endorse it unwittingly? It’s not a great feeling (spoken from experience). One way to work around this hazard is to excerpt only the portions that you’ve read. For instance, you might say:

  • Great post! Loved this section on growth hacking in particular.
  • Wonderful line from this blog post: ““The reason that most of us are unhappy most of the time is that we set our goals not for the person we’re going to be when we reach them, but we set our goals for the person we are when we set them.”

This way, you’re only vouching for the parts that you did in fact read.

5. Sometimes images make the best text

Similarly, while skimming, it’s possible that a picture might catch your eye, rather than the text itself.

This is perfectly fine.

If you’re in the business of curating unique, interesting, and useful stuff, it matters little whether it’s sensational text or sensational images.

And as a bonus, skimming for great images is a breeze. Some read-it-later apps strip out the images from within the body of articles; Pocket grabs the article’s main image and uses it as a thumbnail on the post. Otherwise, you may be able to spot a great image well before you save to Pocket, during the discovery phase of curation.

Tips on how to share content, fast

  1. Get a social media scheduling app (like Buffer)
  2. Set up an automation workflow
  3. Invest in a good email solution

Like I mentioned above, the sharing of curated content needs to take only five percent of your overall curation workflow. If you spend an hour-and-a-half on curation, you can do all the sharing in as little as five minutes.

1. Get a social media scheduling app (like Buffer)

It starts with a solid foundation: a social media management dashboard. These are great for managing multiple social accounts on multiple channels, all in the same place. For instance, we use Buffer to manage our Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and Google+ accounts, plus the accounts of our individual profiles (like, in my case, all my Kevan Lee profiles).

What’s more, social media dashboards like Buffer also come with scheduling.

This is uber-important for a curator especially.

Picture this, you’ve just gone through the discovery and reading phases of curation, and you have 15 cool articles to share. What do you do with those 15?

You can share them all at once as a burst, which has been scientifically proven to lose you followers.

You can space them out over the course of the day by manually sharing one every 45 minutes (which has been qualitatively proven to be a pain).

Or, you can add them all at once to Buffer, and Buffer will send them for you at the pre-appointed schedule you’ve set. 💎

Here’s a video that explains the calendar feature within Buffer:

2. Set up an automation workflow

To make this even more powerful, you can set up automation workflows that allow for the bulk scheduling to happen seamlessly. I’ll get into lots more detail below about how this particular automation can happen.

Basically, you can use a tool like IFTTT or Zapier to connect your favorite read-it-later app like Pocket to your favorite social publishing tool like Buffer. Then, whenever you take a particular action while you’re reading — say, marking something as “favorite” — IFTTT or Zapier will tell Buffer to do a particular something else — say, add to your sharing queue.

In addition, there are some neat, native integrations with content tools like Pocket and Feedly and sharing tools like Buffer. For instance, from Pocket’s web app, you can share any article directly to Buffer. (The same can happen on mobile, with Buffer’s share extension turned on.)

Pocket share to Buffer

3. Invest in a good email solution

Similarly, if your curation strategy relies more on email for spreading your content, there are some awesome automation tools to help with email. There’s the IFTTT and Zapier automation flows for capturing favorite links, and there are even standalone tools that allow you to build an email newsletter as you read.

Speaking of tools, let’s get to know a few.

The content curation tools behind great newsletters, roundups, and lists

Great curation can vary widely, from the most manual of processes (copy-paste to spreadsheets) to the most automated (tool-connected tools). We lean a bit toward the tools side at Buffer, particularly when it comes to working as smart as possible.

These are the tools we use personally or can recommend highly. Hope you spot one or two that might work for you also.

1. Buffer – https://buffer.com

Social media scheduling, publishing, and analytics

buffer extension for content curation

Price: Free

Buffer is the key to our fast-sharing curation. We’re able to go in from Day One and set a custom schedule, based on when our tweets and posts tend to get the most engagement (Buffer tells you this; thanks, Buffer!). Then this schedule stays for as long as we like: All we need to do is fill a queue with the curated content that we find, and everything else takes care of itself.

The browser extension makes it easy to add content from anywhere, too. Just click the Buffer button on any page, or press Option+B, to open the Buffer window.

The Twitter scraper hack: It’s not a hack, really. It’s more of a feature! If you’re sharing an article to Twitter, Buffer will grab all the images on the page and suggest them as possible images to add to your tweet. It works from the dashboard, too. Say you want to edit some posts that were added via automation. Click to edit the tweet, type a space at the end, and all the images pop up.

buffer-twitter-images

Other options:

Hootsuite, Sprout Social, Sprinklr

 

2. Pocket – https://getpocket.com

Read-it-later app with social content

pocket for read it later curated stories

Price: Free

This is the reading app for online content. What we do is save everything we find to Pocket and then set aside time to read it all. Each post is stripped of all superfluous design so we can concentrate on just the words. And it’s super easy to share from Pocket with its many social social features and integrations.

You can even Recommend items with others on Pocket, and cross-post to Twitter and Facebook at the same time. Recommendations on Pocket will appear on your Pocket profile and in your followers’ feeds when they’re looking for great content to read, like and repost.

If you’re ever strapped for time (or doing other tasks), Pocket will even read the articles to you. Yup! You read that right!

Other options:

Instapaper

 

3. Feedly – http://feedly.com

Robust RSS reader with content discovery

Feedly

Price: Free

Feedly is the heir to Google Reader, and it’s improved the RSS formula in some neat ways. You can 1) search Feedly for topics to find the content you want to subscribe to. You can 2) integrate Feedly with other apps in order to make it easy to send stories to places like Pocket or Buffer. You can even do cool things like publicize your feed collections and check the virality of content based on its shares (great for curating in a pinch).

The viral Feedly hack: If you’re strapped for time, you can quickly spot the most viral stories in your Feedly by switching to Index view (via the Preferences link in the sidebar), then hunting for the biggest share numbers. These numbers appear just before the headline. Numbers in the hundreds and orange numbers (trending) are great.

feedly-virality-gif

Other options:

Digg Reader, The Old Reader, Flipboard

 

4. Nuzzel – http://nuzzel.com

See what your friends are sharing on social media

Nuzzel

Price: Free

Nuzzel searches the feeds of your friends on Facebook and Twitter to find the content that they’re sharing. Everything gets ranked, then emailed to you once a day so you’re always in the loop. The top three stories make up the start of the email, then Nuzzel goes the extra mile with a Friends of Friends section with even more content. And if you’re wanting to go beyond the email, you can click through to the site to see everything that was shared that day.

The Nuzzel hack: You probably follow a lot of people, right? And not everyone may be the most relevant to the topic you’re curating. What we’ve done is to set up a fake Twitter account, follow just the people whom you want to monitor, then sync Nuzzel with this account. Bingo! All your Nuzzel recommendations are hyper-targeted to just these folks who curate great stuff.

Other options:

Refind

 

5. Goodbits – https://goodbits.io/

Ready-made email newsletters from the content you discover

Goodbits

Price: Free

Goodbits removes the middleman/woman/spreadsheet from the flow of collecting great content and emailing links to great content. With Goodbits, you simply collect the content using their browser extension, and all the content is placed automatically into a pretty email that you can send to your subscribers. Goodbits integrates with popular email platforms like MailChimp and Campaign Monitor, and you can tie in RSS feeds directly to the Goodbits interface so you don’t even have to go looking for the content.

Other options: 

Curated.co

 

6. TinyLetter – https://www.tinyletter.com

Straightforward newsletter building and sending

TinyLetter for email curation and newsletters

Price: free

One of the absolutely minimal ways for sending a newsletter is with TinyLetter. It’s completely no-frills, which means no barriers for entry. With TinyLetter, you get a straightforward landing page to collect emails and a clean and simple interface for writing your newsletter. And that’s it! There are some simple stats, but beyond that, all there is to do is write, send, repeat.

Other options:

Campaign Monitor, MailChimp

 

7. Letterlist – http://letterlist.com

A list of the best, curated newsletters out there

LetterList

Price: free

Remember the tip to curated from fellow curators? Well Letterlist collects the best curators for you. From the Letterlist website, you can subscribe to dozens of great newsletters.

It’s a curated list of curated newsletters, in order to help you curate.

images

Here are some more ideas of where you might find great content to curate …

Where to find great content: 17 vetted sources

Like we’ve talked about, the most important job of a high-quality curator is finding fantastic content. We’re lucky — there’s a lot of it out there!

Here are a few of our favorite places to look, both specifically (the sites themselves) and generally (the bigger-picture places). It’s important for me to remember that not everyone will be wishing to curate content based on startups, productivity, social media, or writing. Hopefully seeing some of our process might trigger some ideas for your particular industry.

1. Newsletters

I get a ton of value from the newsletters I subscribe to, both for the curation help they provide me and for just learning lots of interesting things. We’ve covered a list of over 60 favorite newsletters before. Definitely start there if you’re looking for a comprehensive list.

60+ Fantastic Email Newsletters to Read and Share

These are a few of the go-to ones I use currently:

  1. NextDraft
  2. Caitlin Dewey
  3. Ann Friedman
  4. MakeChange
  5. Inside’s Daily Brief

SmartBrief also has a list of over 200 newsletters, segmented by industry. You might find something up your alley there.

The newsletter search hack: If you’re unsure where to find a newsletter based on your particular topic, try a Google search. Er, try a very specific Google search. Search “site:tinyletter.com YOUR SEARCH TERM” to discover TinyLetter lists that might be relevant for you. Here’s an example. Since all TinyLetter newsletters are archived, you’re able to search the full archives of all newsletters with this search.

Newsletter search hack

2. Community aggregators

These are sites that are collecting content on their own and upvoting it so you can see what’s new and great.

  1. Hacker News
  2. Inbound
  3. Growth Hackers
  4. Product Hunt
  5. Sidebar

3. Reddit

I thought about including this one in the list above for communities, but no, Reddit deserves a category all its own!

There are more than half-a-million subreddits, which are niche communities focused on a particular topic. These are basically community aggregators for anything you could imagine. Here are a few favorites:

  1. Data Is Beautiful
  2. Mechanical GIFs
  3. TIL – Today I Learned
  4. IAMAs
  5. Listen to This

(The Daily Dot ranks over 200 subreddits here.)

4. Content products

Another outcome of our content-heavy Internet is that there are entire products built for helping you find content. Thank you! These sites might either have algorithms that go out and source great stuff, or they have humans curate what they find to be worthy of a wider audience. Either way, these products are great for curation.

Panda

  1. Panda
  2. Pocket’s Recommended Stories
  3. Digg Deeper
  4. Medium’s Editor’s Picks
  5. Content discovery tools on Zeef

For even more content discovery ideas, we’ve put together some favorite lists here:

17 Unique Places to Find Great Content to Share

Advantages of being really good at content curation: Why people curate

By this point, you’ve likely got a good sense of what it takes to be really, really good at curation. And you might be wondering …

Why would someone go to these lengths?

Well first off, a lot of people enjoy it. Reading on the web is a wonderful leisure activity for many, so it must feel like such a gift to be able to build a following around what you’d be doing anyway.

That said, there are some specific brand advantages to being really, really good at curation. Whether you intend for these things to happen or not, they simply come with the territory of curating greatly. And if you do wish for any of the following to happen to your brand, then curation is the way to go!

1. Build authority

Awhile back, I made a purposeful decision to adjust my social media content and newsletter to focus on writing and social media. (I had to let go of the notion of building authority on my previous tweet fodder like football, soda pop, and Calvin and Hobbes comics.)

The result?

A jump in followers.

An increase in subscribers.

And, were there a way to measure these sorts of things, I imagine I also got a bump in authority.

When you choose to find, share, and comment on the best of the best articles in your industry, you will gain authority. If you do it consistently, you’ll build authority. People will look to you to see what’s happening and what’s worth discussing. It’s quite a special place to be, and one that I’m still working to achieve.

Once there, you have quite the platform for speaking and sharing on a topic.

The Pocket authority hack: One of the fastest ways to gain authority is to be a consistent part of a new network or community. There just so happens to be one within the Pocket app, as you can recommend your favorite Pocket stories and create a following within the Pocket ecosystem. To really make yourself stand out in the feed, you can share quotables by highlighting any text in an article and clicking the Share Excerpt popup.

Pocket Recommended stories

2. Gain influence

Along with building authority, curation also allows you to gain influence. We’re in a fortunate place at Buffer to have a pretty solid foundation of content and social sharing. As such, we get a lot of people reaching out to us to share this or that particular story.

They’d love for us to share because they feel we can influence others to click, share, read, etc.

You’ll find the same once you get in a solid groove with curation. Once people see that you curate great content, they’ll love to be considered along with the other great content you share.

3. Spread goodwill

With that influence comes the ability to honor others with a mention or share.

Curating content is one of the most generous things you can do online.

It’s a virtual high-five or tip jar, a Pay-It-Forward moment for whoever has the chance to catch your eye with a great article. What a good feeling! This one might not make the most immediate business impact, but it does help build relationships and engender positivity with others in your industry. Those relationships are key in the long run.

Who does it well: Curation heroes

We’ve taken a lot of inspiration from a number of folks in the startup space and content industry, people who do a sensational job of always having great stuff to share. It’s a good practice to curate from curators and also to learn from them.

Does anyone come to mind for you?

It can be as simple as noticing who in your social media feeds you tend to read most often, or which of your friends you most admire when they share new stuff. In one way, it’s a bit like venture capital; investor Ben Lerer has an interesting investment strategy: jealousy. He says:

investment quote

Similarly, to find your curation heroes, you might check yourself for any moment you say, “Boy, I wish I had shared that.”

Here’s a list of a few heroes of ours at Buffer. Whether or not they match your industry or interests exactly, I hope you’ll be able to pick up a few trends or take some inspiration from the way they curate and share. A few things you might notice from this list:

  • Many have been going at it for 5 to 10 years (Jason Kottke, Daring Fireball, Maria Popova)
  • A few are senior-level executives or entrepreneurs (Rand Fishkin, Hiten Shah)
  • Some are marketers like you and me (Courtney)

Translation: You can be yourself and still be fantastic with content curation.

Here’s the short list of curators I look up to.

1. Rand Fishkin, Moz founder

Hadn’t been to Collector’s Weekly before, but impressed w/ their content marketing efforts, e.g. https://t.co/GxIpgDbT4X

— Rand Fishkin (@randfish) August 26, 2016

Rand built the SEO company Moz, and he remains its chief evangelist through his videos, content, speaking, and curation. His Twitter feed is a goldmine of SEO and marketing tips and other interesting finds.

We had the privilege of having Rand on one of our upcoming Buffer podcast episodes. He shared a bit of his curation strategy with us along with these three takeaways for blending content, curation, and values:

  1. Everyone does best when they have a process and a set of guidelines.
  2. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that content is a short-term investment with a short-term payoff. It is absolutely not.
  3. When you are developing your values and committing to them, you need to also be aware that you’re going to have to need to go out and find like-minded people and a like-minded community that believe in those same values.

2. Hiten Shah, Crazy Egg & KISSmetrics founder, Quick Sprout co-founder

The Hype—and Hope—of Artificial Intelligence https://t.co/JbDsybXpRd pic.twitter.com/qS4Uw25aUJ

— Hiten Shah (@hnshah) August 26, 2016

Hiten is one of the smartest marketers out there and one of the most accomplished SaaS entrepreneurs and founders. His Twitter feed reflects his varied interests: lots of marketing, lots of tech, lots of innovative ideas, lots of, well, good stuff!

(Full disclosure: Hiten is one of our advisors at Buffer. We love him!)

3. Brain Pickings, curated by Maria Popova

One of the best sites out there for book lovers and inspiration seekers, Maria Popova’s Brain Pickings covers all sorts of different types of literature and dives deep into the topics and authors. Her curation is almost one of self-curation: She’s built up such a library that each new blog post is chock full of links to past ones. It’s making these connections from book to book and article to article where Maria really shines — and where she reveals a great opportunity for fellow curators.

4. Kottke.org, curated by Jason Kottke

Kottke

Jason Kottke’s website began 18 years ago and has evolved to cover art, media, and people doing awesome things. Jason shares five to ten interesting links per day on his site: stories, video, lists, news. He’s cornered the market on “huh, interesting” content, which is a great example for those feeling a bit too tied to one particular subject. As long as you have the market cornered on a feeling, that works too!

5. Daring Fireball, curated by John Gruber

Along with Jason Kottke, John Gruber was another of the original curators, starting Daring Fireball over a decade ago. The blog focuses on Apple technology and really blossomed in the heyday of iPhones and iPads.

John was recently a guest on the ReCode podcast where he shared behind-the-scenes about getting started with the blog and how he views the value that his curation and analysis brings to the Apple conversation.

6. Courtney Seiter, Buffer

The Only Technique To Learn Something New https://t.co/ACVJYR5S8K

— Courtney Seiter (@courtneyseiter) August 22, 2016

A couple years ago, Courtney led our content suggestions feature, and she singlehandedly curated 30+ unique pieces of content for every day of the week. It was the most prolific stretch of curation I’d ever witnessed — and people loved it. The content suggestions feature didn’t continue on, but Courtney’s work with curation was hugely instrumental toward delighting customers and teaching our marketing team what great content looked like (and how we could get there).

Bonus lesson of curation: You learn to recognize what’s good!

Next level content curation, feat. automation workflows

If you’ve read this far, thank you! There’s been a lot to digest, and hopefully it’s been encouraging to see what you can accomplish with great curation. Now the final steps are the ones that put curation into the advanced category and help you save even more time.

Ready?

Automated curation is your best time-saver. The more you can automate with your workflows, the more time you’ll save.

How do you automate? It all starts with tools like IFTTT and Zapier, apps that connect one service to another, triggering actions based on other actions. For instance, you can automatically add a new row to a spreadsheet every time you send a tweet.

Here’s a quick link to get started at IFTTT, which is completely free.

