This is a guest article by Sebastian Burchell, Outreach Executive at Visualsoft.
It’s undeniable that social media positions itself as one of the most important methods of advertising in today’s business scene. The development of global technologies in conjunction with the desire to communicate more freely and regularly, has led to a plethora of digital advertising opportunities. The theory of running a successful social media campaign is far easier than the practical reality, however. Sometimes, you may have planned efficiently, researched your competitors’ campaigns thoroughly, and your end results have nothing to show for the hard graft you’ve put in. While the outcomes may be unpredictable at times, here are a few pieces of advice to get you heading in the right direction.
Plan, plan, plan…
First and foremost, the need to plan and set goals is essential when advertising through social media. Not only will this allow effective measurement of your campaign (whether you’re trying to gain impressions or views, page likes, or website clicks, for example), but it will also give your social media team something to work towards. This method aligns with the requirement of contextualising your resources. It’s essential to identify what is available to you in terms of money and time, as this can end up altering your end objectives. Once your outcomes have been set, you can then approach the methodology of reaching them. Many companies are simply looking for brand exposure, with viral content proving to be a popular way to achieve that goal. More established businesses use social media campaigns to promote their brand principles by creating a story. For example, leading lifestyle-clothing company Patagonia epitomises their ethical values by showcasing their Worn Wear Wagon – a van that travels the country repairing worn and torn clothes.
Using the right platform
The sheer variety of social media platforms available to both the public and marketers means that businesses can generate platform-specific content and reach out to a huge number of potential customers who may not otherwise be aware of the brand. Stephen Sheldon, owner of Luxury Legs, a premium legwear e-commerce store, recognises the unique benefits of using differential platforms. “We use Twitter because it lets us see what is currently being talked about, allowing us to participate in conversations as well as letting people recognise us as a brand. Pinterest and Instagram have an alternative purpose, offering inspiration to us. However, we can also use these to see what’s trending, especially in regards to fashion. As these are more visual platforms, we use this to showcase great images of products/brands that we have.”
Know your audience
Graeme Coyle, Marketing Manager at Andrew James, highlights the importance of recognising who you are trying to reach. “Understand who you are trying to connect with when advertising via social media. Identify your target audience and effectively consider their demographic, lifestyle and location”. Facebook offers a wide range of targeting options, and picking the prized audience will increase the value of your ad spend. If targeted effectively, you will not waste money on impressions and clicks, which are not delivering a return on investment. In terms of the actual content, it’s important to appreciate their interests and produce material that appeals to them – even if it differs from your own tastes!
Identify and understand trends
When you get down to the nitty-gritty of social media advertising, be savvy. Although this word is thrown around with monotonous regularity nowadays, the need to understand the trends and what’s topical has never been more important. Take Paddy Power’s current social media approach for instance. Despite being a company that offers a very specific service (online gambling) they regularly generate thousands of impressions by consistently posting up-to-date sport-related content. Their humorous videos and photos cater to the trends of their audience, consequently provoking interaction.
Engage to lift off
Interactive content is one the most effective types of advertising in terms of engagement. Basic interactive advertising can be presented as competitions, where businesses giveaway products in return for page likes and shares. This can drum up attention for emerging startups, although this method can become repetitive for your audience. As social media has evolved, video and reactive content has become increasingly prominent. With the emergence of Facebook Live, Instagram Live, Instagram Stories, and Snapchat Stories, businesses are producing rich and contemporary content that keeps the audience hooked. In the next few months, look towards channels such as WhatsApp and Facebook who are introducing stories – a collection of photos/videos from the past day. A method of grasping the audience’s attention for longer? I think so.
Pay is the way!
If you don’t have masses of online followers, paid content is an incredibly effective way of getting a message in front of a desired audience. As previously mentioned, targeted advertising through channels such as Facebook and Twitter allows you to gain exposure and acquire attention outside of your social realm. Tom Jeffery, head of e-commerce at Jules B, highlights the necessity of using targeted advertising as a clothes retailer. “For a company like Jules B, targeting specific groups is invaluable because we sell such a variety of brands that cater for a range of age groups, tastes, interests and backgrounds”.
If the objective is to optimise visibility, spend further and perhaps look at promoting tweets/accounts on Twitter. Your tweets or page will consequently appear at the top of targeted users’ timelines. Looking for a more personal touch for your customers/users, Snapchat may hold the answers. Although you might be sacrificing regular visibility in comparison to the other platforms, Snapchat-sponsored Geofilters and Lenses offer an individualised form of advertising that directly engages the user. While using any of the services cited, don’t be afraid to make adjustments to the audience profile. It’s a rarity that you’ll get everything right the first time, therefore to spend throughout a campaign is critical, as close and effective management of social media ensures the budget is spent effectively.
Consistency is key
The problem most companies have with social media advertising is consistency. Keep up the continuity of posting content across individual and multiple platforms, and you’ll find that keeping a consistent theme, sticking to brand guidelines, tone of voice and brand style will ensure there is a recognisable connection between website and social accounts. A common method that businesses use as a reminder to continually post on social media is to create a content calendar that is aligned with your other online and offline marketing. Not only will this act as a memento, but it will also naturally shape the content of your advertising.
By Sebastian Burchell
Sebastian Burchell is an Outreach Executive at Visualsoft. Visualsoft helps retailers to expand their businesses online and boasts partners including Barclaycard, Amazon, PayPal and Google. Sebastian has previously worked in social media marketing and has most recently turned to writing about the wider e-commerce sector.