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198: How To Create Winning Content on Facebook and Instagram

Posted by Austin Brawner on May 7, 2019


Most of the time when our clients get big wins they can be traced back to the quality of their content.

Big wins come from winning content, and today Andrew and I are going to discuss how to create that winning content for Facebook and Instagram ads. We’ll share the specific features your content must have if you want to stand out, and our top tips for creating winning imagery, video, and copy.

These principles apply not only to Facebook and Instagram but can be integrated across your entire marketing funnel to help you in all aspects of your business.


Episode Highlights

  • 2:40 A tactic that helped one of Andrew’s clients see an 8X return during their spring launches
  • 5:14 What’s working now with Facebook and Instagram advertising and the winning features your contents must have
  • 6:30 The three fundamental things you must get across in your content: trust, previous customer experience, and quality
  • 10:04 How to turn a Facebook ad into its own landing page with all the fundamentals included
  • 12:02 When you’re creating imagery, ask yourself: How can I make this look real and represent what it actually looks like when someone’s using it?
  • 12:57 Why user-generated content can provide you with the best imagery, and a company that’s killing it with their UGC content
  • 14:49 Andrew’s take on lifestyle imagery and making sure your product is at least 50% of any image
  • 17:21 What you should consider when it comes to creating video content, and why you might not want to do it at all
  • 18:08 Types of video content that can work well
  • 21:29 If you have a product that needs an explanation, then video may be a necessity for your advertising.
  • 23:44 What makes good copy, including: ratings, your unique value propositions, a clear CTA, scarcity, and more
  • 28:58 Austin’s tips for how to get started with writing your winning content

Links And Resources

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Austin Brawner: What's up everybody? Welcome to another episode of the Ecommerce Influence podcast. My name is Austin Brawner.

Andrew Foxwell: I'm Andrew Foxwell. Man, I have a great win that I'd like to share at the beginning of this episode.

Austin Brawner: Let's do it. I want to hear it.

Andrew Foxwell: All right. I have a client who I've been working with for about a year and a half now. One of the things that they do is they do a lot of launches. They do a lot of just like, like a spring launch, and it's very kind of event-based because that's a big part of what their really good customers look forward to. They come out with new styles and things like that. I think a lot of you that listen to this has that. What we did this spring is we actually tried to launch ads, not using a ManyChat or not sending them to a landing page or anything like that. We actually launched them using event ads on Facebook and drove people to RSVP to that particular event, and then we created audiences and put content in there and built that up and then build audiences for lookalikes and for the custom audiences off of people that have RSVP'd for that list before that launch page was live.

Now this may be a tactic that you maybe listen to this and be like, "Oh Foxwell, did that like a year ago." Okay, well that's awesome because this is a new tactic for me and it worked really, really well. Just a little kind of awesome win that we had an 8X on the first two days of this spring release, I think, because of thinking about it alternatively in pre-building those audiences.

Austin Brawner: Yeah, that's awesome. I will say that ... It goes back to your thought process of, "Oh, people might already be doing this." There may be a small group of people that have already been doing this, but because of your kind of group that you run in, of Facebook advertisers, maybe a larger percentage of those people might have done it, but most people haven't done this or even thought about this. I think that's awesome, man.

Andrew Foxwell: Right.

Austin Brawner: It's a great win. I love it.

Andrew Foxwell: Yeah, it's a good win. It's a good win. Well, today we're talking about content. Do you want to give a little bit more color to that Austin?

Austin Brawner: Yeah. We're talking about content because when we see wins, for example, a lot of it will stem back to winning content and be driven by content that is better, more effective than other brands' content. The idea of today's episode is just kind of a primer on how to create winning content.

Andrew Foxwell: Correct. This is specifically content that I would say is for your Facebook and Instagram advertising. This can translate into other pieces too, but this is a question that Austin and I get asked a lot, what's working where? That's kind of what we're basically ... What's working now? That's what we're attempting to answer today and give you some general framework that when I'm on these coaching calls and when Austin's talking to people of, "Hey, what's working right now," these are the things that we're saying and kind of the framework that we go off of.

Austin Brawner: Exactly. We're going to today talk about what kind of specific features your content must have if you want to win out in the auction. Like I said like most of this will be relevant to Facebook and Instagram, but the same thing goes and applies across the marketing sphere because marketing is marketing and winning content. This is going to be specific to Facebook and Instagram, but the same principles will apply across marketing because it comes down to it.

Andrew Foxwell: Absolutely.

Austin Brawner: A lot of the ... Influence, the book Influence covers basically everything we're going to be talking about, a lot of what we're going to be talking about.

Andrew Foxwell: That's right. That's right. Okay, so whenever people say, "What do I need to create for my content? What works on Facebook?" There are three fundamentals that I always bring up that we're trying to get across with the ad. This is a lot of stuff that you're going to think about for your landing pages as well, that you're trying to translate, but with the ad and what's going to help you stand out are these three fundamentals.

One is trust. The first one, trust. Are you a brand that people can trust with their money or their time? How are you getting through that you're a trustworthy brand? How long have you been in business? What are your bonafides? Are they made in the United States? I mean, that ties into one of the third things that we'll talk about, but trust is a really, really big one because people don't know if they click on your ad and then they go to the landing page, like who you even are. They don't have any idea. Trying to get across trust is a really, really big one at the fundamentally.

Austin Brawner: The next one is going to be, previous customer experience. This is going to be something that is equally important on your landing pages, but that comes down to reviews. Are other people enjoying your product and are they talking about it? That could be reviews, two things, one from actual people or also from something like Wirecutter for example, which is an established, credible review site.

Andrew Foxwell: Exactly, exactly. Basically, you're thinking about trust, do people know you, how many purchases have you had, that type of thing, and then the previous customer experience, or reviews. Reviews can be a review in the actual ad creative. It can be in the copy. It can be saying, "Hey, check out our reviews," and sending them to a landing page. It can be also something like Austin said, of going to a particular piece of PR that you have, talking about the experience that that reviewer had. This can also be previous customer experience and reviews can be within the comments of the ad. This goes to the tactical piece of trying to launch that ad, particularly at previous customers so that you kind of build and turn that ad into its own landing page.

Then the third one is quality. You want to try to get across that you have a quality product. An example of this is I'm working with a pet leash company. These pet leashes, great guy, has an awesome company, but these pet leashes have a lifetime warranty and that's what he is pushing. All of the ads say lifetime warranty, even if your dog destroys it. That's awesome, but all of the images and photos only mention that and they don't show or show somebody pulling on the rope or show a dog tugging on the leash, not the rope, the leash. They don't show the quality that he's trying to get across other than that one piece of copy.

That's the type of thing of if you push on the quality, you pushed on what other people thought, he's got a ton of great reviews that aren't integrated in there, into that number two, previous customer experience, and then trust. If you put in the ad, "Over 6,000 or even 2,000 or even 1,000 or 100 satisfied customers in 2019," that's a number that people identify with because it's like, oh, okay, cool. Those are satisfied customers and they can go to your landing page and see reviews and prove that that's true. Basically trust, previous customer experience and quality, those are the frameworks. That's the framework that we're going to be working within as we think about what creative is working and where.

Austin Brawner: Exactly. Why don't you dive into something that you've talked a lot about, which is how to actually turn your ad into its own landing page.

Andrew Foxwell: Yeah, so let's dive into that just really briefly. If you've never done this, this is a tactic that I love to do and one that works really, really well. You have people that have purchased your product. If you're just starting out, then you're not able to do this, but as you build up your customer base this a great thing to do. You take the ad that you have if you're launching an ad, to ... Let's say it's a new product or a new collection, you take that particular ad and you copy the post ID. You take that post ID, which I'm happy to give instructions on this if you have more specific questions, but you copy that and use it and the ad level as its own ... Again, as an ad and then you launch it under page post engagement under that objective to your previous customers. That can kind of help turn that ad into its own landing page where people are commenting and saying, "Bought this last week, bought this last fall, love it, wear it all the time, looks great, people thought it was fantastic."

That is a really, really, really great validation point because then people can see that you're not just some company, that there's trust that's associated with you. If you want to get into that more, I'll record a little video for this and you can watch that, of how to go ahead and do that, but it's basically that's the social proof and concept. It's a big one and you're launching it particularly at your previous customers to build that trust.

Austin Brawner: That's exactly it. All three fundamentals are covered in that, trust, previous customer experience, and quality, because people are talking about that, hopefully.

Andrew Foxwell: Exactly, exactly. Let's get into imagery.

Austin Brawner: Yeah, let's go into it. Why don't you kick us off with your take on the first question to ask yourself?

Andrew Foxwell: Cool. Yeah. The first question to ask yourself when you're creating imagery, okay, and you're sitting down and saying, "I need some new stuff for my advertisements," which is, how can I make this look real and actually something that people use, wear or need? That's the question that you're trying to get out there.

I have a client that I've been working with for two years, very stark imagery. The brand is very stark. It's on a lot of white backgrounds and that's what we're working on now is redoing the imagery so it's not something that looks so canned or so cold. We were trying to make it look real and trying to make it look like, okay, this is something that actually I would put on and wear on my wrist. This is a jewelry company I'm talking about.

