Savannah Sanchez on mastering Facebook’s reel ads
Listen to this article:
Did you experience a traffic surge in 2021? How about higher conversions for your ecomm store? What about attracting new audiences that you previously couldn’t engage?
I’d venture to say these swells in attention can be attributed mainly to global social media growth.
Stats support this idea. Most notably, the world has seen:
- A 30% increase in global internet usage
- More than half of the world active on social media
- Boosts in online social, community, and e-commerce
- A flurry of audience growth on Facebook, Instagram, and, especially, TikTok
There’s no getting around it—the world is becoming increasingly more digital, and consumers are flocking to social media with credit cards in hand/digital wallet, ready to make purchases.
The door is wide open for brands to successfully advertise online—especially across social media platforms.
To better understand how brands can master social advertising, I talked to the Tsar-itsa of social advertising, Savannah Sanchez.
Specifically, I wanted to know how brands can experience success with Facebook’s recent feature, Reels ads.
Here’s what I learned from Savannah.
What inspired you to get started with social advertising? How did you get started?
My background is in marketing, digital advertising, and analytics. I got my MBA from Chapman University, where I specialized in marketing analytics. I also have over five years of experience working as a media buyer and ad creative strategist for e-commerce brands.
In 2019, I worked at one of the largest digital advertising agencies, where I managed a team of various creative experts. I led the strategy for over 30 ad accounts and managed $10 million in ad spend across Facebook, Snapchat, and Google at this agency.
While working here, I noticed some issues with the agency model and learned that I could provide my clients a lot more value if I started working as a consultant instead. So, I left the agency and started offering freelance creative ad services at The Social Savannah.
With a strong background in advertising and the ability to offer specialized attention to my clients, I now work closely with entrepreneurs and ecomm businesses to create highly personalized ads that generate results.
I’ve also learned that one of the best ways to achieve results is to develop relationships with creators and invest in high-quality user-generated content—one of the main services I offer my clients.
I work with a team of excellent creators who make premium content for some of the top ecomm brands like Peel, Snow Teeth Whitening, Doe Lashes, Fabletics, Outer, and more.
How do Facebook Reels play into the overall importance of a brand’s social strategy?
A lot is going on right now in the video ad world. Of course, TikTok advertising is enormous. And, it’s exhilarating for brands, especially considering the barrier to enter the TikTok space is low and the ability to experience success is high.
While there is a lot of warranted hype about TikTok right now, and I recommend brands invest in TikTok ads first, it doesn’t mean brands should disregard what’s happening on Facebook.
Facebook remains a substantial social leader. It’s attractive to many consumers, and it’s innovating and offering new ways for brands to connect with their audiences. One of these new ad innovations is Reels for Facebook, which are 30-second videos.
I am a Facebook Creative Partner, so I had the opportunity to beta test Reels for Facebook for some of my clients and experienced excellent results.
For example, Peel saw 36% more incremental purchases from its Reels ads placements and a 47% reduction in cost per purchase.
So, creating ads for both TikTok and Facebook is a fantastic way for brands to achieve optimal results.
Another thing great about Facebook Reels is brands can leverage any ads they produce for TikTok and use them as Reels.
In my experience, TikTok videos generate results on both TikTok and Facebook, so you can create one ad for TikTok and use it for Facebook Reels as well. Although, it’s not necessarily reciprocal. If you create a video ad for Facebook and post it on TikTok, it typically won’t perform as well as a TikTok video you repurpose for Facebook Reels.
What are some ways brands can make a TikTok video perform well on Facebook Reels?
Regardless of what platform you’re posting on, I recommend clients keep videos short and sweet—around 30 seconds is the sweet spot.
When you’re using a video you’ve made for TikTok for Facebook, you’ll want to remove the TikTok watermark. I haven’t measured the difference in whether removing the watermark affects impressions on Reels. However, Facebook said its algorithm wouldn’t favor videos with the TikTok logo, so it’s best to remove it as a precaution.
