Social advertising has been around since the inception of social media, however it is quickly becoming one of the fastest and least expensive ways to reach potential customers in a direct, targeted manner. Why? Never before has it been possible to launch campaigns with the level of precision available with social advertising, reaching buyers that have the interests, purchasing habits and demographics that your business seeks.
Additionally, many businesses are finding they can no longer have the same impact on social media without engaging in paid social advertising. Sure, some of this should have been expected. Now that social media has us hooked, it was probably only a matter of time before they made us pay to play.
It’s not all about the Benjamins though; it really has more to do with refocused efforts to prevent people from being overly promotional in their page posts. Regardless, in light of these changes, it should be expected that social advertising is becoming a critical part of the way people generate business online. So how, and where, should you dip your toes into the social advertising waters?
The 800-pound gorilla in social advertising
As the largest social network on the planet, Facebook is an impressive platform upon which to base small business marketing efforts. Along with putting together a professional page, creating targeted ads should be a core goal for SMB owners like you. Where should you begin when it comes to Facebook ads?
First thing’s first: Know your audience.
Hone in on the demographic details of your target audience. Where do they live? What devices do they use? How old are they? What gender are they? What are their interests? What are their shopping behaviors? The Facebook Ads set-up process makes it easy for entrepreneurs to fill in this information so the sophisticated algorithms can get to work, reaching users who meet the requirements – but you need to know the information beforehand so you can plug it into the Facebook Ads page in the first place.
Preview the reach of different demographic combinations.
If you’re concerned about the ROI for social advertising (and who isn’t?), Facebook provides the ability to see the potential impact of your campaigns while they are still in draft mode (Twitter actually does too). Using this capability, you can tweak your messaging to get the best reach and results. On a limited advertising budget, this feature is extremely beneficial in helping ensure you connect with future customers.
Understand your options.
You may not know it, but targeted Facebook ads are just the beginning. You can also take advantage of:
- The “Boost” feature, which allows you to draw attention to a particularly engaging post on your Facebook page for as little as $5.
- Facebook Offers, the digital version of the coupons your parents (or maybe even you) used to clip out of the newspaper.
- The “Ads Create Tool,” which customizes your ads according to the action you’d like people to take upon viewing them – claiming an offer, engaging with your page, visiting your website, signing up for an event, etc.
The other major players
Yes, Facebook is definitely the dominant platform in the social media sphere, but that doesn’t mean these other networks should be overlooked. Remember, it’s crucial that you understand who you need to target, and knowing where your audience hangs out is a key component of that. Your social advertising dollars will be wasted if you dump them all into one platform when in reality, your core customer base prefers another.
- Twitter. The key with advertising on Twitter is to know that you can’t expect to duplicate ads, word-for-word, that may appear on other social platforms. Due to the limited character count, it really is about saying more with less. Focus on simple, concise messaging with a clear call-to-action.
- Yelp. Although there is a similar ability to Facebook and Twitter to deliver ads that target specific demographics, Yelp takes a more reactive approach by displaying ads to people who are searching for a specific product or service. So it really comes down to fine-tuning your keywords to ensure you come up in the right searches. You’ll appear in listings with competitor companies and even potentially on their business pages, which is why it’s important to make sure your messaging and brand stand out.
- Google+. Content/posts and advertising can go hand in hand on Google+. Through Google +Post ads, simply turn your updates or content, such as photos or videos, into an ad. They provide the dual benefit of being able to promote your products or services, while engaging your audience on the spot. Your ads don’t appear within the Google+ stream, but on third-party websites that your potential customers regularly visit. People can leave comments, reshare and +1, directly on the ad, without having to go to Google+. Best of all, you can link people right to a landing page or your website. The one catch is that in order to use +Post ads you must be what Google+ considers a qualified brand—a company that has over 1,000 followers.
With all the options available, it can be challenging to know how to get started or even what platform is best. The beauty of social advertising is that you can start off small and define ads within your budget, then increase your spend once you see results. So don’t be afraid to test ads on different platforms; there very well may be some potential success just waiting to be tapped.
Remember: Social advertising is still only part of the puzzle
Despite the great opportunity that social advertising brings, it can’t succeed on its own—it’s just one portion of your social media strategy and even your larger marketing plan. The key to overall social media marketing success is to supplement social advertising with posts that are focused on sharing info that is of value to customers, creating opportunities to educate and engage them.
To encourage engagement even further, cross-post with videos and photos on platforms like Instagram, Pinterest and YouTube. With a multi-platform approach, you can be sure you’re not only reaching a greater number of people, but reaching them based on their communication preferences, which means they’ll be more likely to respond to your efforts.
Have you found success with social advertising? Which platforms have you tried?