Many times we try to focus on something, make it look really cool or professional when in reality a lot of people just want to see how it looks. They just want to see what it's going to look like wearing it or what it looks like on a model or something else. That's why almost always if you can, on imagery, user-generated content, or UGC, works better for images than products with the plain white background, or just products alone. The more that you can utilize imagery from your community or take imagery that is something you've created that looks more real and is less polished, the better off you're going to be. I think that's really a big key on imagery.

There was a client I was working with that they had images that were okay. They were very professionally designed and they were getting about a 1.5 return on ad spend in a 30-day window. They started working with a new agency that's a partner of ours and they switched their entire content to user-generated content, images of people with the product, videos of people reviewing the product and they're now consistently over a 2X. Just switching that, not changing the audiences is a really, really, really big one.

Austin Brawner: You know who's somebody who does a great job if you want to go take a look at people's consistent creative that is quality user-generated content and it blends the line between super professional and user-generated content, is Pura Vida bracelets. I think they do a great job at this. They'll always ... They'll have people posting wearing their bracelets and it's kind of like they have the edge of models versus normal people. A lot of the people that are doing it, it's professional photography of amateur models wearing their product. Beautiful people wearing the product, but it's not manufactured. It's like in the natural environment and there's also a ton of color.

Andrew Foxwell: Yeah, exactly. I think that's a great example, a great one to follow. It's just trying to look at like, how can I make this look more real? That's a really big part of it. This goes into another one, which is, remember people are looking at this thing on like a two and a half, three-inch screen in a lot of cases, on their mobile device. You have to ensure that the product is at least 50% of the image, in a lot of cases. People say, "Hey Andrew, do you like lifestyle shots?" Sure. I like lifestyle shots. I think they can work.

Where lifestyle shots work is not necessarily in a prospecting setting. They're going to work mostly in a lower funnel setting where you're trying to get people to re-buy, in a loyalty setting where you're trying to convince people that buying your product will give them the lifestyle that they're looking for, but in most cases, you're going to ... That's, I still say, a small percentage. Most cases you're going to want to make sure that the product is at least 50% of the overall image. It's better if it's more because you want people to be like, "Oh, that's what that is," right away. If you can include some sort of bold pop of color, that's even going to be better because it's going to catch their eye. It's going to be like, "Oh, that's fantastic. I see what that is."

The final thing that I'll say is just please don't use like a coffee cup in the image. No one cares that you're drinking coffee. This is the thing that was like very popular a long time ago. You put like your product down next to a cup of coffee. It's like, okay, I don't understand. It's like lay flat and you're looking at that from above. Doesn't need to be there, so 50% of the image is your product. If there's a bold pop of color, that's better. If you have images of people wearing it, what it looks like out in the wild, you're going to be better off. You can use great influencer marketing platforms to find these micro influencers too, like Grin is a great one that Bryan Anthony's uses, I know, previous guests on the show, to find these micro influencers to help you build up some of that imagery that looks more real.

Austin Brawner: Awesome. Well, I want to transition over to kind of the next topic, moving from imagery to video, because for a while, almost every conference I went to, ecommerce conferences, people just talked about how video was replacing images. That was it. Video's crushing it. Just do video, video, video, retarget off of video audiences. I would say that video works for some people, but images still work. Tell me what you're feeling about video, what is working, what's not working and what are some of the questions you ask yourself before going live with a new video ad?

Andrew Foxwell: Yeah. I would say that video generally, it's really, really tough. There's been a lot of studies that have been done on this and there's been a lot of content companies that have paid money to test between like a $50,000 video, a $5,000 video and a $500 video and which one works. It's always the mid-range one that "generally works" if it can. There are ways that video can work.

For example, if you're integrating humor in what you're doing, I think that can capture people's mind. You have to make sure that if you're trying to do something longer than 30 seconds that there's captions that you put along with it, which you can do in the Facebook tool.

But really what you're trying to get across with video and what I've seen work on video, particularly Facebook and Instagram, is a slide show. This gives you the ability to take images, static images, and put them into a one to five seconds like basically, an animated carousel with a fade in between that shows off multiple images. You can make them square, you can do it in the 16 by 9. You can do it actually for Instagram stories. There's this tool called The Video Creation Kit, which we've talked about in previous episodes that allows you to do that. Video slideshows of static images really, really work. I have not seen in the accounts that I'm attached to and the accounts that I ... The people I'm talking to, they're spending $30 to $50 million a month on Facebook, DR and the US mostly, that video is a ... I haven't seen video be a core component of what it is, of like that whole funnel. Now the exception to that rule is someone who they've paid to review the product that's an influencer sitting down and reviewing it in a 10 to 15-second review. That is something that works well.