It’s also essential to consider how Facebook formats videos and how users consume content. This will help you know where to place crucial elements in your ad.
For example, on both Reels and TikTok ads, the caption and CTA button are natively overlaid on the lower 360px. You’ll see the like, comment, and share buttons on the right side of the screen.
The last thing you want to do is have a critical piece of information covered by a native overlay. When you film and rework a video in post production, pay attention to safe zones and avoid putting critical information in the lower section of the video that will get covered by the caption and CTA button on Reels.
Another thing to keep in mind is how Reels and Stories are formatted and how users convert on the platform. Reels and stories should be in mobile-first, vertical format. The call to action for Reels is in a tap format. You’ll either see Shop Now, Learn More, Buy Now, or something similar. On Stories, users swipe up. When you repurpose a video for Reels, keep the call to action clear during setup. In other words, don’t ask your users to swipe up in Facebook Reels.
The final bit of advice for repurposing a video for Reels is to use the video you created for TikTok, but populate it with native elements you can find on Instagram. For example, you can use question boxes, gifs, texts, filters, etc. on Instagram.
It takes a bit of extra time to repurpose a TikTok video for Reels, but it’s worth it to make sure you’re getting it right and encouraging as many clicks as possible.
What are some creative best practices brands can use when making Reels?
There are many different ways creatives can make outstanding Reels, but I’ll highlight three of the best overall themes. In my experience, when a video addresses one of these three themes, it performs very well, gets a lot of traction, and customers love it.
1/ Things you didn’t know you needed
One of my favorite themes for making Reels is the “things you didn’t know you needed” storyline.
You can frame this theme as a life hack, a favorite buy from the internet, a product review—it can be anything that introduces a new idea to the audience. This is especially powerful when you partner with a creator or an influencer because it lends the credibility and social proof you need to encourage purchases.
Reels with this theme should start with a hook. This could be something like, “This XYZ product transformed my home.” Another idea for a good hook could be, “I can’t believe I waited this long to try XYZ product.” You're good to go as long as the hook immediately piques interest and keeps audiences interested to hear the following sentence.
2/ Problem + solution
The problem + solution framework is rooted in every excellent marketing strategy because it works. When you focus on pain points—or the problems your potential customers have—and say exactly how your product or service solves this problem, you’re setting yourself up for success.
A good approach is to start your video off with a common gripe someone would have with something related to your product. Beauty brands do this well. For example, a typical concern might be dirty pores, aging skin, or something like that.
Once you’ve quickly introduced the problem, you can go right into why your product or service is the perfect solution for that. Sticking with the same example, a beauty brand could immediately introduce its pore strip for high problem areas like the nose.
One of my clients is The Essence Vault. They sell perfumes and colognes that smell identical to designer perfumes. The problem they are trying to solve is how expensive designer perfumes are. The everyday consumer either can’t afford them or doesn’t want to set aside money in their budget for this. So the solution is offering affordable options to consumers that want the fragrance but don’t want to pay an arm and a leg for the designer brand.
This problem + solution framework from The Essence Vault is the perfect storyline for a Reels ad.
3/ Product application or tutorial
A solid go-to for a creative video is either a product application or a quick tutorial. Hire a creator to show your audience how your product works. It’s easy to hit the 30-second mark with these videos and show off your product.
If you have an apparel brand, consider a try-on haul. You can use transitions like spinning, jumping, snapping, or covering up the camera and then making your big reveal.
I took this approach with Alleyoop. Alleyoop is a functional beauty brand that makes getting ready—even with a full-face—much more efficient. Instead of the usual 20-step skincare routine, Alleyoop makes versatile formulas that allow users to use the same product for different purposes.
I wanted to create videos that show how people can save time and space by using Alleyoop, so I asked my team of creatives to make some short tutorial videos.
In a quick video ad, potential customers can see how easy it is to apply a full face using only three products. I also wanted to show how nicely these few products fit into a small tote.
