What do all Social Media Ad Images Have in Common?

With so many different types of social media advertisements out there, sometimes it can seem like there is no rhyme or reason to any of it. After all, what works for one company isn’t necessarily going to work for another. That being said, some of the most successful ad campaigns out there actually have quite a lot in common. There may not be any guaranteed formula for success, but there are steps that you can take to ensure that you’re giving viewers the kind of experience that they want out of a social networking campaign.
Given that so many people are now rejecting traditional advertising online (AdBlock Plus now boasts over 144 million monthly active users), it’s more important than ever to make sure that you don’t let your advertising department fall into old habits. If you want to ensure that you’ve got the right idea with your social ad campaign, there are a few important traits of social media ad images that you should keep in mind.

What do all Social Media Ad Images Have in Common?


1. Pay Attention to Image Size

Depending on what social network you’re using, chances are that there will be quite a few variations in suggested image sizes for profile photos and shared images. In addition, some social networks allow you to use animated GIFs while others do not, which can change how people use the website in order to communicate and thus become an important avenue to consider in advertising. Despite these differences, there is at least one aspect that always seem to be true when it comes to sizing images on social media: their aspect ratio. Most social networks resize images to look good on any screen, whether it be a monitor, a phone or a tablet.
As a general rule, profile photos are small and square across most (if not all) social media networks, while the recommended size for shared images can vary between a 1:1 and 2:1 aspect ratio. There are many excellent guides on the internet that can help you to determine the exact size your images should be, but the one important thing to note is that few social sites place any importance on sharing tall images. Although they may fill the screen of a cellphone or tablet, the second someone decides to turn that screen sideways, your screen-filling image will look unsightly and out of place. In comparison, rectangular and square images always tend to look good no matter how the viewer chooses to see them.

2. Provide a Sociable Call to Action

Everybody likes to feel like they belong to a special group, but social media users tend to be quite savvy, so it’s important not to patronize them. If you’re going to build a strong social networking community, it will be necessary to take your viewers seriously and actually respond to them. When it comes to social media advertising, having an audience is everything; sure, viral marketing campaigns can help you to get your name out there, but unless there is some kind of back and forth, you may find it difficult to build your audience. Social ad campaigns cannot rely upon viral marketing alone.
Giving your viewers a more sociable call to action could be as simple as creating a poll. For instance, Qdoba ran a social ad last year on Facebook and Twitter asking their followers to vote for their favorite queso flavor. As the poll became more popular, they updated their social profile with an image revealing which flavor was currently winning. This not only gave viewers the sense that their vote had been counted, it also enticed more viewers to participate in what would otherwise be considered a silly little poll. Similarly, Lays has offered a contest over the past few years giving their fans a chance to create their own flavor of potato chip online. This call to action has been very successful for them, and it has produced some quite interesting new products for all of their customers to enjoy.

3. Image isn’t Everything, But it is Important

Social media advertising images played a big role in both of the examples above (Qdoba and Lays), although they both represented a message that didn’t necessarily require an image to convey. Regardless, both campaigns focused heavily on social media and both used images to convey their message. A quick look at some of the social media ads run for both campaigns reveals that their images typically conformed to the aspect ratios that tend to look the best across all social media platforms.
If there are any similarities that most if not all successful social ad campaigns share, these two concepts are perhaps the most important and the most powerful. If you use effective imagery to convey a message that calls your audience into action, you will greatly increase the chances of running a successful ad campaign through social media.
See also: 4 Tips on Using Facebook Ads for Your Business