There’s certainly a lot of controversy surrounding Facebook ads and their effectiveness. Some people claim that Facebook ads are a waste of money, while others say it’s the best way to reach customers.

Regardless of your opinion, Facebook has undeniably changed the way we target our ads. I mean, you could technically propose to your significant other by running a Facebook ad that only they would see. Now, whether you get a favorable answer is an entirely different matter…

But before we take a look at the most important things that every great Facebook ad needs, we need to recognize the fundamental difference between Facebook ads and other digital ads, like AdWords.

Facebook vs. AdWords

For advertisers, the key to running successful campaigns in each channel comes down to strategy – push vs. pull, and the understanding that Facebook ads have to use disruption where AdWords ads don’t.

AdWords ads are served based on a search query that the user types in while on the hunt for a product, service, solution, etc. Users basically pre-qualify themselves to see your ad, via their search criteria; AdWords ads have to pull them in. Over time, we’ve learned that some of the most important pieces to successful AdWords ads involve three things – high relevancy, a solid value proposition, and a strong CTA.

On the flip side, Facebook ads are served to people when they are checking the News Feed to see their friends’ latest baby pics, rave about their favorite new gluten-free muffin, and catch up on George Takei memes. They are usually focused on things far from your business’s value proposition. That’s why Facebook ads require more of a push strategy, and why the element of disruption is such a valuable tool.

The 4 Keys to Great Facebook Ads

So, applying what we’ve learned from digital ads like AdWords to what we know about behavior on Facebook, we think the 4 most important things every great Facebook ad needs are:

1. the disruption element
2. high relevance
3. a solid value proposition
4. a strong CTA

4 Key Principles in Action

Let’s take a look at some examples of great Facebook ads in action that use these 4 principles effectively…

1. Disruption occurs via the good ‘ol “sex sells” approach. What would be better than showing you a picture of beautiful snow-covered mountain peaks? A cute, blonde snow-bunny of course… who seems to not be wearing a shirt… Oh, and the bright pink and yellow colors also don’t hurt.

2. This ad was shown to a young, straight male in his early 20s who likes snowboarding, and nightlife activities. Highly relevant targeting there.

3. The value proposition is stated in every. single. line. of this ad, and it directly speaks to the interests of the person viewing the ad. Snowboard and Rage (both are fun) at Tremblant (awesome mountain) with people your age (no parents!) and when you’re not on the slopes, the nightlife is crazy (make sure not to dweet).

4. The call to action is very subtle, but encourages you to hurry up and click by showing the months this deal is available, starting next month. It’s okay that the CTA isn’t the strongest in this ad. About everything else makes up for it.

1. The retro styling and large, bright text jump out of the image at you. POW! right in your face.

2. This ad was shown to an online marketer who works with websites and Facebook, so it was very relevant. Straightforward and effective targeting.

3. Its value proposition is very simple, yet something that every marketer wants – a connected and engaged audience. Plus, it shows me friends who also like the company being advertised. Social proof is a powerful thing, especially if one of the people mentioned is a Facebook expert.

4. The short and sweet call to action is easily readable and doesn’t overwhelm.

1. The disruption here happens through negative space. Instead of trying to cram a bunch of screenshots into a tiny ad space, AT&T focused the visual by showing a sleek, single image of the phone.

2. This ad was shown to an online marketing professional in his mid 20s who likes Android. Well done.

3. Its value proposition is very clear – get $100 off of a new smartphone.

4. The call to action is obvious and creates a sense of urgency by including “today only.”

1. This ad is disruptive and grabs my attention by placing FORBES in all caps. It also uses Facebook’s own Events system to give me social proof of who is already going.

2. This ad was shown to a young marketer in her mid 20s, who is focused on website and landing page conversions for her startup. BAM – that’s relevant.

3. You don’t have to reread this ad to realize its value proposition of attending an event for professionals interested in the same things you are.

4. The call to action is short and sweet and speaks to her passion as an entrepreneur. On top of that, having a Forbes quote about your event is a total win. Plus, I can join right from the ad.

Well, there you go. Stick to the 4 principles of disruption — a solid value prop, strong CTA, and high relevancy — and your ads will improve drastically. Don’t forget, disruption is the main difference on Facebook, and it’s also an important piece of successful Facebook ads. With so many distractions across the site, it’s your job to capture eyes and make an impression – so don’t be afraid to get a little crazy with it!

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, Digital Marketing Manager at Koofers, is passionate about helping people understand the power of social media, and more importantly - how to do it right! When he's not nerding out on his Android phone or A/B testing conversions, you can probably find him scuba diving in warm waters or watching Virginia Tech football. His two biggest passions in life are technology and making a difference in the lives of others.