With more than 700 million people using Facebook’s News Feed daily, it’s no surprise that advertisers focus much of their attention there. And while you should continue optimizing your content and ads for this space, you also don’t want to ignore the platform’s sidebar. Sidebar ads might not have been a priority in the past, but the company’s new image-oriented focus will make these ads much more valuable.
There are a number of ways to leverage sidebar ads to help you reach Facebook fans, but it’s important that you don’t focus too much on just one element of your ad. While choosing a solid image does take precedence, attaching a strong call-to-action to that image is every bit as important. Think about it: a good image will draw people in and capture their attention, but your call-to-action is what will make people decide to click through.
Here are some best practices to consider when crafting a call-to-action for your Facebook ad. We should note that these tips don’t just apply to sidebar ads, but really any advertising product.
Always Provide Value
Every single piece of content you publish should provide some value for your target audience regardless of whether it’s a status update, blog post, or Facebook Ad. It should be clear to viewers what they get for investing their time. If there’s no value proposition, there’s no reason for viewers to clickthrough to your website or product page.
When creating your call-to-action, ask yourself what it is you want viewers to do. Once that’s been established ask yourself how viewers will know what to do and why they should do it. If you can’t answer these simple questions, then it’s time to rethink the purpose of your ad.
On Facebook, people are there to check in on their social lives, not search for products. Your ad will need to be louder than the updates in News Feed to grab the attention of and convince viewers to do something other than what they initially set out to do. Without a clear value proposition, your ad won’t stand a chance.
Don’t Use Passive Language
Using weak or passive language is one of the most common mistakes made while crafting a call-to-action. For example, “click here” might seem like it’s motivating viewers, but it doesn’t actually give them any incentive for taking action. There’s no description of what will happen if they do click the link.
A good call-to-action will inspire viewers to act. You should use language that describes why someone should interact with your ad and follow a link. A good approach is using verbs to describe what will happen if action is taken. For example, “Get 50 percent off today” has a clear incentive and creates a sense of urgency or timeliness.
Also, consider the context in which action words will be used. “Learn more” won’t make a viewer think about spending money. If your goal is to increase sales, your call-to-action should focus on what exactly they can learn when they click through and how that will benefit them in regards to making a purchase.
In a world full of character limits and over-crowded feeds and streams, brevity is a must. Facebook’s News Feed is highly trafficked, giving you milliseconds to capture people’s attention and create a desire to click on your ad. You can be as whimsical and wordy as you’d like in your status updates, but your ad’s call-to-action should be concise and direct.
Don’t expect people stop scrolling through their News Feeds to decipher what your ad is all about, because they won’t. Your call-to-action should be something that people can understand at a glance. If clickthrough rates aren’t what you expected, then maybe your value proposition isn’t as clear as you thought. Revisit those questions we asked above and figure out what could be done differently for future ads.
Sidebar ads on Facebook are now three times bigger than they were and only one or two ad units will be displayed at a time. This creates less competition for attention, but it doesn’t mean that you can be lax about the quality of your ads. Spend a little extra time crafting your calls-to-action put more effort into selecting an image that complements the overall feel of your ad. We think you’ll find that time well spent.
Jennifer Beese: Jennifer Beese has worked as a community manager and social media strategist. When she’s not writing, you can find her studying anatomy and physiology—she literally has a skeleton in her closet—or under the stars with her telescope.