Which performs better on Facebook–images or video? Here’s what 26 marketers say works best as two of the most popular Facebook ad formats go head-to-head.
| Mar 14
Elise Dopson on March 7, 2019 • 12 minute read
That equates to around 3 million businesses around the world plowing cash into the social media platform in exchange for brand awareness, website traffic, or new customers.
If you’re one of them, you’ll relate to the overwhelming feeling that comes with creating a top-performing campaign.
The anatomy of a Facebook Ad includes a:
With so many fields to optimize, you might be left wondering how you can make the most out of each field, and create a successful Facebook ad that generates more cash than you spend on it.
Should you write a long story in your text? Is video still performing well on Facebook? Or is there a new format I should be jumping on?
If those questions are whizzing in your head, don’t panic.
We asked 29 marketers to share which type of content they’ve found most effective when running Facebook Ad campaigns to save you time (and a huge headache) when creating your next one.
“It’s the year of video!”, says every marketing blog when a new year approaches.
You’d be right to question whether there still is value in video-based content.
According to our survey, video content is reigning supreme with almost 69% of marketers saying it performs best–but images and plain text still have a place:
Sarah Doyle of ContentBacon is one of those marketers who prefers video: “When promoting your product or service: show, don’t tell. That means video, video, video.”
UNINCORPORATED‘s Ian Evenstar agrees, saying: “We tend to gravitate towards using dynamic, visual content that primarily takes the form of video. Not only does the platform tend to prioritize this type of media but our audience tends to respond more frequently.”
Editor’s note: Do your ads featuring videos perform best? Download this free Facebook Ad template and see which ads perform best, the campaigns driving high ROI, and much more.
Wondering why video is the format of choice for so many Facebook Ad creators?
Laura Gonzalez of Audi Westmont thinks it’s because video helps to “create a stronger connection with your consumers” because “video attracts users scrolling through their social feed and grabs their attention”.
If you’re planning on using video in your Facebook ads, these marketers share their best tips.
“Just make sure it is a decent shot video that gets straight to the point”, Iconic Genius‘ James Marques says. “I watch companies waste thousands of dollars on 30 and 60-second videos that never make it past a 4 second watch time. If you are running ads keep your video to 15 seconds max!”
Joe Sloan of Advice Media agrees, saying: “We have seen tremendous success with video ads on Facebook, but you need to make a very compelling first 5 seconds to the video. No logo introductions, you need to engage and hook your audience.”
As does Lauren Petermeyer of SocialChimp, who summarizes with: “Short-form videos (30 seconds – 1 minute in length) tend to get the most engagement, views, and impressions.”
Did you know that 85% of Facebook videos are watched without sound?
Whether your audience are viewing your videos in public, on the tube or under the desk of a boring meeting, adding video transcription can help make sure your message is getting across.
That’s why Ollie Roddy of Catalyst Marketing Agency says: “One of the keys to a quality video these days on social channels like Facebook is not relying on people to be able to listen; many people sneakily watch Facebook videos at work without the sound on, so be sure to feature the transcript of your video on the video itself.”
Since The Slumber Yard put this into practice, Jeff Rizzo has seen a big change: “We noticed that videos with CC on had a 25% higher interaction rate than those that did not.”
Are you regularly going Live on Facebook, and broadcasting to the followers of your Page?
Paul Fairbrother of AdEspresso recommends repurposing this content in your Facebook Ads to engage your audience:
“Use Facebook Live videos twice a week, for example, one session on a weekday daytime and another during a weekend evening so that you can reach different audiences. Don’t worry about the viewing figures during the live session, what’s important is that the Facebook algorithm will give the video extra distribution when it’s boosted as a paid post afterward.”
Paul says this approach can help boost engagement rates further because “so many marketers can produce highly polished content such as ebooks, but to really build trust the viewers want to see the people behind the brand and Live video allows you to directly engage with the viewer.”
While video is reigning surpreme, you can see similar results by focusing on the visual aspects of your Ad.
“Post often, keep it visual, and make it move”, says National Health Care Provider Solutions‘ Mackenzie Thompson. “Ideally video performs best on Facebook ads, but if you don’t have the resources, time or funds to create high-quality content, create a quick webinar or gif once a week to post.”
Natasa Christofidou of Gradient Writing thinks visual content works because “if your target audience is always busy and on the go, chances are, they’ll be far more engaged with eye-catching, visual content than they would if you posted a long status.”
So, what other types of visual content can you use in your Facebook Ads?
Techtic Solutions Inc‘s Rajat Chauhan recommends “a catchy and interactive image to support your content”, and to ” try to create a GIF to support your content title.”
Matt Solar of nDash.co, on the other hand, advises to “test as much as you can, with attribution tracking, for each audience”, because “it’s amazing how little factors can have such a massive impact on the net results of a campaign. We’ve tested isolating each variable and something as simple as the image has led to a 2-3x increase in CTR (using people in the ads had the highest CTR).”
“It is people and not companies that provide credibility”, says José Juan Morales of Sneakerlost–which explain why Matt saw better results when using images with people in.
Brittany Hardy of Empty Desk Solutions is one of the marketers who still favors text-based Facebook ads: “Long-form story posts regardless of where they link after have always outperformed shorter or video posts for us.”
But just like a piece of content you’re publishing to your website, you shouldn’t add fluff for the sake of reaching a word count goal. You’ll need to add value with whichever message you’re sharing.