Here’s a quick link to get started at Zapier, which gives you the first five automations free then charges beyond that (Zapier has a great deal more services than IFTTT at the moment, which kind of balances things out).

Of course, there are many parts of curation that you can’t automate. You can’t automate good judgment or a strong eye toward quality or interestingness. You can’t automate the whole discovery phase of curation or, obviously, any of the reading part.

The most ground to be gained in automation will be with the sharing part of curation.

These are our favorite curation automations at Buffer.

Pocket to Buffer IFTTT

Send your Pocket favorites straight to Buffer and schedule with an image

(Recipe)

This one is pure gold for me. Every article I like in Pocket goes straight to Buffer, without me needing to a thing.

Once it’s in Buffer, I schedule time once a week to go through my backlog and prettify any of the updates that are in there — changing around the headlines or adding images. Here’s an example of one that Pocket/IFTTT/Buffer pulled in for me (before I changed a thing):

buffer tweet

Alternative: You can also set up this IFTTT recipe to work with Pocket tags. If you have a tag like “Buffer” or “Social Media”, everything article you tag in this way will go straight to your Buffer queue in a single click.

Pocket Trello IFTTT

Send your Pocket favorites to Trello

(Recipe)

For a monthly newsletter, this Trello/Pocket combination comes in really handy. You can ask IFTTT or Zapier to create a new Trello card for you each time you favorite a story in Pocket. This way, when you’re ready to write your curated newsletter, you can simply pull all the links straight from your Trello board.

I use this one for my personal site and keep the links alongside my other blog notes and to-dos.

Curate Feedly to Email

(Recipe)

For those who love as much of their curation as possible to happen in email, this recipe makes it possible to bring Feedly in there. All your Feedly content is sent as an email digest where you can choose what to read or skip.

Your turn: Let us know how your curation goes!

Thanks again to the Pocket team for the assist with this article. If the strategies here sounded worthwhile to you, we’d love to make it easy for you to start a free Pocket account or get all set up on Buffer!

Phew! Thanks for hanging with us the whole way. I hope the info here has been helpful for you and has maybe even inspired a content curation strategy that you’ll be excited to try.

If you’re curating content, mind sharing with us where we can follow along?

It’d be great to see what you’re finding!

And if you have any tips for us on what’s been working for you, or if you have any questions about anything we’ve mentioned here, feel free to drop a mention in the comments. I’ll be hanging out there and would love to chat!

Happy curating!

Image sources: UnSplash

Humans are, by nature, very visual beings.

In the brain itself, there are hundreds of millions of neurons devoted to visual processing, nearly 30 percent of the entire cortex, as compared with 8 percent for touch and just 3 percent for hearing.

Each of the two optic nerves, which carry signals from the retina to the brain, consists of a million fibers, compared to the auditory nerve carrying a mere 30,000.

That’s all to say that social media images are a vital part of your content reaching the maximum amount of people, people who are very visual beings!

Marketers that have dabbled in creating engaging images for social media know just how tough and time-consuming it can be. I’m no expert, but I’ve learned a thing or two about creating social media images after lots of practice (and mistakes!), and I’m excited to share with you my favorite social media design tips and principles to help enhance your social media images.

Let’s dive in! 


Enhancing Social Media Images

Social Media Design Tips: 11 Principles & Tactics to Enhance Your Images

At Buffer, we create all of the images for our blog posts and social media without much outside help — and there are a ton of images! On average, every Buffer blog post has five custom images, and some have way more.

To create these, we rely on 11 simple design principles to help make the image creation process easy. We’re excited to share those with you in this post and how you may be able to apply it to your own workflow.

Got any favorite social media design tips or principles that we’re missing? I’d love to hear about them in the comments!


11 Design Principles and Social Media Design Tips

1. Color

90% of snap judgments made about products are based on color alone

Color is one of the most important and complex aspects of any social media design. It helps to set the mood, create an atmosphere, convey emotions, and even evoke strong individual experiences from someone’s past.

In a study on the impact of color on marketing, researchers found that up to 90% of snap judgments made about products can be based on color alone, depending on the product. Other academic studies on colors in marketing have pointed to the fact that it’s more important for colors to support the personality you want to portray instead of trying to align with typical color associations.

For example, this Help Scout graphic highlights the power of color in conveying personality in a piece of content that reflects positively back on the brand. On the Help Scout Blog you’ll see consistent, eye-catching colors that come off as fun, yet insightful.

HelpScout Color Marketing Examples

The second example from the brand Loulou & Tummie highlights the use of color to market to a specific audience. Loulou and Tummie are known for their eye-catching vector work and the use of color to tell a story and evoke emotion.


Loulou and Tummie Design Inspiration

Use colors in your social media images that guide your audience through a story. Do so by considering which colors help to tell a specific portion of that story. The principles of color theory are a great place to start and can be used to create a sense of harmony within your images.

Here’s a quick rundown of how different colors affect our brain and how they’re often used in storytelling and marketing:

red Red = Energy and urgency

orange Orange = Aggressive

yellow Yellow = Optimistic and youthful

green Green = Wealth and relaxation

blue Blue = Trust and security

pink Pink = Romantic and feminine

black Black = Powerful and sleek

purple Purple = Soothing and calm

2. Balance

The 4 different types of balance (including the one you’re probably thinking of)

The art of balance in the world of social media image design is a tricky one to get the hang of, but well worth the effort. A great way to think of balance is to imagine that each element of your design has a “weight behind it.”

Put another way: If you were to place the image on a balance scale, would it tip to one side?

It’s also important to remember that different elements carry different weight; balance does not have to be split right down the middle. There are 4 varying types of balance:

  1. symmetrical
  2. asymmetrical
  3. radial (picture a spiral staircase)
  4. crystallographic (picture a tray of donuts with different toppings)

All of these can make for a beautiful social media design.

Take for example, this stunning graphic from artist and illustrator George Bokhua:


Pink Lotus - George Bokhua

This image demonstrates the beautiful use of symmetrical balance and the feeling of harmony. Symmetrical balance is great for illustrations, drawings, blog graphics, photographs, and much more.

On the other hand, there’s asymmetrical balance like shown in this image example:


Asymmetrical Balance Example

Asymmetrical balance creates tension through contrast and can be visually interesting when done correctly. Because it’s abstract, there is no symmetry; there are no perfect mirror images.

One place we find balance to be important is in choosing stock images. The collection of photos at Unsplash is a great example of a photo collection that excels by taking balance into account, like with this image:



canyon


If you’re creating an image of your own, in order to balance the weight in your image, play around with different things such as size of items, lightness and darkness of items, warm and cool colors, texture, quantity of objects, isolation of objects, and orientation (vertical/horizontal/diagonal) of objects.

3. Lines

Straight lines imply order. Curved lines hint at movement.

Lines are the visual elements of your image that help to guide the eye to where you want it to go. Straight lines work to give the image a sense of order and tidiness while crooked or curved lines may give the image a sense of organized tension and movement.

Paying close attention to the use of lines throughout your image can help guide your audience along a visual journey, stopping at the most important and intentional elements along the way.

Let’s take a peek at this incredible example of the power of lines from Muti:


Illustration of Lines in Graphic Design from Muti

The use of clean diagonal lines throughout the illustration takes your eyes to different areas in a quick and efficient manner. Almost creating “sections” in the image with different cities as multiple focal points.

Now compare that to the curved lines of this illustration from the same artist, Muti, and how it creates a sense of motion. That motion leading you around the graphic until you land back at the center focal point:


American Express Graphic by Muti Studio

When adding lines to your image, pay close attention to where they draw the reader’s eyes. Aim to create a logical path that the reader can follow along with until they come to the point that you intended them to.

4. Typography

Traditionally, serif fonts are best for print and sans-serif for web

Typography is an art. Selecting the perfect font or set of fonts that work seamlessly together can bring your social media image to life. It also has a big impact on how your design is received by people and, ultimately, the message your brand intentionally (or unintentionally) sends across.

When selecting which font or fonts to use in your design one of the most important aspects to keep in mind is readability. 

Graphic designer Paul Rand may have put it best when he said, “Don’t try to be original, just try to be good.”

Whether you choose a sans-serif font or a serif font or any variation in-between, make sure that your audience can read your message. Here are a few pro-tips for using fonts:

  • Limit your design to a maximum of 3 typefaces
  • Use font sizing that fits well within the medium that you are publishing to
  • Traditionally, serif fonts are best for print and sans-serif for web
  • Kerning is a great technique to use in your titles

And for those that are curious about other typography terminology, this nifty infographic will help!


Typography Principles Inforgraphic

5. Contrast

Add contrast with colors, shapes, and sizes

Have you ever heard someone say that an illustration or design “really popped“?

What they may be referring to is the contrast in an image. Contrast provides differentiation between elements, making one stand out or “pop” more than the other elements.

The use of effective contrast is a great way to enhance your social media images. Without contrast, your design runs the risk of being “flat.” But with too much contrast, your design can become cluttered and nothing will stand out.

Here are my 3 favorite ways to add contrast to an image without under or overdoing it.

Add Contrast with Colors

One of the easiest ways to implement contrast into your image designs is through the use of colors. For example, playing light colors off of dark colors, or vice-versa. In this image, I used a white font in contrast to the dark background making the wording both readable and visually appealing.


Color contrast example

Add Contrast with Shapes

Another way to easily add contrast to your image is through the use of shapes. This beautiful graphic from Canva helps to highlight just how well the conformity of symmetrical shapes can play alongside the asymmetrical nature of organic shapes.


Contrast Shapes and Design

Add Contrast with Sizes

In its simplest form, contrast can easily be added to enhance your social media images by making certain aspects of the design bigger or smaller than others. It can also mean adding more weight (like bolding a word) to elements.

This restaurant advertisement draws the audience to the name, “1913,” first and then to other areas of the image such as the word “restaurant” and eventually to the picture of the food in the background.

Size Contrast in Social Media Image Design

6. Scale

Zoom out on a concept, or zoom in with your font choices

Scale, by definition, refers to the deliberate sizing of various elements within your design. “Scaling” helps to bring certain elements into focus and allows your readers to make sense of a concept.

Think for a second and try to imagine your life in number of months or even days. Can you imagine it?

This wonderful illustration by Tim Urban illustrates the powerful effects of scaling.


Human Life in Months - Wait But Why

Scaling also works well for more concrete social media designs. Take a look at the image below:

 


Social media design tips from Buffer


In this visual, I’m aiming to draw you towards the quote first with a scaled-up font size. Once I’ve gained your curiosity from the quote, I’m hoping your eyes naturally move right to the balloon. And finally, you’re drawn to the message of the graphic, “Happy Teachers Month.”

Did it work?

7. Proximity

Group similar items together to declutter and organize

Proximity is paramount when creating a sense of organization within your design. Similar or related elements are best grouped together to create a relationship between them. The goal is to group items together to declutter your design and “tidy things up a bit.”

You can put the principle of proximity into action by connecting similar elements together. One easy way is by physical placement of the objects near each other. The other way is to connect them in other visual ways with the use of similar colors, fonts, size, etc.

This simple example shows how proximity can be used to help us perceive objects as being related. The circles are spread out, each being perceived as its own object.

Example of Proximity 1 - Social Media Design

Then, once we bring all of the circles in close to each other, they appear to lose the feeling that they are separate objects. It is perceived to be more of a whole, singular shape.

Example of Proximity 2 - Social Media Design

When put into something like a social media design, proximity can help to bring elements of a product or concept together through spacial relationships.

8. Hierarchy

Place the most important elements in the biggest fonts

It’s quite likely that you’ll be working with multiple elements in your social media design. And chances are each of those elements will be important to your overall message. Hierarchy is a great social media design tip to make sure that you’re getting your most important message across first.

Taking full advantage of the hierarchy design principle starts with an understanding of your goals. Establish the most crucial message as the focal point and then use the other design principles in this article to make it stand out.

Once that’s in place, you can start to build your second or third pieces of information in without taking away from the overall goal.

A great example is here in this travel advertisement. The image draws the reader into “travel” and then leads them to the secondary messages.


Example of Hierarchy - Social Media Design Tips

It even works for simple social media designs such as quotes. The main focal point being the quote itself followed by any secondary information such as author or source.


Social Media Design Tips - Hierarchy Example


 9. Repetition

Always use the same set of fonts, colors, and logos

One of the easier design elements to enhance your social media images is the principle of repetition. Repetition is an important part of the process because it helps to establish and strengthen different elements.

It’s also what people often refer to as “consistent branding.”

Three things to always try and be consistent with in your designs are fonts, colors, and logos. Over time, repetition of these 3 elements will give you or your brand a unique and instantly recognizable look. Let’s check out a few examples to illustrate the simple use of repetition in design.

Remember this Apple advertisement? Catchy for its colorful and playful nature, the use of repetition in this image helps to create consistent association. It also does just what it set out to do and that’s give a sense of movement or dancing in the image.


Apple Ad, Repetition, social media design tips

Repetition is also important when building a personal brand. Take these beautiful business cards from Alan Murphy, for example. Whether you’re a big brand or a one-person shop, repetition helps you become recognizable over time.

Personal Branding Business Cards - Social Media Design Tips

10. Direction

People read in an “F” pattern, an “E” pattern, and a “Z” pattern

The way the human eye moves across designs, images, websites, and other visual elements is unique, but often consistent. That’s why it’s important to guide your audience along the “path” that you’d like them to follow in your image. In other words, create a deliberate “flow.”

Website design research has given us an inside look at how people tend to view websites when arriving for the first time. What they found was that we read in an “F” pattern, an “E” pattern, and sometimes a “Z” pattern. So placing important and eye-catching elements on the upper left and left side of your design is key.

Crazy Egg created a great infographic on data found from their eye-tracking experiments along with ways in which you can improve your design. Enjoy!


Crazy Egg Eye Tracking Social Media Design Tips

11. Space

Look for outlines in your images. Advanced tip: Try knolling!

I saved one of my favorite social media design tips for last and that is the use of space. Put simply, negative space or white space is the area surrounds other objects in the image. More often than not, what you choose to leave out from your image is just as important as what you add.

Try not to underestimate the power of simplicity in your design. Space can help bring a certain aesthetic quality to your image while also highlighting the most important elements.

I’d love to show you two examples of the wonderful effects of using space in your designs. The first is from artist, illustrator, and graphic designer Tang Yau Hoong who has seemingly mastered the art of space in design. Tang Yau Hoong intentionally and cleverly carves out shapes in negative space to create a mesmerizing feel.


Negative and White Space in Design - Social Media Design Tips 2

When adding shapes, fonts, or colors to your design, consider what shapes or outlines are forming around them and use them to your advantage. You may quickly realize that your design is taking shape in ways you hadn’t originally planned.

The second example is from the world of photography. Knolling is a technique that has really come on strong in the last few years. The white space surrounding each element really helps to bring out each piece individually.


Knolling Example 1 - Social Media Design Tips 2

Keep your images simple and use the space around objects to bring attention to important elements. I love this graphic from Cinch that really highlights the power of simple design.


Cinch, Graphic Design Example, social media design

“Designers and marketers know they have ‘achieved perfection’ not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.”

– Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Over to You

I hope you enjoyed learning a bit about social media design! It is truly amazing how small tweaks to images can have such a huge effect on quality and outcome.

Did I miss any of your favorite social media design tips above? I would love to learn from you! 

Please feel free to drop a comment below to keep the conversation going.

More Awesome Design Resources

Design Elements and Principles – Canva

8 Basic Design Principles to Help You Create Better Graphics – Adobe

Why Every Marketer in 2016 Needs to Be a (Part-Time) Designer – Buffer

Most people don’t read content online. In fact, eight out of ten people will only read the headline.

For content writers, that fact is alarming. But it also places extra importance on the headlines we choose for our content, as headlines have the power to influence readers even if they don’t read any more of the article.

I don’t believe the perfect headline exists, though. Not anymore, anyway.

The evolution of social media and search has also complicated the playing field. When we write a headline, we no longer think only about driving clicks from a single channel like our homepage; we now need to think about search and social, too.

In this post, I’d love to share with you what I’ve discovered about headlines, how they’ve evolved and what makes a headline stand out on Facebook, Twitter, and search.

Let’s dive in.

What makes an irresistible headline

One of my favorite headlines of all time is:

“How to Win Friends and Influence People”

win-friends

This headline helped to sell millions of copies of Dale Carniegie’s book of the same name. It’s brilliant. Short, simple and intriguing and makes me want to know more. However, if it were to be written again in 2016, it may sound a little different.

The evolution of headlines

It’s pretty safe to say that a headline determines how many people will read a piece. But, the evolution of social media has led content publishers to rethink their approach to headlines completely. As a result, the perfect headline no longer exists and we now must craft an eye-catching, clickable headline for almost every channel where our content can be discovered.

We now have to craft an eye-catching, clickable headline for almost every channel where our content can be discovered

It’s important to think about all the various places people may discover your content: search engines, Facebook, Twitter, your homepage, etc. And it’s very rare that one size fits all when it comes to headlines. What stands out on Facebook might not get any clicks from a Google search results page.

For example, in 2016, the famous “How to Win Friends and Influence People” headline may look something like this:

On Facebook:

12 Life Lessons to Help You Win Friends and Influence People 

On Google: 

Life Lessons: How to Win Friends and Influence People

On a homepage:

How to Win Friends and Influence People: 12 Lessons to Live By

Headlines change the way we think and set our expectations

First impressions matter. Even with the articles we read online. And just as we choose to make a good impression offline through the way we dress and our body language, the headline of an article can also go a long way to shaping the reader’s perception of what is to follow, as Maria Konnikova explains in The New Yorker:

By drawing attention to certain details or facts, a headline can affect what existing knowledge is activated in your head. By its choice of phrasing, a headline can influence your mindset as you read so that you later recall details that coincide with what you were expecting.

