With a new year comes new opportunities to engage with your audience.
Facebook advertising continues to be a powerhouse for marketers who want to engage customers in new and creative ways.
If you have a vision, chances are, Facebook ads has the right set of opportunities for you.
Let’s face it, there’s a ton of noise in the advertising space right now, especially advertising on Facebook.
But fortunately, you have options to help you cut through and get in front of the right people.
That’s why we’ve put together this Facebook advertising playbook for 2018.
We’re going to take you through some of the most noteworthy trends for this year step-by-step to help you streamline your advertising efforts and get the most return on your investment.
We’ve broken these trends down into five bite-size sections: design, ad format, promotions, platform and content.
Each one comes packed with the latest insights and tons of tips to get your advertising campaigns off to a strong start this year.
Without further ado, let’s jump right in and take a look at the top Facebook advertising trends for 2018.
Facebook Advertising Design trends
65% of people are visual learners.
In addition to this, people only read 20% of web content but look at every single picture.
So what your ad looks like is extremely important.
Ad design is your chance to attract customers before you can sell them your product.
Let’s take a look at some of the best design trends in 2018.
1. Incorporate minimalist design
Depending on your ad budget, it makes sense that what you spend on advertising is visible in your ability to acquire and retain customers.
You want the lifetime value (LTV) of each new customer to outweigh the cost to acquire them (CAC). So when you spend wisely, without going overboard on complex ads with too much information, you stand a better chance of attracting new customers.
As long as you continue to keep your ad design simple, you’ll maximize your ad spend and keep current customers interested and engaged.
Trunk Club, a personalized clothing subscription box, uses minimalist design in their ads. Instead of following the tradition of showing an outfit on a model, their ads show their clothes, folded in a box, ready to be shipped.
This approach relies on colors and the textures of the clothes to showcase their quality and get audiences excited. The clothes are packed neatly to intrigue the audience and give them an idea of what their package will look like.
This is a unique approach that stands out from competitor ads and helps convince the audience that this brand is different and offers something they need.
How to use it
Keep in mind that whitespace doesn’t have to be white.
Just like the Trunk Club ad, inject a little color based on color theory and the type of feelings and emotions you want to convey. Use a blue background to inspire feelings of confidence and truth.
Wildly successful companies like Facebook, PayPal, and Twitter use blue as their main focal point in their logos and color schemes. Use yellow for energy and happiness, and so on.
Whatever background color you use, the object in front should contrast it. This draws attention to the product because our brains are wired to focus on objects that are the center of attention, smack dab in the middle of whitespace.
2. Let geekiness shine through
Don’t underestimate the power of graphs. Because people are visual creatures, graphs are the perfect way to share complex information easily.
Depending on your customer segments, there may be some who like to “geek out” to graphs and appreciate the use of data in your ads. This data is what will help convince them that you’re the best brand for them.
But just because you’re sharing data doesn’t mean that your ads have to be dry and boring. Make your data ads entertaining to garner interest.
This ad from DataCamp’s data cleaning product gives an idea of how to represent data in an ad.
When you share actual data, have some fun with how you display it. Use splashes of color and basic design in the ad to make it less intimidating — it’s about data after all. Emphasize the teaching element of the product and how easy it is to use.
How to use it
Use graphs where you have a lot of information to share and text will make it too complicated. You can also use graphs to show progress or growth to highlight how great your product’s doing.
If you want to show growth based on research you’ve done, a great tip is to animate it to make it more eye-catching. This way it’s easier for audiences to digest the data and it’s entertaining.
3. Make ads that reflect gender equality
A 2017 Facebook IQ study found that “75% of women believe that the most important thing brands can do to promote gender equality is to stop portraying women as sex symbols. And 51% of women and 45% of men surveyed say they prefer to shop from a brand that promotes gender equality.”
Dollar Shave Club prides itself as being a company that takes gender equality seriously. In an ad for their razors, they highlighted that unlike other companies, their razors can be used by both men and women. Razors don’t have to be gender specific, they just have to get the job done.
How to use it
When you craft future ads, think about whether they reflect stereotypes. Do you use gender-specific colors like pink and blue or have you opened the door to diversity?
Focus on messaging — both content and images — that speak to people as individuals, in need of a solution to a problem, and not based on their gender.
Customer expectations shift and gender equality has become a major factor in how customers make their buying decisions. They want to partner with brands that have strong values and are inviting to new customers. L
ist these values on your website so customers are clear on where you stand.
Facebook ad format trends
Facebook offers a wide range of ad formats. Each format offers its own set of strengths and is designed to help marketers communicate their message in the most effective way.
Slideshow and video ads are two of the most powerful formats for 2018, because their movement makes them eye-catching and interactive. They quickly show audiences the type of experience they can expect from your brand, product or service in an entertaining way.
