‘If you build it, they will come’ holds a lot of meaning in the world of social media marketing. Smart advertisers know that they need to go where the people are. And the people are on social media platforms across the board. What was once built as a place where people gathered to share personal stories and connect has now become a place where advertisers can reach, instantly, a very targeted population to build awareness, engage new customers, introduce new products and services, retain current customers, and share deals, sales and savings.
Gone (well, not entirely) are the days of tremendous ad spend on only print media and radio ads, where targeting can only go so far. There was little choice in the past but to spend top dollars on campaigns where right out of the gate, money was wasted on advertising going to numerous, unqualified, ‘not even remotely interested’ audiences, providing very little in the way of return.
With today’s ability to target in a very micro manner, conversions are higher, ROI can be much higher and the overall ability for the campaign to simultaneously build awareness, generate leads and ultimately make sales is so much more fine-tuned than ever before.
The long and the short of the ‘Why’ is that social marketing is a) where the people are, and b) it’s the fastest form of marketing out there when it comes to results. With most channels requiring a fairly lengthy lead time to produce a decent ROI, like content marketing or SEO, Social Marketing campaigns can, and most likely will, start converting quickly. There’s no wait for keyword searches or potentially super high costs or the inconsistencies of something like influencer marketing. You want to reach 25,000 or even 50,000 people in one shot, instantly? It’s a no brainer: Social Advertising.
Don’t get the wrong idea though, just because it’s the quick mover doesn’t mean that other strategies should be set aside. Although social advertising is quick (and can reduce cost over time due to sharing etc), content marketing and SEO may be slower to the start line and require a little more robust knowledge on creating and executing campaigns that work, they are a very steady horse in the race. The benefits come slowly but generally are worth the wait.
So ideally, the fully comprehensive strategy that includes Social, Search, Content, and SEO is the one that’s going to produce the best overall result. Some may work for a particular business better than others, hence why measuring and monitoring are such important elements to making the whole thing hum!
As with any marketing strategy a solid knowledge of your target audience is the key to success. With social marketing, knowing where your audience is most concentrated, where they engage most, and where they are most accessible, will take your targeting efforts to a very honed and productive level.
And, in the case for the future of social advertising, with the average 12-18-year-old spending a very high percentage of online time on social media, it speaks to future buying. This demographic might not be your audience currently, but unlike the older Gen X’er population, who didn’t grow up in the social media world, this younger audience has grown up communicating and engaging in this format and will ultimately purchase in this format in the future.
“There are substantial differences in the social media use by age”
- 88% 18-29,
- 78% 30-49,
- 64% 50-64 and
- 37% 65+ (use any form of social media)
Broken down further, “Americans ages 18 to 24 are substantially more likely to use platforms such as Snapchat, Instagram and Twitter even when compared with those in their mid- to late-20s. These differences are especially notable when it comes to Snapchat: 78% of 18- to 24-year-olds are Snapchat users, but that share falls to 54% among those ages 25 to 29. With the exception of those 65 and older, Facebook is used by a majority of Americans across a wide range of demographic groups.”
Buying Experience is a real thing and growing. The younger generation, future buyers, want a full buying experience and they want it online. Streamlined, integrated, cross channel purchasing, on the platforms where they spend most of their time.
Advertising has no choice but to accommodate this if a business wants to be successful and competitive.
Simple Benefits of Social Advertising
With the ability to tap into custom targeting such as purchasing behavior, life event targeting, and precise demographic/location targeting, audiences can be built to zone-in on the ideal customer for your business.
With tools on Facebook like Lookalike audiences, a business can take the data from their current customer base, replicate it through the tools of Facebook, and target audiences with the exact same relevance, creating campaigns that are highly successful in converting. Very few other advertising outlets can accommodate such dialed in targeting. With this ability though, one can see the importance of knowing your audience. Targeting only works if you’re targeting the right people.
Everyone knows by now that the only way to improve on marketing efforts is by measuring, tracking and understanding the data. It’s what will indicate what’s working (where to put more of your efforts), and what’s not working (decreasing your spend). Many social media platforms have their own built-in tracking stats and tools, which can be useful depending on the goal. Add those with something like Google Analytics or Adstage, where you can track all paid social in one nifty tool, and you can gather all the information you need to get the most out of your social advertising efforts.
