Facebook is a place people go to kill time, keep up with friends, and follow their favorite brands—not to see your ads. But the more your ads imitate the things people actually enjoy about Facebook, the less they’ll feel like an unwanted interruption.
The savviest digital advertisers are masters of disguise. And you can be, too. Much like how you can disguise your ads to blend in with a publisher’s content, you can create ads that look and feel like things people want to see in their news feed.
Here are four tips to help your Facebook ads “go undercover.”
1. Use targeting wisely
Targeting lets you hone in on a specific audience. It lumps people together based on some shared characteristic. It gives you an angle to start the conversation in a more relevant way, rather than using your most broadly appealing messaging.
Whether you want to target your followers, people who have visited your website, or particular demographics, who you’re talking to should drastically change how you talk.
The targeting you choose adds context to your conversation. Your Facebook ads should reflect that. If someone views a particular page of your website, for example, the ad you show them might relate to the content of that page.
2. Give, don’t take
When you’re spending money on ads, it’s easy to feel pressure to focus on calls-to-action (CTAs) that give you the biggest bang for your buck: buy now, shop now, get yours today, etc. But that’s not always the best way to get a good return on investment with Facebook ads (or any ads, for that matter).
People aren’t looking for a sales pitch when they go to Facebook—they’re looking for something interesting or valuable. (This is where sales reps argue, “But our product is interesting and valuable.”) If you want your ads to have the greatest reach and impact, you need to choose to advertise things that provide value without asking for a big commitment. (Like money.)
Asking your audience to make a big commitment is guaranteed to scare most of them away—even ones that might’ve otherwise become customers. It’s a lot easier to ask someone to sign up for an email list in exchange for something valuable than it is to ask them to spend money. And once you’ve got them on a list, you can keep talking to them until they’re ready to buy.
3. Advertise your content
Speaking of things that are valuable, hopefully you consider your content valuable. Whether you write thought leadership pieces, case studies, checklists, guides, or something else, advertising your content is a great way to introduce people to your brand and provide value.
Maybe that means advertising your white papers, gated behind a signup form.
Maybe it just means advertising your blog posts, which promote a newsletter or a drip campaign. Or, maybe they don’t promote anything, and you just use your content to create a new audience you can retarget later.
However you do it, advertising content turns your ads into things people expect to see on Facebook: content. Because a content-focused ad is really just a post.
4. Teach people something
Purple is a mattress company with a knack for catchy ads. One of their ads has more than 160 million views on YouTube. (Odds are pretty good you’ve seen or heard of it before.) There are many things that make their ads engaging, but one of them is that their ads teach about mattresses, often using innovative demonstrations.
Many of their ads are like standalone lessons in sleep science, which makes them interesting and valuable even if you never buy a Purple mattress.
But you don’t have to literally turn your ad into content, either. If your ad is promoting a piece of content such as a white paper, you could use a couple of the main ideas from the white paper to balance “teasing” the content with providing real value.
Either of these choices can strengthen your sales pitch while doing a better job of matching what people are actually looking for on Facebook.
Blur the line between ads and content
The more your ads imitate content, the more your audience will engage with them. If your ad itself is informative, entertaining, or inspiring, people will naturally respond to it and share it—just like they do with “actual content” that affects them the same way.
It’s time for your ads to go undercover.