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Digital creative best practices: 4 top tips

By Sarah Tenakoon, Paid Social Manager

Space & Time


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March 2, 2021 | 9 min read

Social media advertising can be a tough nut to crack, as it’s not easy to know exactly what your audience reacts best to when it comes to creating engaging ads.

Digital Best Practices

Digital best practices

There are many elements to consider, from nailing the right image or video to reaching audiences with the most relevant copy and call to action. People consume content differently on mobile devices compared to TV and other digital platforms. To compete with other advertisers in this mobile-first world it’s important to create ‘thumb-stopping’ content. As a Facebook Premium Agency Partner, Space & Time Media has access to the latest innovative products and resources that can help fuel the growth of your business.

So, what does ‘creative best practice’ entail for social media advertising? Let’s find out.

1. Thumb-stopping content

For most platforms, your best bet is to stick to a square 1:1 image/ video ratio wherever possible. However, always take advantage of platforms that support a vertical 4:5 ratio – this way your ad will take up more real estate as the user scrolls through. Make sure your ad is also optimised for all placements available on Facebook and Instagram, ensuring you are also using a 9:16 ratio for Stories ads.


TikTok is an exception. Being a mobile app, videos used for in-feed advertising must be vertical (9:16 ratio) to give the ads a native look and feel.

LinkedIn’s algorithms work on a CPC basis rather than CPM, meaning you will need to create your ad specifically for LinkedIn rather than reposting your Facebook ad, as this will likely yield poor results. LinkedIn does not uphold the 20% text to image ration rule so there’s more freedom in having more text in the image – below is an example:

Software project

Pinterest is all about creating visually compelling Pins, with Standard Pins and Video Pins being the most used ad formats on Pinterest.

For Standard Pins, it’s highly recommended that a vertical image is used, with a recommended aspect ratio of 2:3 (eg 1000 x 1500 pixels).

Using other ratios may cause the Pin to truncate, or negatively impact performance. Making your brand the focal point is important. This can be done by putting your product or service front and centre, and by putting your logo on every Pin you create.


It’s no surprise that many YouTube ads appear on mobile, therefore a mobile-first approach is wise when editing your video. Bold, large text and graphics that are well positioned in the frame are key, alongside consideration of the best orientation, as both landscape and vertical will provide different viewing experiences.

YT ads

2. Keep videos short and sweet

Twitter suggests that consumers are spending 86% longer consuming digital video since 2016. It’s best to keep your video at a maximum of 15 seconds across all platforms, so ensure you highlight your brand logo/ product within the first three seconds – but for Snapchat you only have two seconds with an ideal length of five to six seconds.

This tactic will ensure that even if viewers do not watch all the way through, they are already familiarised with your brand and product.

Twitter ads

Designing for sound off

More often than not, people scroll through feeds with the sound off. According to Forbes, 80% of consumers are more likely to watch an entire video when captions are available, and 50% say captions are important because they watch video with sound off. Your videos shouldn’t rely on sound to tell your story. Prepare videos with captions and aim to delight viewers with voice overs if their sound is on.

sound off

Unlike other video adverts where sound is optional, TikTok requires audio settings to be turned on.

Senior analytics and PPC manager, Richard Linklater, offers his insight when it comes to good creative for YouTube ads: “Over half of shoppers say online video has helped them decide which specific brand/ products to buy. YouTube is a fantastic tool in your marketing mix – with relevant video ads you can get three times the attention compared to the average video ad.”

When it comes to video length, there’s no clear-cut answer. It’s recommended to keep a video at 30 seconds maximum, however there are some exceptions to this rule. For example, Apple’s 'Work From Home Thing' which, at seven minutes long with 29 million views, proves if you create a compelling enough video, it can really be any length.

3. Clear and concise copy

Keeping your copy short with a clear message is the way to go, especially when it comes to Twitter. With approximately 350,000 tweets per minute a concise tweet has 13% higher brand and message recall.

Compelling content for Linkedin starts with putting your CTA above the fold – after 150 characters your copy is truncated. Bullet points are a great way to get your point across in as few characters as possible.

LinkedIn ad tip

Additionally, keep your headline under 70 characters and limit the use of uppercase letters and multiple emojis, as this can cause your ad to be disapproved.

85% of Pinners are on mobile, so keep your copy concise and utilise text overlay to make your Pins stand out amongst the crowd. Ensure your Pin title has less than 100 characters, and your description is less than 500.

Similarly, Snapchat also recommends that showcasing your products front and centre is key. Adding a ‘hero’ message from the beginning and including any special offers increases the likelihood of users being engaged with the ad, thereby driving consideration.

TikTok allows 12-100 English characters, but keep it short to avoid truncation. Because TikTok is still new to the world of advertising, there are constant improvements to the platform, so watch this space. More info here.

4. Meet your KPIs

To put together the best creative to meet your KPIs, you’ll need to consider the ad format, when to refresh creative and the best CTA to include.

Here’s a handy guide to choosing the right format for YouTube:

Youtube formatting

Knowing when to refresh your creative for YouTube isn’t always straightforward. When using TrueView for action you may find you refresh your creative less often as Google Ads will refresh audience lists regularly to reach new viewers. If the videos are not aligning to your KPIs, you may want to look at widening or narrowing your audience based on different targeting methods.

As we know, social media is saturated with thousands of posts per second, so your CTA must be the sole focus of your message to get this across to your audience as clearly as possible.

While most platforms follow these rules, LinkedIn and TikTok do things differently. LinkedIn changes the CTA list depending on whether your objective is a lead gen or web conversions, while TikTok offers CTAs in the form of native buttons to encourage in-app experiences.

Key takeaways:

  • 2.62 billion people currently access social media through mobile phones – therefore, ad copy must be creative with a ‘mobile-first’ approach
  • Capture attention early on – things like your logo, product and offers must be showcased within the first three seconds of video ads
  • Create short but informative videos at 15 seconds in length or less, with a few exceptions:
    • Pinterest – six to 15 seconds
    • Snapchat – five to six seconds
    • LinkedIn – 30 seconds
    • TikTok – nine to 15 seconds
  • Prepare videos with captions, however, delight viewers if their sound is on with voice overs
  • Use concise ad copy, following these best practice copy guidelines to avoid truncation:
    • Facebook & Instagram – 125 characters
    • Pinterest – 100 characters
    • LinkedIn – 150 characters
    • Twitter – 280 characters
    • TikTok – 12-100 English characters, but shorter the better.

Sarah Tenakoon, paid social manager and Hayley Renvoize, paid social executive, Space & Time Media.


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Space & Time is a growth marketing agency, enabling clients to secure optimal value from every part of the customer experience and their marketing investment....

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