For companies that want to showcase a wide range of products in their ads, Facebook offers Slideshow ads.
Keep in mind that Slideshow ads are different from Carousel ads. Slideshow ads automatically rotate through your product images and don’t require viewers to click to see the next image.
The movement grabs your audience’s attention as they scroll through their News Feed. With their interest piqued, your audience is more likely to stop and watch.
Blue Apron, a popular meal kit delivery service, uses Slideshow ads to show the range of delicious meals they offer.
How to use it
You don’t need a massive advertising budget to take advantage of this.
Use pre-existing images or video stills of your products to tell a story and entice your audience to click to find out more about you. Facebook ads let you customize how the ad appears — horizontally or vertically — and lets you choose the transitions between images and the length of time the slide plays.
PRO TIP: Choose an ad objective that relates to videos — something like “video views” — and then track how many click-throughs you got for the ad. Based on your audience, you can see how many people saw the ad and how many clicked on it. Adjust your ad based on your findings.
Facebook’s 4-part “Shifts for 2020” series explored peoples behaviors and expectations. The series explains that “[n]early 1 in 3 mobile shoppers surveyed in the US say video is the best medium for discovering new products.”
Why does this matter? It matters because more people are using mobile devices to consume information.
Research shows that audiences watch mobile-first ads longer than other types of mobile ads and that these ads tend to stand out in their memories more.
Dolls Kill, an online boutique for women, uses videos in their ads to promote their boots. What really makes these ads stand out is the white background. With such as stark contrast to the boots, the ad pops and the eye is drawn to the product.
This idea also works with videos.
Instead of adding lots of props and elements, keep the background simple so that the actions in the video stand out more.
How to use it
When creating videos with mobile engagement in mind, here are some things to consider:
- Keep the duration of your videos to 15 seconds or less
- Lead with your most interesting or important facts
- For a user-friendly layout, use square or vertical layouts
- Use captions because 85% of Facebook videos are viewed without sound
- Edit videos that weren’t made for mobile before using them — this makes sure the images and messaging comes through the way you want
Turn this list into a checklist you use every time you create a video ad. This will help you make sure you hit all the important points so that your ad is as successful as possible.
Even with catchy content and images, your ad won’t resonate with your target audience without additional promotion.
You can’t just run an ad and wait for Facebook to work its magic and flood your product page with orders. Instead, you need some help from strategic promotional tactics to get the most out of your ads.
Here are some promotional trends that will help you get solid engagement for your ad.
1. Use influencers to maximize reach
Influencers are people who are seen as experts in their area of interest. Audiences are likely to listen to influencers because they’re seen as an authority in the field. And if they say a product is worth a try, then the product must really be something special. Influencers are another example of social proof.
Influencers usually focus on specific social media channels, so depending on where your audience hangs out, choose influencers accordingly. Influencers have thousands of followers, and by choosing the right people you’ll increase your audience reach drastically.
You can partner with influencers by asking them to share your content on their channel, but you can also benefit from incorporating them into regular ads.
For example, include a quote from them or use an image of them using your product. You don’t have to break the bank to make this work.
Daily Harvest is a meal delivery service that sends customers natural, frozen foods. They incorporate quotes from influencers into their Facebook advertising. In this slideshow ad, Daily Harvest included a quote from a writer at the Business Insider.
Business Insider is a reputable news publication with thousands of readers and an active online presence. A positive review from an influencer of their high quality bodes well for Daily Harvest.
How to use it
74% of people use their social networks to find advice and get recommendations before they buy. Use influencers with strong ties within your industry.
Follow them on social media to get an idea of the types of content they promote. There are lots of ways to approach an influencer, but make sure you talk to them about using their comments in your next campaign.
And because most people are visual, it’s not just about what the influencer says but also what your ad looks like. The images you choose for your ad should be clear, not overloaded with content, and should showcase your product in action.
2. Think global to reach more customers
People are connected now more than ever before, making it easier to connect with customers across the world. As a business, this works to your advantage because it opens up your audience reach considerably. Over 1 billion people use Facebook to connect with businesses in other countries.
Ads like this one from Sea Watch Resort thrive on being able to reach a large, wide range of customers because visitors can come from anywhere in the world, not just the local surrounding area.
They work because these ads don’t just target customers in one area. They rely on a global audience to grow their business.
How to use it
This type of ad works for select types of business. Most people don’t have an extendible, worldwide product like Airbnb or a vacation resort.
So how can you tell if this is the right ad type for you? If your product brings together people from different places, then this is an avenue to explore.
