Getting the Most Out of Facebook Canvas

June 23, 2016 Kirsten Burkard

Over the past ten years, mobile browsing has seen significant rapid growth.  In 2015, 51% of all time spent online was using mobile devices.  This means that the average user is spending three hours a day on their smartphone, making optimization for mobile extremely important.

facebook canvas average time on mobile

Unfortunately not all websites have achieved that sweet spot of optimization, and our culture’s shrinking attention span means we’re no longer willing to wait five seconds for a webpage to load.  This impatience can lead to a significant decrease in web traffic and conversions for online businesses, and left many ecommerce merchants desperately seeking a solution.



Enter Facebook Canvas.

Premiered in October 2015, Facebook Canvas was designed as a solution to the lack in user engagement online.  Through a combination of storytelling elements, Canvas allows users to explore stunning visuals and other branded content simply by clicking an ad.  Each canvas automatically expands to full screen mode and loads instantaneously, removing all time lapse barriers that have prevented potential customers from interacting with content in the past.

facebook canvas demonstration gif

With an extremely user-friendly design, Canvas ads can be created within the larger Facebook app.  Through a simple drag-and-drop process, brands are able to craft and construct engaging experiences using a wide variety of visual elements.  



Do you want to use full screen images?  Go ahead!  Are you looking for a way to include a CTA as one of your visual elements?  They’ve got you covered.  Were you hoping you’d be able to include videos or panoramas?  You can!  With these elements and more, companies are able to heighten their brand’s awareness by highlighting what sets them apart with a memorable ad experience.



Making it Work for Your Business

Now that you understand how it all works, it’s time to find a Facebook Canvas solution that’ll work for your business.  While no two businesses are alike, I’m sure that at least one of these can be adapted to your brand to heighten your customers’ engagement.

1. Lookbook

Like a tale as old as time, lookbooks are a tried-and-tested method of displaying an array of products simultaneously.  Using a combination of still photos and videography, lookbooks allow you to show your customers how your products can work together.



This is an excellent browsing tool for those customers who may not be confident in their ability to pair complementary products on their own.  By recommending multiple items at once, you’re able to highlight the full range of your products while providing real value to your customers.  

Although this method of advertising is most popular in the fashion industry, it could easily be adapted to any number of others.  If you sell pet supplies, why not set up the perfect kennel to show your customers how to give their dog the best play area possible?  Or if you sell novelty kitchen utensils, why not set up the ideal dinner party or test kitchen?   

facebook canvas pier 1 imports

Companies like Pier 1 Imports have taken advantage of this method of advertising, providing their customers with lush images that convey elegance and relaxation.  The beauty of lookbooks is that they allow you to showcase your products and their environment, creating more avenues to inspire and intrigue your customers.

2. How-to Guides

By providing ways to fuse video, text, and still photography together, Facebook Canvas is practically begging you to publish how-to guides.  I talked about this type of content and its role with Periscope, and the same principles apply.  

Anticipating your customers’ questions about your products and providing answers demonstrates a commitment to customer service that will not go unnoticed.  Making it easier for your customers to understand and use your merchandise will increase the likelihood of them purchasing from you again, increasing your purchase frequency and customer lifetime value.

facebook canvas infographic inspiration

Pinterest is a great place to go for design inspiration.

Showing your customers that you use your products yourself will also humanize your brand, making it more relatable.  Developing that relationship between you and your customers will help cultivate a sense of trust that will also impact your company’s CLV, bringing both you and your customers benefits.

3. Product Launches

Nobody likes a showoff…unless you’re showing off something really cool.  Canvas is an excellent way to get your customers fired up about the new and exciting products your team has been working on.



Coca Cola is a great example of this type of campaign at work.  While they weren’t releasing a new product, they did unveil new packaging through a series of still photos and videos, and according to Facebook the campaign reached 16 million people, each of which viewed the ad for an average of 18 seconds.  

facebook canvas views duration

Providing your customers a glimpse of what’s coming down the pipe will help elevate the exclusive, luxurious feel of your brand no matter what you sell.  Creating an experience that makes people feel like they are being let in on a secret inspires a sense of elitism that they will then associate with your brand.  Everyone likes to feel special, and you can capitalize on this desire by giving them plenty of opportunities to turn that feeling into purchases.

4. Story-telling

Above everything else, Canvas allows you to tell stories.  The fact that people are 22 times more likely to remember a story than facts or bullet points shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone.  With services like Netflix garnering around 70 million subscribers worldwide, it’s clear that people love to lose themselves in a good story, and are willing to invest in those experiences.



Making your brand relatable is perhaps the most important principle to keep in mind.  Consumers are going to be more likely to buy products from a company whose face is recognizable than one whose isn’t.  Putting a face on your company, then, is very important, and stories help you do that.  



Establishing a personality is also essential to telling great stories.  Incorporating humour and colour are two simple ways of appealing to your customers’ desires and will endear your brand to them.  Allowing your customers to explore your company’s world through interactive panoramas, slideshows, and videos will give a depth and heart to your products that stagnant photography and click-through ads never could.



Extending Experiences

No matter how you choose to use it, Facebook Canvas becomes an extension of your brand’s social media experiences.  Using immersive and navigable elements, customers are given the opportunity to experience stories, view your products, and explore your brand all with the tap of a finger.  While it can’t replace your desktop experience it can significantly enhance your company’s digital footprint, making it exciting once again to scroll through your Facebook feed.

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