For instance, the headline of this article I wrote—”A Gene That Makes You Need Less Sleep?”—is not inaccurate in any way. But it does likely prompt a focus on one specific part of the piece. If I had instead called it “Why We Need Eight Hours of Sleep,” people would remember it differently.

Headlines affect our memory

Ullrich Ecker, a psychologist at the University of Western Australia has completed a couple of studies on how headlines that are even slightly misleading can affect how we read content.

In the first study, Ecker and his team discovered that misleading headlines affect readers’ memory, their inferential reasoning, and behavioral intentions. Essentially, if a biased headline influences you, that tends to be what you’ll remember no matter what you’re subsequently told in the rest of the article. 

In the second study, Ecker had people read four articles (two factual, two opinion). What’s interesting in this study is the difference Ecker discovered between headlines in factual and opinion-led pieces. Misleading headlines in factual pieces were easier to ignore, and readers were able to correct the impressions left by the headline. However, in the case of opinion articles, a misleading headline impaired the reader’s ability to make accurate conclusions.

In summary, the headline of your article can greatly affect what your reader takes away from it.

For example, if I had titled this article “The evolution of headlines” it’s likely that you may remember more about how headlines have changed as the internet has evolved. And the headline “How to write headlines for Facebook, Twitter and Search”  would likely put the reader’s focus on the section below, hopefully putting more emphasis on the actionable takeaways you can use from this piece.

As writers and content creators, we have a great duty to ensure our headlines best reflect the content of our articles. And give readers the best possible chance to remember the key points of our piece.

8 strategies to help you write great headlines for social and search

Writing great headlines is hard. And in this section, I’d love to share 8 headline strategies to help you craft headlines for Facebook, Twitter and search.

How to write great headlines for Facebook

Facebook is a huge traffic driver for many websites. (It’s been our number one or two social referrer for the past three years.)

And after recent algorithm updates, we’re now likely to see a lot less clickbait stories sticking around in our news feeds and seeing sustained engagement. This feels like a good move, but also raises the question: What kinds of headlines perform best on Facebook?

In order to dig a little further into what works on Facebook, Newswhip studied the various types of headlines that resonate with users on Facebook and that consistently receive high levels of engagement.

Here’s a quick summary of what they found to work:

  1. Conversational and descriptive headlines
  2. Headlines focused on personal experience
  3. Headlines that aren’t misleading

1. Conversational and descriptive headlines

Newswhip found that many of the most successful stories they analyzed had extremely descriptive headlines, or used language that reads in a conversational tone. For example:

business insider

These types of headlines tend to perform well because you are letting the reader know what they will gain from reading your content.

At Buffer, we also like to accompany our content with a descriptive status:

One trick I like to use for writing descriptive, conversational headlines is to think about how you would describe this story to a friend in a coffee shop and use the same, warm, friendly tone in your headline.

When it comes to writing in a conversational style, it often means forgetting a lot of what your English teacher may have taught you, too. If you’ve ever looked at a transcript of a conversation, you’ll notice it’s full of grammatical mistakes, half-finished sentences, and similar faux-pas. Writing in a conversational tone doesn’t necessarily mean writing as you talk. But instead, writing so that it doesn’t sound like writing.

2. Headlines focused on personal experience

Facebook has traditionally been a place for  personal stories and blogs, opinion articles, and other personal angled stories to flourish. And Newswhip found that first person posts and unique viewpoints tend to get people sharing heavily, especially if it’s a topic that they can relate to personally.

Here’s an example of a recent headline from our Open Blog that focused on personal experience:

family-leave

3. Headlines that aren’t misleading 

In the blog post accompanying their latest algorithm update, Facebook explained that there are two specific criteria they use to determine whether a headline is misleading:

  1. If the headline withholds information required to understand what the content of the article is
  2. If the headline exaggerates the article to create misleading expectations for the reader

For example, the headline “You’ll Never Believe Who Tripped and Fell on the Red Carpet…” withholds information required to understand the article (What happened? Who Tripped?). The headline “Apples Are Actually Bad For You?!” misleads the reader (apples are only bad for you if you eat too many every day).

This means the “You’ll never guess what happened next” headline formula will no longer be as successful on Facebook. And instead, we should switch to more detailed headlines that inform the reader what they’ll be reading about once they click.

How to write great headlines for Twitter

Tweets are just like headlines.

They need to attract attention and get the reader to read to click on the link. And while there’s no guaranteed formula for success on Twitter, we’ve found the best headlines and Tweets are the ones that state a benefit and generate curiosity.

Twitter is also a great place to share content multiple times and test out various headlines to see which ones resonate most with your audience. This approach helped Tami Brehse to increase her traffic by nearly 50% in just 30 days.

To give you an example of what’s working for us, here are a couple of our most-clicked tweets:

The best times to post to seven different social media sites: http://t.co/7gCkIRnePd pic.twitter.com/NuptU5DAkG

— Buffer (@buffer) July 23, 2014

The difference between knowledge and experience in one image: http://t.co/AH2zaR7gdM pic.twitter.com/SzgHdTJz9r

— Buffer (@buffer) January 15, 2014

Both of these examples have clear images to convey the message within the tweet, making it more eye-catching for people as they scroll through their feed. The images also give the reader a great idea of what the content within the article will be.

Both tweets also create curiousity and a knowledge gap for readers. This entices readers to click on the link and feed their curiousity.

Further reading: Check out our research into our most successful tweets and why they worked

How to write great headlines for search

Standing out in search is a completely different game to standing out on social platforms like Facebook and Twitter. With social platforms, you’re trying to grab the reader’s attention and stand out in their timeline. Whereas in search, the user is specifically looking for content focused on their search phrase.

Here are a few tips that have worked for us:

1. Front-load your title 

Google puts more weight on the words at the beginning of your title tag. And if you’re trying to rank for specific keywords, a good strategy is to place those keywords at the beginning of your headline.

If you wanted to rank for “social media tips”, then chances are that this headline:

Social Media Tips: 10 Ways to Grow Your Social Media Audience

… would be seen as more relevant to the topic “social media tips” than this headline:

Grow Your Social Media Audience with These 10  Awesome Social Media Tips

Of course, there’s much more that comes into play when it comes to Google rankings, but keeping your keywords as near to the beginning of your title as possible can help.

Here’s a real-world example. If you search Google for “Instagram stories” you’ll notice many of the results will have those keywords right at the front of the headline:

seo-headlines

Keep it short (between 50-60 characters)

SEO experts Moz explain:

Google typically displays the first 50-60 characters of a title tag, or as many characters as will fit into a 512-pixel display. If you keep your titles under 55 characters, you can expect at least 95% of your titles to display properly. Keep in mind that search engines may choose to display a different title than what you provide in your HTML. Titles in search results may be rewritten to match your brand, the user query, or other considerations.

Use your brand name

If your brand is well-known within your target market then attaching it to the end of your headline can lead to more trust and clicks. A study from Engaging New Project found that people react not only to the type of headline but also to the source of the headline.

If you’re a trusted source, it can be beneficial to share your brand name in search results.

How to create multiple headlines for your content

At Buffer, we use a really handy tool called Yoast SEO which allows us to set various headlines for different channels. This means every post we write can have up to four separate headlines at any one time:

  • Headline on our homepage
  • Headline for search
  • Headline for Twitter
  • Headline for Facebook

Here’s an example of Yoast in action:

yoast-seo

To write a custom headline for search, Facebook, and Twitter, you can toggle between the different Yoast SEO tabs by clicking on the icons at the left.

Over to you

Headlines are fascinating and probably the most important part of any piece of content. Right now, it feels like we’re in the midst of another evolution and moving away from some sensationalistic headlines that become popular with the rise of social media and towards more descriptive and detailed headlines.

Do you create multiple headlines for your content? What have you found works for each channel?

I’d love to continue the conversation in the comments below.

Taking an event from idea to sell-out is no easy feat.

And half the battle of organizing an event is marketing it.

When it comes to the marketing channels that drive attendance, hype, and engagement, social media is right near the top. Best of all, social media event marketing isn’t as time-consuming as you may think.

You can do it! One of the greatest feelings in the world is walking into one of your own events and seeing it jam-packed with people. Social media can help get you there.

When it comes to social media event marketing, that means knowing what to post and where to post it in order to reach potential attendees. We’d love to help by sharing our biggest lessons. To discover which types of posts event-goers engage with most, our team at Eventbrite looked at over 25 million social media event posts to see just how people tweet, snap, and share about events online.

The Data-Backed Guide to Social Media Event Marketing (1)

For pro insights on how to use social media for events,
check out Eventbrite and Buffer’s guide to social media event marketing >>>

Social media event marketing: Here’s what people are talking about before, during and after events

We studied more than 25 million social media posts sent by organizers and attendees of 50 of the most popular events over a full calendar year, July 2013 to July 2014. These events included everything from music festivals (Bonnaroo) to endurance races (Tough Mudder), and we captured relevant tweets by keyword, hashtag, and Twitter/Facebook handle.

In particular, we looked at what people were talking about before, during and after events. And we found some surprising trends and some concrete takeaways for event organizers’ social media strategy.

Our top takeaways were:

  1. Nearly as many people are talking about an event before the event as they are during
  2. The largest amount of social media updates were quotes and multimedia shared during the event (36% of all updates)
  3. Top strategies included: Teasing the speaker lineup, providing a photo booth, creating quotes as multimedia

There was a lot of additional data and takeaways from this study, all of which we’ll be thrilled to share below. The data, originally researched through July 2014, still feels quite valid and accurate given what we’re noticing today with social media events; our current research and monitoring shows the same strategies and topics dominating the conversation.

These types of evergreen takeaways for event marketing suggest some solid strategies that have worked for companies big and small for many years.

We’d love to break this down further for you.

How to share on social before the event

Use anticipation to drive ticket sales. Here’s how.

Social media event marketing - before the event

When do you think most event attendees might tweet, snap, or post to Facebook?

Probably during the event, right?

Well, they certainly do that. But almost equal numbers of attendees and wishful attendees talk about the event in the days and weeks prior.

According to our data, there were nearly as many posts leading up to an event as there were during the event itself (40% and 42% of total posts, respectively). This makes the buildup to an event a prime time to engage both potential attendees and those who’ve registered.

To engage well, here are some tips from the ways that top brands have handled this pre-event social media marketing and and how you can apply the findings to your event’s social media strategy:

1. Reveal speaker lineups or special guests in a creative way

Anticipation and excitement accounted for 14 percent of the total posts shared on social media about events. This was the largest single percentage among any type of pre-event tweet or post.

Event-goers posted countdowns until the big day, or posted on weekdays anxiously looking forward to the event as part of their weekend plans.

T – 3 days until Bay Area Brew Fest! @shatelegram #bayareabrewfest #pier35

— Avolyn Fisher (@AvolynFisher) March 9, 2016

How to build the buzz: Share creative reveals of lineups or special guests, or use teaser videos and images to increase excitement. For instance, you can post your own countdowns to the event — bonus points if you use beautiful images to motivate sharing.

2. Post often about early bird deadlines and registration windows

Nearly one out of 10 social media posts about an event has to do with ticket sales: Once they’ve committed, event-goers want to convince their friends to join them at the event and a popular way to do this is by sharing their tickets across social media.

Here’s an example of a ticket tweet, shared by a future event attendee:

Hell yeah #OutsideLands pic.twitter.com/nDgX0KrkBG

— JLD™ (@JDargenton) July 27, 2016

How to build the buzz: You can help motivate these potential attendees by using urgency to drive ticket purchases, posting whenever early bird ticket sales or registrations are about to end.

3. Perform giveaways for those with FOMO

Fans who aren’t sure if they can attend the event in person have serious FOMO (fear of missing out).

Living through your tweets tonight about the show!!! Take pics and videos so I feel like I’m there! 💄❤️ #FOMO #mirandasingsalbuquerque

— gwen ballinger (@pixietangerine) July 28, 2016

How to build the buzz: Calm their fear by creating new opportunities for them to attend the event. Offer discount codes to followers on social media, or create social contests for tickets or travel stipends. You could go above and beyond with a VIP access giveaway. Make sharing your post a qualification for these giveaways to really expand your reach.

4. Share behind-the-scenes pics waaaay before the event starts

Behind-the-scenes pics are great to see what happens behind the stage. They’re also key for seeing what happens before the stage is even built!

Share these behind-the-scenes pics and stories well before the event begins is a great way to boost conversation and engagement. From our study, we saw brands and attendees doing some cool things: marathon runners sharing their training schedule, music festival fans posting their outfit choices, and travelers sharing their trip itinerary for destination events.

Got my t-shirt for tough mudder today!! Need to start training! #toughmudder #ukrunchat (sponsor me? It’s in my bio) pic.twitter.com/3TugVWGjT4

— Fahima Akther (@fahimaa97) July 26, 2016

How to build the buzz: While they’re sharing their preparation, you can do the same. Make fans feel like insiders with behind-the-scenes glances at the event production. These brief glimpses can help make a personal connection with possible attendees.

By producing the type of content that event enthusiasts are already posting, you can join and help shape the online conversation. Be sure to retweet posts from excited attendees as well — their posts are free marketing to potential attendees.

How to share on social during the event

Curate the best photos and quotes. Here’s how.

Social media event marketing - during the event

The number one type of post we saw in our study of over 25 million was quotes and multimedia, during the event.

Nearly 9 million images, videos, and quotes!

So yes, while the highest percentage of social media event posts occur during the event itself, far and away the largest type of event post was multimedia-based. Eighty-five percent of the in-event posts included multimedia elements, such as images, videos, and quotes. Only 15% were plain text.

The takeaway here: You can look for ways to make your event photo-worthy to encourage attendees to post during the event.

Here are a few ways you can make your event photo-friendly:

1. Have a photo booth

Create a photo booth area, and pay attention to little details that would make great Instagram shots or Snapchat snaps.

At the TNW Europe conference, there was a photo booth allowing attendees to take and share fun images. Notice the cool branding stripe across the bottom of the picture:

Have a blast at #TNWEurope? Check the photo albums, including ones from @thesnapcube: https://t.co/GNkTs5bHEC 📸pic.twitter.com/rX1jQ8jvss

— #TNWEurope (@TNWconference) June 8, 2016

And Disney used a photo booth to enable attendees of the latest Captain America film to share the moment:

Letzte Woche auf der “The first Avenger” Filmpremiere in Berlin#thesnapcube meets #CaptainAmericaCivilWar pic.twitter.com/qyU9Pu855j

— snapcube (@TheSnapcube) April 27, 2016

2. Share content from speakers

If you host an event with speakers, like a conference or fundraiser, you can tweet or post the key quotes from speakers to encourage sharing. Tagging the post with your event’s hashtag and @-mentioning the speaker may help this content spread virally as well — both with event attendees and with any folks watching from home.

Here’s a great example from the Digital Marketing World Forum:

Great closing session from @B1an ! #DMWF pic.twitter.com/WuqoqRNnr6

— #DMWF (@DigiMarketingWF) June 21, 2016

If you’d like to create content like this for your event, it can be great to prepare ahead of time so that you can get your quotes out there in real-time as your event takes place. Another fast option is to use tools like Pablo (images in 30 seconds or less) and Canva to create this type of content in real-time – and best of all, you don’t need to be a designer to create beautiful, engaging images.

3. Take followers behind-the-scenes with backstage pics and video

You can also create your own engaging multimedia posts to entice sharing during the event. Share photos and videos that give people a look backstage, or highlight exclusive interviews with people at the event. Photos are great for all networks, Facebook Live video is an awesome real-time resource, and Snapchat or Instagram stories make sense for those in-the-moment moments.

The Next Web did a great job with this at their recent conference in Amsterdam by using Snapchat and cross-promoting content to other networks like Twitter:

👻 BEHIND THE SCENES look at @caseyneistat backstage at #tnweurope… Only on Snapchat: https://t.co/AAp4lDF3Na pic.twitter.com/nffwnBqu73

— #TNWEurope (@TNWconference) May 27, 2016

4. Interact with your audience using questions and polls

You can also use interactive content like questions or polls to ask attendees which performer, booth, or speech they loved most. Have someone on your team designated to respond to any questions, issues, or comments that people send your way.

Twitter polls is perhaps the sleekest poll option for doing this quickly or in real-time.

We’re curious: do you use an ad blocker?

— Nieman Lab (@NiemanLab) October 28, 2015

If you’re planning to create some interactive content, it can be good to think about the questions you’d like to ask and what content you’d like to produce beforehand. This can greatly increase the quality of the content you’re putting out and also help to reduce stress levels on the busy days when your event is live.

How to share on social after the event

Celebrate your press mentions and ask for feedback. Here’s how.

Social media event marketing - after the event

Just because your event is over doesn’t mean the online conversation is. Though it accounted for the smallest volume of social media updates, the after-event conversation still made for 18% of the total number — nearly 1 out of every 5 social posts were in follow up from the event.

The main two reasons we found people were talking about events after they happend were: press coverage and feedback. Here’s a little more on each of those:

1. Press coverage

The largest portion of this after-event conversation was media coverage of events (9% of total posts). This is your chance to celebrate all that you accomplished — so go ahead and brag a little by sharing all the great press you’ve gathered.

If you’re aiming to get some coverage after the event, it could be best to reach out to some journalists in your space and invite them to the event in order to experience it for themselves.

2. Ask for feedback

The rest of post-event conversation is divided between positive and negative feedback for the event. Share and revel in the positive feedback, but don’t ignore the negative. Respond by thanking critics for their thoughts, and take their feedback into account when planning your next event.

To make this feedback more actionable, you could share a post-event survey with followers to find out how to make your next event even better. Be open with your followers about how you listened to them to make changes, and they’ll be even more excited to buy tickets for next time.

If anyone is seriously disgruntled, you can also offer discounts for your next event to help smooth the waters. (Discounts are also a great way to encourage loyalty with happy event-goers.)

Over to you

Thanks so much for reading! We’d love to hear if these findings feel accurate to for any events you’ve been a part of.

