Caitlin Stanway-Williams

Growth hacking Facebook ads

Growth hacking Facebook ads sends engagement skyrocketing and there are many ways to optimise paid ads to drive brand awareness and sales.

With an astonishing 2.38 billion users and counting, Facebook should be playing a significant role in just about every brand’s marketing strategy – and piquing the interest of every marketer interested in growth hacking. Sheer access to customers is part of what has made the platform a marketer’s favourite, with 97% reporting that Facebook is their preferred place to run paid ads

But, for all the attention the social media colossus is enjoying, the platform is starting to look awfully crowded; filled to the brim with talented marketers jostling for engagement. In this precarious environment, only the very best ads can survive and thrive.

So, to help supercharge your next Facebook campaign, we’ve put together three of our best practices for growth hacking ads and guaranteeing your brand is noticed on the news feed.

Keep copy limited

The temptation is real, because, while you want to talk about all brilliant things you’re up to, one of the biggest mistakes a brand can make is writing ad copy that is too ‘wordy’. After all, our attention span is now below eight seconds – and your message needs to match.

Facebook is well aware that capturing our imagination is hard, so its ad format mirrors this, only allowing for a certain number of characters in each section. It’s enormously important to think carefully about the length of your copy to ensure maximum engagement. 


As a rule, brands should be aiming to keep to keep their headlines to five words, which, as the average length for the last four years, according to AdEspresso, has been consistently effective. A five-word headline that neatly summarises the aim of the ad generally tends to sit all on one line, resulting in a well-kept feel. 

Ad text

When it comes to the ad text, a length of 20 words and below tends to be the sweet spot: The same AdEspresso survey has found that 19 words is now the average length of ad text (up from 14 in 2018). This section should be a simple, on-point and easy-to-understand description of the product or service which effectively holds the reader’s interest.

Link description

Down from an average of 18 words in 2015, the average link description today is 13 words, demonstrating that the shorter it is, the more effective the link description tends to be. Again, keeping copy in this section to a minimum will encourage engagement and prevent words from being cut off. This is one of the last opportunities you have to sell your brand – keep it snappy, creative and to the point.

One of our favourite examples of a successful Facebook ad is this simple but effective message from Asana:

Growth hacking Facebook ads ex. 1

This copy works because it effectively addresses people’s pain points in as few words as possible, maximising engagement while getting its message across.

(Pro tip: If you’re stuck on the most effective language to use in your Facebook ad, according to AdEspresso the top five words to use are (in order) ‘You’, ‘Free’, ‘Because’, ‘Instantly’ and ‘New’.) 

Be specific (and creative) with your target audience

Significant time and research spent perfecting your target audience is crucial to any marketing campaign. So, it’s no surprise that it’s also one of the most effective ways to hack your Facebook ads.

As you may know, when creating ads on the platform, Facebook lets you target potential customers using things such as their location, age and gender. However, this is a very simplistic way to target customers and, to see real results, it’s worth digging a bit deeper into who exactly it is you want seeing your ads.

Interest-based targeting

This is where Facebook’s detailed targeting section comes in particularly helpful, as it segments users by demographics, interests and behaviours which can be used further narrow target audience and conduct interest-based targeting. It’s at this point that the marketer with clearest idea of their target audience comes out on top. This kind of marketer knows that a user interested in running is more likely to buy from their range of sports gear, for example. 

As always, it’s helpful to know exactly who your competitors are. An excellent hack for those trying to make their Facebook ads that much more effective is to try targeting ads specifically at people who have liked their competitors pages. While not technically a feature, Facebook allows you to target ads based on the brands and companies people like. So, try typing in your competitor’s website URL. If that’s not working, typing in your competitor’s brand name or spending a bit of time trying a few keyword combinations that will allow you to target their audience (which just happens to be yours too!). 

And this is just one example of hyper-focused targeting that will help you create successful Facebook ads. There are loads of different and incredibly effective ways you can target audiences – so get experimenting. 

Growth hacking Facebook ads small

Pick the image 

When it comes to getting your message across, nothing says it better than the right image. Facebook’s algorithm is set to favour visual content over written content, mirroring the fact that the human brain can form an emotional response to an image much faster than text – 60,000 times faster, in fact. If you want a successful Facebook ad, you simply cannot afford to miss out on an eye-catching picture. 

What makes a good image for successful Facebook ads?

While on the surface it may seem easy, finding the right image can actually be one of the hardest choices a marketer makes day-to-day. It’s surprisingly difficult to know what is going to resonate with your audience. It’s even harder to remove your own bias from the images you choose. There are a few factors to take into account, however:

  • Too much text in images can really lower engagement – fortunately Facebook has a tool that can determine whether your ad may reach fewer people for having too much text on the image which is worth trying out
  • Too many details can also make an ad image feel cluttered, something simple is likely to be more effective
  • Colour and warmth in images tends to make them more appealing to customers, although it’s worth giving Facebook’s colour scheme of blue and white a wide berth in your own pictures otherwise you risk blending into your audience’s news feed
  • Include happy people! This one’s a no-brainer: If there are happy people in your ad, you’re immediately implying that your product = happiness
  • Think about your target audience: What are their interests? What do they want to see? 

Natural imagery

Datasine’s AI system, Connect, has found that the general population favours images of warmer seasons, ones with vacation elements and plenty of nature that inspire relaxation. More concrete features, like wood and structure, have less aesthetic appeal, on the other hand, so are better avoided.

“This is because, as per The Attention Restoration Theory, even just images of nature improve attention in adults of all ages“ explains Jergan Callebaut, head of psychology at DataSine.

When it comes to picking striking imagery, Adobe is one brand that really has it down:

Growth hacking Facebook ads ex. 2

It helps enormously that their brand is all about promoting beautiful imagery, but you’ve got to admit that this stunning landscape would slow your scroll right down.

If you’re still struggling to pick, or just curious about optimising your content with the use of AI, our free tool, Connect, lets you to assess how effective your images will be in a Facebook ad campaign before you hit ‘Place Order’.

Final thoughts

There’s no exact science when it comes to creating successful Facebook ads, and there are a lot of features to play around with that require dedicated time. So, as is always the case when it comes to growth hacking, it’s all about the process of experimenting and making tweaks until your brand simply shouts from the screen.

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