Austin Brawner: While using the products.

Andrew Foxwell: I've also seen ... While using the product, exactly. Now I've also seen something where video work for an audience that is very used to video and likes the idea of raw video. For example, there's a company we work with that is, they work with a lot of professional athletes. They have athletes using and wearing their products. Those work well that they're just standing around wearing their products and the athletes talking about it. It's very casual because that's what the customer is used to seeing in their feed so it looks very native to them. There's some exceptions to this, but in the most part if you say, "Hey, I want to try video," try a slide show first. That can be done on Instagram stories like I said, or on the feeds. Those work really, really well.

The other thing I would say is if you want to try video, go back to that realness factor that we talked about in our fundamentals in the beginning of trust or quality. Do something like an unboxing video of your own. Pull it out of the box, hold it up, look at it, tug on it. Maybe it's a piece of apparel, maybe it's a piece of jewelry, maybe it's a hat. Show off what it really can do. That's a big thing that I think works a lot in especially the lower part of the funnel to prove that you're a quality product and prove that you have a quality product. Doing that on video can work. You have to be careful where you can use it, but I would say don't build your entire funnel on video and be careful with how you go about building it, because it's just not as stable of a performer as, say, some static imagery or ... Static imagery just still, I think, works better in most cases.

Austin Brawner: I would say to throw in another exception there is like the companies that I've worked with, I see doing very well with video, are companies that have a product that needs a little bit of explanation. If it needs a little bit of an explanation, video can be excellent.

Andrew Foxwell: That's true.

Austin Brawner: It actually cannot only be excellent, can be 100% necessary. If it's a product that is like a better version of something people already know, oftentimes images work well because it's like, oh, well I know what that product is. I don't need an explanation. I can just see that it's high quality. That's why you'll notice that often the companies like Mack Weldon or some of these direct to consumer like clothing companies that I get advertised, athletic clothing, they don't do a lot of videos. They just show high-quality images of the products on models because I already know what pants ... I know that they're pants. I don't need an explanation.

Andrew Foxwell: Right, right. Totally. Yeah. I think that's true. There's clearly a lot of caveats with video, but I think that you need to be ... I'm not somebody that's going to come in and say, hey, you need to do video right off the bat.

Austin Brawner: Earlier you said during this, you're like, companies that I work with that are spending $30 to $50 million a month on Facebook.

Andrew Foxwell: Yeah, this is the total group that I work with very closely. That groups of about 27 agencies around the world that I kind of use as my advisors too, to make sure that what I'm saying and what I'm putting out there isn't just my own personal experience. That's where that number comes from. Of the funnels that I see, there are clients that are spending a lot of money on videos.

Austin Brawner: The only reason I brought that up is because it sounded like there was an individual client you're working with that was spending $30 to $50 million on Facebook. I don't know if that's ... I think that would be a massive, massive company. I'll just kind of clear that up.

Andrew Foxwell: Yeah, yeah, exactly. Yeah. No, that is not true. That is not true. Thank you for clarifying that. The final part is copy, I think, to talk about.

Austin Brawner: Yeah. Why don't you dive into kind of, what are your thoughts on a very popular practice of saying like, "Rated A-plus by Buzzfeed," or, "Rated A-plus by Business Insider?" Does that matter? Is it helpful? What are your thoughts on ratings and external validation?

Andrew Foxwell: Yeah, so I think that there's a couple things that go on with copy. I think that high ratings and external validation both actually matter. Ratings of giving people the ability to have five star emoji, so star, star, star, star, star, "This product is so awesome. I got it for Christmas and I can't stop wearing it," Andrew F., February 2019, whatever the timeline is. That's basically a really big part of it. Ratings do matter and I think that generally will work better if you try that in a lot of parts of the funnel, particularly in the mid to lower part of the funnel. What you're looking for in the prospecting side of it too is you're trying to give people a lot of different ... You're trying to let them know that there's trust there, but you can also try to basically explain your value propositions.

What is it that you do that's different? What is it that you do that's something that sets you apart? If you can combine a couple more elements, you're going to have a winning combination for copy. Some of them are, give people a flexible way out. Try it free, return anytime, hassle-free returns, cancel anytime. The flexible way out of giving your product a shot is big. You can position yourself against a known competitor. We are better than this because 10 reasons we are better than x. That's an idea of basically trying to call them out and say, here's a brand that they may know and here's what we are. I saw an ad this morning for a watch company and they said it is ... They said the watch for when you want to give your Rolex a day off. Now I don't own a Rolex, let me be clear, but I love that because it gives me like, oh, okay, it's like not a Rolex, but it's like of that caliber. That's kind of interesting.

