This article was originally published @ Adweek

Every social network has its own unique draw for consumer audiences. With Pinterest, it’s the discovery component. With Facebook, it’s the ability to share content and see what others are up to. There is subtle differentiation across all of the social platforms when it comes to user-appeal.

There is also subtle differentiation when it comes to advertising on them. Creative that works on one platform or format won’t necessarily work for the other. Many brands, however, build one social campaign and execute it across every social channel.

While some practices hold true across all platforms (mobile-friendly video ads that feel native to the platform, personalization, a clear value proposition, a combination of video and static creatives), marketers that get the best ad performance out of social networks are the ones who have a strategic creative game plan for each.

Facebook and Instagram feed

The most interesting thing about the Facebook feed is that it offers so many ad formats that cover the full marketing funnel. Canvascollection adscarousel adsand link ads are excellent for top-to-bottom-funnel tactics, like branding and product-related content. They enable marketers to show what differentiates their brand, and marketers should approach these formats like a mini-site on mobile that can drive consumer engagement and actual purchases. Creative must tell the brand story but also act as a “digital storefront” with browsable, direct-response content.

When incorporating product into video, there’s a way to make sure the product is the central focus while bringing value through storytelling. Whether it’s a shoe, a candle or storage bins, creating engaging mobile-first videos like GIFs, cinemagraphs and incorporating text overlays will help draw user attention. In fact, telling a story with visual descriptions not only provides important context for viewers, but also makes cost per video completion 30 percent more effective, according to SocialCode.

Instagram and now also Facebook Stories

The Stories format is a different story. Ads that mirror the more organic type of content people see from their friends are easier for consumers to digest. Overly produced ad creative can take on a harsher quality against the backdrop of organic Stories, so think twice before hiring a production crew for an ad campaign on this format.

Simple, hand-held mobile video that shows behind-the-scenes footage at a brand factory or user-generated content of someone using the product are creatives that will perform well. With only 15 seconds allotted for video ads on Instagram, interactive video or imagery are the best bet to drive engagement (it’s also possible to do carousel Stories to tell engaging stories). client Bark, the dog-obsessed company behind toys, treats and experiences like BarkBox, is a good example of a brand that effectively incorporates user-generated video into its social ads.

Bark has seen this type of content—montages of dogs tearing open their monthly boxes and playing with toys—get a lot of organic engagement, likes and comments when shared on social. But, it delivers more than just clicks: Since the UGC tends to be more relatable and authentic for consumers, it delivers organic lift and reach, too. With over 3 million uploads of #barkbox on Instagram alone, Bark’s customers provide a constant flow of material for social ads that simultaneously serves as insightful feedback on what products their customers (aka the dogs) really love.

Another UGC option is to utilize Instagram influencers, securing them to promote content and then advertising that. Another customer,, was delivering highly produced ads to promote its product catalog. It looked and felt like an ad. But when decided to promote its organic content with influencer images instead, it saw a 30 percent drop in cost per action.

Incorporating visual clues in the ad content—like giving users the sense to “swipe up” on the ad to learn more3encourages immediate action. Flight booking application Hopper, another client, saw a significant drop in CPA for installs once it incorporated the swipe-up-arrow animation into its ads.

The Stories format, in general, has peaked consumer interest, and brands that have moved ad budget there have found measurable success. Hopper saw a 67 percent higher rate of app installs and 80 percent higher booking rates for new users when it started using Instagram Stories over feed placements.


Unlike Facebook and Instagram, which require copy to consume no more than 20 percent of the ad image, Pinterest has no limitations. There is a lot of freedom and range with creatives. Given that, advertising on Pinterest is very much like a throwback to the golden years of print advertising, where bold ideas reign supreme and beautiful typography is encouraged.

Consumers also purposely go to Pinterest to discover, so it’s important to take advantage of being able to supply consumers with tremendous context within the ad. Even on video, the limitation on length is 30 minutes.

However, with the creative freedom on Pinterest, it’s important to have eye-catching, clear call-to-actions. If there is a lot of imagery or copy burying the lead (the CTA), that’s a missed opportunity to get a customer conversion. According to Pinterest, Pins with CTAs in the text overlay had a 6 percent higher online sales lift.

While there are key differences in the way that marketers should approach creative across different platforms and formats, the need for constant creative resources and creative variations to stave off user fatigue is the biggest challenge for every marketer. Creative is based on many different elements, so it’s important for marketers to constantly iterate on them and test what works best for their brand.

Jose M. Sanchez is head of the creative studio at Facebook and Instagram advertising platform