Best Practices for Creating an Effective Facebook Ad
Recruiting participants can be one of the most difficult aspects of conducting a clinical research study. Enter Facebook.
With over 2.2 billion monthly users, Facebook provides a vast and varied participant pool that is easily targeted. The social media behemoth’s built-in advertising platform allows ads to be shown natively inside a user’s news feed on desktop or mobile, the sidebar of the desktop, in the audience network on a mobile device or on Instagram. With proper placement, targeting and a well-constructed ad, users can be converted into participant leads with a single click.
Today, we will focus on the best practices for creating the content of a recruitment ad. A well-written recruitment ad is made up of three components:
Before designing the ad, ask yourself “Who is the target participant?” Clearly identify the individuals being targeted and recruited to participate in your study. Qualification should begin by addressing your participant directly. In the ad shown above, “Michigan Families!” instantly identifies who the ad is intended for. Users will self-qualify; if they are not part of a Michigan family, they quickly realize this ad does not apply to them.
You can also qualify potential participants by using a question. You might ask: Do you have cancer? Are you a mother of a child with autism? Are you a twin?
Once initially qualified, present the targeted participant with a further explanation of the study’s request for help. In the example above, the researcher explains “We are looking for families that have siblings with and without Autism for a research study at MSU.” The potential leads are again narrowed. Participants are now qualified, educated on the study’s needs and prepared to act on the call to action (CTA).
The positioning statement of your ad is made up of a captivating image and a moving “Help us…” phrase.
The image is the first thing users will identify with and see. Facebook adheres to a 20% rule, meaning no more than 20% of the image can be covered in text. Focus on images that show what participants might look like or the emotions you would want participants to have when viewing your ad. When selecting an image make sure to:
Choose an image that is directly relevant to your study
Use an image that is bright and appealing, when viewed as large or small
Avoid images busy with text, many small details or dark in color
If you are able, use your own image to make the ad unique and most relevant to the audience you are targeting.
Pairing text with your image will better attract leads. The number one reason people participate in research studies is their desire to help others or help themselves. Capitalizing on human nature as a form of behavioral targeting, your ad should use a “Help us…” statement as an effective hook for your participant audience. The ad above uses the phrasing “Help us learn what it is like to have a sibling with Autism.” Further funneling the leads and calling on their desire to help.
Below the image is your final opportunity to gain leads. The message here needs to be no more than two sentences and an enticing explanation of participant benefits and requirements to participate. Identify why an individual may not want to participate, then rebuff them.
If we think of the positioning statement as the hook, the participant requirements are the bait. Some alluring reasons to participate in the study might include:
Notoriety of involvement with a prestigious university or study
Opportunity to help others
Provide enough information that it is more appealing to say yes, rather than saying no to participate in the study.
Here, you will also outline the other requirements needed to participate (e.g., age, time requirement, health conditions, etc.). In the ad example above, participant requirements are listed in the bottom statement, “If you have a typically developing teenager who has a sibling with Autism, Asperger’s, or PDD contact us to participant in a research study. Participation is easy, families can earn up to $156.” The statement clearly lists requirements to qualify as a participant and the benefits of participating.
The final call to action, “Learn More” is on a clickable button. Allowing those participants who are qualified and enticed to act on the information that has been presented to them.
Generating participant leads using Facebook ads can be incredibly lucrative. Ads that are most effective include:
User Qualification – a clearly defined and addressed target audience
Positioning Statement – a captivating image and “Help us…” purpose, with a call to action
Participant Requirements – explicit description of the requirements and benefits of participating in the study