Does this reflect the conversation you see on social media about your event? What types of content do you post before, during, and after events to engage your audience? It’d be great to hear from you in the comments!

It’s hard to believe that this used to be a totally acceptable way to advertise a product in America:

1950s ad

Thankfully, our world has taken quite a few steps forward since this ad of the 1950s. 

Today, the marketing that wins hearts and minds is likely to look more like this:

Even as “masculine” a pursuit as beer-drinking is getting in on the act, with Budweiser going from an ad like this in the 1980s:

Bud ad 80s

To this today:

Beer ads that support equal pay? Feminine hygiene brands redefining how we talk to—and about—girls? This is not something that brands used to do. 

But today, a highly successful and celebrated marketing tactic is to actively champion women and girls while selling a product.

It’s one example of many in our new era of point of view marketing: in addition to selling something; we want our brands to stand for something.

These and even more campaigns like Dove’s “Beauty on Your Own Terms” and Secret’s “Stress Test” attempt to market in a new way—one that not only mirrors society’s changing attitude towards women but also takes a stance. 

Becky Swanson, creative director at Leo Burnett, Chicago, which created the Always “Like a Girl” campaign, explained its origins in Ad Age:

“There was a feeling that it’s time to talk about it and not just toot our own horn, but to take a more active, public role in making a positive change in the world.”

What an exciting opportunity for marketers to change the conversation and have an impact on the world.

In this post, we’ll talk about why you might want to embrace a point of view in your marketing, how to do so confidently, and what separates successful campaigns from the rest.

line-section

Vreeland quote

What is point of view marketing?

What is point of view marketing? It’s the way your brand looks at the world—your values, your unique perspective, your issues. It’s a stance.

And it matters. 64 percent of consumers with a brand relationship say shared values are the reason why they’ve engaged with a brand (by far the biggest reason cited).

This trend is only being proven further as the Millennial generation grows up and into its full power. Eighty-seven percent of Millennials say they appreciate it when companies make it clear what values they stand for, and 81 percent say companies that invest in their communities deserve loyalty.

Here is some more information on the Millennial connection, from a SlideShare from The Futures Company:

Why point of view matters

Stand out online. Point of view can be a competitive advantage

Increasingly, point of view is the difference between people talking about you and people forgetting you.

It’s amazing what happens in one second on the web. The amount of information on the web will increase by 500 percent (conservatively) in the next five years:

content-shock-graphic

It’s getting tougher to stand out and be heard, but having a point of view can help.

Buffer investors Collaborative Fund focus specifically on working with companies who have a point of view. Their investments include Lyft, Kickstarter, Code Academy, Blue Bottle Coffee, and more.

In fact, Kanyi Maqubela, who is a partner at Collaborative Fund, goes so far as to describe values as a competitive weapon for brands.

Kanyi quote

Our point of view is that the set of companies that will win the 21st century will be companies that are inclusive and diverse and community driven

– Kanyi Maquebela

Why point of view connects

People share to express who they are and what they care about

What is it about values and point of view that can cut through the noise and endear us to a brand so strongly?

Sometimes things are just things, but sometimes they’re more. We buy things because of how they make us feel, or how we believe we’ll be perceived by others once we have them, or how we align with what their makers are doing in the world.

They become part of our identity. Design anthropologist Dori Tunstall says things are how we identify ourselves and identify others.

Dori Tunstall

Increasingly, what we share on social media falls into this category, too. Sixty-eight percent of people say they share online to give others a better sense of who they are and what they care about. That’s why a lot of the ads above have gone viral—they strike a chord and make people want to share them.

Values are how we build our identities, what we trade on social networks, and why communicate with each other. 

How to market with a point of view

If point of view marketing feels like a good fit for you, I’ve found there are four general steps to getting off to a great start.

4 steps of POV marketing

1. Know your values

Before all else, you have to know what you stand for. No one — not your customers, not your investors, not your community — can do this for you. It has to come from you.

At Buffer, we’ve got a set of 10 values that guide everything we do. We were lucky to define them early, and they’ve set the course for our company’s entire trajectory.

Buffer-Values

A few more examples of brands with a strong point of view:

There are a lot of great resources on defining your company’s culture and values.

Whatever you choose, make sure it’s authentic to you. You’ll want to be able to follow through and back up these values—even when it’s tough.

Your values will ideally lead you to your point of view, as Patagonia’s value of environmentalism led them to this point-of-view campaign focused on reducing consumption:

Patagonia dont-buy-this-jacket

“The more the message fits into the brand’s overall values, the better chance it has of sticking with consumers and not getting lost in the clutter,” marketing professor Kevin Keller told Ad Age. “If it’s done properly, it is a way to create a richer brand that has more meaning, relevance and is reaching people in a more emotional way.”

2. Back it up

True values and point of view go far beyond a mission statement. They have to be lived every day.

Once you have a point of view, how are you backing it up with action?

Marketing to women, for example, isn’t as simple as making a product in pink (and charging more for it). Women know when you’re pandering-—and when you mean it.

Transparency is part of our point of view at Buffer, and we’ve been inspired by companies like Everlane that also believe in this value and back it up in a big way—by telling you every element of the price you pay for their clothes.

If women’s empowerment is your point of view, are women on your team? Are they in the room when you’re making decisions? Are women listened to, respected, promoted, leaders?

When Dove embarked on their groundbreaking Campaign for Real Beauty, they partnered with organizations like the Girl Scouts, Boys & Girls Clubs of America and Girls Inc. to organize activities including discussions about online bullying and photography projects capturing the beauty girls see in the world around them.

“We can’t just be getting people stirred up; awareness and conversation isn’t enough,”Sharon MacLeod, vice president of Unilever North America Personal Care, told HuffPost. “We actually have to do something to change what’s happening.”

3. Involve your audience

The best point of view for marketing is one that not only reflects truth for you but also resonates with your customer.

Transparency has been one element that has worked really well for us in this area. We share everything, and we’re the better for it thanks to feedback from our community.

Try sharing your mission and asking for feedback: what could you do better? Give your audience a say. You can take this opportunity to improve your brand, products, and services through them.

If you’ve been lucky enough to develop a two-way conversation with consumers, treat their feedback like the gift it is. Honor their questions with answers. Share thoughts honestly, from your own unique point of view. Putting your most authentic face forward can win you advocates for life.

4. Face your fear

This might be the scariest step of all.

Part of having a true point of view is that it’s a little bit of a vulnerable place to be. Not everyone will like it. Not everyone will agree with you. Some will say you went too far while others feel you didn’t go far enough.

At Buffer, we try to not only be aware of this fear but also seek it out. Part of our marketing manifesto is that with every single thing we do,

“…we have a slight feeling of vulnerability and discomfort when we get it out because we think it might be too edgy or that it might fail. That is, however, what also creates the volatility of the piece, the opportunity for it to rise above everything else we’ve written so far and stand out and attract everyone’s attention.”

When we made the decision to share all our salaries publicly, it was quite possibly the scariest thing we’d ever done as a company. We had no idea how people would react. Today, it’s become one of our proudest moments, because facing that fear was well worth it.

We even have a salary calculator to let you know what you’d make if you were working at Buffer:

salary calculator

It’s easy to share a standard marketing piece. And that’s often why it’s forgettable.

If you’re willing to go out on a limb for what you believe in, you’re likely to find an audience who feels the same—and wants to stand with you.

What makes a successful campaign

Now that we know some tenets of point of view marketing, let’s look at some women’s empowerment campaigns and figure out whether they work (or not ) and why.

1: Swiffer’s Rosie the Riveter

In 2013, Swiffer co-opted the iconic Rosie the Riveter image to promote the empowerment of … women cleaning house.

Swiffer ad

After a public outcry, Procter & Gamble removed the image and apologized for the campaign.

What didn’t work: Audiences are looking for authentic, deeply held point of view. Taking a women’s empowerment message only far enough to encourage cleaning doesn’t feel like a point of view as much as simply an opportunity.

2. Sport England’s This Girl Can

Sport England launched “This Girl Can” to encourage women to exercise, regardless of their fear of judgement, embarrassment, or looking “unwomanly.”

What works: Women of all shapes, sizes and colors, having a great time, in support of an authentically felt message. Even better? The award-winning campaign has convinced 2.8 million UK women to be more active. What a win!

3. Nine West’s cheeky husband-hunting

Nine-West-Shoe-Ad-2

What didn’t work: While Nine West didn’t pull this ad, they got quite a bit of public outcry over it. Women objected to the idea that shoe-buying would be centered around husband-hunting instead of the joy of fashion or a woman’s own empowerment.

4. Dove’s Campaign for Real Beauty

Dove campaign

What works: This 2004 ad basically started the woman’s empowerment advertising revolution. The campaign includes advertisements, video, workshops, events, a book and the production of a play—talk about backing it up! Ten years in, the campaign has brought Dove’s sales from $2.5 billion to $4 billion. And their research says the campaign is actually changing the way women define beauty.

The common denominator

Do you see any common threads running through the ads that work and separating them from those that don’t?

I think it might be authenticity. Eighty-three percent of women say advertising can empower women if it depicts them in inspiring and respectful ways.

And the data agrees with them. A survey of consumers who viewed Always’ “Like a Girl”  and other similar campaigns found that not only did a majority feel the ads promote a positive message for women, they also had a strong, positive impact on the brands’ reputation.

In a crowded and connected world,  we’re looking for brands that take a stand beyond the sell. Marketers have the power—to challenge cultural norms, to change how we talk about what matters, and to raise awareness for important issues, even as we sell products.

Over to you!

Does your product, service or brand have a point of view? Do you find yourself leaning toward brands that do? What’s your take on these ads? I’d love to hear all of your thoughts in the comments!

Social media has been found to be the most effective digital advertising channel for getting more impressions, clicks, and conversions. Facebook in particular stands out — in some cases, 7x cheaper than the next most affordable social media ads channel (Twitter).

You can spend as little as $5 per day on Facebook advertising and see significant results.

Sounds great, right!

We’d love to make it easy for you to get up and running with Facebook Ads. These are the exact steps and lessons we’ve been taking to build up our own paid ads campaigns, and we’ll be keeping this post up-to-date with the latest news and learnings.

Got any ideas on how to make this post better? We’d love your comments! Drop us a line here and we’ll review and update the post (and give you a shoutout!).

facebook-adverting-feature

How to navigate this guide

There’s a lot to learn with Facebook Ads! And I know I’m going to leave a lot out. This article is our best shot at covering all the important aspects of Facebook advertising for someone who is just starting out. To make it easier to digest, we’ve broken this guide down into four chapters. Here’s where to find any info you might need:

Chapter 1: An Introduction to Facebook Ads: a high-level look at the factors businesses and brands consider when choosing Facebook ads and some quick tips on getting started with ads.

Chapter 2: How to guides: Information and screenshots on where to find everything and how to get set up with the various types of Facebook ads.

Chapter 3: How to choose an audience for your ads: Audience targeting is where Facebook advertising can become truly powerful and significant. Here we show you how to find the right audience for your ads.

Chapter 4: Budgeting, Analysis, and Successful Strategies: Hoping to answer the question “What am I supposed to do here?” Strategies for audience, budget, ad types, messaging, and visuals.

Chapter 1:
An Introduction to Facebook Ads

All the basics you need to get up and running with Facebook Ads.  

facebook-ads-chapter1

line-end

First things first: Why use Facebook ads?

Facebook Advertising is now one of the most effective tools out there to grow your business, create loyal customers, and generate leads and sales. There are now over 3 million businesses advertising on Facebook and there’s never been a better time to start than now.

Here are just a few reasons why Facebook Advertising is hugely exciting for marketers:

  • Audience size: Facebook now boasts over 1.13 billion daily active users on – 1.03 billion of which access the social network via mobile devices.
  • Attention: People spend a lot of time on social networks. The average user spends about 50 minutes just on Facebook, Instagram, and Messenger every day.
  • Oragnic reach decline: Organic reach on Facebook has been in decline for a few years now and has almost hit zero. If you want to break through now, Facebook is all butt a pay-to-play network.
  • Targeting: The targeting options within Facebook Ads is incredible. Business can target users with by location, demographics, age, gender, interests, behavior, and much more.

line-section

Pros and cons of Facebook advertising

Before we get too deep into the specifics of Facebook advertising, I wanted to share this amazing list of pros and cons from the Moz blog, which was so helpful in our deciding how to pursue Facebook Ads for Buffer.

Pros

  • Campaigns are easy to track
  • Immediate influx of traffic
  • Complete control over your daily budget and maximum Cost-per-click
  • Instant return on investment (You can easily define a cost per conversion and understand what your profit is)
  • More targeting options, including, towns, regions, age, likes/interests, income bracket, and other demographics
  • Easier to set up than Google AdWords
  • The ability to reach people early on in the buying process, before they are aware of their need, while capturing those who are aware of the need in a subtle way
  • You can use images and videos to capture the interest of your target market, helping you to sell your products and services
  • CPC is relatively cheap, depending on your industry (On average, no more than $0.61 per click)

Cons

  • If set up and managed incorrectly, it can be costly, but less so than Google AdWords
  • Depending on your target market, the majority of the large potential audience can be irrelevant (For instance, we would not recommend Facebook Advertising if someone only served or supplied their products and services to one town)
  • There is no option to target your ads at certain times within the day or on certain days of the week unless you choose a lifetime budget
  • Most suitable for those operating in B2C markets
  • Reaching people too early in the buying cycle could potentially reduce your goal conversion rate

line-section

Getting started

To get to your Facebook Ads dashboard, you can head to https://www.facebook.com/ads/manager or click the dropdown arrow in the upper-right corner of Facebook and choose “Manage Ads” from the drop-down.

Manage Ads menu

line-section

Finding your way around the dashboard

From the ads dashboard, you’re able to manage every aspect of your Facebook ads experience. There’s a lot here! This is where to find all the essential tools, menus, and buttons.

Facebook-advertising

We’ll get into each of these options in the article sections below. Feel free to use CTRL+F or CMD+F to find any exact phrase you need.


line-end

Chapter 2:
The 11 different types of Facebook Ad

(And How To Set Up Each One)

Macbook

line-end

Facebook Ads are extremely versatile and there are now 11 different variations you can use to solve a whole host of business problems from driving traffic to your website to reaching people in your local area.

Below is a list of the various Ads available to Facebook advertisers and throughout this chapter, we’ll walk you through each type individually.

  1. Boost your posts
  2. Promote your Page
  3. Send people to your website
  4. Increase conversions on your website
  5. Get installs of your app
  6. Increase engagement in your app
  7. Reach people near your business
  8. Raise attendance at your event
  9. Get people to claim your offer
  10. Get video views
  11. Collect leads for your business

line-section

How to choose your ad type

When you go to create a new Facebook ad (by clicking the green button on your ads dashboard), you’ll get to choose among these 11 different options, all of which with a unique focus for growing your business or your page.

FB-ads

The general setup for each will be similar: You’ll go from choosing the type of ad (the objective), to choosing the audience and the budget (the ad set), to making the ad itself (the ad).

Here’s a quick run down of each of the 11.

1. Boost your posts

Boosted Post - Facebook ads

What’s involved:

After you click to create a new ad and choose “Boost your posts,” the next steps are:

  1. Choose one of your Facebook Pages or enter its URL
  2. Select a previous update that you’ve published to your page (or create a new update)
  3. Give this campaign a name

At the next step, you can set your audience and budget. (Jump to the section in this post about audience and budget.)

After setting audience and budget, you can move ahead into the ad creative. The good news with boosted post campaigns: The ad creative is already set for you! The creative is the post!

From this screen, you can change the post you’d like to boost, and (here’s the most hands-on part of this step) you can view how your boosted posts will look in three different locations within Facebook:

  1. Desktop News Feed
  2. Mobile News Feed
  3. Desktop right column

Within the Ad Preview, you can click to view each location:

facebook-ads-preview-views

And from here, you can also set which locations you’d like your ad to appear. For any spots you’d rather not show your ad, click the Remove link to the right of the preview.

facebook ads creative remove locations

Tip: You can also boost posts directly from your Facebook Page or Newsfeed. To do this simply click on the Boost post button 11414404_852751124794907_953613502_n  displayed on any of your posts.

line-section

2. Promote your page

Page Likes - Facebook ads

What’s involved:

After you click to create a new ad and choose “Promote your Page,” the next steps are:

  1. Choose one of your Facebook Pages or enter its URL
  2. Give this campaign a name

At the next step, you can set your audience and budget. (Jump to the section in this post about audience and budget.)

After setting audience and budget, you get to set the creative elements of the ad: photo, text, and more. First off, you’ll be asked to select an image to use; you can choose to upload your own, select from a collection of searchable stock photos from Shutterstock, or pick from a library of images you’ve used on previous ads.

To easily create variations of your ad and test how different images perform, you can create up to 6 ads at once by uploading multiple images from this one screen.

For choosing images, Facebook offers these guidelines:

  • 1,200 x 444 pixels (width and height)
  • Image ratio: 8:3 (basically, if you divide the width of your image by 8 and the height by 3, the result should be the same)
  • Your image may not include more than 20% text.

This last guideline is an interesting one! It’s in place for a very good reason: Facebook is mindful of the aesthetic of having ads appear on its network and wants to ensure the highest quality and best experience possible for its users.

20-text-rule

Facebook offers a tool to check the 20% text rule and see if your image meets the guideline. Visit the tool and upload your image. Facebook adds a grid overlay to the image, and you can click any box that includes text. If the boxes you’ve selected make up less than 20% of the image, you’re good to go!

facebook ads 20 percent text rule grid

Additionally, you can upload a series of three to seven photos that Facebook will stitch together as a slideshow video. You can select the shape of the slideshow (square or rectangle), the length that the image stays visible, and the transition (none or fade) from one image to the next.

And if you have a video that you’d prefer to use for the page promotion, you can add it here also.

