Table of Contents:
- The Text
- That age-old conundrum, Go Long or Short
- The Three Commandments of Facebook writing
- Don’t Forget
- Next Steps
“No, I’m not much of a reader.”
How many times have you heard that said?
And with our attention spans now at an all-time low, that’s hardly surprising.
But my main question is: is it true?
While many people don’t consider themselves ‘readers’, stick a 4-page article about the Kardashian’s in front of them, or the biography of their musical hero, and somehow they lap it up. Devour every single word.
I’d call that reading, right?
(But just don’t try to swap that Kardashian article for the rock legend book if you don’t want serious evils.)
Because everyone is a reader.
It just depends on what you put in front of them.
And the exact same principle applies to Facebook posts. Which is precisely what I’m here to chat to you about today.
When you’re creating a Facebook post, always remember that every element has a specific and equally important job to do. So everything needs to be carefully considered and done right if you want to make the most of out of your money.
Let’s start with your image. The topic of part 2. This is often the first thing someone notices. So you need to make it eye-catching and powerful enough to tell most of your story. Otherwise, they’ll just keep scrolling on by.
Then it’s your headline (part 1) which prompts people to act. To tell them what they can expect by clicking on your ad. It does a lot of the heavy lifting.
And lastly, we have the text. Or the ad description. These are the words above your image. And they’re not only key to catching peoples’ eyes, they can be used to inform, educate, entertain, and most importantly, persuade.
You can post just a couple of words.
Or you can choose to make the most of the whopping 63,206 character limit you have.
And post the entire script of Bambi 2.7 times.
Or the lyrics to Bohemian Rhapsody 34 times.
Or every word of Ireland’s Proclamation of Independence 20.7 times.
I digress. Back to advertising.
However, if your post is too long, your audience may get bored. Too short, and they just skim over it.
What you need is that sweet, sweet spot in between. And the right eyes on it.
That Age-Old Conundrum
As long as Facebook ads have been around (since 2007, fyi) people have been debating how long the text should be.
In one corner we have those steadfast “Nobody reads anymore!” folk.
While in the other, all you’ll hear is screams of “More copy, more sales!”
But who’s right?
The answer: both.
Because this isn’t a black and white situation.
There are soooooo many different factors to consider when debating length. Things like what your product is. How engaged your audience is. And what stage of awareness they’re at.
Choose the right length and the conversions will roll in. But choose wrongly and the only thing that will be rolling anywhere… is tumbleweed.
As I’ve already touched on above, people do still read longer text.
But only what matters to them. And so long as it won’t put them to sleep.
One paragraph up to six paragraphs. No need to write a George R. R. Martin style novel here.
When to use it:
If you’re a new brand, or launching a new product or service, or your audience is unengaged, or the market is unsophisticated, length is your best friend.
As there’s often a disconnection between what you’re offering and what your target audience knows about it, you need to educate and build trust. And for that, words are essential.
This especially applies to products and services that are expensive, complex and feature heavy or from a specialized sector.
- Deep Diving – You can go into the details of your product and teach your target audience about your offering.
- Storytelling – You have the opportunity to introduce an element of storytelling to your post, which always increases engagement.
- Showcase Quality – You have the room to list out the many benefits of your product so people can see what they have to look forward to.
- Attention Spans – Let me point you back up to the goldfish statistic above.
- Wrong Time – If a visitor comes across long copy when they’re at the point of converting, it may get in the way of a sale or action you want them to take.
Less can be more.
But only when it comes to uncomplicated posts that don’t require any education or explanation.
A few words, or even a couple of sentences. But aim for short and sweet. Use only as much copy as it takes to be persuasive.
When to use it:
Short copy is best for promotions, discounts and offers, but only on well-known products that people know and love already.
You can also scrimp on copy if you’re a well-known brand with highly engaged fans, or if the market is very sophisticated.
- To the point – You can spell out your offer in just a few words.
- Ease of reading – People can process your post in seconds.
- Speed – It takes a lot less time to write a short post, than a long detailed-filled one.
- Not enough info – If people come across your post at the wrong stage in the sales funnel (too early), you risk scaring them away.
- Missing out – With short copy, you can only choose one or maybe two things to highlight, which means other benefits have to be left out.
But what converts best?
You’re probably going to groan aloud when I say this, but there really is no right or wrong answer here. It really is a game of trial and error.
Different studies have led to different results.
AdEspresso recently did a really interesting experiment into the effectiveness of long Vs short ads on Facebook. And while the marketers all guessed that short would succeed, it was, in fact, the lengthier posts that worked best. And led to highest number of leads. And had the lowest CPA.
But, but, but…
What was on offer here was a free ebook on Custom Audiences, which is a more complex and specialized product. Meaning that more explanation and education was required.
On the other side of the fence, Buddy Media conducted a study into the impact of length on retail Facebook posts and discovered that concise posts that were less than 80 characters got 66% more engagement than longer posts.
While those that were less than 40 characters received even higher engagement at 86%.
But, but, but…
This study was carried out on retail-focused Facebook posts. This means that the products on offer were most likely well-known, everyday goods that are not only familiar and trusted, but are also a low financial risk. So less words were needed.