Austin Brawner: You'll see that Mack Weldon, for example, they've run this massive campaign, which is like all it's talking about is the reasons why men are switching to Mack Weldon, throwing out their underwear and switching to Mack Weldon. That's been their campaign for a while. You can take that and it doesn't have to be even positioned ... In that instance, it doesn't have to be positioned against a competitor because everybody wears underwear, but that same sort of thing can be applied to your product.

Andrew Foxwell: Yeah, absolutely. If you kind of combined, all right, high ratings, external validation, things talking about reviews in your funnel, I think that's really, really good. I think if you talk about the flexible way out, you position yourself against a known competitor.

Another one is if you have a clear CTA up front, that call to action, basically where, "Take our money, 20% off now." That's an example of something like, right now, here's what you can do, give it a shot. You can also try to integrate questions. You can think about that consumer problem and going through, are you annoyed at the wait, are you sick of bigger price, designer prices? Those are classic examples of it, but trying to ask a question of if they have that particular problem, and trying to answer that right away. If your product's made in the United States, mention that, or it's made in the country that you're advertising in, mention that.

Trying to also, if you can, there's scarcity that you have if you've only made a certain number of these. We have a client that only makes a very select amount of their certain products and so we talk about that. I update that in the ad copy, only 25 left, only 23 left, that type of thing. We update that copy as their inventory goes down. That's a big thing to do and you don't want to be disingenuous with that, but also implying that scarcity or showing that, hey, it is actually going to run out, is important to get to because people feel like they have a shorter time window.

I think the biggest thing that you can integrate in your copy is trying to give off, here's reviews, here's what it looks like, an external validation. There are multiple times in the last quarter that I have helped business owners rebuild their funnels basically, utilizing, if we try to bring this all together, either video of a review or a video of somebody showing off the product or a slideshow of user-generated content along with a review, along with multiple reviews that I'm just taking from Yotpo and copying into their particular ad copy and utilizing that. That's something that's really helped to boost a lot of results. That, and helping people too, at the top funnel explain their value propositions of their products.

That's kind of the framework that I work in, trust, previous customer experience, quality. Thinking about the imagery, is it something that looks real and people something actually are going to use and wear and need? Video, can you experiment with showing off the quality of it, what it looks like? In the copy, can you try ratings? Can you try something with external validation? Can you give people a flexible way out? Can you try to throw in a call to action? Those are some of the fundamentals that I go on as we think about winning creative and winning content.

Austin Brawner: I would say just to go into the copy thing, I would not start with a blank page trying to write copy. I wouldn't write any copy. I would start first by going through reviews, making a list of just copy and paste the quality good reviews and see what people are already saying about the product and start there. Don't ever just start by trying to write out copy. Go there and copy that to a page and then distill down and pull all the copy you're going to write from things that people are already saying.

Andrew Foxwell: I think that's incredible advice. I think that's absolutely incredible advice because the language that customers use is going to be a lot different than what you think you should use, actually, which I've discovered. That's going to be a really good inspiration for you. Hopefully, you found this helpful. If you have thoughts on creative and you are seeing different things work, please let me know, I'd love to hear about it, but hopefully, you have found this episode helpful.

Austin Brawner: Awesome. Well thanks, guys for listening and we'll talk to you on the next episode.

Hey guys, it's Austin again and if you've been a listener for a while and you've yet to join the Brand Growth Experts membership, now is the time to do it. It is an incredible resource for you. It's my online coaching community. It's really the engine that drives the Ecommerce Influence podcast. We've got about 115 members, all ecommerce business owners and ecommerce marketers. In that community, I work with you guys one on one to help scale up your business. That could be scaling up advertising, hiring a team, diving into marketing strategy. It's a really, really good resource and we go really in depth every single month on topics that we also talk about on the podcast. If you've enjoyed the podcast, it's something you get some value out of, you're going to love the Brand Growth Experts membership. Head over to and you can learn some more information. Can't wait to see you guys on the inside.

Austin Brawner: What's up everybody? Welcome to another episode of the Ecommerce Influence podcast. My name is Austin Brawner.

Andrew Foxwell: I'm Andrew Foxwell. Man, I have a great win that I'd like to share at the beginning of this episode.

Austin Brawner: Let's do it. I want ...

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