As a social media manager or content marketer, you’ll know that it is harder than ever to get your content seen. With more and more posts competing for our attention, you need to stand out, and social media advertising is an excellent way of helping you do this.
But how can you make sure you get a return on your investment?
Organic reach is declining as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn clamour to grow their networks and keep investors happy. Because of this brands now need a social media content strategy that tops up organic reach with paid advertising.
This isn’t all bad news though! The advertising offerings from these networks mean you’re now able to reach relevant customers in a measurable and affordable way.
Social media advertising is well established now and most of the networks have plenty of options for advertisers to choose from. You can target adverts based on location, demographic, interests, life events and even buying behaviour.
So, where do you start with refining your advertising strategy? Boosting the odd post might have worked for you in the past, but the best advertisers benefit from a more targeted approach. Here’s where to start:
1. Define goals first – why are you placing ads?
As with any marketing activity, it is very important to define what you want from your advertising. There’s little point running a campaign just for extra likes or followers – advertising spend should generate sales or produce leads.
You should also define the KPIs that will help you achieve this. How much should your web traffic increase to in order to provide a certain level of sales? Will a higher follower number mean that you reach more people and therefore create leads? Think about your goal conversion rate and then choose a network and advertising campaign to suit them.
2. Plan your content to include ad optimised posts
After you’ve defined your goals you can then move onto producing the right content for your advertising campaign. This could be as simple as having the right images available up to producing ‘hero’ content like landing pages, infographics or whitepapers for lead generation.
For example, a B2B company in a niche market could create a whitepaper on a relevant subject to be promoted. They can encourage downloads using the promoted tweet feature on Twitter. People can be targeted based on keywords relating to the whitepaper and/or relevant accounts that they follow.
First of all, when you are producing your content plans you should think about the posts that would work well as a promoted tweet or Facebook post. Optimise the images, text and the landing page when producing your content plan, so when you come to promote the post it is already set up.
Think about what your audience responds to – do they really like videos? Produce some short videos on subjects your audience will appreciate and that encourage engagement with your brand. Would you like to have more email subscribers? Promote the benefits of your newsletter to your fans on social media, maybe with a discount code too.
3. Competitor research
It’s really important to take a look at your competitors, as they are speaking to the same audience as you. Take a look at their content and research what their most popular networks are and which posts fans engage with the most. Tools like Socialbakers will also allow you to detect promoted Facebook posts, giving you a peek into the type of advertising campaigns they run.
While you shouldn’t copy your competitors, looking at how their fans engage with them can help define the messaging and style of your adverts. You may even pick up mistakes they’ve made; this gives you a bit of a head start!
4. Evolve your ad creative and targeting
The beauty of digital marketing is that there’s lots of data! Take advantage of this - once you’ve set up your ads, don’t just leave them running but check the results on a regular basis.
Keep your goals at the front of your mind, and if something isn’t working then don’t be afraid to make a change.
Generally speaking, there are two main elements to any advertising campaign – the creative and the targeting. Within that, there are tweaks you can make to improve and refine your offering and get the most from your money.
Let’s look at Facebook website clicks campaigns as an example here. Start with 3-5 different creatives (an image and a caption plus call to action) with different messaging.
Once the campaign is up and running you’ll start to see which adverts get the most engagement, then it is time to make some changes. Single out the most successful adverts and then create similar adverts to add to the campaign, think about pausing the less well-performing adverts. Keep doing this at least weekly for the life of the campaign. Along with this, Facebook recommends you refresh your ad creative at least every 2 weeks.
The targeting of Facebook ads is a little more complex, mainly due to the number of options you have. You can target by age, gender, location and interests. You can also target your website visitors (using a specific piece of code) or people using a certain device (mobile/desktop). Further to this, if your page is large enough you can target friends of your fans.
When setting up your targeting you need to identify your core customer – try to picture them in your mind! For example, if you’re a property developer selling 4 bedroom homes then your target market would most likely be couples with children near the properties. Think about the kinds of interests they may have (toy stores, family holidays, home improvements, certain kinds of car) and their age group (30-45 years of age). This will give you a picture of your customer and then allow you to build them into your campaign.
You may wish you split your campaigns according to the targeting, as this allows you to find out which groups are giving the best results. For example, you could split them by location or interest group, or age group. Once the ads are up and running you can then move budgets to the best performing group, and reduce budgets for the less well-performing group.
What’s also important is not to be too broad in your targeting. It is better to reach 20,000 extremely relevant people who are likely to take action instead of 1 million broadly relevant people. It’s best to start out as relevant as you can and then slowly narrow the targeting until you’ve found your ideal customer.
5. Be flexible
Is something not working? Maybe you started out on Facebook but your cost per click is too high or the visitors that reach your site have a high bounce rate? Try another creative, targeting set or even another network. Look at your website analytics and see where most of your traffic comes from and what provides the best conversion rate. Looking at this data might help you choose which network to try instead.
As mentioned before, there are lots of options for social media advertising and this is true within the network too. Twitter offers promoted accounts, promoted tweets and promoted hashtag options to advertisers. Similarly, on Facebook, you can use a mixture of creatives – slideshows, promoted video or suggested pages. Try to switch around the type of advertising you do, and see if the results are better.
Many advertisers are now also finding Instagram advertising to be effective too. It offers a fairly simple offering, which can be good if you’re just starting out. Instagram is currently one of the fastest growing networks and the advertising option is new, so users are less likely to have ad fatigue.
Invest time as well as money
For any aspect of digital marketing having a clear idea of your goals means you’ll be able to easily see if your activities are converting into leads or sales. For social media advertising, it is essential to spend your money well, neglecting your campaign can mean it quickly loses value for money. Most networks offer lots of options to advertisers which can benefit the savviest. Invest time and the adverts will pay off!