Facebook target audience illustration
Write to your target audience

If you are spending money on Facebook, you want to write ads that convert. What is Facebook looking for and how do you write ads that are effective? Picture the people you are talking to first.

Facebook uses audience targeting, as opposed to keywords, to put your ad in front of the right person. The best way to write effective Facebook ads is to write copy that appeals to that audience’s mindset. For each audience you want to reach, write a different ad.

Facebook is still the behemoth that dwarves every other social media channel. It is used by 72% of adult Internet users, that’s 62% of the entire adult population. (Pew Research Center).  Not only that, their users love the platform and will check their feed 13.8 times a day. Mashable says it is the third most popular app on peoples’ phones after email and the web browser. Compare social media platforms.

Which is all great news for you and your brand. But before you get carried away, remember there is huge competition for attention on Facebook, so it pays to get things right. The key to making your Facebook ads more effective is understanding who you are talking to. Know your audience and you will know how to write.

Are the words important?


Don’t you just need a great picture or video and you’re done? Hmm, not quite. Images are definitely important – we eat with our eyeballs but your copy is the icing on the cake. Images capture attention but it is the words that make people act. And that is what every brand owner wants.

The anatomy of a Facebook ad

I’ll look at Image ads that appear in the feed. There are lots of other formats but the principles that I discuss will apply. The feed is where your customers lives and that is usually where your ads appear so let’s look at how we read an ad while we scroll through our feeds.

We read from left to right, top to bottom, so approach your writing in that order.

Facebook ad example
Your logo and brand name are the first things your customer see’s along with a “sponsored” message – so they know this is a paid commercial message, not from a friend. Your username is limited to 50 characters.
Primary text
This is where you persuade people to act. Technically there are no limits to the amount of ad copy but Facebook recommends an ad copy limit of 125 characters, otherwise it may be truncated and people will have to click “see more” to read more. This is especially true on mobile devices.
You can put text on your image but it must not cover more than 20% of the image.  This is a Facebook requirement for image ads in the feed.

The most visible text on your ad, after the image. Your headline will be cut after 40 characters.

By default Facebook pulls in meta data from the page you are linking to but you can replace this with custom text. This is limited to 155 characters.

Your website link

Call-to-action button

There are seven different call-to-actions, choose the one that is applicable to your goal.

Picture who you want to talk to.

Craft your writing for your target audience

Getting your targeting right before you put pen to paper helps you decide what you need to say to drive action. If you know the people you are talking to and their mindset, you can be much more convincing.

The secret to compelling copy is:-

  • Saying the right thing
  • To the right people
  • At the right time.

Write like you are having a face-to-face conversation

Always keep in mind that you are having a one-on-one conversation. When you are writing your Facebook ad it is tempting to write as though you are speaking to a crowd in a huge room. But really, you are just talking to one person, scrolling through their feed. Make it personal to them, that is why your targeting is so important for your writing.

Targeted conversations

The thing is:

Facebook gives you lots of options for you to finesse your targeting. Think of it this way. Who would you like to walk into your shop? Someone who has been there before and likes your stuff? People who live close by? Maybe your products are directly related to their hobbies or you know their friends have already bought stuff from you. Wouldn’t it be much easier to start a conversation and make a sale if you knew all that? Well you can.

Facebook targeting parameters

  • Target location – pinpoint your neighbourhood, city or country
  • Target gender – male, female or both
  • Target age – Narrow down your target even more by age range
  • Target interests – If you are a bookshop, you might want to target people who like literature, if you are a Pilates studio target people who like fitness
  • Past behaviour – Focus on the people who have visited your page or website
  • Connections – Do you have people who like your Facebook page or try targeting Facebook groups that like the products you produce.

This is just a selection, there are many more options to really help put your ad in front of the right people.

Target market spectrum

Write different ads for different audiences

Play with the target parameters to find ideal audiences for your business. Once you have established who your targets are, write messages that resonate with each one.

Create different ads for different targets – it could be just location. You might want locals to drop by in person to your shop, and then create a different ad for a remote audience that encourages them to shop online.

Perhaps you have goods that appeal more to women but at some point, you might want to target men at gift giving times. The ad will change and the language you will use. If you can picture who you are talking to it becomes much easier to write.

Say one thing

A Facebook ad is not the place for a lot of detail. People will keep scrolling at the drop of a hat. Don’t give them an excuse, so keep on track and focus on one message. Every piece of copy in that ad should be geared to getting that one point across. The headline to grab attention. The ad copy to fill in support. The call-to-action and description to prompt decision making.

Make sure your text mirror's your sales funnel

Facebook marketing objective screen
Facebook marketing objective screen

What outcome are you after? If you want to generate leads stick to that, use different ads further into your sales funnel to prompt sales. The more focused you are, the better your conversions will be.

Keep it short and to the point

For all the above reasons, I was/am very much in favour of short, punchy copy that gets to the point quickly and solves a customer problem. This article by Adespresso gave me pause for thought. They wrote one ad, focused on one outcome but tested for the best ad copy length.

Like me, everyone in their office predicted the shortest copy length of one sentence would work the hardest. It didn’t, the version with one paragraph performed the best. The caveat here though, was that each version was written by a professional copywriter. If you are not as confident with your writing, even they suggest short copy will work harder.

Solve a problem

Readers are selfish, they don’t want to hear about how great you are, they want to know about the value you can add to their lives. It is all about them.

You and your brand might get a look in later but in the milliseconds that you have of their attention, the reader will look for “what’s in it for me.” Get that right and it leads to a click. What are you offering them? And will that persuade them to click?

Ask yourself what benefit are you offering, how will their life be better? Once they have clicked, it shows they are eager to know more and your brand can shine at the next step. Focus on action first.


Facebook takes away the guesswork. It is very easy and cheap to test the copy you produce. Create two ads – same picture, same headline, same description but change out the copy. Run each one for a week and you will immediately see which one is performs better. Take the winner and scale it up. This is called A/B split testing. This works for any element you change, the picture or headline or CTA.


Facebook really want you to succeed with your ads – it makes sense, if you make money, they make money. Success is putting the right ad in front of the right person, your goods or services in front of the eyes of someone that is looking for that kind of thing.

Once your targeting is correct, writing ads that convert become much easier. You know who they are, what they like and what will interest them, the motivation they need to act.

With a little preparation your writing becomes much easier.

First define what you want to achieve, then write to that goal – whether it is awareness, traffic to your site or conversions.

Target someone specific – that will help you write copy that will appeal to them. If you know what’s on their mind, you can come up with the right answers that delivers value to them.

Write to get clicks. Your ad is just a stepping stone to a business goal. That doesn’t mean you should write clickbait – that will get picked up quickly by Facebook’s relevancy tool. You want writing that encourages action – to learn more, to shop, to contact, to sign up. Every word should work toward that button.

What do you think?

I hope this has given you a better insight into how to approach writing ads for Facebook. If it has been useful to you let me know in the comments below, so we can learn too.

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