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You Ask, I Answer: What Makes Effective Facebook Ads?

Jen asks, “How can brands find out which kind of Facebook Ads work best for them?”

One way to approach this problem is with large scale data analysis. In your industry, gather up a list of Facebook Pages and use any service which can address the Facebook API like Facebook’s Crowdtangle, then filter to only sponsored posts. Sort by engagement, and then begin the work of analyzing what sets the top 10% apart from the rest. Is it copy? Imagery? Timing? Audience size?

You Ask, I Answer: What Makes Effective Facebook Ads?

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In today’s episode, John asks, How can brands find out which kind of Facebook ads work best for them? Interesting question, the way that I think you would tackle this problem, or at least one way that you could tackle this problem was with large scale data analysis.

The Facebook API does allow some limited extraction of data.

And there are certainly plenty of services, competitive social media monitoring services, Facebook data services.

One example is Facebook’s CrowdTangle service that allow you to extract large amounts of information that’s publicly facing publicly available, including advertising, and then do some analysis on it.

So one approach you could take would be to go to one of these services, put in your company’s Facebook page, put in a list of all the major competitors.

You have in Your space.

Maybe some companies have functionally similar business models to you.

So for example, if you’re a coffee shop, you might put in like tea shops and pizza shops and things like that.

And extract out all the Facebook posts paid and unpaid that these companies have run in the last, you know, however long and then sort it.

Look at which of the the pieces of content that were paid, and then assess what worked.

What resonated.

Now, with this technique, you won’t get every single ad because they’re certainly you know, there’s so many different types, but you will get thematically, the types of messaging and imagery and copy and timing and audience sizes.

For what’s working best in that sector.

It may be, you know, five or 10% of all the content available for your industry, but that’s enough to give you a sample that looks like Okay, these are the things that seemed to work.

Maybe it’s images of a certain type, or even a color palette, maybe it’s a day of the week or an hour of the day.

When you have that large scale data set, you can look at what is in the top five or 10 or 20% of the data and say, Okay, what got engagement? What got people interested? Is it and are those things unique? Now, here’s the challenge.

The data is only semi ready to analyze, there’ll be some things that you can obviously look at right away engagement types, you know, likes, comments, shares, the different reactions, you’ll be able to get URLs to the various images, but then you’re gonna have to spend a fair amount of time as a human or team of humans, manually appending some of the information so you’ll need to, for example, look at the imagery on the post.

And then maybe, in this, think of it as a spreadsheet, you’d have to add columns for like what types of images are in there and you’d have to be somewhat similar Like, you know people cars, coffee cops, silly clipart drawings, whatever the image type is you need to manually note that in the spreadsheet, you would also need to append because you won’t get the text of the comments, general themes in comments if people have left comments at all.

And for those comments you would need to append and say like this is generally positive, generally negative, things like that.

That manual augmentation of the data is essential in order to make this process work because there is a lot to a Facebook ad that is not immediately visible to a machine, right, again, systematically understand what are the themes of the images, particularly if you’re looking at images across different pages.

Again, using the coffee shop example if you have Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts and things like that they may have their own visual palette that is unique to their brand that you would not be able to replicate, you’d have to use your own design palette to do that.

But the ability for you to at least get a head start with the the raw data itself, and especially the engagement data is where you’re going to get a lot of value out of this procedure.

Now, again, this is not every ad type, this is going to be mainly things like sponsored posts and stuff, but it’s a good starting point.

Because if you can’t get any traction at all on a sponsored post where the engagement rates are so terrible, then you know that whatever ad strategies are currently being used out, there may not necessarily be all that effective.

There are other tools that can pull in some fate, some social media advertising data as well.

I haven’t used them in a while.

So I know back in the day, I believe sem rush did that.

But you can look at comparable performance of Google ads.

Also to see from a messaging perspective, are there common themes, tools like sem rush and spy? Are refs all? Do they have the ability to extract out that type of data? And one of the things you could test is, does a ad copy, theme, title, etc? That works on Google ads? also work on Facebook here? Are they similar audiences are different audiences.

One way to tell this for your own brand page is to look at your Google Analytics, demographics data, look at your Facebook Audience Insights, demographics, data.

And if there’s a wide disparity on basic things like age and gender, then you know that you don’t have the same audience and what works in say, one platform may not work on the other.

On the other hand, if there’s substantial overlap between the two audiences, there’s a good chance that if something’s working for you, or a competitor in your Google ads, that may also have applicability in your Facebook ads.

So there are a lot of ways to attack this problem with data to try and determine what are the things that could work or should work and build a testing plan.

That’s the important thing is the next step in this process is not just William nilly stop start copying things you want to build an actual testing plan, that is an A B test, where you have a would be the ads, you would have run anyway.

And B would be these new ads that you have designed based on the data you found.

And you run them in parallel, same audiences, same budget span, same timeframe, etc, to see which ad set works better.

When you do that, you’ll have a sense over a fairly long period of time about whether your data driven approach is a better approach than the normal creative that you would have done otherwise, depending on the skill of your creative team.

And depending on the the themes and the data you get out from your competitors, you may not find an advantage, you may find that the data driven approach works worse because your competitors suck.

And you’re drawing on data that they’ve produced.

So be aware of that possibility.

Just because you’re using data does not guarantee a better result.

On the other hand, if you have a creative team like me that can barely put together a stick figure art, the data driven approach probably is going to work better for you.

Because you’ll be able to pick up on themes and use your reasonable commercially available clipart and stuff to make better stuff then your incompetent, creative team I was putting together again referring to myself here.

So that’s the approach.

Do the data analysis, identify the common themes, build a testing plan, run the testing plan and see which performs better? with the understanding that the data you find may not be all that high quality? Good follow up questions on this, please leave them in the comments box below.

Subscribe to the YouTube channel on the newsletter and I’ll talk to you soon.

Take care.

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