Marketing and advertising have changed over the past decade or so. Television ads are muted; internet users can block advertising. And anyone who is willing to consider reading, watching, or listening to an online advertisement demands to be captured by a compelling and engaging ad or marketing campaign. This is the challenge for marketers – how to capture the attention of the right audience at the right time and be so compelling that viewers stop and take notice.

The answer is three-fold. First, create that compelling copy; second, find out where the right audience is and target them; third, do the analytics and determine what is working and what is not. These three steps are not new to marketing. And now that social media has entered the ad campaign environment, small businesses can compete successfully with larger ones, so long as they have the right tools and creative staff.

In the context of Facebook ads (or any social media platform for that matter) and chatbots, there are some key copywriting tips that will bring greater success.

Facebook ads

Anyone with a Facebook account is subject to advertising on their news feeds. And marketers who use Facebook ads must understand that these are interruptions in the life of a user who is more interested in what their communities are posting, and liking, sharing or commenting on those posts. In order to compel a viewer to stop and focus on an ad, that ad had better be amazing. Here are some key tips:

  1. An image is the most important part of your ad – a photo, an illustration or even a video. Facebook has become far more visual, and ads must do the same. It is the image that will cause a scroller to pause and look. James Daily, Marketing Director at Flash Essay, puts it this way: “Our team spends a chunk of its day brainstorming over images for our Facebook ads. If we don’t get that right, responses are really poor.”
  2. The copy may be secondary as far as the viewer is concerned but it is the most critical piece of what you are doing. With just a few words, you have to present value and a call to action. A good plan is to place the value on the image itself – at the top preferably (but keep in mind Facebook’s general rule that the copy cannot exceed 20% of the entire image). The value should address a problem the viewer wants a solution for. Here is a great example of presenting value with few words:use compelling text in facebook ad images
  3. If you are re-targeting a previous viewer or customer, then the value will probably be a new offer (such as a discount) and that should go at the bottom of the image. Research supports this. Consumer Acquisition tested 100,000 Facebook ads and determined that this works best.
  4. Focus on one message only and make it short and snappy. If you are targeting as you should, your message will differ based upon those you are contacting for the first time and those who are being re-targeted. You may be using the same image, but the copy must differ accordingly.
  5. Messages that work either “call out” to an audience, stating exactly who the message is for (“If you are planning a Caribbean cruise, check out these prices”) or ask questions to which the viewer can relate (“Are you hating your crepy skin?”).
  6. Be informal. Just as with any copy you write, being too formal will turn off most viewers. Remember, Facebook is informal by nature, so keep the language simple, friendly and personal. Jane Friedlander, a copy editor for Resumes Centre, says this: “Providing a resume service is a serious business, and one of our biggest challenges is creating ad copy that is informal and friendly, yet serious. But experience has shown us that this gets the most conversions.”

Facebook chatbots

People with smartphones are very much used to using Facebook Messenger to communicate with their friends. And most are familiar with the personal assistants they can use to ask questions – Google, Siri, etc. Now Facebook allows businesses to install messenger chatbots on their pages, in order to have automated conversations with people. In fact, there are now more than 100,000 bots on Messenger.

Chatbots have a number of uses – businesses can set up searching by menus or keywords that will move users toward conversions that they want. Users can type in keywords related to information they want or questions they have or use the menu to select topics such as getting directions, setting appointments, or getting answers to frequently asked questions.

The bot uses conversation trees to respond with text blocks that then reduce the paths until the user finds exactly what they want.

If you want a chatbot that engages potential customers, there are some proven tips that you will want to consider:

1. Keep it light and fun

The most popular chatbots are those that have snappy names and that engage with users in fun and entertaining ways. One of the most popular chatbots is Poncho, the Weather Cat. Not only can users get daily or weekly forecasts, but they have fun while doing so.

chatbot example - poncho

2. Use conversation prompts

First-time users may not really know how to get started, so provide some prompts to help them along. Poncho begins by saying that he will give weather updates and forecasts and then asks the user where he lives. Another prompt is to ask how often a user may want an update – daily? weekly?

3. Give your bot a personality

For this, you may need some professional help from scriptwriters. Creating an engaging chatbot takes creativity and entertaining conversational prompts and responses. There are a number of sources you might use:

  • This site offers freelance creatives, and you can check out their portfolios before hiring
  • Essay Supply: This is a writing agency with an entire department of creative writers with a history of success in entertaining copywriting.
  • People Per Hour: Another freelancing site with experienced copywriters

It’s important that the questions and responses sound like a natural conversation to a user. Here’s an example from Taco Bell’s Tacobot:

taco bell's tacobot uses natural language to respond to users

4. Multiple features? Introduce them gradually

You don’t want to overwhelm or confuse users. Begin by responding to the question they ask. You can then gradually propose other options. Poncho the Weather Cat, for example, also offers daily horoscopes, but introduces that only after having responded or after a user returns and is comfortable:

poncho chatbot introduces the horoscope feature

5. Analyze your success

It will be easy to know if your chatbot is growing in popularity by tracking visits and shares. If you are not getting the traction you want, go back and re-write your scripts until you are. See where visitors are bouncing and re-work those spots.

The bottom line

Social media marketing is now critical to any business success. It is the one place where businesses can capture regular audiences. The key to a competitive edge is targeting correctly, being as creative and engaging as possible, and keeping up on the latest tools and technologies.