After selecting an image, slideshow, or video, you can customize the text that appears as the update above the ad. Click in the “Text” box to edit. You have an upper limit of 90 characters to use.

update text Facebook ad

From the right-hand panel of the Ad Editor, you can preview your ad and select which locations you want it to appear. By default, Facebook will show the ad on the desktop News Feed, mobile News Feed, and the desktop right column. Click to remove any of these options.

Under “Show Advanced Options,” there are three additional places to customize.

1. Add a headline (this only appears in the desktop right column).

Headline right side ad Facebook

2. Choose where the visitor ends up should they click through to your page. By default, people will arrive at your Timeline. You can also select any other page that you have linked to from your Facebook Page menu, like Video, Photos, Events, or custom pages.

Facebook page menu options

3. You can also track conversions. Conversion tracking with Facebook involves the installation of a conversion pixel, which I’ll cover in a section below. Hop there now if you’re curious.
line-section

3. Send people to your website

Send Traffic - Facebook ads

What’s involved:

After you click to create a new ad and choose “Send people to your website,” the next steps are:

  1. Enter the URL of the page you’d like to promote (e.g., https://buffer.com/agency)
  2. (Optional) Choose a conversion pixel to further track the performance of the ad (more on pixels here)
  3. Give this campaign a name

At the next step, you can set your audience and budget. (Jump to the section in this post about audience and budget.)

After setting audience and budget, you get to build the creative. The first customization option for website traffic ads is choosing if you’d like to show a single image or video in the ad or show multiple images in the ad (up to five).

single image or ad

For choosing a single image or video, you’ll see the same image options that you had for the “Promote your Page” ad: single image, slideshow, or video.

For the multiple image option, you get to build a carousel of pictures, each with their own headlines and descriptions.

With multiple images, you’ll have the choice to customize four different aspects of the carousel images:

  1. Image: Upload a new image or choose one from your library. You can crop the image from within the editor so you get just the right parts showing.
  2. Headline
  3. Description (optional)
  4. Call to Action: Changes to the call-to-action are reflected on all your carousel slides. You can choose among Apply Now, Book Now, Contact Us, Donate Now, Download, Learn More, Shop Now, Sign Up, Watch More, or no button.

(Bonus: You can change the destination URL for each image also, if for instance you might have special landing pages for each unique feature that you’re pitching.)

fb-ads-layout

Additionally, for the multiple image option, you can choose to have Facebook show the best-performing image first (the one that the most people are clicking on), and at the end of your carousel, you can opt for Facebook to add an additional slide with your Page’s profile picture and a call-to-action to “See more at [your website].”

Similar to the previous ad types, with the “Send people to your website” ad, you can choose to show it in the News Feed on desktop and/or mobile and in the right column on desktop. Additionally, you can choose a couple more options:

  1. Showing your ad on Facebook’s Audience Network, other mobile apps and networks owned by Facebook.
  2. Showing your ad on Instagram.

Each option comes with previews within the ads editor so you can see your ads in action.

line-section

Tip: When you’re driving traffic from a specific Facebook ad to you website, think carefully about the landing page that traffic will be hitting. Does the page feel aligned with the copy of your ad? Are there clear CTAs? Do the ad and the page feel related?

4. Increase conversions on your website

Increase Conversions - Facebook ads

What’s involved:

After you click to create a new ad and choose “Increase conversions,” the next steps are:

  1. Enter the URL that you’d like to promote
  2. Important: Choose a conversion pixel to track the conversions of the ad (more on pixels here)
  3. Give this campaign a name

At the next step, you can set your audience and budget. (Jump to the section in this post about audience and budget.)

After setting audience and budget, you can build the creative for your ad. This works the same way as it does for the “Send people to my website” ad type, mentioned above. You can choose among a single image, a single video, or multiple images. All the same options are present here:

  • Connect a Facebook page
  • Write a headline that appears under your chosen images/video
  • Add description text to go above the images/video
  • Choose a call-to-action
  • Choose where you’d like the ad to appear: In the News Feed (desktop and/or mobile), on Facebook’s Ad Network, on Instagram, and in the Right Column (desktop only)

line-section

5. Get installs of your app

Get installs of your app - Facebook ads

What’s involved:

After you click to create a new ad and choose “Get installs,” the next steps are:

  1. Choose an app, either by typing in the name of your app or by pasting a URL from the iOS App Store or the Google Play Store. ( You can advertise any app that you’ve registered on Facebook’s developer site.)
  2. Give this campaign a name

At the next step, you can set your audience and budget. (Jump to the section in this post about audience and budget.)

After setting audience and budget, you can build the creative for you ad. Like other ads, here you’ll have the choice between a single image/video or multiple images. Other customization options will be familiar, too: Headline, text, Facebook page, etc.

For this ad type in particular, there are just a handful of differences.

1. Ad Preview: App install ads only appear on mobile apps and websites.

2. Deep links: You can link directly to a particular screen or state within your app. For instance, if you have a URL that points to a specific product page or account page within the app, you can link directly there.

3. Call to Action buttons: There are a few additional, specific app CTAs that you can choose from. Here’s the full list:

  • Book Now
  • Download
  • Install Now (default)
  • Learn More
  • Listen Now
  • Play Game
  • Shop Now
  • Sign Up
  • Use App
  • Watch More
  • Watch Video

4. Add conversion tracking. More here.

line-section

6. Increase engagement in your app

Increase engagement in app - Facebook ads

What’s involved:

After you click to create a new ad and choose “Increase engagement,” the next steps are:

  1. Choose an app, either by typing in the name of your app or by pasting a URL from the iOS App Store or the Google Play Store.
  2. Give this campaign a name

At the next step, you can set your audience and budget. (Jump to the section in this post about audience and budget.)

After setting audience and budget, you can build the ad’s creative elements. For the “Increase app engagement” ad type, the settings here are the exact same as they are for the “Get app installs” ad type. The main difference between the two is in the destination and goal for each. For app installs, you’ll typically be interested in gaining more point-of-entry signups, linking to the installation page for your app.

With the “Increase app engagement” ad type, you’ll likely be interested in Facebook’s Deep Links settings, where you can link to specific places within the app and drive more engagement there. For instance, at Buffer, we might advertise to current app users and include a link for them to view the posts in their queue (and link directly there).

line-section

7. Reach people near your business

Facebook Local Ads - Facebook ads

What’s involved:

After you click to create a new ad and choose “Reach people near you,” the next steps are:

  1. Choose one of your Facebook Pages or enter its URL
  2. Give this campaign a name

At the next step, you can set your audience and budget. Unlike all other Facebook ad types here, the Audience settings for “Reach people near you” will ask you to choose an area from a map and then target the ad toward people in those areas.

By default, the map will center on your business’s street address. You can enter any address you’d like in the text box below the map and set the Radius to any of 8 defaults (from 1 mile to 50 miles) or a custom mile radius.

facebook-map-options3

Once the map is in place, you can also click to move the target area to a different point in the map.

(For more info and tips these settings,  jump to the section in this post about audience and budget.)

After setting audience and budget, you can create the ad itself. These localization ads have four different opportunities to gain engagement for your business:

  • Like Page
  • Call Now
  • Learn More
  • Send Message

For the “Like Page” option, the ad will be geared toward driving Page likes. You can change the images, the main text, the headline, and the link description for this ad.

For “Call Now”, you can make the same changes as with the “Like Page” campaign, plus you can also include your phone number.

For “Learn More,” when people click the Learn More button, they’ll be taken to any URL you choose. All the same customization options appear here (images, text, headlines) plus an additional box for the URL of your choosing.

For “Send Message,” when people click the Send Message button, they’ll have the chance to send you a message through your Facebook page.

line-section

8. Raise attendance at your event

facebook ad raise attendance

What’s involved:

After you click to create a new ad and choose “Raise attendance,” the next steps are:

  1. Choose one of your Facebook events or enter a Facebook event URL
  2. Give this campaign a name

At the next step, you can set your audience and budget. The ad’s audience will default to a segment near the location of your event.

(Jump to the section in this post about audience and budget.)

After setting audience and budget, you can create the ad itself. Facebook will grab the main image for the event automatically and suggest it as an image to use in the ad. Like other ad types, you can create up to six ads to test by uploading multiple images. There’s always just the one image per ad.

Most of the rest of the ad is taken care of for you. Facebook automatically includes the date, the time, the event’s title, the location, and the number of people interested and attending. The call-to-action button on the desktop News Feed is “Interested.”

You can see an ad preview above for the specific layout of these elements.

Things vary slightly for mobile …

facebook ad attendance mobile news feed

… and for the desktop right column.

facebook ad attendance right side

For additional customization, you can change the text that appears as the update above the ad. You can also ad custom URL tags and conversion pixel tracking.

Tip: As with all types of Facebook Ads, a great image is key for event promotion ads. Try to ensure your image gives insight into the type of event you’re promoting. (Like the bubbles in the Bubble Run event, above.)

line-section

9. Get people to claim your offer

facebook ad claim your offer

What’s involved:

After you click to create a new ad and choose “Get people to claim your offer,” the next steps are:

  1. Choose one of the offers you’ve published to your Facebook Page or create a new offer
  2. Give this campaign a name

For creating an offer, you can do this directly from the ad editor itself, or you can create offers from your Facebook Page directly. If you’re on your Facebook Page, click on the “Offer” link just above the text editor:

create-offer-facebook

For the offer, you can call it out directly in the headline and text, then link to a landing page or include a promo code. In addition, you can set the dates of the offer as well as a limit to the number of people who take advantage.

create offer facebook settings

Once you’ve created/chosen an offer to boost, you can set your audience and budget. (Jump to the section in this post about audience and budget.)

After setting audience and budget, you can preview how the ad will look in the desktop/mobile News Feed and the desktop right column. There aren’t really any customization options here, other than adding URL tags and conversion pixels. Much like a boosted post, this one will go out looking near identical to the original offer post.

line-section

10. Get video views

Get video views - Facebook ads

What’s involved:

After you click to create a new ad and choose “Get video views,” the next steps are:

  1. Choose one of your Facebook Pages or enter its URL
  2. Give this campaign a name

At the next step, you can set your audience and budget. (Jump to the section in this post about audience and budget.)

After setting audience and budget, you can create the ad. First, you’ll want to upload a video to share. You can also pull from a post on your page that has included a video. When uploading a video, Facebook recommends the following:

  • .mov or .mp4 file format
  • At least 720p resolution
  • Widescreen (16:9 aspect ratio) is recommended
  • 60 minutes and/or 2.3 GB max for Facebook
  • 60 seconds and/or 2.3 GB max for Instagram

Alternately, you can use a series of 3 to 7 images as a slideshow, which will autoplay as a video in the News Feed.

After the video’s been selected, you can edit the way the ad appears by customizing the text and buttons. By default, Facebook does not show a button, allowing the ad to focus on purely gaining more video views. You can edit the text that appears above the video.

If you’d like to include a button with the ad, there are seven choices from the “Call to Action” dropdown:

  1. No button (default)
  2. Book Now
  3. Download
  4. Learn More
  5. Shop Now
  6. Sign Up
  7. Watch More

For each of these button options, you can customize four additional text fields: the website URL, the display URL, the headline, and the link description.

Tip: Video is huge on Facebook right now! It’s likely to be successful at all times of day (we’ve seen high video views at all hours). To maximize your views and your money, test out various times to see when your video content best resonates with the Facebook audience.

line-section

11. Collect leads for your business

Facebook Lead Ads example

What’s involved:

After you click to create a new ad and choose “Boost your posts,” the next steps are:

  1. Choose one of your Facebook Pages or enter its URL
  2. Give this campaign a name

At the next step, you can set your audience and budget. (Jump to the section in this post about audience and budget.)

After setting audience and budget, you’ll go to the ad creative. Building the ad will be the same as it is for most other campaigns. You can customize the image and the text that appears in all places on the ad.

Where the Facebook lead ad distinguishes itself is with its Lead Form. In the ad itself, there are options for six different buttons:

  1. Apply Now
  2. Download
  3. Get Quote
  4. Learn More
  5. Sign Up
  6. Subscribe

Each of these buttons will link to a form that you can create within the Facebook ad editor.

Below the customization section is the Lead Form section, and in here you can choose to attach an existing Lead Form that you’ve previously created or create a new one.

Here are the steps to create a new Facebook Lead Form:

1. Give the form a name and choose the primary language.

2. Select which information you’d like to receive.

By default, Facebook will suggest the email and full name of the person. You can click below these two options to expand the listing to include 19 more options (admittedly, some of them more useful than others).

Facebook lead form

  1. First name
  2. Last name
  3. Phone number
  4. Street address
  5. City
  6. State
  7. Province
  8. Country
  9. Post code
  10. Zip code
  11. Date of birth
  12. Gender
  13. Marital status
  14. Relationship status
  15. Company name
  16. Military status
  17. Job title
  18. Work phone number
  19. Work email

You can also ask three custom questions in addition to the options above. Facebook suggests particular info you might wish for here, or you can type a fully custom question of your own choosing. The preset suggestions include things like buyer intent (“When do you plan to make a purchase?”) to car details (“Choose a car model.”). The open-ended question can be whatever you’d like.

You can customize the answers for each question, or leave it open-ended as well.

After settling on your questions and information, you’ll then be asked for a link to the privacy policy of your website and any legal disclaimers.

And (final step) you can include a link to your website for people to visit upon completing the Lead Form.

Optional: Context Cards

Additionally, before someone fills out a Lead Form, you can show a Context Card, which adds a bit more detail about the offer or next steps. With this card, you can edit:

  1. The headline
  2. The benefit text (either a paragraph or bullet list)
  3. The button text

The context card works great for explaining the benefits of what you’re offering!

Context Cards overview

After settling on all these details, you’ll get a chance to preview the flow of your form and then confirm and save. You can now use this form from any Lead Ad you create moving forward.

Tip: Lead Ads are slightly different from other types of Facebook Ads. One top tip is to focus on the value behind your chosen button. For example, why should someone join your email list? Write your copy and choose your images to match the answer.


line-end

Chapter 3:
How to choose an audience for your Facebook ad

Megaphone

— Jump to the section on audience strategies —

In each ad set, you’ll have the chance to target a specific audience with your ad, and this is where Facebook advertising can become truly powerful and significant. There is lots to understand about how these audience segments work, and there’re plenty of strategies to try, too. Here’s a quick overview of how and what to do with choosing a Facebook ad audience.

Finding your way around the audience settings

The audience settings tab will be the second screen you see after choosing your Facebook ad type. And there’s a lot to see here! This is a quick overview of the Facebook ads audience settings:

facebook-ads-audience

1 – Create a custom audience (more here)

2 – Geographic targeting

3 – Age, gender, language targeting

4 – Target by interest or behavior

5 – Target based on how someone’s connected (or not connected) to your page

6 – Audience selection scale

7 – Audience selection overview

About targeting

As you can tell from the layout of the audience settings, the majority of options here have to do with audience targeting. You get to choose precisely who sees your ad, based on hundreds (even thousands) of different factors. Like:

  • Location
  • Age
  • Gender
  • Language
  • Interests
  • Behaviors
  • Connections

Here’s a bit more about each:

Location

Location segmentation allows you to include or exclude people who will see your ad, based on where they are in the world. Like most Facebook ad settings, the location info is quite robust.

Start by choosing how you want to define that a person is in a particular area:

  • Target “Everyone in this location” to reach everyone whose home or most recent location is in the area
  • Target “People who live in this location” to reach everyone whose home is in the area
  • Target “People recently in this location” to reach people whose most recent location is in the area
  • Target “People traveling in this location” to reach people whose most recent location is in the area but whose home is at least 125 miles away

Then you can add an exact location by typing in the name of a country, state, region, city, postal code, address — even a Nielsen TV region or congressional district.

Facebook ads location settings

Once you’ve entered a location, you can fine tune the radius that you’ll use to target. By clicking the “+25mi” text next to the city name, you’ll get a drop-down that allows you to pick just how wide you’d like to target: everything from just the exact city itself to 10 miles up to 50 miles.

Facebook ads mile radius

You can add as many locations as you’d like by repeating the steps above. Also, if you have a big list of locations to add, you can do it in bulk by pasting in from a spreadsheet or text file.

Age, Gender, and Language

These are likely to be pretty self-explanatory. For age, you can choose a minimum and maximum age, and the ad will be served only to those who fall within the range. Same goes for gender, where the options are “All” (default), “Men,” or “Women.”

For language, you can leave this one blank unless the audience you’re targeting speaks a different language than what you’d typically find in the locations you’ve chosen.

Interests and Behaviors

This is perhaps the most detailed section of options you’ll find anywhere within Facebook ads. You can get really, really granular with the specific type of people you want to target with an ad. Facebook splits this section into three categories (a fourth category is for advanced segments you’ve requested):

Demographics, which contain things like …

  • Education level
  • Job titles
  • Relationship status
  • Income level

Interests, which contain things like …

  • Fitness
  • Shopping
  • Sports
  • Business

Behaviors, which contain things like …

  • B2B company size
  • Operating systems used
  • Purchase behavior
  • Recent homeowners

Like with other ad settings, you have the choice with these options to either include or exclude based on factors of demographics, interests, and behaviors. The default option here is to include anyone who matches any of the segments. To further narrow the audience, you can add a segment that all potential audience members need to meet.

Connections

Last, you can choose to segment based on how a person has (or hasn’t) interacted with your Facebook page, app, or event before. This can be a necessary segmentation feature, particularly if you’re trying to track down an audience that might not be familiar with you, or to followup with an audience that already has context with what you do.

Here are the options for each.

Facebook pages

  • People who like your page
  • Friends of people who like your page
  • Exclude people who like your page

Apps

  • People who used your app
  • Friends of people who use your app
  • Exclude people who use your app

Events

  • People who responded to your event
  • Friends of people who responded to your event
  • Exclude people who already responded to your event

— Jump to the section on audience strategies —

About custom audiences

This is really neat stuff: A custom audience is a group of people who have a previous relationship with you, perhaps as customers or contacts. You can build an audience of just these particular people and serve your ads directly to them.

