Social media isn’t really an optional investment for brands anymore. You need to be online if you want to be part of the conversation. You can market yourself on social media organically by using free methods (regularly posting updates, sharing content, responding to your followers, etc.), or you can pay for it. And more and more, the algorithms of the social platforms are minimizing the reach of organic brand content. Paid social advertising uses user data to target your ads to your chosen audience to achieve your chosen objective.
No matter how you use social media, you’ll need to invest something; whether that’s your time and energy or ad dollars is up to you. Usually, it’s a bit of both. It may be wise to invest in social media advertising services with someone who knows their way around these platforms. There is a lot you need to know about social media in order to have success while advertising on its platforms, and you need to do your research to plan and execute your ad campaigns successfully.
Even the seemingly smallest details can impact your campaign’s performance and reach. Here are just a few examples of the hard lessons you need to learn to become the social media savant your brand needs you to be.
Lesson One: Social Media Networks are Not All the Same
When you’re evaluating social media platforms, there are a few things that separate them from each other. An important factor to consider is user experience. A 2018 study on the engagement of social media and social media advertising found that while platforms have a lot of common elements, the ways users engage with and experience each platform can vary widely.
Facebook is good for corresponding with others, sharing information, catching up on news or engaging with content.
Twitter is good for helping people quickly catch up and stay informed on news and current events.
YouTube is a good source of educational and entertaining content which makes users feel happy and relaxed.
LinkedIn is a good social medium that helps people stay informed and up to date on the happenings of the business world.
Snapchat helps users share information and correspond with others while making them feel happy and connected.
Instagram is an entertaining medium that is good for filling empty moments and helping users quickly catch up on the lives of those they follow.
Pinterest is seen as the most stimulating social platform, making users feel enthusiastic about the unique, original content they see. It’s also seen as the platform with the most practical content.
Lesson Two: Consider the Context of Your Ad Campaign
This same study found that the advertising experiences of each platform are just as unique as the user experience. Because each platform creates a unique environment, the way users interact with and evaluate advertising will also vary from platform to platform.
Ad Frequency: According to the study, users most often see ads on Facebook (31.77% of the time), YouTube (27.09% of the time) and Twitter (27.80% of the time) compared to other social networks. This means you’ll have a lot of competition with other brands vying for your audience’s attention. The platform with the lowest frequency was (unsurprisingly) Snapchat, whose users only saw ads 6.67% of the time.
User Reception: In general, social media users don’t mind seeing advertising, but there are some platforms where ads are seen a bit more negatively. YouTube ads were evaluated most negatively with 29.47% of those surveyed saying the ads were annoying or confusing. That’s probably because they interrupt videos and force viewers to wait before they can skip them. 22.87% of respondents also thought Facebook ads were annoying and/or confusing, and 21.70% felt the same about Twitter ads, so it is a little more difficult to positively engage users with advertising on these platforms.
The trick to a positive reception? For all platforms, if respondents experienced advertising as helping them stay up to date, they evaluated the advertising more positively.
Entertainment: While ads are not overwhelmingly seen as entertaining - and thus engendering positive emotions for users - on social media, Instagram seems to be the platform where you are most likely to have a positive reception. 18.67% of those surveyed thought Instagram ads were entertaining, far outpacing the platform that came in second, YouTube, in which only 5.81% found its advertising entertaining.
Get Specific: To keep it simple, here is what you need to prioritize in your advertising for each social media platform:
On YouTube and Pinterest, it’s important that your ads be entertaining and make your audience feel cheerful. YouTube ads are already seen as obtrusive, and you don’t want to bring down the positive vibes of Pinterest.
Ads on LinkedIn will only be viewed positively when they help users fill an empty moment, so don’t do anything too intensive. Their jobs may already be stressful enough.
It’s important for ads on Facebook and Twitter to be stimulating, meaning you need to provide a unique, original experience to pique your audience’s interest. There’s a lot of noise to cut through on both of these platforms.
Facebook and YouTube ads should also focus on practicality. How useful is the information you’re sharing with your audience?
Lesson Three: Don’t Just Throw Money at It
For everyone, engagement on social media has been on the decline as more brands migrate to these platforms. Users only have so much time they can spend online, and with increased competition, we all get a smaller piece of the pie. So, it’s that much more important that the piece you get is the piece you need.
Paid social media advertising gives your brand a boost. When done correctly, you’ll be able to control exactly who sees and engages with your ads. When you rely on a purely organic strategy, you have no control over who sees (or doesn’t see) your activity. There’s a lot of data involved in paid social, though, which creates a steep learning curve for advertisers. A huge perk of social media advertising services is the load it takes off your shoulders when you don’t have to manage everything yourself. Instead, you can work with an expert who knows their way around this arena.
Granularity: The nature of social media - of sharing information and corresponding with others - means there is a lot of user data out there ripe for the picking. In fact, selling this data is how these platforms make money. For advertisers, this means you can target your audience with a high degree of accuracy and specificity. Target users based on age, location, interests, relationship status, occupation and many other data points. Do you want to target your campaign at likely dog owners who live in Indiana? You can do that. Do you want to target people who live on the West Coast and are likely considering buying a new car? You can do that, too.
Recently, the ability to target audiences in some verticals such as housing, employment and credit lending has been subject to more regulation, though. After reaching a settlement with the National Fair Housing Alliance (NFHA) and American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) in 2019, Facebook has created new rules to restrict highly targeted ads on the basis of race, gender, zip code, multicultural affinity and sexual orientation when the ads are for employment or housing. Google has also recently followed with similar targeting restrictions of their own for the same categories.
The key takeaway is that you don’t need to throw money at a wall and see what sticks. If you learn who your online audience is and where they like to go online, your social media campaigns can have a lot of success.
Lesson Four: Social Media Ad Acquisition
Buying ads on social media is much like other PPC platforms. Every time a page loads, all the qualifying ads are put in an auction and whoever has the winning bid gets the spot. Also, like other paid digital advertising, a well-run social media campaign requires continuous monitoring of performance so you can refine your activities as you go. Over time, you figure out what platform works best for your brand, what kind of users are the most receptive to your messaging, what content drives engagement the most and other important details.
Unfortunately, most brands don’t have the capacity to invest the kind of time needed to regularly fine tune their efforts on social media. That’s why many brands turn to social media advertising services. When you work with experts in social media planning and buying, you’ll know with total certainty that your ad budget is not going to waste.
The Ward Group has been managing social media advertising for over a decade. Whether the focus is on generating brand awareness, fostering greater engagement or driving conversions, we tailor each campaign to meet the needs of our clients. Each of our digital media buyers is involved in ongoing monitoring of digital campaigns to ensure maximum results and return on ad spend (ROAS). Part of our role as media stewards is to help you establish realistic goals for your ad campaigns and provide regular reporting to show how your campaigns are tracking toward those goals.
Most businesses will benefit from social media advertising services, especially if there is an e-commerce component. If you’re ready to get back to business and leave social media to the experts, contact The Ward Group today!