How to Improve Your Facebook Sidebar Ads: 6 Tips to More Clicks

social media how to Are you using Facebook sidebar ads?

Are you getting the results you want?

The kinds of images and text you use in your Facebook ads impact your audience’s response.

In this article you’ll discover what makes people more likely to click on your Facebook sidebar ads.

Designing Click-Worthy Ads

Facebook sidebar ads are pretty small (at least for now). Each one allows for 90 characters in the headline and displays at 100 pixels wide x 72 pixels tall.

facebook sidebar ads

Example of ads pulled from Facebook’s sidebar.

That may be a significant opportunity for some and a limitation for others. What makes the difference? Knowing how to keep things simple and attractive versus jam-packed with hard-sell tactics.

As the advertiser, your job is to make sure your target audience completes a specific action. Having the right kind of image and a value proposition for your prospective customers is important if you want them to click through and convert.

Big brands and industry influencers generally have click-worthy Facebook sidebar ads. Have you ever noticed how they attract your attention?

There are certain elements that speak to people in general, and in many cases those elements are the deciding factor in your ad’s success. Read on to find out six things that attract eyes and clicks.

#1: Show Human Faces

By nature, we’re drawn to faces—our brains are hard-coded that way. It makes sense, then, that ads featuring a friendly face (instead of product) are very effective. And, hey, this is Facebook, after all.

If your business has a well-known CEO or other personality associated with your brand, use a photo of him or her for your ad. Another option is to use the smiling face of one of your team members—or all of them!

infusionsoft facebook ad

Facebook images that feature a smiling human face are click-worthy.

The best way to grab attention with your Facebook ad is to give people what they’re instinctively looking for: a face.

#2: Use Text Overlay

You only get 90 characters for your sidebar ad headline. Since you have so few characters to work with, sometimes it makes sense to use an ad image that includes text.

Luckily, ads that feature both a human face and a small block of text can be as compelling as face-only ads.

onlinemeetingnow facebook ad

Since you’re limited to 90 text characters, sometimes you have to place copy over the image.

You may need to do some A/B testing to find the right mix that works for your target audience. Experiment with placing the text above, below and on either side of the image.

A quick side note: Facebook’s 20 percent text rule still applies to any content that appears in the news feed, but it does not apply to the sidebar ads.

#3: Add Video Play Buttons

There’s something irresistible about that triangular Play button, isn’t there? It draws us in almost every time.

In the example below, the image is, in my opinion, kind of odd. But the copy is intriguing: I definitely want to know more about Corrine’s online store—and I can’t resist that Play button.

shopify facebook ad

The video Play button can be hard to resist.

If creating a Facebook video ad isn’t in your budget—and they are very expensive—you can still take advantage of the allure of the Play button. Create an image that has a Play button superimposed on it.

huffington post facebook ad

If you don’t have the budget for a Facebook video ad, redirect people to your website.

When you create your mock video ad, link it to a landing page where visitors can view the actual video.

#4: Include Savings and Solutions

People love a good deal. Ads that promise special offers or a solution to a problem are compelling.

Use the space you have to let users know your product saves them money or solves a problem or that you’re giving away something awesome with no strings attached.

centrum facebook ad

There’s no mistaking what’s being offered here: A discount!

The main problem I’ve seen with discount and solution ads is that they try too hard.

Using ALL CAPS is the same as shouting at your audience. No matter how big your discount or how great your solution, yelling at your audience makes your ad unappealing. Worse, it makes you look desperate to get your message heard.

#5: Use Subtle Calls to Action

Some people hate calls to action (CTAs) and some people love them. Regardless of your stance, CTAs tend to work well in Facebook sidebar ads because you’re working with limited space. You can’t waste space with extra words. You have to be succinct and concise.

If you decide to use CTAs in your Facebook ads, don’t go for the hard sell. Instead, be subtle. Think about how you can phrase your pitch so it sounds more like a friend’s recommendation than a company yelling to be heard.

scribd facebook ad

“Never be without a book…” sounds like something a friend would say.