But goals are worth mentioning again here. When embarking on social advertising, it’s imperative to set out goals. If one goes into this very ‘target heavy’ advertising realm without a solid understanding of the ‘what’ and the ‘why’ if what they are trying to accomplish, successes can be overlooked and action can be understood as success. Both detrimental misinterpretation. What you’re trying to accomplish is just as important as accomplishing it. Whether it’s conversions, customer engagement, providing information, or building awareness and community, these all will be measured in slightly different ways. To understand the data, and better yet, how to use the data, you have to know the goal.
Feedback – RealTime
One of the amazing things about social media and creating a business presence within it, you get almost instant feedback on not only your business but how people feel about it. Also, what ads work and what don’t. And if you don’t, you can ask for it! Not many other marketing outlets give you the functionality to actually ask your audience ‘hey, how am I doing here?’. Now, don’t rely on this tactic, it’s still not everyone who’s willing to participate. But if done right, using the right tools, it can have a very positive affect.
The nature of ‘engagement’ on social platforms is very useful for knowing just where you’re succeeding. Social means ‘social’ …and that means interaction. A business doesn’t need to have an account on most of these platforms in order to advertise, but it certainly will go a long way to brand building and engagement. Customer comments can be some of the most powerful data that you can get. Getting a feel for ‘sentiment’, ‘feel’ and sited issues will keep you on top of creating your social presence in a way that your customers want and respond to.
This has to be one of the more magical benefits of Social Advertising. Imagine back in the day creating a print ad campaign where each potential customer got a flyer of some sort. Then imagine that one flyer got shared from person to person, to person, 1000’s of times. Does it seem likely that that has ever happened in the history of marketing? Not even a chance. But that’s very likely today with the ability to share anything and everything you see online. In one click, your potential customer has not only shared your information but by the simple act of sharing, they are subtly (and sometimes not so subtly) endorsing you…for FREE! As an advertising medium to produce a great ROI…this kind of viral exposure is definitely priceless.
Social vs SEO/Content Marketing
Without going into the weeds to deep here, because it can get deep when talking SEO, the main advantage that social advertising has over SEO or content marketing is timing. Both SEO and content marketing can build successes and ROI over time. They are both very important elements in the overall strategy. But if more instant results are the goal, social advertising takes the prize.
Social Advertising, although it does take a little to fully understand and become more proficient in, is far easier than SEO and content. Content requires creativity galore and can be a full-time endeavor just from the writing standpoint alone. If you’re not a writer or have never thought about how to catch an audience with words or video, it’s not going to be an overnight success. Same goes for SEO. People take years to fully understand the intricacies of SEO…and even then, it changes so quickly that it’s almost impossible to keep up on your own! Instant success can come from social advertising. Better yet, put them all together to layer the approach and drive sales immediately and overtime.
Social Vs Google Ads
One of the biggest advantages to some is that, unlike Adwords, where all success is based on keywords and bidding on the ones that you establish are the most relevant to you (then kind of crossing your fingers that what you might pay for that keyword search won’t be too big of a spend) social advertising is driven by demographics. You’re not waiting for someone to key in your search words, you’re marketing directly to the audience who has already proven to have an interest in products/services like yours. And although keyword searches are highly successful and a great PPC strategy should be part of any overall digital marketing strategy, targeting by location, interest, purchase history and even visits to your website, instantly in one shot, can produce quicker and possibly even more predictable results.
What Fits for You
According to a study done by the Pew Research Center the breakdown of social media use, by a percentage of US adults who say they use on their phone or online, is as follows:
- Facebook 68%
- YouTube 73%
- Instagram 35%
- Pinterest 29%
- SnapChat 27%
- LinkedIn 25%
- Twitter 24%
With so many platforms, there’s ample opportunity to find which ones work for your business .
There are, of course, other smaller platforms that are possibly up and coming but let’s take a look at some stats of these bigger ones to get an idea of scope and how, for very little, social media advertising can go a long way. When you think about it, the data is undeniable! * Data, unless otherwise indicated, sourced from Market.us
Facebook (Social Networking)
- 2.41 billion monthly active users
- 1.59 billion daily
- 90 million business pages
- 7 million active advertisers
- 87 percent of online Canadians read or search for information, content, posts, or comments from others at least once per week.