Take the lead from a company like Airbnb that relies on global customers. In 2015 they launched a social media campaign with the #OneLessStranger hashtag. The goal was to get all customers across the world engaged with each other. After people performed a random act of hospitality, they were asked to share a picture or video of the encounter using the hashtag. The campaign took off and was incredibly successful. Over 3,000,000 people took part in the first three weeks of the campaign alone.
Use interactive social media campaigns in tandem with your ads to introduce your product to new audiences and help you grow organically.
The platform you choose to share your ad on should be based on where your audience spends the most time.
This way, you’re more likely to get the response you’re after because the right people see your ad. With the use of mobile devices growing, it’s helpful to use platforms that cater to this medium.
Here are the best trends to follow in 2018.
1. Focus on Messenger
“54.4% of US social media users said they preferred messaging channels, including Messenger, over email, phone and online chat.” Because more consumers spend time on mobile devices, companies have to focus their ads in the places where their customers spend time.
By using Facebook Messenger, when a customer clicks on the CTA button in the ad — like learn more — a Messenger conversation automatically opens. Then you start a chat with customers in real-time. You can answer questions or share more details about special offers.
Even more research shows that “among people surveyed in 14 markets, 53% say they’re more likely to shop with a business they can message.”
Because of customers openness to talking directly to companies, make a plan to incorporate this into your 2018 campaigns.
How to use it
Since its launch, Facebook has made changes to Messenger to make it more intuitive for companies to incorporate and use in their ad campaigns. For example, they:
- Launched the Discover tab. This feature makes it easier for customers to find you. Based on customer interests, they can browse categories to find what they’re looking for — your business.
- Built chat extensions. This feature “lets bots provide interactive, social features that users can invoke directly into their conversations.” For example, users can share stickers or memes in the app.
- Introduced customer chat plugin. With this, customers can go back and forth between a company’s website and the Messenger chat. Customers don’t lose chat history with you and they’re able to find out more about you instantly.
With these additions and others, you’re in a better position to learn about customers, tailor ads towards them and engage with them when they find you.
2. Optimize mobile
With more customers using mobile devices in their day-to-day lives, using it to make their shopping experience easier is necessary.
Estimates show that mobile purchases are projected to make up 40% of all e-commerce purchases in 2018. With this growing trend, 1-click checkout on mobile devices is in demand.
That’s why more companies like Instacart, Calm and Expedia let mobile users shop and checkout with the convenience of their phone. With Instacart, when a customer sees what they need they can click on the ad to get the website, place an order and wait for it to arrive. All on their mobile device.
This speaks to the growing expectation customers have that their needs will be met quickly.
Use your ad to boost conversion rates by including as few steps as possible to keep customers moving through your sales funnel. The easier it is for customers to complete a desired action, the better it is for both of you in the long-run.
How to use it
In order to optimize customer mobile experience, speed is a factor. “Among US shoppers surveyed, more than 1 in 3 would like to shop on their smartphone more, but 1 in 2 say poor navigation or slow load times is a barrier.”
To prevent abandon rates because of slow page loads, make sure you have a mobile Content Delivery Network (CDN) installed.
As your mobile interface gets more popular, the speed that it loads slows down without a mobile CDN. As you see more traffic and depending on where your audience is located, the mobile CDN will allow for a faster connection to your server.
Remember, your audience expects fast access so follow-through to manage their experience.
3. Go Live for customer interaction
Facebook Live continues to dominate other forms of video sharing and has become a valuable tool for businesses to connect directly with their customers.
As a matter of fact, “1 in 5 Facebook videos is now a live broadcast.” So aside from the types of Facebook ads you’re accustomed to, incorporate Facebook Live in your outreach campaigns.
In 2016, Starbucks held a Live event at Rufus King Park in New York for National Voter Registration Day. Not only was it a great community event, but it also allowed people who weren’t able to attend to take part by watching and leaving comments online.
Part of what made the event a success was that Starbucks asked its followers to share questions beforehand for the reps to answer. As the two representatives answered submitted questions viewers were curious to see if their question was asked. This turned out to be a great tactic to boost engagement both before and during the event.
How to use it
You don’t need a large event to make this tactic work.
It can be something as simple as a behind the scenes look at your office space where viewers can see your team in action and ask them questions live. Or it can be one person getting viewers excited about a new product release. They can get customers excited and curious before the feature or product launches by going live, answering questions and talking about key features.
Instead of writing a long blog post, talk about it live and answer questions as you go.
Customers will appreciate the opportunity to get their questions answered quickly. The Live video can precede the actual ad you run to make people aware of what’s to come. Again, this gets them excited and eager to tune in.
4. Use 360 photo and video to excite customers
Facebook now makes it easy to use 360 video and pictures in your ads. More companies are incorporating both options as a way to attract customers and engage with them.