“Reading actual client feedback on how our software addressed their pain points, is a great trust builder and value add that will increase engagement and clicks on the ad”, explains Regpacks‘ Samantha Avneri.
Each of these marketers are describing evergreen content–a type of content that won’t expire, and be relevant year-round.
Here’s Natalie Sareff of Web Profits explaining why this type of content is perfect for Facebook Ads: “The content that performs best is the piece that you can leverage over and over. It’s evergreen, so it can be promoted ongoing, it has a standard conversion, for you to make a custom audience off of, and you make a lookalike off of its traffic and converters, to expand your audience even further.”
Regardless of the content format you’re using in your Facebook Ad campaigns, content tailored to audiences at the top of a marketing funnel tends to perform best, according to our marketers:
People lingering in the top of your marketing funnel aren’t ready to hit the “purchase” button yet.
They’re typically used to raise awareness or generate buzz–which is why 57% of marketers create Facebook Ad campaigns around this group of people:
“Using education-based video in top-of-funnel Facebook Ads can help nurture prospects to the point of conversion”, says Ripen Digital‘s James Bowen.
But David Balogh of BOOM Marketing Hungary recommends targeting people throughout all stages of the funnel–just tweaking the type of content you’re advertising to each.
When creating B2B campaigns, he says: “The goal is simply lead generation, so you’ll need content… a lot of content. We had the best results when we run different ads for different buyer personas, and even for segments they are currently in the business’ buyer’s journey. That meant we published different kinds of content, too. Mostly shorter, easier to understand content for people who are at the top of the funnel (ex.: a downloadable checklist), and longer, more in-depth content for people who’re closer to the bottom of the funnel.”
“The humble Call to Action is probably the single most influential part of an ad, and without a decent one, you’re going to fail to convert all of those prospects that you’ve piqued the interest of in the first place”, explains Cardswitcher‘s Stephen Hart.
He’s right: More than 90% of visitors who read your headline also read your call to action.
“I’ve seen businesses spend eye-watering sums of money on Facebook Ad campaigns, only to flush it away by not taking the time to get their CTAs perfect. Don’t let that be you.”
Stephen recommends to “use strong, command-focused verbs to get your prospect to perform a particular action, give your audience a reason to follow that action, and try to provoke a feeling of enthusiasm and encouragement.”
It seems David’s recommendation to tailor content to your audience is a tip used by other marketers, too–including Kristel Staci of BloggingTips.com.
She says: “Content that works best on Facebook, is any content that is focused towards a specific demographic audience, and then has an associated paid ad campaign to go along with it. This is all done within the Facebook Ads manager and allows for targeting towards any demographics, but more important — interests and custom audiences.”
Stream Creative‘s Janice Dombrowski echos this advice: “If the content speaks right to your personas — answering their questions and solving their problems — Facebook is a great tool to amplify your message. But the big consideration is to make sure if you have your audiences dialed in for targeting using Facebook’s targeting or by using lookalikes or uploaded custom audience lists.”
Put this into practice by mapping your buyer persona details in Facebook’s Ads Manager:
That way, you’ll know exactly who you’re targeting, and be able to craft clever Facebook Ads that speak to their pain points.
Summarizing, Noriko Harada of 45RPM says: “The content that performs best is the content around the customer, not about the brand. If you don’t connect with your customers in a meaningful way addressing customers needs or pain points the campaigns on Facebook simply won’t work.”
“If you can offer something that can be quickly downloaded and consumed, people are willing to click on your ad and enter their information”, says James Pollard of The Advisor Coach.
He continues: ” In my experience, the content that performs the best on Facebook ads has been e-books and free PDF downloads. […] I’ve also found these types of ads to work better when the ad itself is written in a story format, which can help “sell” the reader on why he/she should download the information.”
Noticed that each type of content James explained is free for his audience to access?
Growth Hackers‘ Jonathan Aufray seconds this strategy: “According to our experience and data we gathered, we found that offering something for free is the content that performs best on Facebook ads. For instance, create a high-value ebook, run ads promoting this ebook and you will generate a lot of leads, your CPA (Cost-per-Acquisition) will be low and thanks to a good email marketing and retargeting strategy, you will get a high ROI from your ads.”
As does Jackie Tihanyi of Fisher Unitech, who says: “If you are promoting a blog through facebook, make sure the title is catchy and the length isn’t too long. My company has seen listicles as the best content performers through Facebook.”
Somewhere along the way, marketing gained a reputation for being slimy.
‘The best marketing doesn’t feel like marketing’ is a sentiment echoed by Avidly‘s Thoralf Lindström, who recommends to “be personal and skip language that’s too extensive”, and “always get to the point quickly”.
He’s not the only one.
“People don’t want to see their news feeds clogged with content that is filled with sales jargon and pushy CTAs”, says Lewis Kemp of Lightbulb Media.
“Focus on providing useful information and adding genuine value to customers’ lives with the ads you put out. Make the audience feel something and your engagement, sales and brand advocacy will go through the roof.”
These “best practices” for Facebook ads, unfortunately, don’t fit every business.
Granted, video and visual-heavy campaigns have been proven to work well for some businesses, but A/B testing should always form part of your campaign creation.
Here’s Alex Thackray of Leadfreak explaining why: “One piece of advice is to create many, many variations in any ad campaign to really find the unicorn in the haystack. We’ve had great success utilizing images and videos within canvas ads for a whole host of industries. But remember, it’s all about context and objectives.”
| Mar 14
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