This is a guest article by Rich Henderson, Digital Director at JJ.
Social media marketing seems to be a “must” for businesses of today, but the thought can be a daunting one for many. Just like any other advertising and promotional activity, to be successful at social media marketing, you need to make sure your messages are being delivered to those you want to see them. This simple guide will help you to get the most from social media advertising.
What do you want from the activity?
Whether you’re an international company, a small boutique independent shop or an online dating site, you need to first understand what you want to achieve from social media advertising. Your objectives should be based on what your business needs to achieve. Avoid setting objectives based on social metrics, such as the number of likes, but instead focus on the impact this will have on the business. Metrics such as follower numbers can be used to measure steps on the way to bigger goals – just don’t let them become the goal.
Knowing your audience
Understanding who you are targeting is vital in building an effective social campaign. Be sure to make the best use of the insight tools available through each of the social platforms – the detailed information you can get about the users of the platform is one of the best assets of the tools. Take Facebook’s Audience Insights as an example, here you can see information from audiences across the whole of Facebook or just those people that like your page. Insights include information about gender, likes and hobbies, other pages and brands the user follows and relationship status. Using this information, you should build a persona of your ideal customer(s). In fact, build as many personas as you need for each of your target audiences – remember that nothing will help you refine your messaging better than having your ideal audience to test your adverts.
Knowing the social media landscape for your market
Research, including that of competitors, is an area than can easily be overlooked. Research will help you to refine your objectives and understand the opportunity for your business. Review the number of people on social networks, remember to use the audience information already available including Facebook Audience Insights and Twitter Audiences. Are your competitors on social media? If they are – what are they doing and how do audiences react to their posts? Also, look at what they don’t do well – can you identify ways in which you may be able to take learnings from their failures and turn them into your successes?
Choosing the right platforms
The next step is choosing which of the many social media platforms you want to use. The leading social media network in the world and in the UK, is, as you’d guess, Facebook. With over 50% of the UK’s population on the platform, the potential to reach your target audience is huge. Twitter is the second largest platform with 15m users in the UK. If you’re targeting a business audience, perhaps consider LinkedIn as it’s the biggest B2B network in the world. The key question to ask yourself when choosing the right platform for advertising your business is whether or not your target audience also use them. If they’re not, it’s not worth you being there either. Remember that each channel is used differently, and the messages you promote on each need to be aligned with this.
Content is king
We’ve all heard this saying, and the reality is that content really is king. Make sure that it speaks to your target audience, attracts them, causes consideration or drives them to act. You also need to make sure that your content cuts through the news feed by making sure it is relevant to your audience. The average Facebook user has 500 friends, if you then add to this the posts from pages they like, the result is that, on average, your target audience could be seeing 1,500 stories in their feed every time they log on to the platform. You need to make sure your content is seen above the other noise and posts. Paid content will help achieve this cut-through, but it still needs to be snappy and to the point. Also, always remember that you’ll be competing with short attention spans so you’ll need to stay afloat in the sea of content.
Each social media platform gives you range of advertising products, as well as a host of creative formats to use, to help your campaign goals. For example, Facebook provide you with creative formats such as canvas, lead generation adverts, image adverts and video adverts to name but a few. You can have a play around with these formats through the Facebook Creative Hub. Make sure you take the opportunity to test these formats to see which is more effective before posting for real!
It’s also worth considering new technology which is becoming increasingly available on social networks, tools such as 360 video and virtual reality – these formats can really help you cut through the social media mud!
Knowing that your social media campaign is successful requires careful and constant measurement. The beauty of social media is that you can do this both while your campaign is running and once it’s run its course. To ensure you’re optimising your content, regular monitoring is key, and allows you to test and learn as you go. By testing your adverts, you are already making the tweaks necessary to ensure your message is creating an impact or driving some form of action. Once you’ve hit the end of your campaign, take a step back and look at the results – did you meet your objectives? It’s important take and apply your learnings to future campaigns.
So, what does social media advertising mean for me?
With so many people using social media today, it’s important to build a targeted advertising strategy that means your message is reaching those you want it to. Social media is also a great sounding board for any business – it builds a two-way communication platform which not only allows you to talk to your customers, but equally allows them to talk to you. Last, but by no means least, social media can generate customers and revenue.
The insights and user data collated through these platforms will ultimately provide you with a big pool of data for you to analyse, segment and make use of in future campaigns to create even more effective and targeted campaigns. Take the time to consider all the above stages to build your advertising strategy – following these simple steps will really allow you to define your social media marketing tactics and allow you to plan better in the future.
So, whether you are starting your social advertising from scratch or using paid advertising to leverage your social media, the same rules apply – the sooner you start, the sooner you can start learning and gathering those insights to really stand out on social media.
By Rich Henderson
Digital Director at JJ, Rich is a specialist in digital marketing communications who thrives on gaining insights and delivering results through a multichannel approach. Rich initially worked at a leading Midlands agency where he practised social media marketing, PPC, SEO and email. He has gone on to manage a number of cross-channel marketing projects for clients in a variety of sectors, including travel and leisure, investment, technology and real estate.