As an added piece of advice, I also encourage brands to make more than one creative and then test the different versions of the same video.
We did this for Alleyoop. We created videos with similar content and messaging but in different locations and then tested to see which resonated better.
You don’t have to be a fashion or beauty brand to make tutorial ads work for you. I’ve also used this approach for brands like Gainful, NUGGS, and Perfy.
It’s a simple strategy, but it works well for showing off the product and engaging audiences.
Tell me more about Peel and the results they saw from the Reels ads
Before working with me, Peel was working with a big agency, but they weren’t seeing great results. In fact, their performance started spiraling, and year-over-year growth was down.
When I partnered with Peel, I noticed that it needed to produce new creatives for testing to meet its ROAS goals.
I focused on creating new videos, writing excellent copy, and infusing UGC into Peel’s digital campaigns for this campaign.
I created new campaigns for several platforms for Peel. However, on Facebook alone, I scaled ad spend to 185% year-over-year and decreased cost per purchase by 38%.
In terms of running Reels ads, Peel saw 36% more incremental purchases and a 47% reduction cost per purchase.
I attribute the success of turning Peel’s sales on Facebook around to focusing on making creatives that audiences love and leveraging dynamic creative testing (DCT) within Facebook’s platform.
It’s worth mentioning a key player in Peel’s videos—user-generated content. Audiences are paying attention to user-generated content right now, which proved to be particularly true with Peel. My team and I produced UGC videos for Peel. This included thoughtful and authentic previews, unboxing experiences, and demonstrations (as mentioned earlier).
Marshall Haas, the CEO & Co-Founder of Peel, also talked about some major milestones—including higher sales and lower cost per acquisition.
What’s the best way to know what will work for Reels ads?
The best way to know what works for any platform is to be a student of the platform. You have to live on the platform where your target audience spends most of their time.
This means watching Reels, taking notes, and consuming content your audience watches. I also recommend spending an allotted amount of time on the various platforms. Reels are entertaining, and it’s easy to get sucked in and stuck there. Set a timer and be intentional about what you’re looking for. You’re looking for inspiration from brands and creators that are entertaining people, creating gorgeous videos, and drawing you in.
Besides spending intentional time on Facebook, you also want to test. Getting inspiration from the platform will give you ideas, but testing will tell you what works for your audience and what doesn't.
You can try longer-form videos for Reels, which would be the 30-second max. You can also try making shorter-form ads that are under 10 seconds. Then, test to see which time length generates better results.
Other things you can test within Reels include hand-held selfie videos vs. staged tripod videos, voiceovers vs. music, captions, hooks, calls-to-actions, etc. Basically, you can test the various elements in Facebook and see what performs best.
Once you have tested and know what performs well, you’ve found your groove.
Another thing that works, and I talked about this earlier, is user-generated content. Audiences are paying attention to user-generated content—whether it’s reviews, videos, testimonials—anything. So if you’re unsure where to start, investing in UGC is a safe bet.
It’s also essential to understand the native elements of organic content on Facebook. In other words, you need to make your Reels ads using Reels on your phone and customize them perfectly for Facebook.
Facebook has a lot of unique elements that work well on its platform, and when you use these, your ad looks better and resonates better with Facebook's audience. Unfortunately, one thing Reels doesn’t have yet is a commercial, non-copyrighted audio library. So, if you are using a sound track, you will have to add it in post-production.
Another bit of advice for what works is to use captions when you use a voiceover. People usually watch Reels with the sound on, but not always. When people can read your voiceovers, your message reaches a broader audience. Plus, it adds accessibility to your ads.
How do you get started with Facebook Reels?
After talking to Savannah, I learned the best thing to do is to start creating and experimenting. Audiences love authentic content. What you make for Reels doesn't have to involve a big production. It can be raw and shot on an iPhone.
The most important thing is that you get started and put a plan in place for testing and measuring the success of your ads.
Of course, if you need help producing high-quality ads, it only makes sense to get in touch with the best of the best—Savannah Sanchez.