Here's the mantra: "the shorter, the better." Quite the irony for those of us who make a living with words, eh?
But it makes sense. It really does. The thing with Facebook Lead Ads, or any online advertising for that matter, is that you're essentially trying to catch the attention of someone who probably didn't log in to hear about your groundbreaking dystopian sci-fi trilogy. And this is where our mantra comes in. Again, all together now: "The shorter, the better!"
Way to go!
Seriously though, think about it from the doomscroller's perspective. Even better, from your perspective as said Doomscroller. Think about the last time you were scrolling through your Facebook feed. What caught your attention? Was it the long, winding post from your best friend about their weekend getaway, complete with an hour-by-hour itinerary? Or was it the punchy one-liner from someone you don't even know?
I'm betting it was the latter.
In an era where humans have the attention span of a belly-up goldfish, brevity is your best friend. There's an old advertising adage, "The more you tell, the less they'll remember." And it's true.
The goal of your ad copy isn't to narrate the entire plot of your book or your journey as an author. It's to tease, to intrigue, and to lead potential readers to a point where they want to know more. With Lead Ads, it's best to just tell them, straight-up, what they're in for.
Think of your Facebook Lead Ad like a movie trailer. The purpose isn't to summarize the movie, but to get the viewer excited. You can do this by killing yourself creatively, spending forever coming up with the perfect explanation of why they should do what you want them to, or you can just say, "Hey, it's a movie about Superman." People who love Superman will be in--instantly. People who don't? They weren't going to like the movie anyway.
For example, instead of writing:
Get ready for a spine-chilling journey with our brand new horror novel "The Haunted Mansion." The book is a gripping saga of a group of friends who decided to explore the old mansion on the outskirts of their quiet, sleepy town. Little did they know that their adventurous escapade would turn into a terrifying experience. The mansion, said to be haunted by the previous owner's ghost, holds a dark secret that has remained untouched for decades. Each of the friends has a unique character. John is brave, Alice is the skeptical one, Robert is the curious type, and Sarah... well, Sarah just tagged along. As they step inside the mansion, they encounter spine-chilling occurrences. From moving shadows to eerie whispers, their bravado crumbles and fear sets in. This 400-page epic unravels the mystery of the mansion and the ghost. The plot is filled with unexpected twists and turns that will keep you on the edge of your seat. By the time you reach the end, you'll feel a shiver down your spine, your heart pounding with terror and excitement. Download a free copy of the book when you sign up for our newsletter. Be warned though, this is not for the faint-hearted. If you're someone who loves to solve mysteries, adores the adrenaline rush, and is a fan of horror genre, then this book is your ticket to an unforgettable reading experience. Don't wait. Sign up and dive into the heart of horror.
Be honest: did you say, "What the absolute WHAT?" and then skip the last eighty-two paragraphs of that neverending ad? Did you even get to the part where it asks you to sign up?
Contrast that with this:
Love scary stories? Tap the link to download a FREE horror bestseller!
Which one do you think is going to work better?
But remember: it’s not just about shortening the length, it's about sharpening the impact. And to do this, every word must earn its place in your ad. You need to distill your message into its most potent form.
Now, as a writer who used to be a lawyer, I have been diagnosed with what the professionals call "Word Diarrhea," so I find it hilariously challenging to follow my advice. Why use five words when fifty will do, right? But trust me, when it comes to Facebook Lead Ads, your best bet is to channel your inner Hemingway.
To quote him, "The only kind of writing is rewriting." And with ads, you’ll do plenty of it.
It's not just about being short—it's about being clear, concise, and compelling. To that end, there's another element that often goes unnoticed: the power of punctuation and pause. It's not only about what you say but how you say it.
For instance, consider these two options:
Each of them says pretty much the same thing, but the change in punctuation makes a HUGE difference.
The last one in particular uses the power of pause (indicated by the ellipsis) to add drama, to pique curiosity, and to lead the reader to want to know more. It's like a cliffhanger at the end of a book chapter, urging the reader to turn the page.
Let's remember, Facebook users are not on the platform with a shopping intent. They're there to chat with friends, share their thoughts, or browse through the feed mindlessly while waiting for their coffee to brew. Your ad is an uninvited guest, and it better be a charming one.
So far, we've talked about why short works. Now let's discuss how to best use the three main elements of Facebook Lead Ads: Primary Text, Headline, and Description.
Primary Text is the first thing users see. This is your book's elevator pitch, and it better be good. With a book ad, you'll want to either intrigue and interest ("The dead don't stay dead...in the forest"), or just tell 'em why up front ("Get the newest bestseller by a Bram Stoker Award finalist" is one you'll see from me...a lot). With lead ads, it's almost always the latter ("Love to fall in love? Get a FREE romance now!").
The Headline should be even more succinct. This is your book's tagline. It should be punchy, memorable, and emotive for a book ad ("Home is where you hang your ax..."). For a lead ad, it will generally reiterate the offer ("Get your free romance now!")
Finally, the Description, hidden unless clicked, is your last chance to hook your potential reader. It should sum up the tone and genre of your book and make a promise that your book will deliver. For example, "Dive into an epic sci-fi adventure that'll leave you questioning our place in the universe" or "Grab the book that has readers screaming...if you dare" or "Tap the link if you're ready to fall in love with falling in love."
I've seen many ads in my decade-long journey--some great, some less so. And believe me, even a seasoned professional like me has churned out a few that, in hindsight, have made me question if intelligent life actually exists (at least in my own skull). But the key is to experiment, measure, and iterate.
You might be an indie author, but armed with the power of short and impactful Facebook Lead Ads, you're anything but alone in the world of book marketing. It's a brave new world out there, filled with readers just waiting to discover their next favorite book. And who knows? It could very well be yours.
I'm Michaelbrent Collings, an international bestseller and produced screenwriter, as well as a multiple Bram Stoker Award and Dragon Award finalist, and maker of a fair-to-middling chocolate chip waffle.
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