The 5 Most Effective Logical Appeals in Social Media Advertising

Opinion: Ads want to persuade consumers to do something

Logical appeals are more objective than subjective MicroStockHub/iStock

Ads serve a variety of purposes, including raising brand awareness, but the core measurement of a social media ad’s success is usually how persuasive it is.

Ads want to persuade consumers to do something, whether that’s buying a product, calling a phone number, visiting a website or switching their car insurance. Whatever the intention, persuasion is the end goal and, in the view of classical rhetoric, there are three broad categories of persuasive techniques that can be used to achieve these ends.

In addition to appeals to authority (like convincing someone that you’re an expert, or of high moral fiber) and appeals to emotion (like convincing someone that this action will make them happy, or scaring them into taking the action), there are appeals to logic. Logical appeals are more objective than subjective, but they still require an art to pull off successfully.

The most effective logical appeals

So what types of logical appeals are most effective in modern advertising?

  1. Competitor comparisons: One of the best logical appeals you make is a direct comparison to your competitor—assuming that you have a significant, provable advantage over your main competitors that you can show your target audience. For example, you might note that your products last longer or are easier to transport. One of the best examples of this tactic is Pepsi’s use of the Pepsi challenge, in which it’s demonstrated in a blind taste test that people prefer Pepsi’s taste over that of Coca-Cola. There were, of course, problems with the experiment from a scientific standpoint, but the argument was logical and effective to fence-sitting soda drinkers.
  2. Cost savings: Another similar argument is convincing customers that they can save money by switching to your service or by buying your products instead of a competitor’s. Insurance companies like Nationwide, Progressive and Geico all use this tactic aggressively, with each claiming that it can save you a significant amount of money over the competition.
  3. Buying now (over buying later): Despite a logical appeal that your products are better or can save customers money, there’s still a big problem to overcome in the social media world: the plight of delayed action. Most social media users will procrastinate taking action, and they may never end up converting. Accordingly, you need a logical argument that convinces them that buying now is better than buying later. For example, you can note the importance of preventative care, like going to the dentist, to save the costs of emergency dental surgery or other preventable repercussions.
  4. Proving time savings: If you don’t want to go with the money-saving angle, you can also make a valid logical pitch for saving your customers’ time—which is even more important. For example, you might list your average wait times against those of a competitor, or compare your product to a currently available product that takes twice as long to use. Numbers are an important persuasive tool here, so make sure that you’re specific, with a video or experiment that can back up your findings.
  5. Adding a guarantee: Adding a guarantee is a powerful persuasive technique for several reasons. First, it shows customers that you’re willing to stand by your product. Second, it gives customers an easy out—they’re more comfortable buying from you because they know they can change their mind later if they end up dissatisfied. Third, once people own something, they instantly value it more, which means very few people end up returning a purchase they made (especially if it’s a big one that required significant consideration). This is one reason why guarantees are so common among mattress companies—82 percent offer money-back guarantees between 30 and 120 days of ownership.

The big limiting factor here is the amount of space you have to work with—and space is severely limited in the social media marketing world. Logical appeals sometimes require extensive wording, so you’ll likely only get to choose one of the above appeals and use it at the beginning of your headline. Choose the one you think best appeals to your social media audience.

Incorporating logic

Inherently, your social media ad campaign will likely skew toward one of the three modes of rhetorical persuasion: authority, emotion or logic. Which mode you choose and how deeply you lean that way will depend on your industry, as well as the type of audience you’re trying to target.

Still, almost any campaign can benefit by incorporating some logical appeals, whether they warrant independent ads of their own, or whether they complement ads that exist in the other two modes of persuasion. Study the ads of companies that have come before you, and use those lessons to fuel your own campaign.

Larry Alton is an independent business consultant specializing in social media trends, business, and entrepreneurship. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn.