More than half of online adults (56%) use more than one of the five major social media platforms: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and LinkedIn –Pew Research Center, 2016
In 2015, we wrote about the broad trend away from traditional media to digital marketing, and the data behind the shift is staggering. According to Forrester’s latest forecast, “Investment in paid search, display advertising, social media advertising, online video advertising and email marketing will pace to 46% of all advertising in five years” and approach $120 billion by 2021. As companies turn to digital marketing to reach potential customers, social media ads are a powerful part of their marketing arsenals. A “new media” advertising tool that combines audience targeting, user engagement, and measurability, social media ads are a marketing knockout punch. Here’s why:
1. AUDIENCE TARGETING: Your message gets to the right people
I was once asked to explain Facebook audience targeting, and in particular, why a business should do a Facebook ad as opposed to a traditional ad in the local newspaper. The question came from someone familiar with Facebook as a personal social media platform, but not at all aware of what it could do when marketing a business. I asked her,
“If I offered you the opportunity to market your business with a flyer that only went to people who had an interest in your product, could afford your product, and lived within driving distance of your store, would you do it? And, if I said I could take your flyer and put it on the kitchen counter of only the people you believe would want to see it, what would you say?”
She said, “Of course, I would do it. Who wouldn’t?”
To me, paid social advertising that uses demographic audience targeting is like putting a flyer on the kitchen counter of a potential customer. The range and versatility of targeting options available help digital marketers hone in on a very specific audience. Using filters such as interests, job title, net worth and geo-targeting, marketing dollars can be utilized efficiently, effectively and easily reallocated with the click of a button.
Some examples of custom audiences we have recently created for our clients include audiences that are:
- local and geo-targeted within a 10 mile radius of numerous cities where the business has stores
- local and in Manhattan with an interest in buying a new home in the suburbs
- local, within the tri-state area and Florida
- international and interested in accessing a locally-based product electronically
The specificity with which marketers can reach and get information to an audience with paid social media ads makes them a cost-effective, versatile marketing tool not constrained by physical distribution channels.
2. CONVERSATIONS: Social media ads engage an audience and broaden reach
The power of social media platforms lies in their ability to engage an audience with the brand, and social media ads can turbocharge audience reach. Social media advertising will put content in front of your target audience, and people will interact and react with emojis, comments, likes and shares. Your audience can ask questions, and you can answer them – suddenly your content has prompted a conversation.
Another example of a two-way social media interaction is user-generated reviews. Online reputation management is a growing field and business owners often receive online business reviews on their social media pages. Customers will post a review and a business can acknowledge and answer it – another type of conversation. In contrast, once a print ad is distributed, there is no way to tell how many people have read it, who read it or if it has successfully resonated with anyone in the target audience.
If you were offered the opportunity to market your business with a flyer that only went to people who had an interest in your product, could afford your product, and lived within driving distance of your store, would you do it?
3. CONNECTIVITY: Customers can connect with you via social media ad CTAs
According to a Pew Research Center report, “Nearly two-thirds of Americans are now smartphone owners, and for many these devices are a key entry point to the online world.” The use of smartphones has been a boon to the connectivity afforded by social media and the migration towards social media ads with clickable call to action (CTA) buttons.
Here are just two examples of how social media ads can be used by a business:
- A company posts a sponsored Instagram ad, and it includes a button that says, “Learn More.” When people tap the button, they are taken to a landing page where they can request a demo, watch an explainer video or start a free trial.
- A local business creates a Facebook ad promoting a free consultation for a new service they are offering. People that are interested tap a CTA button that says “Sign Up” and fill in a registration form for the consultation.
Versatile and engaging, social media ads connect businesses with potential customers and can convert them into viable leads with an array of clever CTAs.
4. MEASURABILITY: You can track, analyze and recalibrate social media ads
Social media ads can be configured to target an audience of choice either demographically, by interest, or geographically. Once an ad is live, marketers can track and analyze an array of social analytics from impressions and click-throughs to the number of reactions, comments or shares. On Facebook, you can even track click-throughs to directions, a phone number or action buttons. If an ad is actively engaging people, marketers can move more dollars to the campaign and use a similar format in future.
Another important aspect to social media ads is they can drive visitors to your website, and you can track this information in your website’s Google Analytics data. There are visitor acquisition metrics, and one of the referral sources you can analyze is social media. An added bonus is the availability of numerous pre-configured dashboards in Google Analytics which put key metrics in an organized, visually appealing dashboard. So, in a way, paid social advertising is even better than putting a flyer on the kitchen counter of a potential customer, because it is backed by data that tells you if the person actually read the flyer!
When it comes to advertising, social media ads are a game changer. They offer audience targeting, conversations, connectivity, and measurability – four powerful reasons to ensure you add them to your marketing bag of tricks in 2017.
Originally published: Resourceful Business blog, April 5, 2017.