This year, it was announced that Facebook has reached the 2 billion mark for monthly users!
It’s not surprising that businesses everywhere are scrambling to get a piece of the pie, but Facebook is not the only prime social network to show off your virtual storefront and its magnificent content: Instagram boasts over 700 million users, LinkedIn 500 million and Twitter 328 million.
The good news is that this means there are literally billions of people who could potentially engage with your content on social media… The bad news? You guessed it – this vast number of people and the businesses that target them using social media means that the competition is fierce.
Organic reach vs paid reach
Getting organic reach on social these days is an uphill battle. Therefore, it’s very likely you will need to push your offering out in front with paid advertising. However, your ad campaign should not consist merely of the allocation of funds and the click of a button.
Using the advertising tools that these social media networks provide to their full potential is the best way to ensure success. So, let’s have a closer look at each of main four, starting with Facebook.
You may have noticed that getting organic reach on Facebook has become more difficult than ever. There are a few reasons for this, the main two being:
- Quantity: there simply is so much content on the social network these days, with more and more businesses realizing it is a necessary marketing channel.
- Relevance: Facebook’s algorithm now directs content deemed most relevant to users, making it less likely for other kinds of content to be seen.
Ways to tackle this persistent challenge is to ‘Boost’ or ‘Promote’.
If you’ve come to the understanding that a certain post would drive high engagement, if only it was placed directly in front of your audience’s eyes, boosting this content is a good way to gain more traction.
You can spend a minimal amount (a few euros) and track how much engagement the boost generates. In the Ads Manager area, boosts can be targeted by location, gender, age, job, and up to 10 interests. A particularly clever feature, the lookalike audience option, will allow you to target people similar to those who already engage with your business page.
A nifty bonus is that your boost can also include a CTA (call to action) if you so wish – Book Now, Sign Up, Learn More, etc. The great thing about boosting posts is that the only difference in appearance to your original post is the subtle inclusion of the word Sponsored in the top left corner (and the CTA if you include it).
Creating a Facebook ad is a more advanced way to promote your business page. You will find that there are four main advantages:
- More defined budgeting – here you can set budgets per day or use the PPC (pay-per-click) method.
- Better targeting – there are more targeting options, for example, you can show a promoted post to only those who have liked your page.
- Deeper analytics – if you use the Facebook pixel plugin, you can attach it to your promoted post.
- Unpublished posts – if you are testing out multiple versions of an ad, unpublished posts ensure your promoted post will not be reached organically via your page’s timeline.
If you want the most precise targeting Facebook can offer, Facebook’s Power Editor is designed with this in mind. Facebook has teamed up with three data mining companies, Axciom, Datalogix and Epsilon, allowing you to target users by ‘Partner Categories’.
These categories are defined by an immense amount of data regarding users’ purchase history and interests. What results is a list of audience types which you can target your post at, such as ‘Baby food and products buyers’, ‘Dog owner’ or ‘Home office supply purchases’.
LinkedIn is the Holy Grail for those in the B2B market. This is the online hangout spot for professionals and, unlike Facebook, organic reach for content can occur without blood, sweat and tears being necessary every single time!
Another advantage is that LinkedIn is very popular, but because its purpose is more niche, so too are its users and, therefore, in comparison to Facebook, this is a less competitive space.
A platform on which users actively exchange professional insights that will impact on the real world of business, whether it is for thought leadership, business development or job seeking purposes, will obviously have fantastic data for targeting users by characteristics such as profession, business industry, company size, professional interests, etc.
All this means that LinkedIn must have its own advertising platform. The tool you will use is called ‘Campaign Manager’. You have two main options for widely distributing your content:
- Text ads
- Sponsored content
Text ads appear in the right sidebar or the bottom of the homepage – places where people expect to see ads. This makes them very similar to Google Adwords in format. These ads only contain a small amount of information, the body text limited to 75 characters accompanied by a 50px x 50px image.
The advantage here is that the users who engage with text ads are particularly valuable leads, because they are knowingly clicking on an ad. This would suggest that your text ad should have a lower CTR (click-through rate), but a higher conversion rate.
Sponsored content is similar to Facebook’s boosted posts because they appear natively. Here you have more text to play with, which means more time to convince LinkedIn users to make that all-important click.
