Writing Visually For Social Ads

Write Label
3 min readAug 24, 2022


by Paul Schissler

Grabbing and keeping someone’s attention with an ad as they mindlessly scroll through Instagram is no easy task. Social ads need a little extra attention when it comes to achieving that perfect blend of interesting and informative. Because these ads have the difficult job of competing with friends’ puppy pictures and engagement photos, writing for social ads requires a different mindset than writing for Broadcast or OTT ads.

When approaching a social ad, put yourself in the shoes of the viewer. Think about how you scroll through social media — why you enjoy it, why an ad makes you pause, which visual elements grab your attention and compel you to “Click for more.” The visuals you see in social ads are built for the personal experience!

Social ads rely heavily on the visual, as most people watch without the sound on (as mentioned here). It’s important to write specifically to the targeted audience and include more close-ups and point-of-view shots so that people feel the ad is made for them. Using those quick, close-up shots of the product being advertised is a great way to establish what’s being sold as if it’s being held in the viewer’s hands because people usually see these ads on their smartphones or tablets.

Here’s a great example from IKEA: IKEAUK Instagram Ad

We see a father playing with his child. That immediately lets us know parents of young children are the target audience. The ad opens in the middle of the action, without relying on sound, to grab our attention. Then it cuts to an extreme close up of the product with a quick explanation of why it solves the problem presented in the beginning. All in 15 seconds!

This ad, written out in simple terms:

OPEN Medium Shot. Dad chases Son into the dining room and slips and falls.

CUT TO repeat the same shot of dad chasing son into the dining room.

CUT TO Dad chases son into the dining room. This time he doesn’t slip. He catches Son.

CUT TO extreme close up of anti-slip mat.

CUT TO Dad and Son fist-bumping. SUPER: IKEA Logo/Info.

There is so much content competing for the user’s (limited) attention on social media, so it’s best to keep your visuals simple. Avoid complicated, confusing scenes that take people a minute to understand.

Bad example:

“SLOW FADE IN — EXT. Establishing shot of bar. CUT TO INT. wide shot of three friends dressed in chicken costumes. They’re walking into a bar and find an open table to sit down. There’s a brawl happening, and things are being thrown. The chicken friends try to order drinks. CUT TO an open refrigerator showing Bud Light.”

Good example:

“OPEN on CLOSE UP of hand grabbing a Bud Light from fridge. ZOOM OUT to reveal DAVE dressed in chicken costume.”

Why is this bad example bad?

Simply put, it had too much going on. When writing funny ads, many writers try to cram in a bunch of ridiculousness, which often results in a chaotic script.

Also, long fade-ins, wide-shots, and stagnant shots won’t cut it on social media. We’re not establishing the opening of a movie scene! We want to drop people into the action and establish what’s being promoted before we lose the viewer’s attention. Choose an angle and write it as simply and efficiently as possible.

The good example uses a more personal, singular viewing experience while depicting a funny scenario.

In short, social ads need to be highly visual and easy to follow. Next time you scroll through Instagram, consider every ad you encounter. Writers can learn a lot by studying what works — and what doesn’t work!



Write Label

We are the world’s largest writers’​ room, providing original copy on demand. Start writing for us today!