I’m going to break this down for you. Don’t ask any questions.

We’re all business people around here. We know the rules to this game. Some of them more complicated, sure… some of them are simple. Some of them are new while others of are well established. So then, we can all agree, that some rules are both simple and well established. One of the rules that falls into the simple/established category would be: Ask a question, offer the answer.

This is marketing 101: “Do you have this problem? My business has the solution.” We fall back on this method so often, we hardly think about it anymore. Well guess what…?

Facebook isn’t a big fan of asking questions like that. If you do, you are going to bump into this advertising policy:

Ad Can’t Run: Update Text
This ad isn’t running because it asks a direct question to, or makes an assumption about a user’s personal attributes (ex: “Don’t let a cold get you down” or “Are you a cancer survivor?”). This type of language can feel like an invasion of a person’s privacy, which is something we strive to protect. For a better understanding of this nuanced policy, we strongly urge you to read our Advertising Policies.

What to do next: Avoid making an assumption about a user’s personal attributes.

After scrutinizing this ad error you might be thinking, “That ad error doesn’t apply to me at all. The questions I ask aren’t that personal.” Welp, think again. Take a look at this ad from Comfort And Cashmere Images, a photographer (a Buzz Frenzy client and all around great person). This ad tripped the “Direct Question” ad error.

A Questionable Post

SERIOUSLY?!

That all seems rather innocuous, doesn’t it? It doesn’t seem very personal. It’s not talking about someone’s personal attributes. It’s not invading anyone’s privacy. Yeah, well, that’s not how Facebook sees it. Based on how I think Facebook works – they don’t like questions. In fact, I don’t think they like question marks. Period.

I’ve got a theory about this. It can be expressed in this equation:

Direct Question + Targeting = Creepy

Let’s dig into this, shall we?

DIRECT QUESTION

Whenever we ask a direct question in advertising, we usually hone in on a pain point. In the problem/solution structure the “problem” is the question. We never point out something that is already working as a question… “Are you too good looking? – boy do we have a solution for you!” We always focus on the problem because that is where we can provide assistance. It is also the fastest way to show a potential customer that we understand what they are going through and to get them to say “yes”.

TARGETING

Facebook gives us tremendous capability to zero in on our specific customers. But, in doing so, we are also zeroing in on customers who may have already been provided the same service with a different vendor. We cannot distinguish “who needs it now” from “who already got it”. We can only target all of them. With really good targeting (thank you) we can attempt to separate out people with intent to purchase from those that have already purchased, but there will always be some overlap. AND in that overlap, (this is important) there are bound to be people who have had a bad experience with another vendor.

CREEPY

Putting direct questions together with targeting sounds like a match made in heaven, but it’s the “other vendor experience” that throws a monkey wrench into the whole thing. If someone just had a bad experience from another vendor, and then you come along and ask about the bad experience they just had – well, that can seem a little… invasive.

I was just thinking about [enter product or service], and then I see an ad for [enter the very same product or service]

We have all heard it, if not said it ourselves, “I was just thinking about [enter product or service], and then an ad for [enter the very same product or service] popped up in my news feed! They know too much” I can argue about the benefits of getting ads for what you need when you need it as opposed to random ads for unwanted stuff, but that’s not what we’re talking about here. For the average person, when an ad comments on their life (even accidentally), it hits a little too close to home.

Take a look at Comfort and Cashmere’s innocent question, “Are you wanting a stress-free photo session?” This is being directed at people who are currently looking for a photo session. The session being stress-free is a big selling point. But, read it as a person who just suffered through a particularly stess-full photo session. It almost feels like salt in the wound.

If I were to take a guess (and that is what I’m doing), Facebook is trying to avoid exactly this sort of scenario. They want their space to feel inviting. Creepiness should be avoided at all costs.

THE QUESTION ABOUT QUESTIONS

So, what what can we do about this? Stop asking questions! Sorry, that came out wrong. I mean, we need to stop asking questions on Facebook. We need to turn questions into statements. It takes a bit of getting used to, but it can be done. Let’s take a look at Comfort and Cashmere’s ad and break down those questions.

QUESTIONS

STATEMENTS

Are you wanting a stress-free photo session?

My photo sessions are completely stress-free.

One that you come to, feeling loved on, and comfortable in your skin with the freedom to be you?

Come in, feel loved on, and comfortable in your own skin with the freedom to be you.

Where you know that you are going to be taken care of, gain beautiful images that are a true representation of you, your family, or you and the love of your life?

You are going to be taken care of, gain beautiful images that are a true representation of you, your family, or you and the love of your life.

Are you craving the feeling of community and not wanting to just be “sold” too?

You will feel the gift of community without just being “sold” to.

Sound like something that’s right up your alley?

I’m sure this will be right up your alley.

AN AD WITHOUT QUESTION

Let’s get a taste of what this ad looks like after having replaced all the questions with statements:

My photo sessions are completely stress-free.

Come in, feel loved on, and comfortable in your own skin with the freedom to be you.

You are going to be taken care of, gain beautiful images that are a true representation of you, your family, or you and the love of your life.

You will feel the gift of community without just being “sold” to.

That’s WHY I created the Lifestyle Session Event.

Where you are welcomed to walk in being you, where I can welcome you in, make you feel at home, photographing your true authentic self.

Where you can enjoy good conversation, tasty pastries, sipping on coffee, doing a little shopping, all while knowing you’re in a safe, loving, environment full of people who want to welcome you into a community.

I’m sure this will be right up your alley.

Click this link to get yourself all signed up!
lifestyleevents.comfortandcashmere.com

It might just be me, but I think the ad now feels a little more inviting, like I am being spoken to directly. It feels more personable. More human. And that’s what we’re all shooting for.

Here is what I suggest: write out your ad as you would – questions and all. Then go back and edit the questions into statements. Don’t simply take off the question mark. I’ve seen those get flagged too. Be thoughtful in creating a true statement and one that speaks directly to your customer. And then maybe, just maybe, your ad won’t be called into question.

By the way, you should really sign up for lifestyleevents.comfortandcashmere.com. Who doesn’t want a stress-free photo session?

(Dammit, I used a question again).

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