There are many reasons to get involved in social media advertising for your business. One of the most compelling is that it simply works. Advertising has always worked and it’s one of the most effective ways of bringing in new customers. In social media it can be even more effective. Especially as part of a large and comprehensive social media content strategy.
There is always that first struggle to get started. With so many options available to businesses it can seem daunting at first. You could, of course, blow your entire budget on Facebook ads. This may not necessarily be a bad thing, but what if you have misjudged the whole game, and end up spending your budget on a platform that is simply wrong for you?
It pays off to use a little common sense and some forward thinking. Right off the bat, you have to think strategically. Certain platforms sell ads in certain ways, and allow you to adapt your strategy accordingly.
Let’s take a look at Twitter first and how it uses ads. It holds plenty of potential, but also a massive amount of risk if you don’t know how to use advertisements with the old Blue Bird.
Twitter: A wealth of options
Twitter offers a ton of different options when it comes to advertising. This is crucial because it allows for plenty of flexibility. You could literally spend hours going through the options and their various nuances, but we’ll try to keep it as simple as possible.
● Promoted accounts
You could do what a number of brands do and simply promote your account. This makes for a very good option in the long run, simply because it’s about as ‘traditional’ as you can get on the advertising front. Use this option if you want to have a billboard feel to what you do and if growing your follower audience is important to you.
There’s a kind of twist too. A promoted account ads campaign allows you to be more targeted than you might think. You can choose from different user interests, and the overall impact will mean that people who click on your promoted account will generally be interested in your business.
This is of course facilitated by the message you send out, but the visibility of the promoted account ‘billboard’ (through the ‘who to follow’ widgets) means that you will get targeted and relevant traffic. It’s a great way to get started with Twitter advertising if your main KPI is growing your audience size.
● Promoted Tweets
This is an incredibly popular option. If the tweet you promote is crafted well enough, you’re looking at a very powerful way to drive impressions and engagement. The key is to create a compelling tweet first, one that is worthy of the Twitter promotion machine.
If you have a product release that is imminent, and you know that prospects would be interested in finding out more, then craft your tweet around that. It’s news. It’s worth shouting about. It makes a lot more sense to push a release than to promote a tweet that simply says something as bland as ‘follow us’.
● Lead gen cards
This is a way of collecting email addresses and other information directly off Twitter. It works perfectly if you have an offer. Let’s say you’re putting together a seminar and you want to publicise the event. Using a lead generation card allows you to collect email addresses of prospects and build up the momentum before the event.
These leads can be very useful (for kind of obvious reasons). You can download them to your own CRM quickly and easily too. The whole process is automated beyond what you might expect from a major platform like Twitter. It’s a smooth lead generation process and it has tremendous value if you’re trying to increase your email database, boost sales of an event, product or other one-off offer.
Obviously, these babies only work if you have a truly compelling offer. They’re out there in front of a ton of people, and they need a genuine hook if they are to work.
Facebook: From basic to sophisticated
Facebook is a bit of a funny thing when it comes to ads. It does not treat the subject anything less seriously, and it has continuously trimmed and adapted its ad offering so that customers can have more options.
You’ll find that advertising really does run the gamut of choices, from very simple ads to full-blown campaigns that can be very complex. It’s all good though. If you’re a brand that wants to get noticed, don’t forget that Facebook is one of the biggest social networks anywhere. We can’t get into every single permutation of Facebook advertising here, but we will look at a few.
● Building up traffic and leads with Facebook ads
This is a well-trodden path for many brands, and continues to be one of the simplest ways to use Facebook ads. This path is designed around you and your brand aiming to find more website visitors and leads.
It starts off with the domain ad. This very simple ad can be used to show a title, description and URL. It’s as basic as it can get and can be useful for lead generation, although in recent times, and with Facebook’s consistent evolution, it has become a little harder to justify as an ad purchase.
The good news is that advertising on Facebook is not expensive. Test out the effectiveness of the domain ad approach as much as you can.
● The Page Post link
Another winner with many brands. The simple page post link should be supported by a high quality image that grabs attention. It’s perfect for testing too, because you can easily change the text of a link or the image to see which performs better and when. This type of Facebook advertising is handy due to that level of flexibility and control.
● Page Like ads
These are exactly what they sound like. They provide a great little platform for asking for page likes. Direct and clear, and always supported with a high quality photo. They work miracles when it comes to boosting the page likes and branding your company.
● Offer ads
These are perfectly suited to any brand that has an offer. A great example would be a store that is currently running a special on a certain item or set of items. They are again very simple to set up, and give an ample amount of space to get in your offer with a clear call to action.
● Sponsored stories
A little more complicated (in a way), sponsored stories allow you to highlight engagement. Each time someone engages with a post, a sponsored story comes up with that person’s image and action front and centre. It works differently to other ads in that it shows a little more social proof. This often works well for established brands, or alternatively up and coming brands that want to make a name for themselves and illustrate a clear fan base.
The Instagram effect
This channel has become a new player in the social media advertising game, and it’s a pretty attractive one too. Let’s get something straight immediately.
If you can’t play by the rules of this channel, and don’t believe in using high quality imagery with creativity and flair, don’t even come anywhere near Instagram. It was built on the image, and its advertising options are built on the image too.
The formats are very simple. Instagram’s ad format options are not too many right now. This is bound to change as the channel goes from strength to strength. It’s a major player in social media. The three main options are:
● Photo ads
As simple as you would need it to be. This sponsored ad simply takes a beautiful image that you have supplied and uses it to grab attention, before leading customers to the call to action at the bottom. It’s very simple but very effective too. Instagram is built on great photography. This is the perfect way to promote content and get it out to the huge audience the platform now enjoys.