To get started, click the “Create new custom audience” link at the top of the audience settings page. Your previously created custom audiences appear just above, and you can select those for future campaigns.

A popup will appear with three different ways to create your audience: Customer List, Website Traffic, or App Activity.

Custom audience options

With the Customer List, you can upload or copy/paste a data file of email addresses, phone numbers, or Facebook user IDs. 

Facebook also integrates directly with MailChimp so you can pull from your existing MailChimp lists to create a custom audience.

With the Website Traffic, Facebook can create an audience based on the conversion pixel you’ve installed on your site. Here, you have the options to choose a timeframe for the traffic as well as segment by:

  • Anyone who visits your site
  • People who have seen particular pages
  • People who have seen particular pages but not other pages
  • People who haven’t visited for awhile

With the App Activity, you select one of your connected Facebook apps and segment based on activity within the app.

Custom audiences help to further refine the pool from which you can segment. For instance, once you select or create a custom audience, you can then go ahead and continue to filter that audience based on location, demographics, interests, and behaviors.

— Jump to the section on audience strategies —

Once you’ve created an audience, you can save it for quick use next time. Check the box at the bottom of the audience settings to name and save this particular audience. The next time you create an ad, you can choose an existing audience at the top of the settings.


Facebook ads choose existing audience line-end

Chapter 4:
Budgeting, Analysis, and Successful Strategies

[Image]

How to set a budget for your Facebook ad

— Jump to the section on budget strategies

In the budget settings for your Facebook ad, you’ll get to control a couple of important elements: How much you want to spend and when you want to start spending it. There are further, specific customization options at this stage, too, for those eager to have even more control over the specifics of delivery.

Choosing a budget

Facebook ads choose a budget

By default, Facebook starts out suggesting a $20.00 daily budget. You can adjust this however you want, choosing either “daily” or “lifetime” budget and also editing the amount you’re wanting to spend.

With the daily budget, the amount you set is the maximum you will spend on any given day.

With the lifetime budget, the amount you set is the maximum you will spend on the lifetime of your ad. 

When you choose a lifetime budget, you will also need to set a start and end date for your ad. The option to run the ad continuously is no longer available.

Choosing a schedule

Facebook ads set a schedule

For daily and lifetime ads, you can tell Facebook when specifically you’d like the ad to run. By default, if you are running a daily ads budget, Facebook suggests to run the ad continuously. Otherwise, you can choose to start and end the ad on a specific day. (Facebook runs the math here for you and tells you the maximum amount, total, you will spend.)

— Jump to the section on budget strategies

line-section

Understanding the Facebook Ads data (how to tell when your ad is working)

Facebook offers a generous amount of data and analysis for every ad campaign. It’s all available from the dashboard menus and categorized into a series of tiered sets. The structure looks like this:

> Campaigns – The very high-level campaign (e.g., “Get more clicks to our website. Woot!”)

>> Ad Sets – A collection of ads that support the main campaign (e.g., “Week 3 ads”)

>>> Ads – The specific ads that you’re running, with media and text and all that

In theory, you might have 1 campaign with 5 different ad sets and 10 different ads in each ad set. Numbers get bigger the more levels you go down.

To see an overview of stats from any of these categories, you can quickly toggle back and forth from your main ads dashboard (http://facebook.com/ads/manage)

facebook ads change view4

You can click on any individual campaign, ad set, or ad to see just the stats for that particular look. To see multiple ones at once, click the checkbox next to each and then select View.

All data can be sorted by clicking on the heading for each column, and the data can be exported by clicking the Export button in the top right corner above the data table.

The stats for each have a robust set of data based on performance, delivery, cost, relevance, and more. You can toggle between these different looks by clicking through to campaigns, ad sets, and ads or by switching the view from the drop-down boxes above the right-side of the stats table.

For campaigns, by default, you see these stats:

  • Delivery – “Is the ad running now or not?”
  • Results – “How many actions has this campaign received?” i.e., clicks, installs, likes, and more. Facebook tells you which specific actions are assigned to the campaign.

results and actions

  • Reach – “How many people saw my campaign?”
  • Cost – “How much did I pay, on average, for each action?”
  • Amount spent – “How much have I spent so far on this campaign?”
  • End date – “When does this campaign end?”

For ad sets, by default, you see these stats:

  • Delivery – “Are these ads running? How many?”
  • Reach – “How many people have seen ads from this set?”
  • Cost – “How much did I pay, on average, for each action?”
  • Budget – “What’s the maximum I’m going to pay on this ad set? Daily or lifetime?”
  • Amount Spent – “How much have I spent so far?”
  • Schedule – “How long will this ad set be running?”

For ads, by default, you see these stats (in addition to a thumbnail and text preview of what the ad looks like):

  • Delivery – “Is this ad running?”
  • Results – “How many actions has this ad received?”
  • Reach – “How many people have seen this ad?”
  • Cost – “How much am I paying, on average, for each action?” (Might also be known as, cost per click)
  • Amount spent – “How much have I spent total so far on this ad?”
  • Relevance score – A rating of 1 to 10 for how well the audience is responding to the ad

Tip: You can save any report to view later on, and you can set up a scheduled email with reports data to be sent straight to your inbox. To do so, in the top-left corner of the page, next to the title of the view, click the drop-down box  11414404_852751124794907_953613502_n  to Save and Schedule.

To drill down even further, you can click on each individual ad to see charts and stats specific to that ad.

Facebook ads stats and charts

Conversion tracking and pixels

Facebook has a unique system for tracking actions that occur after someone leaves a Facebook ad and travels to a web page. You can install a Facebook pixel that tracks things like page views, registration, and orders.

To get your Facebook pixel, go to the menu at the top of the page, and select “Pixels” under the “Assets” menu.

Screen Shot 2016-04-13 at 10.49.27 AM

From the pixel page, click Create a Pixel. Then click View Pixel Code.

The pixel code goes into the code of your page, in the <head> section. You can copy and paste the code from Facebook into your page, and for further tracking, you can add any number of variables to your code from Facebook’s many options.

  • View Content
  • Search
  • Add to Cart
  • Add to Wishlist
  • Initiate Checkout
  • Add Payment Info
  • Purchase
  • Lead
  • Complete Registration

For example, if you were to add extra conversion tracking for Leads to your Facebook code, you might take the original code from Facebook and add in the extra snippet for Leads to the page where your lead capture takes place.

<!-- Facebook Pixel Code -->
<script>
!function(f,b,e,v,n,t,s){if(f.fbq)return;n=f.fbq=function(){n.callMethod?
n.callMethod.apply(n,arguments):n.queue.push(arguments)};if(!f._fbq)f._fbq=n;
n.push=n;n.loaded=!0;n.version='2.0';n.queue=[];t=b.createElement(e);t.async=!0;
t.src=v;s=b.getElementsByTagName(e)[0];s.parentNode.insertBefore(t,s)}(window,
document,'script','http://connect.facebook.net/en_US/fbevents.js');
fbq('init', '432799013584355');
fbq('track', "PageView");
fbq('track', 'Lead');
</script>
<noscript><img height="1" width="1" style="display:none"
src="https://www.facebook.com/tr?id=432799013584355&ev=PageView&noscript=1"
/></noscript>
<!-- End Facebook Pixel Code -->

line-section

Facebook Ads Frequently Asked Questions

Do I have to have a Facebook page to run an ad?

Yes, you can create an ad for a website without a Facebook Page. However, you can only do this with ads that generate clicks for a website. Here’s how it works:

  • Go to ad creation and then select Clicks to Website
  • Enter the URL of the website you want to create an ad for and then click Continue
  • Fill in the details of your ad and then click Place Order

Are ads for pages or profiles?

Personal profiles are for non-commercial use and represent individual people.

What is a lookalike audience?

A lookalike audience is a collection of Facebook users who are similar to your Facebook fans, website visitors, or customers.

You can create a lookalike audience from the Audiences section of Facebook Ads (from the menu, it’s under Assets > Audience). Click to “Create Audience,” and choose “Lookalike audience” from the list.

lookalike audience setup

Setting up the audience, you start by selecting a source for Facebook to compare with. This can be an existing custom audience, traffic from a tracking pixel, or the fans from a Page.

Lookalike audiences work for one country at a time, so after selecting a main source, you’ll next select the country to choose among.

And finally, the last step is to set the size of the audience. You can drag the bar back-and-forth to select between 1% and 10% of the country’s residents for Facebook to analyze and compare.

create a lookalike audience

What are dark posts?

Dark posts are normal-looking Facebook updates that are intentionally never shared organically and only served as ads. You can create dark posts through the Facebook Ads power editor.

What is the power editor?

The power editor is for those who may wish to create large amounts of ads at once and have specific control over how the ads are served. You can access the power editor through the Facebook Ads menu, under “Create & Manage.”

What is the audience network?

The Audience Network placement extends your ads’ reach by showing them to the same target audience on other mobile apps and mobile websites approved by Facebook.

line-section

5 Popular strategies and Facebook advertising tips

There’s a host of great information out there on Facebook advertising tips and best practices. Ad Espresso has a wonderful blog, the Facebook content on Moz is outstanding, everything Jon Loomer writes is incredible.

We’ve collected some of our favorite tips and tactics for Facebook ads here. We’d love to hear what’s worked for you, if you’re up for leaving us a comment!

1. Consider the placement of your URL

from Karen Jones, How Facebook Advertising Performed vs. Google Ads

This article is chock full of useful tidbits: the pros and cons list from earlier came from Karen’s great work here. She goes on to recap some of her top takeaways for successful Facebook ads.

  • Keep your information short
  • Include an offer or price
  • Include keywords
  • Include persuasive or interesting imagery/video
  • Include your URL above the image/video in the text section
  • Use taglines and hooks to draw your potential customers in (i.e., “Make This a Year to Remember”)

2. Don’t wait: Double down on what’s working

From Massimo Chieruzzi, Facebook Ads Suicide: 6 Deadly Errors to Avoid

The team at AdEspresso has some fantastic advice on best practices for Facebook advertising (they’re drip campaign emails for new signups are particularly fantastic).

Double down on what’s working: don’t wait to increase your spending on a great Adv. Down the line it might not work any more — or just not as well!

Don’t ignore New Features and Ad Types: every new format will over-perform in the first few months before users are familiar with it!

Test every aspect of a campaign: the wrong picture can cost >100% more. But you’ll never guess which one without split testing for it!

Don’t leave campaigns alone: on Facebook you target users based on interests and demographics. They’ll get tired of seeing your ads over and over again!

3. Spend at least $5 per ad

Andrea Marban, The Dos and Don’ts of Facebook Advertising

Another gem from AdEspresso, this one covers the do’s and don’ts of Facebook advertising and gets into some wonderfully specific advice.

Do:

  • create Buyer Personas and a specific call to action for each of them
  • choose an image that stands out, but also represents your brand
  • include Social Proof in your Ad, numbers can work very very well
  • use Custom Audiences, it’s one of the most effective tools as of now

Don’t:

  • allocate too small of a budget (best is at least $5 per ad, typically)
  • use too small or a poorly designed image (use a minimum pics’ width of 1024px)
  • mix different countries in an AdSet (best is to target one country per AdSet)
  • have too small of an audience (best is usually at least 500k people)
  • Be aware that the elements above can impact significantly your campaign, so taking some time to understand and fine-tune them is an investment that will pay off in spades

4. Image tips

Fred Perrotta, A Deep Dive Into Facebook Advertising

The most important part of your ad is the image. You can write the most brilliant copy in the world, but if your image doesn’t catch a user’s eye, you won’t get any clicks.

Don’t use low-quality images, generic stock photography, or any images that you don’t have the rights to use. Don’t steal anything from Google Images. Unless you’re a famous brand, don’t use your logo.

Images of people work best. Preferably their faces. Use close-ups of attractive faces that resemble your target audience.

Facebook ad images are small (100 x 72 pixels). Make sure to focus on a person’s face and crop it if necessary. Don’t use a blurry or dark picture.

Advanced tip: Use images of people facing to the right. Users will follow the subject’s line of sight and be more likely to read your ad text.

 

5. Segment more than you think you should (and don’t overlook mobile!)

Kane Jamison, 10 Things I’ve Learned While Learning Facebook Ads

I love this post from Kane about his learnings with Facebook Ads. It’s a great primer for beginners (with something to be learned for pros, too, I’d imagine).

Here are a couple of my favorite takeaways:

Make sure the creative imagery and copy is tightly targeted to your audience. Instead of targeting an audience of 2,000,000 people, find a way to break them into smaller, more specific groups, and show them customized copy and graphics that will appeal to them.

Kane mentions that you can even go so far as to select an audience of cyclists if you have a cyclist in your ad creative. Awesome!

And here’s a great tip on mobile vs. desktop:

Regardless of the age or demographics of the audience you’re targeting, don’t assume that they’re scanning through a laptop Facebook feed just because you’re on a laptop all day while editing ads.

The vast majority of Facebook users are on mobile apps, and many of your ad sets may never get a click from desktop users.

 

line-end

Final thoughts and your thoughts

Thanks so much for taking the time to look through this guide. As I’ve mentioned, there’s so much to know on Facebook – we’d love to help as much as we can if there are any questions or tips you’d like us to know. And if you spot anything that’s changed about Facebook Ads since we’ve published, we’d be grateful for the heads up. Things move fast!

What has your Facebook Ads strategy looked like?

What kind of results are you seeing?

It’d be really great to get your thoughts in the comments. Chat with you there!

Read more and learn more

These are some really great sites that have helped us learn a ton with social media ads and Facebook advertising in particular:

Thank you!

Image sources: Pablo, WOTIC

Social media has been found to be the most effective digital advertising channel for getting more impressions, clicks, and conversions. Facebook in particular stands out — in some cases, 7x cheaper than the next most affordable social media ads channel (Twitter).

You can spend as little as $5 per day on Facebook advertising and see significant results.

Sounds great, right!

We’d love to make it easy for you to get up and running with Facebook Ads. These are the exact steps and lessons we’ve been taking to build up our own paid ads campaigns, and we’ll be keeping this post up-to-date with the latest news and learnings.

Got any ideas on how to make this post better? We’d love your comments! Drop us a line here and we’ll review and update the post (and give you a shoutout!).

facebook-adverting-feature

How to navigate this guide

There’s a lot to learn with Facebook Ads! And I know I’m going to leave a lot out. This article is our best shot at covering all the important aspects of Facebook advertising for someone who is just starting out. To make it easier to digest, we’ve broken this guide down into four chapters. Here’s where to find any info you might need:

Chapter 1: An Introduction to Facebook Ads: a high-level look at the factors businesses and brands consider when choosing Facebook ads and some quick tips on getting started with ads.

Chapter 2: How to guides: Information and screenshots on where to find everything and how to get set up with the various types of Facebook ads.

Chapter 3: How to choose an audience for your ads: Audience targeting is where Facebook advertising can become truly powerful and significant. Here we show you how to find the right audience for your ads.

Chapter 4: Budgeting, Analysis, and Successful Strategies: Hoping to answer the question “What am I supposed to do here?” Strategies for audience, budget, ad types, messaging, and visuals.

Chapter 1:
An Introduction to Facebook Ads

All the basics you need to get up and running with Facebook Ads.  

facebook-ads-chapter1

line-end

First things first: Why use Facebook ads?

Facebook Advertising is now one of the most effective tools out there to grow your business, create loyal customers, and generate leads and sales. There are now over 3 million businesses advertising on Facebook and there’s never been a better time to start than now.

Here are just a few reasons why Facebook Advertising is hugely exciting for marketers:

  • Audience size: Facebook now boasts over 1.13 billion daily active users on – 1.03 billion of which access the social network via mobile devices.
  • Attention: People spend a lot of time on social networks. The average user spends about 50 minutes just on Facebook, Instagram, and Messenger every day.
  • Oragnic reach decline: Organic reach on Facebook has been in decline for a few years now and has almost hit zero. If you want to break through now, Facebook is all butt a pay-to-play network.
  • Targeting: The targeting options within Facebook Ads is incredible. Business can target users with by location, demographics, age, gender, interests, behavior, and much more.

line-section

Pros and cons of Facebook advertising

Before we get too deep into the specifics of Facebook advertising, I wanted to share this amazing list of pros and cons from the Moz blog, which was so helpful in our deciding how to pursue Facebook Ads for Buffer.

Pros

  • Campaigns are easy to track
  • Immediate influx of traffic
  • Complete control over your daily budget and maximum Cost-per-click
  • Instant return on investment (You can easily define a cost per conversion and understand what your profit is)
  • More targeting options, including, towns, regions, age, likes/interests, income bracket, and other demographics
  • Easier to set up than Google AdWords
  • The ability to reach people early on in the buying process, before they are aware of their need, while capturing those who are aware of the need in a subtle way
  • You can use images and videos to capture the interest of your target market, helping you to sell your products and services
  • CPC is relatively cheap, depending on your industry (On average, no more than $0.61 per click)

Cons

  • If set up and managed incorrectly, it can be costly, but less so than Google AdWords
  • Depending on your target market, the majority of the large potential audience can be irrelevant (For instance, we would not recommend Facebook Advertising if someone only served or supplied their products and services to one town)
  • There is no option to target your ads at certain times within the day or on certain days of the week unless you choose a lifetime budget
  • Most suitable for those operating in B2C markets
  • Reaching people too early in the buying cycle could potentially reduce your goal conversion rate

line-section

Getting started

To get to your Facebook Ads dashboard, you can head to https://www.facebook.com/ads/manager or click the dropdown arrow in the upper-right corner of Facebook and choose “Manage Ads” from the drop-down.

