Despite what the surge in popularity of social media platforms such as Instagram and Tiktok might have you think, Facebook is still a hugely relevant place for small businesses to acquire new customers. If done right, advertising on Facebook can be extremely lucrative.

I launched my tech startup in November 2019 and took an unconventional approach to business from the very beginning. We started creating weekly selfie video ads and promoting them on Facebook. Now, nine months in, we have a following of people that leave hundreds of comments on our videos. In fact, in the last 30 days, we more than doubled ARR from $740K to 1.5MM. Our video ads, which I think are the most unique thing about us, have driven almost all of this success. 

Here’s what we learned works best:

Be consistent 

Our view is that if you show up enough week after week, people start expecting you in their feed. 

We’ve been doing weekly video ads which are short and snappy and show the same two faces week after week — me and my girlfriend Helen, who’s also our head of PR. We know it’s working because we have significant repeat engagement — the same people commenting on our ads week to week. 

Be human 

People are used to seeing selfie videos on social media, so show them that. This is largely about humanizing the brand. 

In our case, we’re operating in a complicated territory. We sell personally identifiable information of people that are on your website, even though they didn’t fill out a form. This is something that makes some people uncomfortable, and it was a huge challenge to convince them that our product is not illegal, and that we’re a respectable company. To gain people’s trust we had to show them the human side of our brand, and we did that by showing them who we are. 

This is a principle that guides our entire business — away from the ads, we are faces-forward across the funnel. We have video podcasts answering each of our FAQ’s, so any potential customer can easily find the information they’re looking for. This works as a great sales tool since a lot of customers are 80% sold by the time they talk to us. Once customers have gone through step one of onboarding, we send custom videos to establish a human connection. And whenever we have Zoom calls, we always switch our video on — even if the customer has video off.

A huge bonus of this style is that it’s extremely affordable. There’s a big misconception that producing video ads requires expensive equipment and a studio, but that’s not necessarily the case. Low production quality is OK. Today, technology brands are more powerful when customers can connect with the people behind the software. If you’ve got a strong idea, you can make it work with a very small budget. We use our iPhone to record, Screenflow to do minimal editing, and Zubtitle to add subtitles. 

Be amusing 

This ties in to the previous point — there’s nothing more human than humor. Remember that you aren’t competing with your competitors, you’re competing with your potential customer’s news feed, so a funny 60 second video would likely do better than something traditional.

In the last few weeks we started to create a storyline around our two characters, almost like a sitcom, with some dramatic plot twists. Two weeks ago Helen kicked me out of the company and made our product freemium in this video. The next week I replaced her with Alice, our inbound sales rep, and opened it up by saying “It’s Adam and Helen again”. Our fans went nuts. I signed in three hours later to find over 50 comments asking us to “Bring Back Helen”, and somebody had even created a Change.org petition demanding that Helen return to GetEmails. 

Seeing so much excitement build up around these ads, we now have a bunch of follow-up videos planned to really string this drama along. 

Be controversial

Don’t be afraid of controversy. Controversy drives comments, and the more comments you have, the further your ad reach. 

Our videos address the controversies in our industry head-on. We’re bold and don’t shy away from confrontations, that gets people riled up and generates a lot of discussion in the comments section, which we love. In this video, where we talk about legal loopholes in tech, we got 125k views on YouTube, over 100k views on Facebook, and over 500 comments.

As a company, we’re using video to establish a personal connection at scale in a way that, as far as I know, no other startups are doing. This unconventional style of presenting ourselves has given us incredible results. Over 30% of our videos are watched all the way to the end and we’re seeing a 7-10X return on ad spend with immediate payback. 

We already have thousands of people feeling like they know us as people, even before they think about buying our product. Every brand will be different, but if you apply as many of these rules as possible, I have no doubt you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the results. 

Adam Robinson is Founder and CEO of GetEmails, his second company in the email marketing space. 

Facebook stock photo by Twinsterphoto/Shutterstock