When you choose the right words, it sounds completely natural when you ask people to take action: “FB marketing can be overwhelming. Here’s an ebook that simplifies things.”

A CTA like that sounds enticing, but doesn’t oversell your audience.

#6: Keep It Simple

As I’ve said, the Facebook sidebar is pretty limited on space, and that means your ad is limited on space. Your sidebar ad displays at 100 pixels wide x 72 pixels tall.

To make the most of the small size, limit your colors and graphics. A simple design is incredibly attractive and noticeable. If your ad looks messy or the colors don’t pop, users will ignore it.

api nanigans facebook ad

The simpler, the better when it comes to Facebook sidebar ads.

You may be tempted to try to squeeze as much as possible into your sidebar ad. Resist that temptation! Keep it simple and focus on the message.

I hope the examples here have inspired you and sparked some ideas for your next campaign.

Since we all want our Facebook ad dollars to count, I suggest taking some time to check out the ads in your sidebar. Make a note of the designs that catch your eye and consider how you can emulate the layouts for your own success.

What do you think? Have you had success with Facebook ads? What worked for you? Leave us a comment below.

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About the Author, Jim Belosic

Jim Belosic is the CEO of ShortStack, a self-service software that allows businesses to create engaging campaigns for social, web and mobile. Other posts by »




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  • http://okaymarketing.com/ Brian Jackson

    This a great post, but like you said “at least for now”… by end of June the sidebar ads are going to be the same size as newsfeed ads. For anyone juggling thousands of ads, it just makes sense to start thinking towards the future.

  • http://learnhowtoblog.com.au/ Sean Rasmussen

    Hi Jim. Thanks for the tips. To me. the text overlay is most powerful tip, as it gives us room to move with the limited text allowed in the ads.

  • http://www.sbr-technologies.com/ SBR Technologies

    The post is really appreciable and useful. But hay Brian is
    it really the FB sidebar ads are going to be the same size as newsfeed ads from
    the end of June? If it is then it will be great news.

  • Ruthie O’ S

    I’m not one to stay engaged throughout a post, but this one was different and kept me intrigued!Thanks for the helpful tips.

  • http://okaymarketing.com/ Brian Jackson

    Yes, you can read more here: https://www.facebook.com/business/news/A-New-Look-for-Ads-in-the-Right-Hand-Column For me it makes more sense to keep optimizing my newsfeed ads so I can apply them to the sidebar when it launches the same size. However, as far as CTR on the side goes with this new format, it is a whole new ballgame of testing all over again.

  • http://www.likebulbs.com/ Eugene Than

    Thanks for sharing : )

  • http://www.shortstack.com/ Jim Belosic

    Thanks for reading @eugenethan:disqus

  • http://www.shortstack.com/ Jim Belosic

    That’s great to hear @ruthieos:disqus I’m glad you found the article valuable.

  • http://www.shortstack.com/ Jim Belosic

    Thanks @disqus_aRWE91rLvj:disqus I agree it’s a very powerful when executed properly.

  • http://www.shortstack.com/ Jim Belosic

    @SBRTechnologies:disqus Facebook has said they are switching over side bar ads, to the best of my knowledge they haven’t said a specific date of when that will happen, which is why I wanted to get this article out before the switch was made. But @brianleejackson:disqus is right that it could happen by the end of June or within the next couple of months. Thanks for your comments guys.

  • CP

    Need to be careful that the suggestions comply with FB ad guidelines. Video play buttons and ads with over 20% text are non compliant.

  • Alex

    Your ad wasn’t approved because your image portrays nonexistent functionality (ex: a fake “play” button), which violates Facebook’s Ad Guidelines. Learn more in the Help Center. If you believe that your ad follows our policy or you need help, get in touch.

  • Gail Sanders

    Just use “AnyAudeince for Facebook”, if you advertise with Facebook Ads.

    It’s a chrome extension that enables you to use any facebook user list. It’s easy to use, reliable and not expensive.







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