Manage Ads menu

line-section

Finding your way around the dashboard

From the ads dashboard, you’re able to manage every aspect of your Facebook ads experience. There’s a lot here! This is where to find all the essential tools, menus, and buttons.

Facebook-advertising

We’ll get into each of these options in the article sections below. Feel free to use CTRL+F or CMD+F to find any exact phrase you need.


line-end

Chapter 2:
The 11 different types of Facebook Ad

(And How To Set Up Each One)

Macbook

line-end

Facebook Ads are extremely versatile and there are now 11 different variations you can use to solve a whole host of business problems from driving traffic to your website to reaching people in your local area.

Below is a list of the various Ads available to Facebook advertisers and throughout this chapter, we’ll walk you through each type individually.

  1. Boost your posts
  2. Promote your Page
  3. Send people to your website
  4. Increase conversions on your website
  5. Get installs of your app
  6. Increase engagement in your app
  7. Reach people near your business
  8. Raise attendance at your event
  9. Get people to claim your offer
  10. Get video views
  11. Collect leads for your business

line-section

How to choose your ad type

When you go to create a new Facebook ad (by clicking the green button on your ads dashboard), you’ll get to choose among these 11 different options, all of which with a unique focus for growing your business or your page.

FB-ads

The general setup for each will be similar: You’ll go from choosing the type of ad (the objective), to choosing the audience and the budget (the ad set), to making the ad itself (the ad).

Here’s a quick run down of each of the 11.

1. Boost your posts

Boosted Post - Facebook ads

What’s involved:

After you click to create a new ad and choose “Boost your posts,” the next steps are:

  1. Choose one of your Facebook Pages or enter its URL
  2. Select a previous update that you’ve published to your page (or create a new update)
  3. Give this campaign a name

At the next step, you can set your audience and budget. (Jump to the section in this post about audience and budget.)

After setting audience and budget, you can move ahead into the ad creative. The good news with boosted post campaigns: The ad creative is already set for you! The creative is the post!

From this screen, you can change the post you’d like to boost, and (here’s the most hands-on part of this step) you can view how your boosted posts will look in three different locations within Facebook:

  1. Desktop News Feed
  2. Mobile News Feed
  3. Desktop right column

Within the Ad Preview, you can click to view each location:

facebook-ads-preview-views

And from here, you can also set which locations you’d like your ad to appear. For any spots you’d rather not show your ad, click the Remove link to the right of the preview.

facebook ads creative remove locations

Tip: You can also boost posts directly from your Facebook Page or Newsfeed. To do this simply click on the Boost post button 11414404_852751124794907_953613502_n  displayed on any of your posts.

line-section

2. Promote your page

Page Likes - Facebook ads

What’s involved:

After you click to create a new ad and choose “Promote your Page,” the next steps are:

  1. Choose one of your Facebook Pages or enter its URL
  2. Give this campaign a name

At the next step, you can set your audience and budget. (Jump to the section in this post about audience and budget.)

After setting audience and budget, you get to set the creative elements of the ad: photo, text, and more. First off, you’ll be asked to select an image to use; you can choose to upload your own, select from a collection of searchable stock photos from Shutterstock, or pick from a library of images you’ve used on previous ads.

To easily create variations of your ad and test how different images perform, you can create up to 6 ads at once by uploading multiple images from this one screen.

For choosing images, Facebook offers these guidelines:

  • 1,200 x 444 pixels (width and height)
  • Image ratio: 8:3 (basically, if you divide the width of your image by 8 and the height by 3, the result should be the same)
  • Your image may not include more than 20% text.

This last guideline is an interesting one! It’s in place for a very good reason: Facebook is mindful of the aesthetic of having ads appear on its network and wants to ensure the highest quality and best experience possible for its users.

20-text-rule

Facebook offers a tool to check the 20% text rule and see if your image meets the guideline. Visit the tool and upload your image. Facebook adds a grid overlay to the image, and you can click any box that includes text. If the boxes you’ve selected make up less than 20% of the image, you’re good to go!

facebook ads 20 percent text rule grid

Additionally, you can upload a series of three to seven photos that Facebook will stitch together as a slideshow video. You can select the shape of the slideshow (square or rectangle), the length that the image stays visible, and the transition (none or fade) from one image to the next.

And if you have a video that you’d prefer to use for the page promotion, you can add it here also.

After selecting an image, slideshow, or video, you can customize the text that appears as the update above the ad. Click in the “Text” box to edit. You have an upper limit of 90 characters to use.

update text Facebook ad

From the right-hand panel of the Ad Editor, you can preview your ad and select which locations you want it to appear. By default, Facebook will show the ad on the desktop News Feed, mobile News Feed, and the desktop right column. Click to remove any of these options.

Under “Show Advanced Options,” there are three additional places to customize.

1. Add a headline (this only appears in the desktop right column).

Headline right side ad Facebook

2. Choose where the visitor ends up should they click through to your page. By default, people will arrive at your Timeline. You can also select any other page that you have linked to from your Facebook Page menu, like Video, Photos, Events, or custom pages.

Facebook page menu options

3. You can also track conversions. Conversion tracking with Facebook involves the installation of a conversion pixel, which I’ll cover in a section below. Hop there now if you’re curious.
line-section

3. Send people to your website

Send Traffic - Facebook ads

What’s involved:

After you click to create a new ad and choose “Send people to your website,” the next steps are:

  1. Enter the URL of the page you’d like to promote (e.g., https://buffer.com/agency)
  2. (Optional) Choose a conversion pixel to further track the performance of the ad (more on pixels here)
  3. Give this campaign a name

At the next step, you can set your audience and budget. (Jump to the section in this post about audience and budget.)

After setting audience and budget, you get to build the creative. The first customization option for website traffic ads is choosing if you’d like to show a single image or video in the ad or show multiple images in the ad (up to five).

single image or ad

For choosing a single image or video, you’ll see the same image options that you had for the “Promote your Page” ad: single image, slideshow, or video.

For the multiple image option, you get to build a carousel of pictures, each with their own headlines and descriptions.

With multiple images, you’ll have the choice to customize four different aspects of the carousel images:

  1. Image: Upload a new image or choose one from your library. You can crop the image from within the editor so you get just the right parts showing.
  2. Headline
  3. Description (optional)
  4. Call to Action: Changes to the call-to-action are reflected on all your carousel slides. You can choose among Apply Now, Book Now, Contact Us, Donate Now, Download, Learn More, Shop Now, Sign Up, Watch More, or no button.

(Bonus: You can change the destination URL for each image also, if for instance you might have special landing pages for each unique feature that you’re pitching.)

fb-ads-layout

Additionally, for the multiple image option, you can choose to have Facebook show the best-performing image first (the one that the most people are clicking on), and at the end of your carousel, you can opt for Facebook to add an additional slide with your Page’s profile picture and a call-to-action to “See more at [your website].”

Similar to the previous ad types, with the “Send people to your website” ad, you can choose to show it in the News Feed on desktop and/or mobile and in the right column on desktop. Additionally, you can choose a couple more options:

  1. Showing your ad on Facebook’s Audience Network, other mobile apps and networks owned by Facebook.
  2. Showing your ad on Instagram.

Each option comes with previews within the ads editor so you can see your ads in action.

line-section

Tip: When you’re driving traffic from a specific Facebook ad to you website, think carefully about the landing page that traffic will be hitting. Does the page feel aligned with the copy of your ad? Are there clear CTAs? Do the ad and the page feel related?

4. Increase conversions on your website

Increase Conversions - Facebook ads

What’s involved:

After you click to create a new ad and choose “Increase conversions,” the next steps are:

  1. Enter the URL that you’d like to promote
  2. Important: Choose a conversion pixel to track the conversions of the ad (more on pixels here)
  3. Give this campaign a name

At the next step, you can set your audience and budget. (Jump to the section in this post about audience and budget.)

After setting audience and budget, you can build the creative for your ad. This works the same way as it does for the “Send people to my website” ad type, mentioned above. You can choose among a single image, a single video, or multiple images. All the same options are present here:

  • Connect a Facebook page
  • Write a headline that appears under your chosen images/video
  • Add description text to go above the images/video
  • Choose a call-to-action
  • Choose where you’d like the ad to appear: In the News Feed (desktop and/or mobile), on Facebook’s Ad Network, on Instagram, and in the Right Column (desktop only)

line-section

5. Get installs of your app

Get installs of your app - Facebook ads

What’s involved:

After you click to create a new ad and choose “Get installs,” the next steps are:

  1. Choose an app, either by typing in the name of your app or by pasting a URL from the iOS App Store or the Google Play Store. ( You can advertise any app that you’ve registered on Facebook’s developer site.)
  2. Give this campaign a name

At the next step, you can set your audience and budget. (Jump to the section in this post about audience and budget.)

After setting audience and budget, you can build the creative for you ad. Like other ads, here you’ll have the choice between a single image/video or multiple images. Other customization options will be familiar, too: Headline, text, Facebook page, etc.

For this ad type in particular, there are just a handful of differences.

1. Ad Preview: App install ads only appear on mobile apps and websites.

2. Deep links: You can link directly to a particular screen or state within your app. For instance, if you have a URL that points to a specific product page or account page within the app, you can link directly there.

3. Call to Action buttons: There are a few additional, specific app CTAs that you can choose from. Here’s the full list:

  • Book Now
  • Download
  • Install Now (default)
  • Learn More
  • Listen Now
  • Play Game
  • Shop Now
  • Sign Up
  • Use App
  • Watch More
  • Watch Video

4. Add conversion tracking. More here.

line-section

6. Increase engagement in your app

Increase engagement in app - Facebook ads

What’s involved:

After you click to create a new ad and choose “Increase engagement,” the next steps are:

  1. Choose an app, either by typing in the name of your app or by pasting a URL from the iOS App Store or the Google Play Store.
  2. Give this campaign a name

At the next step, you can set your audience and budget. (Jump to the section in this post about audience and budget.)

After setting audience and budget, you can build the ad’s creative elements. For the “Increase app engagement” ad type, the settings here are the exact same as they are for the “Get app installs” ad type. The main difference between the two is in the destination and goal for each. For app installs, you’ll typically be interested in gaining more point-of-entry signups, linking to the installation page for your app.

With the “Increase app engagement” ad type, you’ll likely be interested in Facebook’s Deep Links settings, where you can link to specific places within the app and drive more engagement there. For instance, at Buffer, we might advertise to current app users and include a link for them to view the posts in their queue (and link directly there).

line-section

7. Reach people near your business

Facebook Local Ads - Facebook ads

What’s involved:

After you click to create a new ad and choose “Reach people near you,” the next steps are:

  1. Choose one of your Facebook Pages or enter its URL
  2. Give this campaign a name

At the next step, you can set your audience and budget. Unlike all other Facebook ad types here, the Audience settings for “Reach people near you” will ask you to choose an area from a map and then target the ad toward people in those areas.

By default, the map will center on your business’s street address. You can enter any address you’d like in the text box below the map and set the Radius to any of 8 defaults (from 1 mile to 50 miles) or a custom mile radius.

facebook-map-options3

Once the map is in place, you can also click to move the target area to a different point in the map.

(For more info and tips these settings,  jump to the section in this post about audience and budget.)

After setting audience and budget, you can create the ad itself. These localization ads have four different opportunities to gain engagement for your business:

  • Like Page
  • Call Now
  • Learn More
  • Send Message

For the “Like Page” option, the ad will be geared toward driving Page likes. You can change the images, the main text, the headline, and the link description for this ad.

For “Call Now”, you can make the same changes as with the “Like Page” campaign, plus you can also include your phone number.

For “Learn More,” when people click the Learn More button, they’ll be taken to any URL you choose. All the same customization options appear here (images, text, headlines) plus an additional box for the URL of your choosing.

For “Send Message,” when people click the Send Message button, they’ll have the chance to send you a message through your Facebook page.

line-section

8. Raise attendance at your event

facebook ad raise attendance

What’s involved:

After you click to create a new ad and choose “Raise attendance,” the next steps are:

  1. Choose one of your Facebook events or enter a Facebook event URL
  2. Give this campaign a name

At the next step, you can set your audience and budget. The ad’s audience will default to a segment near the location of your event.

(Jump to the section in this post about audience and budget.)

After setting audience and budget, you can create the ad itself. Facebook will grab the main image for the event automatically and suggest it as an image to use in the ad. Like other ad types, you can create up to six ads to test by uploading multiple images. There’s always just the one image per ad.

Most of the rest of the ad is taken care of for you. Facebook automatically includes the date, the time, the event’s title, the location, and the number of people interested and attending. The call-to-action button on the desktop News Feed is “Interested.”

You can see an ad preview above for the specific layout of these elements.

Things vary slightly for mobile …

facebook ad attendance mobile news feed

… and for the desktop right column.

facebook ad attendance right side

For additional customization, you can change the text that appears as the update above the ad. You can also ad custom URL tags and conversion pixel tracking.

Tip: As with all types of Facebook Ads, a great image is key for event promotion ads. Try to ensure your image gives insight into the type of event you’re promoting. (Like the bubbles in the Bubble Run event, above.)

line-section

9. Get people to claim your offer

facebook ad claim your offer

What’s involved:

After you click to create a new ad and choose “Get people to claim your offer,” the next steps are:

  1. Choose one of the offers you’ve published to your Facebook Page or create a new offer
  2. Give this campaign a name

For creating an offer, you can do this directly from the ad editor itself, or you can create offers from your Facebook Page directly. If you’re on your Facebook Page, click on the “Offer” link just above the text editor:

create-offer-facebook

For the offer, you can call it out directly in the headline and text, then link to a landing page or include a promo code. In addition, you can set the dates of the offer as well as a limit to the number of people who take advantage.

create offer facebook settings

Once you’ve created/chosen an offer to boost, you can set your audience and budget. (Jump to the section in this post about audience and budget.)

After setting audience and budget, you can preview how the ad will look in the desktop/mobile News Feed and the desktop right column. There aren’t really any customization options here, other than adding URL tags and conversion pixels. Much like a boosted post, this one will go out looking near identical to the original offer post.

line-section

10. Get video views

Get video views - Facebook ads

What’s involved:

After you click to create a new ad and choose “Get video views,” the next steps are:

  1. Choose one of your Facebook Pages or enter its URL
  2. Give this campaign a name

At the next step, you can set your audience and budget. (Jump to the section in this post about audience and budget.)

After setting audience and budget, you can create the ad. First, you’ll want to upload a video to share. You can also pull from a post on your page that has included a video. When uploading a video, Facebook recommends the following:

  • .mov or .mp4 file format
  • At least 720p resolution
  • Widescreen (16:9 aspect ratio) is recommended
  • 60 minutes and/or 2.3 GB max for Facebook
  • 60 seconds and/or 2.3 GB max for Instagram

Alternately, you can use a series of 3 to 7 images as a slideshow, which will autoplay as a video in the News Feed.

After the video’s been selected, you can edit the way the ad appears by customizing the text and buttons. By default, Facebook does not show a button, allowing the ad to focus on purely gaining more video views. You can edit the text that appears above the video.

If you’d like to include a button with the ad, there are seven choices from the “Call to Action” dropdown:

  1. No button (default)
  2. Book Now
  3. Download
  4. Learn More
  5. Shop Now
  6. Sign Up
  7. Watch More

For each of these button options, you can customize four additional text fields: the website URL, the display URL, the headline, and the link description.

Tip: Video is huge on Facebook right now! It’s likely to be successful at all times of day (we’ve seen high video views at all hours). To maximize your views and your money, test out various times to see when your video content best resonates with the Facebook audience.

line-section

11. Collect leads for your business

Facebook Lead Ads example

What’s involved:

After you click to create a new ad and choose “Boost your posts,” the next steps are:

  1. Choose one of your Facebook Pages or enter its URL
  2. Give this campaign a name

At the next step, you can set your audience and budget. (Jump to the section in this post about audience and budget.)

After setting audience and budget, you’ll go to the ad creative. Building the ad will be the same as it is for most other campaigns. You can customize the image and the text that appears in all places on the ad.

Where the Facebook lead ad distinguishes itself is with its Lead Form. In the ad itself, there are options for six different buttons:

  1. Apply Now
  2. Download
  3. Get Quote
  4. Learn More
  5. Sign Up
  6. Subscribe

Each of these buttons will link to a form that you can create within the Facebook ad editor.

Below the customization section is the Lead Form section, and in here you can choose to attach an existing Lead Form that you’ve previously created or create a new one.

Here are the steps to create a new Facebook Lead Form:

1. Give the form a name and choose the primary language.

2. Select which information you’d like to receive.

By default, Facebook will suggest the email and full name of the person. You can click below these two options to expand the listing to include 19 more options (admittedly, some of them more useful than others).

Facebook lead form

  1. First name
  2. Last name
  3. Phone number
  4. Street address
  5. City
  6. State
  7. Province
  8. Country
  9. Post code
  10. Zip code
  11. Date of birth
  12. Gender
  13. Marital status
  14. Relationship status
  15. Company name
  16. Military status
  17. Job title
  18. Work phone number
  19. Work email

You can also ask three custom questions in addition to the options above. Facebook suggests particular info you might wish for here, or you can type a fully custom question of your own choosing. The preset suggestions include things like buyer intent (“When do you plan to make a purchase?”) to car details (“Choose a car model.”). The open-ended question can be whatever you’d like.

You can customize the answers for each question, or leave it open-ended as well.

After settling on your questions and information, you’ll then be asked for a link to the privacy policy of your website and any legal disclaimers.

And (final step) you can include a link to your website for people to visit upon completing the Lead Form.

Optional: Context Cards

Additionally, before someone fills out a Lead Form, you can show a Context Card, which adds a bit more detail about the offer or next steps. With this card, you can edit:

  1. The headline
  2. The benefit text (either a paragraph or bullet list)
  3. The button text

The context card works great for explaining the benefits of what you’re offering!

Context Cards overview

After settling on all these details, you’ll get a chance to preview the flow of your form and then confirm and save. You can now use this form from any Lead Ad you create moving forward.

