These Facebook ad tips by Noran El-Shinnawy originally appeared on Search Engine Watch.


They say a picture is worth a thousand words. So when you’re stuck with a 160 character limit in a Facebook ad, use a great image to grab attention and tell the rest of your story.


Finding a good image is hard. Finding a great one is even harder. So here are 4 tips to help you find the best possible images for your Facebook ads.

  1. Brainstorm Associated Images
  2. Spiral Your Image Search From Cliché to Outrageous
  3. Search for Image + Trigger
  4. Repeat, Test, Repeat, Test Again!

1. Brainstorm Associated Images


Start with this simple exercise. Make a list of everything that comes to mind when you think about your product/service and then find an image that corresponds to everything on that list.


Here’s my list for a Spa ad:

  • Massage
  • Facial
  • Mud Bath
  • Pedicure/Manicure
  • Exfoliation
  • Walking Around in a Bath Robe
  • Spa Sandals
  • Steam Baths


Even though most of these sound stereotypical and quite possibly cheesy, it’s a good way to start and an excellent transition to our next step.

2. Spiral Your Image Search From Cliché to Outrageous


Iteratively throw away the cliché and search for more striking images that will bring in more inherent drama, perceptual interest, and story appeal to your images. Try to imagine an angle or close up or juxtaposition that might make the image pop. Think of how you might incorporate faces, or incongruity, or alarm, or visual prominence in the picture.


Getting back to my spa list, here’s the least cliché image I found for a foot massage on Getty Images:




Now is that a great image or what?


There is a ton of incongruity and story appeal to this picture and it would easily allow you to grab eyeballs and force browsers to look at your headline and ad copy. And isn’t that exactly what you want?

3. Search for Image + Trigger


With any luck, you’ve already created the perfect image from Step 2. But if you come up with duds, you can always brainstorm images around the 7 Categories of Fascination Triggers, a handy list of things that human beings are hardwired to pay attention to:


  1. Vice
  2. Lust
  3. Prestige
  4. Alarm
  5. Power
  6. Trust
  7. Mystique


Searching on an associated image + trigger word will probably turn up something interesting. Check out the images that turned up below when I searched for manicure or facial + a trigger.



4. Repeat, Test, Repeat, Test Again!


When selecting from your available options, figure out which images could be easily cropped or color-altered or tilted to amp up their interest, visual prominence, or appeal.


Also, think about which photo will work best in Facebookʼs small image format. Facebook image size is 110 pixels wide by 80 pixels high and less than 5 MB. Think of which photos will work through that process the best.


Also think about aspect ratio. Right now, Facebook squashes or crops all photos into a 4:3 or 16:9 aspect ratio. If your photo doesn’t match up with that, youʼll either need to do your own cropping or select a different photo.


And lastly, never ever ever ever stop testing! Make sure you build a bank of images that work with your ads are rotate them frequently to draw people’s attention and avoid ad fatigue.


So… is your Facebook ad image worth a thousand words or will you stick to those 160 characters to tell your story?