Small Business Week: 5 Steps to Paid Social Media Success for Your Small Business

5 Steps To Paid Social Media Success

It’s easy to forget sometimes, but social media companies are just that: companies. Like any other company, Facebook and other platforms are out to make a profit – and because they don’t charge users to have accounts, they’ve turned toward paid advertisers to keep the lights on.

With so many businesses crowding the market, the competition among paid advertisers on social media has seriously ramped up – and in order to truly stand out, your business needs to have a smart, agile, nimble paid strategy in place and running.

Here are a few top tips to get your paid social strategy started or updated for success moving forward.

1.  Set your Goals – Then Get Started

As with any well-executed marketing effort, a smart paid social media strategy starts long before you log in. Know what you’re aiming for, and decide how you’re going to reach that goal -that way, you can know when you’re on track and when you need to re-adjust.

  • Start by identifying exactly what it is you’re looking to accomplish with your paid social strategy, or your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs): Conversions? Page likes? Engagement? In-store visits? The action you’re looking to inspire will drive the ads you create, and who you try to reach.
  • How will you measure success? Which analytic systems will you utilize, and what data will matter most? Be sure to implement all tracking pixels and other analytic markers before campaign launch – and don’t forget to test them!
  • Plan to ramp up successes after monitoring initial progress. Start your strategy relatively contained, and then adjust your ads and your targeting based on what works and what doesn’t.

2.  Pick Your Platforms

Although all of the major platforms may still seem as though they’re brand new to the scene, things move really fast on social media. Now, in the decade since the first Facebook Pages launched in 2007, the social media landscape has evolved, and each platform brings its own unique audiences, best practices, and successes.

Knowing which is which, and which is most beneficial to your goals, means understanding who is using each platform and how to best utilize the tools provided by each.

  • Facebook
    • Slightly older audience
    • Especially effective at driving website traffic
    • Tends to prefer video
    • Advertising can be highly targeted by area, interest, age, and more.
  • Instagram
    • Owned by Facebook, and ads reach users through algorithms similar to Facebook
    • Draws a younger audience
    • Best for branded photo or video
    • Don’t forget Instagram Stories – like Snapchat, these posts disappear within 24 hours (great for daily updates).
  • Twitter
    • May skew predominantly toward younger users, but about a quarter of all Twitter users are actually 50+
    • Advertising can be expensive, and reach and engagement can often be lower than Facebook or Instagram.
  • Pinterest
    • Predominantly reaches younger women
    • Perfect for featuring products and high-quality photography
    • Paid posts can generate high engagement for lifestyle and products brands who use it well.
  • Snapchat
    • Paid performance has been less than optimal, and audiences are shrinking – the general conclusion: don’t even bother.

3.  Reach the Right People, At The Right Time

The most creative ads in the world won’t perform nearly as well as they should if they’re not reaching the right audience. Social media advertising actually makes it easier than ever to reach the perfect audience to match your particular goals – but you have to identify who exactly those users are, and where/how to reach them.

  • Use data from your analytics platforms to study your audience. Don’t just make assumptions, make data-driven decisions that can be proven.
  • Build your audience from the ground up: location, age, interests, jobs, other page likes, etc. Create and save custom audiences to direct future ad campaigns.
  • Pay attention to important metrics like your Page’s busiest time of day, most engaged regions and age groups, and least interested users.
  • Create negative audiences where needed. You don’t want to show your ads to people who aren’t engaging, and you do want to put resources to where they’re most effective.
  • Don’t underestimate the power of remarketing and building website-based custom audiences – if users engaged with you once, they’re more likely to do so again.
  • Adjust targeted audiences as needed, and the apply lessons you’ve learned to new audiences moving forward.

4.  Build and Follow A Calendar

The most effective marketing strategies don’t live alone in the stratosphere – they integrate seamlessly into your overall strategy, and work together to intelligently work toward your stated goals over time.

  • Don’t just charge ahead blindly – make a paid social media plan and stick to it.
  • Work on planning one quarter at a time, leaving room to adjust and change your targeting, creative, and goals as necessary.
  • It’s a pay-to-play world – expect to put around 15%-25% of digital marketing budget into paid social, broken down by platform depending on the particular success of each and each campaign.

5. Don’t Be Afraid To Experiment with Messaging

Because of the wide range of formats, tools, and options available to paid advertisers on social media, a paid campaign is a great opportunity to flex a little creative muscle. Try to incorporate some unique branding in your ads and you may just be more likely to catch the attention of current and prospective fans alike.

  • It’s worthwhile to dedicate time and resources to experimenting with different creative and copy assets to express creativity, and the platforms themselves will notice – and reward – creativity in social ads.
  • Get away from stock imagery and try to utilize original, branded imagery when possible.
  • Let your brand’s voice and style be reflected in the ad coy – it’s that originality that draws in fans in the first place, and that will keep them clicking campaign after campaign.

Bonus Tip: Don’t Just Post – Start Conversations

Because we really couldn’t leave you with just five top tips, here’s an extra bit of advice – don’t let your social ads just hang out in cyberspace without regular checkups, These posts live online for quite a while, and it’s worth the effort to keep tabs on what kinds of conversations they may be generating.

  • Social media is not shouting into the void – it’s posting a billboard to a public forum.
  • Respond quickly to user questions and inquiries – the longer you wait, the worse the response will seem (and the more platforms will penalize you).
  • Take advantage of questions/complaints/inquiries to improve not just social presence, but business practices – because there may be no more democratic way of gauging customer satisfaction than responding directly to comments on social media.

Don’t Wait For The Competition – Get Your Paid Campaign Going Today

The web may be a big place, but in reality there’s only so much room for advertisers to make headway on social media. By getting your paid campaign started, and off on the right foot, you set yourself up for success in a changing social landscape. Ready to get started?

Altos is a digital agency located in Bedford, NH specializing in website design, development, and marketing. Click here to learn more and get in touch.