Paid posts and advertisements are becoming the norm for companies that use Facebook in their social media strategies. They allow brands to expand their reach and get their names in front of a bigger proportion of the network’s huge member base. To be successful, though, promoted stories or Page post ads need to get readers interested in your brand rather than turning them off.

How do you strike that balance? With just a little background about Facebook’s different ad types and keeping in mind a few tips, your brand can craft paid stories that will get a positive reaction from your readers.

Target Wisely

Depending on the exact type of Facebook ad your company opts to run, you may have some control over the audience for your paid post. Promoted stories begin as content on your brand’s Page, then are shared with a set number of Facebook members for a flat rate. These stories can be seen by fans of your Page or their friends, depending on the payment options you choose. Page post ads are also Page content initially, but your brand pays for them per impression or per click. You can reach non-fans with this ad type, and you can also select the categories and interests of the people who will see the story.

Keep in mind that the audience for each story type will differ, which could impact your approach to writing the posts. If you are crafting a promoted story that will only be seen by existing fans, you don’t need to worry as much about being intrusive. Fans have already Liked your Page and are interested in reading what you have to say. As long as the content you post has some worth to them, you’re in good shape.

When you’re reaching out to non-fans, you’ll need to be more cautious. Make sure that you pick appropriate and specific groups of Facebook profiles to target with Page post ads. Overreaching could lead to a negative impression and possibly a dip in your word-of-mouth reputation. Do the legwork to make sure the people you are targeting with your ads are actually the same people who are reading your posts, and adjust your ad targeting accordingly.

Tone Down the Pitch

We’ve discussed the gray areas defining the relationship between brands and customers on social media before on Sprout Insights. A company using social media is in the unusual position of needing to be personable and friendly while still trying to sell its brand or its products. But people are not on social media to read advertisements; you must be careful that your content is not perceived as such.

In a promoted post, don’t worry about giving your entire sales pitch. Highlight just one important facet of your current marketing campaign, such as a major sale or a big event, that would have a broad appeal. Think about what value your ad would have to a reader and make that the focus of your post. If you can keep the used car salesman overtones out of your social media voice, you will likely have more success.

Image Is Important

Facebook is still a network that emphasizes the visual. The thumbnail of your profile photo will appear with your post, and the best way to draw in a casual reader is with a striking image. If you’re in a position to hire a photographer to shoot a set of images for your marketing needs, focus on good lighting, colors, and composition. Look for the same characteristics in stock photos or royalty-free images, if that’s the route your business takes to craft its profile imagery.

Lastly, depending on what goods or services you sell, consider using an image with people. Focusing on people rather than a physical product may help achieve that less aggressively promotional feel to your post. A photo with a human subject can also be more explicitly expressive of whatever your brand’s ethos is. Are your customers happy, fit, successful, or serious? A person’s face and dress can convey any of those attitudes more clearly than a group of objects.

Stick With Simplicity

Remember, these stories will appear in the news feeds of people who aren’t expecting to see your posts. The less your content feels like an intrusion, the more likely readers are to react positively to it. Think about the approach taken by companies using branded content, where marketing material is specifically designed to integrate within the website where it appears. A Facebook ad should blend well into an average person’s news feed.

Promoted stories or Page post ads should get to the point. Excessive text or a very large image will be distracting to a reader who doesn’t want to be pitched. Keep your copy concise and your photos a reasonable size. Simplicity will usually provide a greater impact than complexity.

Got any tips for writing great Promoted Posts on Facebook? Let us know in the comments!

[Image credits: Anita Hart, Pete, Garry Knight, Joao Pedro Silveira Martins, RelaxingMusic]