Tried your hand at social media marketing only to realize you have no idea how to tell whether it’s really helping your business? You’re not alone. According to some studies, as many as 61% of marketers struggle to measure ROI for social media marketing campaigns. But there’s another way to take your business social and measure success. Paid social.
Paid social or promoted social content is paying to have your social messages or ads play to a specific group of social media users. This tactic helps businesses target consumers, track costs and ROI, and measure responses from introduction through conversion. It’s relatively inexpensive and gives Google Ads a run for its money.
What’s more, paid social ads tend to perform well because they:
- look like other social posts, so they prevent what marketers sometimes call banner blindness;
- can be targeted precisely based on criteria you choose;
- are easy to set up and manage; and
- encourage engagement through comments, replies, and likes.
To be sure you’re ready for pay-to-play social media, take a look at five questions all small business owners should ask themselves before launching a new social media marketing campaign.
1. Why are you launching this campaign?
Before you log into your social accounts, create copy, or design an ad, you need a plan that addresses the “why” of your campaign by defining your goal and budget.
Every successful, measurable campaign has a goal, and maybe even two. For example, your primary goal may be to acquire more Twitter followers, in the hope of turning those followers into customers later, your secondary goal. As you articulate your goals, be sure to note how you’ll measure them.
Your social campaign budget should account for the cost of writing engaging copy, designing social ads that work for your customers, and running those ads on a social channel. Keep in mind, the success of your campaign rides on the quality of your ads and their ability to stand out from other posts your audience encounters. For more on what it costs to run a paid social campaign on the most popular social channels, check out this summary.
2. Who is your audience?
One of the benefits of a paid social campaign is the ability to target users. What’s more, a successful paid social campaign often hinges on understanding your target audience. The more you know about them—who they are, what they want, what they need, where they look for information—the more likely your social campaign will reach them.
If you want to reach prospective customers on social, start with your existing customers. Why do they do business with you? What need do you meet for them? How much money do they typically spend with you? What products are most popular among them? Where do they live? And what social channels do they typically use?
If you’re struggling to answer these questions, ask your customers directly. Chat with them as they come into your shop, drop them a quick email survey, or call your most valuable customers. Remember that customers regularly experience survey fatigue, so figure out a way to reward participants or make your survey fun and quick. Don’t forget that you can find great resources available for free online, like this Pew study on consumers and social channels.
3. Where can you find your audience?
Fortunately, many of the social platforms most popular among consumers—Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn—offer paid campaigns. Before you decide which platforms to include in your campaign, check out the advertising rules and conditions of those platforms.
Here’s a short list of campaign information pages for various platforms, for your quick reference:
As you select your social channels, set realistic, measurable expectations for those channels. For example, this comparison of Twitter and Facebook indicates that they may not be best for direct lead generation, but they’re great at placing your brand in front of a targeted audience and for starting conversations. Those engagements can forge trust and turn into business over time.
4. How will you reach your audience?
Creating a paid social campaign isn’t your only step in reaching your audience. Consider the following five tactics to make sure your campaigns have impact.
- A landing page is a page that a user reaches when clicking the link in your ad that speaks directly to the population you’re targeting in your paid social posts. It’s a great place to elaborate on the details of your product, campaign, or promotion. It can be a page on your website or a unique page you build that sits outside your site. These tools can help you create one quickly: shortstack and unbounce.
- Email is a great way to engage your prospects or customers. Collect an email address on your landing page, and send a follow-up thank you with a coupon or promo code.
- Blog posts are effective for articulating more about your campaign, product, or service. Just be sure you have a writer at-the-ready to help you craft a post that engages readers and cuts through all the other social content.
- Social media influencers are power users who help customers like yours make decisions about products. Think food critics, home improvement bloggers, or wellness writers. Reach out, ask them to co-write a blog post, review your product, or participate in a promotional campaign.
- When you think search engines, you probably think keywords. But many businesses forget that social platforms also rely on keywords for searches. When you craft your paid social content, be sure to identify keywords users enter when searching for products, services, or businesses like yours and infuse those keywords into your copy.
If you decide to make social—paid or unpaid—part of your ongoing marketing strategy, consider these tools to help you automate social posts.
- Hootsuite is a powerful, subscription social media dashboard that allows individuals or teams to schedule posts, monitor analytics, manage social advertising, and more.
- Buffer is a super easy-to-use social media scheduling app that offers performance metrics and makes scheduling multiple posts at one time very simple.
5. When is the best time to reach your audience?
Timing is everything, as they say. And that’s especially true for social advertising. Whether you’re deciding on a one-time or an ongoing campaign, knowing the best time of day, day of the week, or even month to launch your campaign can mean the difference between a successful campaign and one that falls flat. Check out the best times for publishing on these popular social platforms.
However, you can also coordinate with your own promotional schedule. If you’ve got holiday promotions coming up, it’s a great time to think about a paid social campaign. If you time it right, it could be perfect for launching your holiday frenzy.
Ready. Set. Launch.
Have answers to your 5 questions? Ready to begin work on your campaign? Just a few more things to consider. First, think about security. Who will have access to your social accounts? Make sure that only trusted team members can have access, and that they have unique user accounts so that you can easily change their permissions if their behavior or employment status changes. There have been plenty of headaches for businesses with social media errors. These mistakes can range from accidental posts to having disgruntled employees lock their supervisors out of their accounts with password changes. Secondly, think about having a single point person for each campaign—especially in the follow-up phase. Creating meaningful engagement with social users and turning social media followers into customers is a marathon, not a sprint, so make sure you dedicate time and team to manage your social advertising strategy and campaigns.
Clover is sold by leading U.S. banks including Bank of America, BBVA, Citi, PNC, SunTrust and Wells Fargo. You’ll also find Clover at our trusted partners including CardConnect, Restaurant Depot, and Sam’s Club. For more information, visit us at clover.com.