There is room for a decent-sized image of 200px to catch your target audience’s attention, or alternatively you could upload a video. You also have the option to create ‘Direct Sponsored Content’, which acts in the same way as an unpublished post on Facebook (the ad won’t appear on your timeline, allowing for split-testing). However, the word count with this format is more restricted.
The beauty of Twitter is also its main flaw – everything moves so quickly! Capturing anyone’s attention is difficult because Twitter’s format is designed for succinct, quickly digestible nuggets of information.
The key here is to create snappy, effective calls to action to get your target audience off Twitter and onto your content where the only one distracting them is you! With regards to targeting, you can pick from the usual gender, location, device options as well as the 25 categories of interest (with 350 subcategories).
To top it all off, Twitter has harvested data on buying behaviour, so you can apply all this scrumptious data to your advertising campaign.
Promoting formats on Twitter
As you would expect, you can promote your tweets. Depending on how finely you have targeted your tweet, it will appear in places such as related search results, a user’s timeline and even on user profiles. It does exactly what it says on the tin; a promoted tweet recognizable by the ‘Promoted by [name of account]’ line positioned directly under the tweet’s main text.
A very useful offering on Twitter is that they have an advertising format that directly tackles the issue of gaining followers. There is no point in creating content if there’s no one to see it, right? You can promote your account on Twitter and it will appear in your target audience’s list of suggested accounts to follow.
Unique to Twitter, for obvious reasons, is ‘Promoted Trends’. Users navigate Twitter via hashtags, and whatever hashtags are trending at any particular point in time are highlighted by Twitter for the user’s convenience. This means that you can now promote your own trend! Sounds cool, right? Only if you’re willing to part with €166,285…
“Facebook surveyed 11,000 young adults (13 to 24) across 13 markets and discovered that some of the most popular topics on Instagram are: fashion/beauty, food, TV/films, hobbies, music.”
Instagram is one of the fastest-growing social media platforms right now. This is unsurprising given that image and video are the most highly engaging content formats across all social media networks.
Currently, it is mostly attracting those in the under 30 age bracket, but with Facebook now firmly linked up with Instagram it is easy imagine its existing user base growing and transforming quickly in the next few years.
Facebook and Instagram working as one
You can create Instagram advertisements via Facebook’s Ad manager or you can do it through the Instagram app itself. However, Ad Manager tends to be the more popular tool because there is a lot more you can do. This means that if you know how to create Facebook Ads, then you also know how to create Instagram Ads, with all the familiar targeting options.
Instagram is image based and, therefore, there are different formatting styles you can use for your ad: Carousel (several scrollable images and/or videos), Single Image, Single Video and Slideshow. Your advertisement can appear in users’ timelines or in their stories, depending on your preference.
Stories is very popular on Instagram, making it an ideal place to locate a full-screen advertisement. The great thing about the stories feature is that while a user is looking at their friend’s story, the feature lines up other stories yet to be viewed, which automatically play one after another. This means that your ad seamlessly integrates with your audience’s normal behaviour on Instagram.
A particularly challenging organic click
Paid advertising on Instagram allows you to include a CTA directly under the image/video, which when clicked on brings you to the destination URL. However, this is not a feature included in normal posts. This makes directing organic traffic to content on a blog or website very difficult from Instagram.
The only way around this issue is to direct your audience to your bio, where you can include a link. However, even the bio section has a very strict word count. Paid advertising is now considered a vital ingredient in social media marketing campaigns. However, it is important to remember that quality is always better than quantity in these situations.
For this reason, it is worthwhile conducting research into your audience’s social media habits before investing in paid advertising. By doing this, you avoid that deflating moment when you realise the reason your paid advertising received no engagement is because your audience is not even on that social network to begin with!
Having clearly defined KPIs before designing your ad campaign will ensure that measuring the success of your campaign is simple, while also guiding informed adjustments on future ad designs. Make sure to always include a snappy CTA that drives behaviour towards this target.
In conclusion, knowing exactly what you want to achieve from your paid advertisement promises for effective communication with your audience. Do your housekeeping before you jump into paid advertising to give the high-quality content which you worked so hard to produce the best opportunity to shine!