Let’s get creative: A guide to producing creative assets for Facebook and Instagram ads at minimal cost

Akvile DeFazio
January 27th, 2021
Akvile DeFazio

When it comes to digital advertising, Facebook has leveled the playing field for SMBs and marketing teams with limited budgets. But just because you can launch and run ad campaigns on Facebook and Instagram without the marketing budget of a big brand, you still have to build out creative assets that make your campaign spend worth the investment.

The good news: You don’t have to have an in-house agency, high-quality production tools or even a creative director to produce ad campaigns that have the same impact as ads produced by a major advertiser.

Social media advertising campaigns do not necessitate the same production costs as traditional advertising – some advertisers get by with only a smartphone. So how do they do it? Many utilize Facebook’s free tools for creating image and video assets, along with a few online resources that allow users to create and download high-quality assets that can be used within their social media campaigns. Here is a quick guide to help you get started.

Produce images and videos using your mobile phone.

Before you invest in an expensive camera or video equipment, take stock of your mobile phone or tablet’s camera and video app. Most iPhones and Android devices can take high-res photos that come with multiple features and effects. It may take some time to explore what’s possible, but your mobile device likely has the ability to take high-quality images and videos that can be uploaded straight to Facebook’s ad manager platform.

Use stock images and videos to expand your library of creative assets

There are multiple online websites that offer free stock images, video assets and music files, such as Pexels, Unsplash, and Pixabay. These sites not only offer millions of photos and videos you can use free of charge, their search filters make it easy to find assets based on specific themes. For example, Unsplash has divided their inventory into more than 20 topics, where users can drill down into images listed under themes like “Nature, “Business and Work,” “Architecture,” and “Technology.”

For most free stock image sites, you will need to create an account to access the full library of assets. Also, be sure to read the site’s license agreement and their FAQ page to avoid any conflicts. Another suggestion: Skim your competitor’s ads before using a stock image or video to keep from using the same creative in your ad.

Take advantage of social media templates.

Canva and Shutterstock offer free stock images, but they also provide social media templates that can be used to build out creative assets for your Facebook and Instagram pages. For a minimal monthly subscription ($49 per month for a single user), Shutterstock offers access to more than 350 million images, videos and music, along with a “Social Media Templates” feature that allows user to easily create Facebook cover images and Instagram stories.

Canva offers a free subscription that gives users access to a wide array of templates for paid and organic Facebook and Instagram posts. (For $30 per month for a single user, you can upgrade to a Canva Pro account that comes with “Brand Kit” features, team management and workflow tools and multi-user capabilities.)

Build your creative assets using Facebook’s free tools and resources.

Facebook offers advertisers a number of free tools to create image and video ads. The platform has a built-in library of free stock images that is accessible via the Ad Manager platform at the ad level. Facebook’s Video Creation Kit, also available via the Ad Manager at the Ad Level, gives advertisers an easy-to-use free tool for creating video ads.

Image via Facebook Ads Manager

The Video Creation Kit, which was launched in 2018, allows advertisers to create video ads by animating photos and images (either stock images or images owned by the advertiser). The kit comes with various template options, including holiday themed templates for special promotions, and allows users to resize and edit their videos all within the platform. Advertisers can add logos, text overlays and special effects to their video ads as well.

Don’t forget about user generated content (UGC) – the best advertising of all.

If you have a product or service that is often shared by your customers on social platforms, you may already have all the creative assets you need. User generated content (USG) – images and videos taken by customers endorsing your offerings – is a powerful form of advertising and extremely inexpensive to produce. Consumers are more likely to trust a customer review than an ad, so why not use a customer endorsement to promote your business?

There are a number of ways to curate USG: Starting a hashtag trend that encourages followers to share their favorite photos of your products or posting a question on your brand’s Facebook and Instagram account to solicit photos from your biggest fans. Just be sure you get approval from the creator before you use any UGC in your advertising.


Image via American Eagle

Advertisers also have the option to partner with influencers on Facebook and Instagram and then use their content within ads. Facebook’s Brand Collabs Manager tool helps advertisers find relevant content creators and influencers on the platform and collaborate with them on advertising campaigns. Instagram’s Branded Content Ads make it super easy for advertisers to turn organic posts from influencers into ads. (One quick note: Advertisers must already have a partnership with the content creator to run Branded Content Ad campaign.)

Once upon a time, only brands with Super Bowl-sized advertising budgets could produce high-quality eye-catching ads. But now, as technology has advanced on every front – from the native camera apps on our phones to the no-code software tools that make it possible for nearly anyone to edit images and videos – SMBs can run full-scale creative ad campaigns that are just as impactful as ads created with ten-times the production budget.

If you’re still on the fence about producing your own creative assets, we can help. Part of our account management services include copywriting and creative asset direction for Facebook and Instagram ads. Schedule a call with us today to see how we can help.

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