The promotional opportunities of Facebook are almost boundless. With over 2 billion active users to reach (and an astonishing degree of segmentation to be achieved using everything from location and age to pages liked and groups joined), its PPC platform has the highest ceiling of any comparable channel.
But it isn’t easy to excel using Facebook ads. There’s so much going on in the average Facebook stream — so many pages, posts, and videos blurring together as the user scrolls — that it’s easy to get missed entirely, even with smart segmentation. The key to this? Imagery. High-quality visuals are tremendously powerful, quickly capturing attention in a way that text never could. For making the most of selling online, they’re essential.
So if you’re looking to advertise on Facebook, how do you optimise your imagery to make sure you drive as many sales as possible? That’s exactly what we’re going to look at in this piece, so let’s get underway.
The requirements for Facebook ad images
When you provide images for your Facebook image ads, they need to meet certain basic requirements. For the Facebook feed, for instance, both the width and the height of an image must be at least 600 pixels, and the aspect ratio must fall within 3% of one of the two recommended aspect ratios. Without a link, you must aim for 16:9 (or 9:16) — with a link, the image will need to be close to 1.91:1.
The requirements and best practices differ depending on the type of placement, however, so it’s best to check the official documentation when you decide how you want to present your ads: you can find it on this page by selecting your placement from the drop-down menu on the right.
Another thing worth noting is that images with text that takes up more than 20% of the space are less likely to be served to users, presumably due to concerns about spamminess or efforts to circumvent the platform’s restrictions on regular posts. We’ll look at this issue more later.
How to choose the right images
When you’re planning out your Facebook image ads, you need to think very carefully about the types of visuals that will work best for the purpose you’re looking to achieve. Let’s consider a few examples to make this clearer:
✔️ If you’re advertising a product, you need to include a clear and top-notch product photo. It would take extraordinary circumstances for there to be any point in using a different kind of image in that scenario. And if you’re linking the users to a landing page for the product, the general style of the product photo should match the style of that landing page — this is important to communicate brand continuity to the user.
✔️If you’re offering a resource, you should provide an image that’s very clear, bold, and minimalistic. You’ll absolutely want to focus on the title of the resource, so you’ll need to work within the text restrictions mentioned previously. From looking at the image alone, a Facebook user should be able to know what it’s called and vaguely what it concerns.
✔️If you’re promoting a blog post, you have two good options: stick with the resource formula, or, if it’s something with a really optimised and eye-catching title, go with a full photo or graphic that will really stand out and capture the essence of the piece. While royalty free images are your lifeline for regular digital copy, don’t settle for anything mediocre here — stock or otherwise, the shot you use must be powerful.
Something key to consider is that whenever you use a person (or just a face) in an ad image, it has to be strongly emotive in some sense. If you’re showing someone using your product, they need to be identifiably happy. If you’re trying to drive someone to a blog post about the deficiencies of competitor products (with the ultimate goal of linking to a sales page for your product), then show someone miserable with the item they’re using. If there’s no emotion, there’s no point in including an image of a person.
Using text in images
As noted earlier, your images can consist of 20% text at the most without seeing their performance limited by Facebook’s platform, which can be very frustrating if you’re trying to carry across a message — the text underneath an image ad is nowhere near as likely to be seen, after all.
But what you mustn’t do is try to fill 20% of an image with a lot of tiny text to get around the limit. If someone can’t read it, what’s the point? And even if they can read it (most likely if they’re using Facebook on a smartphone), they’re not going to care enough about your content in their Facebook stream to read a lengthy paragraph.
If you want to include text on an image, give it a solid size and get the colouring right. You want light text on a dark background or dark text on a light background. Contrast is essential — it isn’t much use if your image stands out but the text is unclear to the extent that users don’t notice it or are unwilling to squint to make it out.
Facebook is an amazing prospect for online marketers, especially those interested in using powerful visuals. A high-quality image can make the difference between a total campaign failure and a roaring success. Be sure to follow the requirements for the direction you choose, pick an image that really suits your intended goal, and be very careful about using text in your images — that’s how you’ll drive the most sales.
Patrick Foster is a writer and ecommerce expert from Ecommerce Tips — an industry-leading ecommerce blog that discusses all the big news in the world of online retail and advertising. Be sure to go check out the latest posts on Twitter @myecommercetips.