Using Paid Social Campaigns to Reach Your Target Audience
At REQ, we often get asked about creative ways to elevate a message beyond traditional media relations efforts. While there are several ways to do this, one method many of our clients choose to engage in paid campaigns through social media channels.
One of the biggest reasons to pursue a paid campaign is the ability to generate hard and measurable metrics. Media relations isn’t always clear-cut in showing a return on investment, and it’s usually longer-term effort. A similar notion goes for organic social content. It’s important to have an organic presence but it won’t give you the ROI you’re looking for. Organic posts typically reach a small fraction of your followers at any given time. Paid campaigns allow you to strategically target consumers, track your daily/campaign spend, and give you the data behind the results. This shows you the results of a campaign much more clearly and at a faster clip.
Just as there are many methods to creatively elevate a message, there are several social channels that can be used to achieve positive results. It comes down to your message and where your audience spends its time. Are you trying to reach business decision makers to make purchase decisions? You would be wise to spend time and money on LinkedIn or through content distribution platforms. Are you a consumer brand targeting young adults? Then Instagram might be your jam. Let’s take a closer look at some of the channels.
Facebook’s user base is massive, with 2.07 billion monthly active users and 72 percent of North America’s population. Fortunately, as an advertiser, you can target by location, demographic, interests, and life event. You can even target connections – friends of those who like your page.
The ad products available have grown exponentially over the years (videos, image carousels, product catalogs, lead gen ads, post engagements and so on). The ad units have “Call to Action” buttons to help guide your audience to do what you want them to do. And Facebook advertising can be affordable; the minimum daily spend is a $1 and the average cost per click is $0.20-$2. Of course, the more targeted you get, the competition will increase, as will the price.
There are some things you should consider before advertising on Facebook. First, doing it right requires a fairly substantial time commitment. You need to take the time to really know and understand the ins and outs of the backend so you can set up the ads and continue to monitor their performance. It’s also important to know all of the little rules when composing your campaign. For example, paid posts have a 90 character limit, so your messages must be succinct. The entire ad cannot contain more than 20 percent of text. And while the average cost-per-click (CPC) is lower compared to other social media channels, it’s harder to get strong conversion rate numbers.
This channel is most popular with the under-50 crowd and skews more heavily toward male users. Urban and suburban areas are most active. There 328 million active users and 500 million tweets sent per day.
Twitter sets up their ads a little differently, based on a campaign mindset instead of specific products. The campaigns include:
- Awareness – promoted tweets (pay for impressions)
- Followers – promote account to build an engaged audience (pay for followers gained)
- Promoted video views – videos will autoplay on scroll (pay for the number of views)
- Website clicks or conversions – promoted tweets (pay for the number of website link clicks)
- Tweet engagements (pay for initial engagement only)
You can reach a wide audience on Twitter but the issue becomes how accurately can you get your message in front of your target audience. With the quick-nature of scrolling past content, how do you get your content noticed? If you want a better chance for users to see your content you can use Twitter Cards or Promoted Tweets. If your goal is to generate leads you can add a sales email address or link for email sign-ups to subscriptions through a Lead Generation Card. A nice perk to Twitter paid ads is that the paid content is in the main feed. Users engage with it in the same way they do organic content and can easily share, like, and send the paid content.
There are several caveats to advertising on Twitter. The backend dashboard is a bit more complicated than the dashboards offered by other social media channels. It takes time to learn and many advertisers choose to pair it with a third party tool so they can get a better understanding of the data. As mentioned above, due to the paid content being in the main feed (they do have right rail advertising but it’s pretty costly) and the fast-paced nature of Twitter, your prized message could get lost in the noise. Advertising on Twitter is more expensive than Facebook (average of $1-$2 per click, $2,50-$4 for promoted accounts, and $2k per day for promoted trends).
It’s widely known that this channel is a goldmine for B2B marketing as it’s the largest professional network. Linkedin boasts 550 million users from more than 200 countries, with an average age of 30-49 years old. Most users hold college degrees.
Much like Facebook, LinkedIn allows for highly targeted advertising. However, instead of by interests or connections, LinkedIn targets by professional demographics – job title, function, industry, company size, and seniority. You can easily control costs by setting your budget, bid, and schedule. You can start with any budget and stop ads at any time.
The products available are:
- Sponsored Content (Ads that appear in feed)
- Sponsored InMail (personalized messages)
- Text Ads (Simple pay-per-click — PPC — or cost per thousand — CPM — desktop ads)
While budgeting is pretty straightforward, LinkedIn is more expensivethan either Facebook or Twitter. The minimum cost to advertise starts at $2 for both CPC and CPM and the minimum daily budget is $10. (Average CPC is around $8 and average CPM is around $6). You’re also bidding against other advertisers going after the same audiences, so costs can quickly rise. And though LinkedIn has some great targeting features, the minimum required audience size is 1,000 members. The channel promises its users anonymity, so if your target audience only yields 10 members, you won’t be able to complete your ad until you broaden the search criteria.
Owned by Facebook since 2012 (18 months after it launched for $1B), the platform boasts 800 million monthly active users (500 million daily active users) and is second largest social network behind Facebook. Sixty-eight percent of users are female, 80 percent of users are outside of the US, and 59 percent of internet users between 18-29 use Instagram. This is the only truly mobile social network. In fact, its desktop version has very limited capabilities.
Instagram skews heavily toward a consumer audience but its ads are proving to be extremely effective. With 25 million businesses on Instagram, it’s easy to understand why – ad recall from sponsored ads in Instagram is 2.9 times higher than Nielsen’s norms for online advertising. Like Twitter, ads are native – incorporated into the content and user experience, making it more likely for users to engage with the content. The ad products are pretty straight-forward and include photo, video, stories, and carousel ads.
Because the platform is mobile first, managing ads is a little bit more complicated. You can either manage them from your mobile device or through the Facebook editor (so you’ll need to be familiar with that platform and its backend advertising dashboard). Instagram offers limited CTAs (visit website, call your business, or visit your business). Another point to note is that boosted posts are replicas, meaning comments/shares/tags will vanish after your promotion ends, so you will lose out on that engagement history.
The first three platforms that I discussed above have great upsides for most businesses. Instagram is the only platform that I would warn is heavily consumer-focused and may not be the best fit for a B2B or B2G company. It can be daunting to start a paid social campaign if you haven’t done it before so hopefully, this post gave you some insight on each platform and how it could work for your business. The key is to start small and be open to pivoting if something doesn’t work well the first time. You need time (and some budget) to try things to see what works best for your goals.
In my next post, I’ll delve into what metrics you should be tracking once you’ve set up a campaign. Looking at all of the data that each platform can spit out at you is overwhelming.
For those who dabble in paid social campaigns, which channels and strategies have yielded the best results for your company?