● Video ads
We really don’t have to explain this one. It’s a great way to use video that doesn’t mean YouTube or Facebook. You get up to 60 seconds of video (like a TV ad), a landscape format, and the quality is superb. Run a few to test them out and you’ll be blown away by how beautiful they look on Instagram.
● Carousel ads
These are even more beautiful and arresting in that they allow you to show multiple images. Excellent for any brand that has a number of products to sell. This ad type is powerful and attractive. They even give a certain level of control to the user because the user can swipe through images, so it doesn’t feel spammy in any way.
So why use Instagram ads?
We’re assuming that you are fully aware that Instagram is a very visual medium (in that it simply is a visual platform). That should make it easier to understand why the three options outlined above are a clear benefit. The fact that you can showcase any images gives you plenty of scope for making an immediate visual impact with prospects. That’s powerful stuff. Perfect for engaging people.
There’s a call-to-action element too. It certainly isn’t the case on ‘vanilla’ Instagram, where you can’t place links in the same way. The CTA button on ads for Instagram makes it even more exciting. It allows you to sell on the platform rather than just raise brand awareness. You can use Instagram legitimately to drive traffic aggressively rather than passively.
Instagram also likes its algorithms and it has gone to town with the ad options it offers. Engagement is a key issue, and the platform really likes brands.
LinkedIn: A professional focus
LinkedIn has a carefully focused approach to networking. It’s all about the professional, the company owner type. It’s also favoured by consultants and small business owners. It’s the perfect place to run an ad if you have this kind of market as your own.
LinkedIn ads are quite similar to Google AdWords in many ways. The one feature that differentiates them is the wonderful option to add a photo. You also get that great exposure to a very targeted group. LinkedIn advertising works extremely well due to the ability to drill down and produce a targeted approach you would be hard pressed to find anywhere else.
You can choose to target audiences according to company size, which is more than you get with pretty much any other service we can think of right now. You also get to drill down to the role a person has in a company, again something that has always impressed us.
LinkedIn has always stated that a high quality photo brings in a good click-through rate for their ads. Get the very best image that you can. We don’t mean simply throwing up your company logo.
LinkedIn ads work spectacularly well if you have a compelling offer. If you can drive that click-through to a landing page that has the offer at the heart of it, you’ll find it to be a very valuable experience. The key thing is the photo. Deliver a photo that is highly relevant to what your audience will see when they hit the landing page.
Our top tips for social media advertising
We feel would be a little remiss if we didn’t focus on giving you some top tips on advertising with social media. There is a lot to get wrong. If we can steer you in the right direction, all the better.
So let’s take a quick look at our top four tips to get the most out of social media advertising. Follow these when planning and implementing a social media advertising campaign, and you should avoid some of the problems that so many brands find themselves facing.
● Understand exactly who you are talking to
This is perhaps the cornerstone of any great social media advertising campaign. It really points at the main reason why you are advertising in the first place: to find more customers.
Knowing your channel has always been at the heart of any great social media campaign of any kind. If you know the channel you are working on like you know the back of your hand, you will know exactly how to get the most out of it. You will know which channels to focus on with your advertising if you are aware of your typical customers.
Do you have a typical customer profile that consists of the professional who is running his own company? Focus on LinkedIn with your advertising. Tailor your ads to meet their needs and pain points.
A retailer who sells to younger people? Consider Facebook or Instagram ads for a good response. Test as much as you possibly can. Knowing the platform makes a huge difference to your ROI, whichever way you look at it.
Advertise where your people go, in other words.
● Be active
There is absolutely no reason to have a social media channel full of ads if your social media presence is a bit of a damp squib. Get out there and crush social media as much as you can organically. Enjoy it and play it for real.
The best social media accounts have advertising alongside high quality content that reaches out to an audience in the most genuine way possible. Not just a bunch of ads that turn people off.
Think about it. Your audience wants to see you actually being part of the social media thing, rather than a brand that just throws up ads and hopes people come and check out their website.
It’s important that you are so accustomed and involved in social media advertising that it’s part of an overarching social media strategy. Get the whole deal right. Not just the advertising part. The most active social media accounts get the most out of ads.
● Make the ads hyper-relevant
You know what we mean. There are millions of ads out there right now on social media that are essentially a ‘call us, please’ approach. All dressed up in what looks like high quality wording. But you don’t have to be like that. You can be different.
Think about the problem your perfect customer is experiencing and a way to verbalise your solution flawlessly. The clearer and more compelling the solution is, the better. Asking questions like ‘How are you going to find customers this year?’, for example, immediately sets up a pain point in the mind of the ad viewer, and makes it easier for them to click on the ad.
We can’t stress this enough. You only get a finite amount of space in social media advertising, and it ain’t much, to be honest. Use the space wisely with a hyper-relevant and compelling piece of text that speaks to the audience you are trying to reach.
Imagine you are in the room with them and use that image and the words that come to mind to craft the ad copy. It could be as simple as that, and as plain as that.
The social media advertising effect
Taking your advertising to the next level by using social media is a logical step if you have developed a brand voice online. Advertising helps massively with reach, and in some cases with engagement.
Test out as much as you can before going large on any aspect of social media advertising. Use the information above to put together your own initial strategy, and the rest should flow as you see the results come in.