It all boils down to three things:
- What you’re selling – is it well known or specialized and complex?
- What your goal is – are you trying to just communicate info or make a sale?
- Your audience – how engaged are they?
If it’s something complicated or new, you need to give more of an explanation of what you’re offering.
Say, you’re selling an expensive, intensive 6-week online course on CyberSecurity. You’re going to need to include a bit more info in your description than ´Save your business from cyber attacks’ to attract and gain trust from your target audience. You have to remember that in order to persuade people to buy you need to convince them that this course is an investment for them. So you’ll need your post to be packed with information and benefits.
On the other hand, if it’s something everyday and inexpensive you’re offering, keep things short and simple.
For example, if it’s a discounted winter jacket you’re selling, ´Wrap up warm for less’ would certainly suffice. People (especially us from chillier climates) most definitely know what coats are so there’s no need for any extra explanation.
So the long and short of it is (sorry), the length of your post is completely dependent on what you have on offer.
And while Facebook recommends to keep things short at 90 characters, never feel like you have to be held hostage to that.
If you’re struggling to figure out what length to choose, simply consult the Go Long and Go Short sections above and figure out where your product or service slots into that.
And of course, ALWAYS make sure you’ve got your target audience figured out before you start writing. People will read longer posts. But you need to make sure that it’s the right people who are seeing them.
Three Commandments of Facebook Copywriting
Now that we’ve covered length, let’s talk very briefly about writing.
I’m not going to tell you that writing ad copy is easy.
Because it’s not.
I’m a professional copywriter. And even I’ll admit that I struggle sometimes. But with a bit of practice and these trusted tips below, we’ll certainly get you off to a promising start.
Thou Shalt Know Your Audience
I’ve mentioned this above, and now I’m going to mention it again. That’s how important this is.
Before you even pick up your pen, you need to know exactly who you’re talking to. From what makes them happy, to what keeps them awake at night, try to discover as much as possible.
Because once you figure all this out, you can jump into their world.
If you find that your target audience is very broad – women aged 20-50 years old, fear not. Try to focus on the optimal customer – the one who is most likely to buy from you – and write directly to them. Don’t try to write to everyone at once, as a 20-year-old is certainly going to have different issues and priorities to a 45-year-old.
Thou Shalt Maintain a Consistent Tone of Voice
Another priority when writing your Facebook posts is your tone of voice (TOV).
This is the personality of your brand.
Your way of thinking.
Not only does it have to reflect your values, it has to align with you’re offering.
If you’re trying to sell a professional accounting service, you can’t be all jokey and full of bants’n’giggles. You’re a serious company, and you need to speak credibly and professionally to your audience.
Likewise if you’re trying to target teenagers, your TOV needs to be lighthearted and use language that they can relate to.
Why is this important?
Because it builds trust. If people can connect with your brand, and become familiar with your way of wording thing, you’ll make them feel at ease. And when they feel at ease, you’re more likely to be able to persuade them to convert. Priority numero uno.
Once you know who your target audience is, it’ll be much easier to figure out how you should talk to them. To make your job easier, the Content Marketing Institute recommends you try to sum up your TOV in three words. Eg. conversational, informative and tongue-in-cheek
Thou Shalt Always Have A Hook
‘The Hook’ in a Facebook post, or in any writing really, is a statement that will instantly attract the reader’s attention. That important thing that will stop their thumb and catch their eye.
And yes, they’re super important.
You want to really connect with your audience?
- Find out what they care about.
- Bring it into your writing.
Once you know what makes your audience tick, you can highlight how your product or service can make their life better.
Then by painting a picture of them enjoying these deeper benefits, your copy will more likely to increase engagement. And then conversions.
Test, test, then test again
If you’ve already read part 1 and 2 in this series, you’re probably sick of me droning on about testing at this stage. But I really can’t stress its importance enough in making good ads a million times better. The stats don’t lie. And as advertising god David Ogilvy once said, ‘Never stop testing, and your advertising will never stop improving’.
What to do?
Try different length posts with different audiences to see what works best. You may be surprised with the results.
Don’t let things get stale
If you keep posting the same thing over and over again, your target audience will get bored and start completely ignoring your posts. Let’s not let this happen.
What to do?
Keep refreshing your copy and images so your audience can feel like they’re seeing something new every time. It doesn’t have to be dramatic changes, but mixing things up will keep people engaged.
Keep on writing
Never go with the first thing you write. Or the second. Consider these the trial runs for what you want to say. The more you write something, the better it’ll be as you a) get used to writing and b) your imagination warms up.
What to do?
I didn’t go into a lot of detail this time on the specifics of ad descriptions writing, but if you check out part 1, you’ll find lots of tips to get you started.
Also check out these really helpful resources:
- Grammarly: An online spell-checker, that will help you make sure that every piece of writing is mistake-free.
- Hemingway: This helpful virtual editor lets you know when you should tweak your structure and suggests changes to make your writing even better.
Now you should be well equipped with all the creative skills you need to write killer headlines, choose eye-grabbing images and of course, know when to go long and short with copy.
We’ve got tonnes more helpful content in the pipeline. To help you with Facebook and much, much more…