How To Design for a Social Media Ad (Updated 2021)

The increasing popularity of social media over the years has gradually changed the marketing and advertising climate. Back then, to sell people your product and services, you use print media – magazines, newspapers, and billboards. You want people to feel your presence everywhere. 

You run your advertisements through radio and television to make it feel constant and consistent. You want to be right on top of the heads of everyone.

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Did you know that more than half of the world’s population – that is 3.96 billion people reported from the recent demographic analysis of Datareportal – are active social media users? And there is a projected 10.5 percent growth in the number of social media users annually!

This means we’re just counting a few years from now before the world totally gets online. A bit more of trivia, social media users all over the world spend an average of 2 hours and 24 minutes a day scrolling through and switching across different social networks and messaging apps. That’s just the average we’re talking about. 

This is why marketing and advertising had to evolve – the need to cater to people’s preferences. Your goal is to sell to the people therefore you have to know where they’re spending their time. 

This social media buzz has created the new era of advertisement design tailor fitted to the different social media platforms such as Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, and LinkedIn. 

How to Create an Engaging Social Media Advertisement?

When we say that there is a lot happening across all social media platforms, we really mean A LOT. In order to gain the attention of your viewers, you have to engage them and make them stop scrolling. But how do you do that?

There are a few tips you can try to make this happen and you don’t need to be a design whiz to actually get people to “turn” their heads.

Know your goal for your social media advertisement

It’s important that you know what you want to achieve from your ad. Is it just a simple publicity material to rake in likes and follows for your page to expand your reach? Is it a promo or sale that you want to invite your viewers to? Are you making clicks for your websites?  Who is your target market? Which social media platform will you be using? If you are unsure as to how you want your ad to be, you would not be able to convey the message to your viewer. 

Study your social media demographics

Knowledge is power and the more knowledge you have, you can create a better and more engaging ad. In a 2019 social media demographic analysis made by PEW Research Center, it showed the percentage of apps usage in the US across different categories. Among US adults, both men and women use more than 70% of their time scrolling through YouTube with Facebook coming in at a very close second.

Then comes Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and Twitter. If you’re looking at gender-based usage, there is a significant amount of female users in Instagram and Pinterest. Equally important is the age category, for those in the 18-29 year old range, they spend a lot of time on YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram. For 25-29 year olds though LinkedIn is popular as this the fresh from university, looking for a work age group.

But if you’re targeting to sell to ages 30 and above, the best bet is to tailor your ad into YouTube and Facebook.

In general if you want to introduce your brand and are looking to experiment on the market, Facebook is the best place to go as it has 2.6 billion active users. Your ad will surely get somewhere. 

Study the platform

A lot of planning comes in before you can create an engaging social media ad and part of that is knowing your platform. These platforms offer different ad services. For example, facebook and instagram both have 24 hour temporary real time sharing which you can use to your advantage. These platforms also have different proportions and your materials should be adjusted accordingly. Some businesses use different formats of their material to suit the platform they’re putting it into. On the other hand, some just take it to the next level and make different designs for different platforms to add variety into their ad. 

Work with images and videos instead of texts

Studies showed that people register images way faster than they do normal texts. When people scan pages or scroll through their feed, the chances that your ad gets noticed is higher when it’s an image or a moving one because people rarely read. In fact, data show that 54% of social media users prefer video posts and it gets 1200% more engagements or shares than any other format.

For images, it’s best to follow the principles of design and avoid the major nopes. One is too much going on with all the fonts and images plastered. It’s better to create breathable images that do not shy away from whitespace. Trendy designs right now are those that adopt the minimalist style. Second is using stock photos. You want to communicate brand authenticity and using stock photos do not add any value to that. But if ever you’ll need one make sure you didn’t just get them off the internet or pinterest!

There are a lot of websites that offer free images just like Pixabay. For videos, make it short and sweet! Encapsulate your campaign in a 15 second video and make sure that you can still deliver the message even without audio. It turned out in analytics that most people watch ads with sound off. It’s good to use expressive type and eye-catching fonts and designs. 

Use an editing program or application that you can use with ease

Not all have access to registered programs or have the time to study complex programs. There are a lot of free editing applications nowadays to help you out with that task and topping off that list is Canva. In actuality, people who look for outsources for their social media ads do not really put in design expertise requirements, most of them just ask if you know your way around Canva!

It’s a good editing application that provides you with different size templates for different platforms and offers a wide range of templates to choose from as well!

Be consistent

If you’re doing advertisements across multiple platforms, make sure that you do not break the consistency of your brand because consistency is also familiarity. You want to engage your viewers and spot you anywhere! There are design elements that you can play around with to give you that consistent branding. 

Include a Call-to-Action

A good and engaging ad is an ad that calls a user to action. This goes for any post that’s about promos, sales, product launches, giveaways. You want your viewers to participate so you might want to add call-to-action buttons like instagram’s swipe up to direct you to the link. Your caption is also important because you want to share the details.

But don’t bore your viewers with a long one because that is going to be skipped. Keep it short and concise with important texts emphasized such as dates. 

Keep up with the trend!

A social media ad that engages is one that jumps on the witty bandwagon. Memes on facebook and twitter get more interactions and engagements as it adds wit and humor to the brand. No one gets attracted to a boring brand. Put on the hashtags and increase traffic into your platform. Especially on twitter where everything good and everything so bad can actually trend, it’s a good place to keep up with what’s new on social media today. 

For business owners and social media ad designers, it pays to carefully plan out all your advertisements. Engaging ideas and content are not done overnight. It takes time and effort and a lot of thought to develop these. In order to do that remember that KNOWLEDGE IS POWER. You need to study your audience – what will fit well to them, what will make them notice my brand. You need to strengthen your ideas by knowing your statistics and demographics and the platform itself.

Design is not just all about appearance! You also have to be smart about it. Use videos instead of text, be consistent on your branding enough for people to remember you. Call them to action. Viewing is great but clicks and participation are better! And lastly keep up with the trend, you’ll never know when you’ll need a good meme to stuff in your next ad! 

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