Instagram (Photo sharing)
- 500 million daily active
- 1 billion monthly active
- 500 million daily stories
- Average age 18-29
- 77 percent read or search for information, content, posts, or comments from others at least once per week.
- 139 million active daily users
- 80% of active users access daily
- 500 million tweets sent each day
- 83% of world leaders are on Twitter
- 92% of companies tweet more than once a day, 42% 1-5 times a day, 19% 6-10 times a day
- 56 percent read or search for information, content, posts, or comments from others at least once per week.
Pinterest (Photo sharing)
- 291 million active monthly users
- 25% of consumers reported buying something they found on Pinterest
- 84% of pinners turn to Pinterest when confused about what to buy
- Pinterest takes 41% of ecommerce business
- 67% of pinners are under 40, most being 18-29 yrs old
- 55% of people use Pinterest to shop and buy
- 46 percent read or search for information, content, posts, or comments from others at least once per week
LinkedIn (Social Networking)
- Most preferred channel for B2B marketers to distribute content 94%
- Approx. 300 million active users.
- 92% of B2B marketers include LinkedIn in their digital marketing mix
- 80% of B2B leads come from LinkedIn vs 13% on Twitter and 7% on Facebook
- 44 percent read or search for information, content, posts, or comments from others at least once per week.
Snapchat (Photo sharing)
- 200 million active users
- Snapchat ads reached 75% of audience aged 13-34
- 3.5 billion snaps created every day
- 68 percent read or search for information, content, posts, or comments from others at least once per week.
One can easily see through these general usage stats that these are the platforms where the people are.
How to Jump In
If you have never considered how to start advertising on the social stage, here three ways you can consider to make it work for your business:
Although possibly a little daunting, with a little research and practice, it’s completely doable. There are many resources (videos, eBooks, blogs) available to help business owners work their way through creating ad campaigns that work. The good news is that your entire budget will go towards the ads and testing and tweaking what works, not into software, training or an agency. The other good news is that over time, even though at times it’s going to be clunky, you will gain the experience of ad creation, engagement, driving qualified traffic to zone-in on what converts for you, making each time you set up a campaign it gets better and better.
That said, it can’t be entered in to lightly. One has to not only create but manage. It can be time-consuming keeping on top of the amount of engagement and commenting that can occur, not to mention managing content. And if that’s not a part of your plan, it’s probably best that you go with an alternate option.
There are many tools available to help manage each individual platform, or better yet, manage them collectively. A quick search on Top Tools for Managing Social Media will get you started. This can be a great option for a business who wants to take on social advertising but doesn’t necessarily have the time or resources to dedicate to the task full time. But although very helpful at streamlining the process, automated software doesn’t come without a cost, (actual cost and cost of learning curve) although some are free. But typically the solutions that make the tasks easier, cost the most.
The other drawback to tackling both DIY and Social Media Management Tools is that it’s not always easy to troubleshoot when something goes wrong. It’s not always obvious why certain attempts aren’t performing, ads failing…there’s a learning curve to the software itself once you start to dig in deeper, and it can be hard to ‘get it just right’.
Probably by far the most successful approach when tackling social advertising is letting a digital marketing company handle everything. Because, they are not only masters of the technology used in order to target, measure and report…they are masters at creating ad content and campaigns that produce. They know how to get results! Your ad budget might be cut down a little because it’s definitely the more expensive option, but the results will be significantly multiplied in most cases for your ROI. Plus, it frees you, the business owner, the time to focus on the part of your business that you do best…running it!
But…and there’s always a but…agencies are plentiful! You need to do your homework and find the right fit. The agency needs to not only understand how to get you results in the social advertising game…they need to understand you, your business, your branding. They need to be able to represent you, as you would.
Being able to get instant insight into such powerful marketing data like what your customers care about and drives them, what their pain points may be, and generally what their online behaviors may be, is like finding a pot of gold for content creation and build better ad campaigns. Social platforms are that pot of gold.
Social advertising can open up a whole new world to a business’s advertising efforts. With tremendous targeting and measuring, ROI is some of the best out there!
So don’t hide against the wall, GET SOCIAL!