Tip: Lead Ads are slightly different from other types of Facebook Ads. One top tip is to focus on the value behind your chosen button. For example, why should someone join your email list? Write your copy and choose your images to match the answer.


line-end

Chapter 3:
How to choose an audience for your Facebook ad

Megaphone

— Jump to the section on audience strategies —

In each ad set, you’ll have the chance to target a specific audience with your ad, and this is where Facebook advertising can become truly powerful and significant. There is lots to understand about how these audience segments work, and there’re plenty of strategies to try, too. Here’s a quick overview of how and what to do with choosing a Facebook ad audience.

Finding your way around the audience settings

The audience settings tab will be the second screen you see after choosing your Facebook ad type. And there’s a lot to see here! This is a quick overview of the Facebook ads audience settings:

facebook-ads-audience

1 – Create a custom audience (more here)

2 – Geographic targeting

3 – Age, gender, language targeting

4 – Target by interest or behavior

5 – Target based on how someone’s connected (or not connected) to your page

6 – Audience selection scale

7 – Audience selection overview

About targeting

As you can tell from the layout of the audience settings, the majority of options here have to do with audience targeting. You get to choose precisely who sees your ad, based on hundreds (even thousands) of different factors. Like:

  • Location
  • Age
  • Gender
  • Language
  • Interests
  • Behaviors
  • Connections

Here’s a bit more about each:

Location

Location segmentation allows you to include or exclude people who will see your ad, based on where they are in the world. Like most Facebook ad settings, the location info is quite robust.

Start by choosing how you want to define that a person is in a particular area:

  • Target “Everyone in this location” to reach everyone whose home or most recent location is in the area
  • Target “People who live in this location” to reach everyone whose home is in the area
  • Target “People recently in this location” to reach people whose most recent location is in the area
  • Target “People traveling in this location” to reach people whose most recent location is in the area but whose home is at least 125 miles away

Then you can add an exact location by typing in the name of a country, state, region, city, postal code, address — even a Nielsen TV region or congressional district.

Facebook ads location settings

Once you’ve entered a location, you can fine tune the radius that you’ll use to target. By clicking the “+25mi” text next to the city name, you’ll get a drop-down that allows you to pick just how wide you’d like to target: everything from just the exact city itself to 10 miles up to 50 miles.

Facebook ads mile radius

You can add as many locations as you’d like by repeating the steps above. Also, if you have a big list of locations to add, you can do it in bulk by pasting in from a spreadsheet or text file.

Age, Gender, and Language

These are likely to be pretty self-explanatory. For age, you can choose a minimum and maximum age, and the ad will be served only to those who fall within the range. Same goes for gender, where the options are “All” (default), “Men,” or “Women.”

For language, you can leave this one blank unless the audience you’re targeting speaks a different language than what you’d typically find in the locations you’ve chosen.

Interests and Behaviors

This is perhaps the most detailed section of options you’ll find anywhere within Facebook ads. You can get really, really granular with the specific type of people you want to target with an ad. Facebook splits this section into three categories (a fourth category is for advanced segments you’ve requested):

Demographics, which contain things like …

  • Education level
  • Job titles
  • Relationship status
  • Income level

Interests, which contain things like …

  • Fitness
  • Shopping
  • Sports
  • Business

Behaviors, which contain things like …

  • B2B company size
  • Operating systems used
  • Purchase behavior
  • Recent homeowners

Like with other ad settings, you have the choice with these options to either include or exclude based on factors of demographics, interests, and behaviors. The default option here is to include anyone who matches any of the segments. To further narrow the audience, you can add a segment that all potential audience members need to meet.

Connections

Last, you can choose to segment based on how a person has (or hasn’t) interacted with your Facebook page, app, or event before. This can be a necessary segmentation feature, particularly if you’re trying to track down an audience that might not be familiar with you, or to followup with an audience that already has context with what you do.

Here are the options for each.

Facebook pages

  • People who like your page
  • Friends of people who like your page
  • Exclude people who like your page

Apps

  • People who used your app
  • Friends of people who use your app
  • Exclude people who use your app

Events

  • People who responded to your event
  • Friends of people who responded to your event
  • Exclude people who already responded to your event

— Jump to the section on audience strategies —

About custom audiences

This is really neat stuff: A custom audience is a group of people who have a previous relationship with you, perhaps as customers or contacts. You can build an audience of just these particular people and serve your ads directly to them.

To get started, click the “Create new custom audience” link at the top of the audience settings page. Your previously created custom audiences appear just above, and you can select those for future campaigns.

A popup will appear with three different ways to create your audience: Customer List, Website Traffic, or App Activity.

Custom audience options

With the Customer List, you can upload or copy/paste a data file of email addresses, phone numbers, or Facebook user IDs. 

Facebook also integrates directly with MailChimp so you can pull from your existing MailChimp lists to create a custom audience.

With the Website Traffic, Facebook can create an audience based on the conversion pixel you’ve installed on your site. Here, you have the options to choose a timeframe for the traffic as well as segment by:

  • Anyone who visits your site
  • People who have seen particular pages
  • People who have seen particular pages but not other pages
  • People who haven’t visited for awhile

With the App Activity, you select one of your connected Facebook apps and segment based on activity within the app.

Custom audiences help to further refine the pool from which you can segment. For instance, once you select or create a custom audience, you can then go ahead and continue to filter that audience based on location, demographics, interests, and behaviors.

— Jump to the section on audience strategies —

Once you’ve created an audience, you can save it for quick use next time. Check the box at the bottom of the audience settings to name and save this particular audience. The next time you create an ad, you can choose an existing audience at the top of the settings.


Facebook ads choose existing audience line-end

Chapter 4:
Budgeting, Analysis, and Successful Strategies

[Image]

How to set a budget for your Facebook ad

— Jump to the section on budget strategies

In the budget settings for your Facebook ad, you’ll get to control a couple of important elements: How much you want to spend and when you want to start spending it. There are further, specific customization options at this stage, too, for those eager to have even more control over the specifics of delivery.

Choosing a budget

Facebook ads choose a budget

By default, Facebook starts out suggesting a $20.00 daily budget. You can adjust this however you want, choosing either “daily” or “lifetime” budget and also editing the amount you’re wanting to spend.

With the daily budget, the amount you set is the maximum you will spend on any given day.

With the lifetime budget, the amount you set is the maximum you will spend on the lifetime of your ad. 

When you choose a lifetime budget, you will also need to set a start and end date for your ad. The option to run the ad continuously is no longer available.

Choosing a schedule

Facebook ads set a schedule

For daily and lifetime ads, you can tell Facebook when specifically you’d like the ad to run. By default, if you are running a daily ads budget, Facebook suggests to run the ad continuously. Otherwise, you can choose to start and end the ad on a specific day. (Facebook runs the math here for you and tells you the maximum amount, total, you will spend.)

— Jump to the section on budget strategies

line-section

Understanding the Facebook Ads data (how to tell when your ad is working)

Facebook offers a generous amount of data and analysis for every ad campaign. It’s all available from the dashboard menus and categorized into a series of tiered sets. The structure looks like this:

> Campaigns – The very high-level campaign (e.g., “Get more clicks to our website. Woot!”)

>> Ad Sets – A collection of ads that support the main campaign (e.g., “Week 3 ads”)

>>> Ads – The specific ads that you’re running, with media and text and all that

In theory, you might have 1 campaign with 5 different ad sets and 10 different ads in each ad set. Numbers get bigger the more levels you go down.

To see an overview of stats from any of these categories, you can quickly toggle back and forth from your main ads dashboard (http://facebook.com/ads/manage)

facebook ads change view4

You can click on any individual campaign, ad set, or ad to see just the stats for that particular look. To see multiple ones at once, click the checkbox next to each and then select View.

All data can be sorted by clicking on the heading for each column, and the data can be exported by clicking the Export button in the top right corner above the data table.

The stats for each have a robust set of data based on performance, delivery, cost, relevance, and more. You can toggle between these different looks by clicking through to campaigns, ad sets, and ads or by switching the view from the drop-down boxes above the right-side of the stats table.

For campaigns, by default, you see these stats:

  • Delivery – “Is the ad running now or not?”
  • Results – “How many actions has this campaign received?” i.e., clicks, installs, likes, and more. Facebook tells you which specific actions are assigned to the campaign.

results and actions

  • Reach – “How many people saw my campaign?”
  • Cost – “How much did I pay, on average, for each action?”
  • Amount spent – “How much have I spent so far on this campaign?”
  • End date – “When does this campaign end?”

For ad sets, by default, you see these stats:

  • Delivery – “Are these ads running? How many?”
  • Reach – “How many people have seen ads from this set?”
  • Cost – “How much did I pay, on average, for each action?”
  • Budget – “What’s the maximum I’m going to pay on this ad set? Daily or lifetime?”
  • Amount Spent – “How much have I spent so far?”
  • Schedule – “How long will this ad set be running?”

For ads, by default, you see these stats (in addition to a thumbnail and text preview of what the ad looks like):

  • Delivery – “Is this ad running?”
  • Results – “How many actions has this ad received?”
  • Reach – “How many people have seen this ad?”
  • Cost – “How much am I paying, on average, for each action?” (Might also be known as, cost per click)
  • Amount spent – “How much have I spent total so far on this ad?”
  • Relevance score – A rating of 1 to 10 for how well the audience is responding to the ad

Tip: You can save any report to view later on, and you can set up a scheduled email with reports data to be sent straight to your inbox. To do so, in the top-left corner of the page, next to the title of the view, click the drop-down box  11414404_852751124794907_953613502_n  to Save and Schedule.

To drill down even further, you can click on each individual ad to see charts and stats specific to that ad.

Facebook ads stats and charts

Conversion tracking and pixels

Facebook has a unique system for tracking actions that occur after someone leaves a Facebook ad and travels to a web page. You can install a Facebook pixel that tracks things like page views, registration, and orders.

To get your Facebook pixel, go to the menu at the top of the page, and select “Pixels” under the “Assets” menu.

Screen Shot 2016-04-13 at 10.49.27 AM

From the pixel page, click Create a Pixel. Then click View Pixel Code.

The pixel code goes into the code of your page, in the <head> section. You can copy and paste the code from Facebook into your page, and for further tracking, you can add any number of variables to your code from Facebook’s many options.

  • View Content
  • Search
  • Add to Cart
  • Add to Wishlist
  • Initiate Checkout
  • Add Payment Info
  • Purchase
  • Lead
  • Complete Registration

For example, if you were to add extra conversion tracking for Leads to your Facebook code, you might take the original code from Facebook and add in the extra snippet for Leads to the page where your lead capture takes place.

<!-- Facebook Pixel Code -->
<script>
!function(f,b,e,v,n,t,s){if(f.fbq)return;n=f.fbq=function(){n.callMethod?
n.callMethod.apply(n,arguments):n.queue.push(arguments)};if(!f._fbq)f._fbq=n;
n.push=n;n.loaded=!0;n.version='2.0';n.queue=[];t=b.createElement(e);t.async=!0;
t.src=v;s=b.getElementsByTagName(e)[0];s.parentNode.insertBefore(t,s)}(window,
document,'script','http://connect.facebook.net/en_US/fbevents.js');
fbq('init', '432799013584355');
fbq('track', "PageView");
fbq('track', 'Lead');
</script>
<noscript><img height="1" width="1" style="display:none"
src="https://www.facebook.com/tr?id=432799013584355&ev=PageView&noscript=1"
/></noscript>
<!-- End Facebook Pixel Code -->

line-section

Facebook Ads Frequently Asked Questions

Do I have to have a Facebook page to run an ad?

Yes, you can create an ad for a website without a Facebook Page. However, you can only do this with ads that generate clicks for a website. Here’s how it works:

  • Go to ad creation and then select Clicks to Website
  • Enter the URL of the website you want to create an ad for and then click Continue
  • Fill in the details of your ad and then click Place Order

Are ads for pages or profiles?

Personal profiles are for non-commercial use and represent individual people.

What is a lookalike audience?

A lookalike audience is a collection of Facebook users who are similar to your Facebook fans, website visitors, or customers.

You can create a lookalike audience from the Audiences section of Facebook Ads (from the menu, it’s under Assets > Audience). Click to “Create Audience,” and choose “Lookalike audience” from the list.

lookalike audience setup

Setting up the audience, you start by selecting a source for Facebook to compare with. This can be an existing custom audience, traffic from a tracking pixel, or the fans from a Page.

Lookalike audiences work for one country at a time, so after selecting a main source, you’ll next select the country to choose among.

And finally, the last step is to set the size of the audience. You can drag the bar back-and-forth to select between 1% and 10% of the country’s residents for Facebook to analyze and compare.

create a lookalike audience

What are dark posts?

Dark posts are normal-looking Facebook updates that are intentionally never shared organically and only served as ads. You can create dark posts through the Facebook Ads power editor.

What is the power editor?

The power editor is for those who may wish to create large amounts of ads at once and have specific control over how the ads are served. You can access the power editor through the Facebook Ads menu, under “Create & Manage.”

What is the audience network?

The Audience Network placement extends your ads’ reach by showing them to the same target audience on other mobile apps and mobile websites approved by Facebook.

line-section

5 Popular strategies and Facebook advertising tips

There’s a host of great information out there on Facebook advertising tips and best practices. Ad Espresso has a wonderful blog, the Facebook content on Moz is outstanding, everything Jon Loomer writes is incredible.

We’ve collected some of our favorite tips and tactics for Facebook ads here. We’d love to hear what’s worked for you, if you’re up for leaving us a comment!

1. Consider the placement of your URL

from Karen Jones, How Facebook Advertising Performed vs. Google Ads

This article is chock full of useful tidbits: the pros and cons list from earlier came from Karen’s great work here. She goes on to recap some of her top takeaways for successful Facebook ads.

  • Keep your information short
  • Include an offer or price
  • Include keywords
  • Include persuasive or interesting imagery/video
  • Include your URL above the image/video in the text section
  • Use taglines and hooks to draw your potential customers in (i.e., “Make This a Year to Remember”)

2. Don’t wait: Double down on what’s working

From Massimo Chieruzzi, Facebook Ads Suicide: 6 Deadly Errors to Avoid

The team at AdEspresso has some fantastic advice on best practices for Facebook advertising (they’re drip campaign emails for new signups are particularly fantastic).

Double down on what’s working: don’t wait to increase your spending on a great Adv. Down the line it might not work any more — or just not as well!

Don’t ignore New Features and Ad Types: every new format will over-perform in the first few months before users are familiar with it!

Test every aspect of a campaign: the wrong picture can cost >100% more. But you’ll never guess which one without split testing for it!

Don’t leave campaigns alone: on Facebook you target users based on interests and demographics. They’ll get tired of seeing your ads over and over again!

3. Spend at least $5 per ad

Andrea Marban, The Dos and Don’ts of Facebook Advertising

Another gem from AdEspresso, this one covers the do’s and don’ts of Facebook advertising and gets into some wonderfully specific advice.

Do:

  • create Buyer Personas and a specific call to action for each of them
  • choose an image that stands out, but also represents your brand
  • include Social Proof in your Ad, numbers can work very very well
  • use Custom Audiences, it’s one of the most effective tools as of now

Don’t:

  • allocate too small of a budget (best is at least $5 per ad, typically)
  • use too small or a poorly designed image (use a minimum pics’ width of 1024px)
  • mix different countries in an AdSet (best is to target one country per AdSet)
  • have too small of an audience (best is usually at least 500k people)
  • Be aware that the elements above can impact significantly your campaign, so taking some time to understand and fine-tune them is an investment that will pay off in spades

4. Image tips

Fred Perrotta, A Deep Dive Into Facebook Advertising

The most important part of your ad is the image. You can write the most brilliant copy in the world, but if your image doesn’t catch a user’s eye, you won’t get any clicks.

Don’t use low-quality images, generic stock photography, or any images that you don’t have the rights to use. Don’t steal anything from Google Images. Unless you’re a famous brand, don’t use your logo.

Images of people work best. Preferably their faces. Use close-ups of attractive faces that resemble your target audience.

Facebook ad images are small (100 x 72 pixels). Make sure to focus on a person’s face and crop it if necessary. Don’t use a blurry or dark picture.

Advanced tip: Use images of people facing to the right. Users will follow the subject’s line of sight and be more likely to read your ad text.

 

5. Segment more than you think you should (and don’t overlook mobile!)

Kane Jamison, 10 Things I’ve Learned While Learning Facebook Ads

I love this post from Kane about his learnings with Facebook Ads. It’s a great primer for beginners (with something to be learned for pros, too, I’d imagine).

Here are a couple of my favorite takeaways:

Make sure the creative imagery and copy is tightly targeted to your audience. Instead of targeting an audience of 2,000,000 people, find a way to break them into smaller, more specific groups, and show them customized copy and graphics that will appeal to them.

Kane mentions that you can even go so far as to select an audience of cyclists if you have a cyclist in your ad creative. Awesome!

And here’s a great tip on mobile vs. desktop:

Regardless of the age or demographics of the audience you’re targeting, don’t assume that they’re scanning through a laptop Facebook feed just because you’re on a laptop all day while editing ads.

The vast majority of Facebook users are on mobile apps, and many of your ad sets may never get a click from desktop users.

 

line-end

Final thoughts and your thoughts

Thanks so much for taking the time to look through this guide. As I’ve mentioned, there’s so much to know on Facebook – we’d love to help as much as we can if there are any questions or tips you’d like us to know. And if you spot anything that’s changed about Facebook Ads since we’ve published, we’d be grateful for the heads up. Things move fast!

What has your Facebook Ads strategy looked like?

What kind of results are you seeing?

It’d be really great to get your thoughts in the comments. Chat with you there!

Read more and learn more

These are some really great sites that have helped us learn a ton with social media ads and Facebook advertising in particular:

Thank you!

Image sources: Pablo, WOTIC