Capture Blog

Facebook and Instagram Ads: Sell the Click Through by Stimulating Curiosity

Retargeting on Facebook and Instagram is a Capture Higher Ed specialty. If a student visits a school’s website — researching academic programs, housing, scholarships and so on — a retargeted ad on their social media account can ensure that the user remembers the institution with appropriate ad messaging based on their interests.

Brad Smith, on Hootsuite’s AdEspresso, says, “Your ad copy is there to sell the click through, not the product or service. So don’t go on a long-winded explanation of features, benefits, outcomes. Instead, (a) grab attention and (b) create enough intrigue so people click through for more. That’s it. Nothing less, and nothing more.”

In addition to this, the social media ad simply keeps the brand in front of the user. The way to do this effectively is not to use text-heavy ads; there are plenty of other elements that encourage the click through.

Facebook and Instagram ads, like a solid marketing email, needs a strong call to action (CTA) — but even more so for the social media ad. “Less is more” in terms of these ads; you have to get a point across with less space. Social media ads are seen by a large audience that may never have heard of the institution, and so a strong CTA should strike a balance between being more generalized, more personal, but nonetheless enticing.

Finally, the fact that emails are viewed at the reader’s preference — that is, when they are actively choosing to view their emails — is different from taking a user by surprise when they don’t expect it — leisurely scrolling through social media, for example. This makes the CTA, headline, and copy crucial because students choose to read their emails but don’t necessarily choose to see a retargeted ad while they’re seeing what their friends are up to.

“Headlines are the succinct, persuasive outcome of a successful value proposition,” Smith says. “Like the tip of the iceberg, but enough to convey the general idea. Most importantly, good headlines answer one simple question: why should the reader care what’s in it for them, or is so beneficial, that they can’t do anything else but read and act on your claim?”

Take the personal flying robot, for example. This Kickstarter campaign would interest a certain segment for sure — males aged 16-35, Smith drily says — but the “nerd” aspect is limited. A drone manufacturer at a start-up event, Smith reports, talked about how drones save lives of hikers who’d gotten lost or injured. The manufacturer gave statistics of how first-responders were often too late, “backed up by a sobbing audience member who lost a friend and wished they had a product like his.”

This powerful fact should have been the real value proposition, Smith insists. It is a specific and immediate — and emotional — fact. But as you can see below, this is not the idea Kickstarter went with in their social media ad:

In a 2015 analysis of nearly 37,259 Facebook ads, Hootsuite’s Andrew Tate found that the most popular headline is five words long (or less; to wit, “Are you happy together?”), and the median length for ad post text is 14 words long. The link description can be a bit longer at 18 words.

In any case, the way to connect with viewers is to stimulate their curiosity; Hootsuite’s Pawel Grabowski says of the curiosity gap theory that “realizing we don’t know something makes us compelled to find that missing piece of information.”

By Sean Hill, Senior Content Writer, Capture Higher Ed

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