When Samsung launched its Gear VR, it used 360 video. Snowboarders were filmed as they sped down hills while viewers went along for the ride. By using the 360 video controls, viewers could follow different snowboarders down the hill and get a new perspective with each new view. Viewers got an idea of the experience they could expect with the new VR headset.
This proved to be a fun and creative way to introduce their new product and get customers excited about it.
How to use it
Depending on your product, use 360 video or images to give your ads a more interactive feel.
This is especially useful if you have an e-commerce store where customers can’t drop in and physically touch a new product. 360 videos and images are the next best thing because they give customers a sort of first-hand experience before they buy.
The most effective 360 videos and images use a simple setup, incorporate color and add lively music to get people excited. This lets you introduce your product in more detail because you can show viewers the exact experience that awaits them.
Content is one of the most powerful ways to attract and retain customers. The right choice of words, layout, and language go a long way to educating and convincing customers that you offer the best solution for the issues they’re experiencing.
Here are some trends to incorporate into your next campaigns to grow your customer list.
1. Showcase customer reviews
Social proof is one of the best ways to showcase how effective your products are. The fact that other customers have used your product and have good things to say about it speaks volumes to new customers.
Research shows that “88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.”
Outdoor Voices, a sportswear apparel company, incorporates customer testimonials in their ads. For example, a customer recently left this review:
“I get compliments on these leggings whenever I wear them. They look different from the crowd when you are at the gym or running on the trail. The fabric is to die for, you could literally live in it every day. They lift and cover all of your flaws. I could not recommend these leggings more.” – Reviewed by Ashley, December 2017
These types of reviews matter because “92% of consumers read online reviews and testimonials when considering a purchase.”
Also, 72% of consumers are more likely to trust companies where the reviews and testimonials are positive. People trust what their inner circle of people have to say about products.
How to use it
Outdoor Voice’s ads show people wearing their gear and doing everyday activities. Doing this highlights the brand’s appeal and the fact that their clothes can be worn anywhere.
This approach also builds on the idea of FOMO or Fear of Missing Out.
The more potential customers can relate to your brand and products, the better.
Another approach is to add star ratings to your ads to show how many other people enjoy using your product.
2. Use personalization based on customer interests
Personalization is one way to show customers how you plan to meet their specific needs. Customers are more likely to click your ad if it showcases a product that solves a problem they’re experiencing.
Getting to know your customers’ habits and then segmenting them will help you manage your ad campaigns.
Boston Interiors uses customer data to segment its audience based on what they’re interested in. To do this, you have to create custom audiences that look at specific pages on your website.
Let’s say you have categories that focus on different rooms in a home — bedroom, kitchen, bathroom, etc — set up your custom audience to look at who visited each page category. From there you can segment your ads so that they target people based on what they look at on your website.
Boston Interiors builds ads based on custom audiences who have visited the company website or liked its Facebook page. They also use lookalike audiences to reach as many new customers as possible.
The thinking is that visitors and their interaction with Boston Interiors are similar to the types of people the company wants to attract.
How to use it
To create your own lookalike audience, start by setting up a Facebook pixel on your website. Then set up events to log the types of actions visitors take on your site.
For example, what pages do they spend time on? This can be anything like browsing or buying something, submitting a lead form or even just view content on your blog.
Once your pixel is up and running, use it in your ad specs to target the same kinds of people that visit your website.
3. Keep your copy short and sweet
When people are faced with a massive block of text, TL;DR — too long, didn’t read — kicks in.
Even though mobile is becoming the platform of choice for customers, there’s one downfall. Studies show that “people scroll through [their] mobile News Feed 41% faster than [their] desktop News Feed.”
In this Carousel ad from Teva, you’ll see that they only use a few words to describe the product and the outcome from using them. The content is short yet still descriptive enough to give customers a push to learn more.
How to use it
You have a lot of information to share with customers but instead of overloading your ad with copy audiences won’t read, weed the content down to the essentials. Ask yourself questions like:
- What’s the one thing I want audiences to take away from this ad?
- What is the main message I want to share?
- Have I broken the pain point and solution down into one or two specific sentences?
- Is the copy conversational and easy to follow?
- Have I left enough whitespace around the image and text?
Facebook has guidelines for how much text you can include in your ads along with images. Keep text to a minimum without losing the context of your ad. Otherwise, it will take longer to get your ad approved before it goes live.
Experiment to find the perfect fit
There are lots of great features for you to choose from. You don’t have to use them all at the same time. Experiment with a few first and find the mix that works for you.
When you find three or four tactics that result in the most engagement and/or conversions, rotate through them throughout the year.
As your audience gets to know you better, you want to serve your message in engaging and different ways. So run campaigns using a particular trend for a month or two and then choose a new trend to use.
Keep audiences entertained and expecting something new all the time so that your ads always seem fresh and new to them.