Today’s audiences live their lives on social media; they stay in touch with friends over Facebook, get their news from Twitter, and share their daily adventures on Instagram. In recent years, brands have realized that it’s more effective to spend their marketing dollars on the channels where audiences are already spending their time. A recent Mediakix study estimated people spend an average of 116 minutes per day across social channels: 40 minutes on YouTube, 35 minutes on Facebook, 25 minutes on Snapchat, 15 minutes on Instagram, and 1 minute on Twitter. Whereas five years ago social media advertising spend was still largely considered to be an afterthought among brands across verticals, it is quickly becoming the primary focus. In fact a 2016 report found paid media spending across social to be up 65% YOY in 2016. Although brands are more willing to allot significant marketing dollars to social channels, they still want to ensure that these dollars are being put to good use and spent effectively.
Test Before Your Spend
You can get a solid idea of the kinds of content that resonates with your target audience by first testing campaign concepts organically. Hootsuite recommends tracking clicks, shares, and overall engagement across beta-test posts on each channel to better determine what and where to allot your dollars. If your audience is engaging more on Facebook than Twitter or Instagram, then your dollars will be better spent on the channel that is already driving engagement. Perhaps you have an idea for a new paid media campaign focused on customer testimonials. By testing the concept via organic posts first, you’ll be able to get a sense of whether or not your audience is interested in learning about testimonials; if the engagement is not there then you’ll know that any paid media boost you put behind this content will likely fall flat, as well.
Target Your Audiences
For you to effectively target audiences across social platforms, you first have to have a solid understand of your core and potential customer demographic. Age, location, interests, income are all helpful insights you can draw from when setting your target preferences; Facebook and Instagram even allow brands to go as deep as generation and political leanings to reach the right customers. Furthermore, you can also draw distinctions between custom audiences (people who have already visited your site) and lookalike audiences (people with strong similarities to your custom audience). Users across platform are served an inordinate amount of ads and brand content each time they log into their accounts; the only way to make sure your campaign is worth the spend is through granular audience targeting.
Create Timely, Definitive Ads
Too often brands allow their ad campaigns to extend ad infinitum across social media platforms. But running open-ended campaigns can really rack up overall spend. Additionally, when users see the same ads in the News Feeds over and over again, they become less interested with each viewing. Instead choose a timely start and end date that coincides with a specific promotion or product push you are trying to communicate. Also, creating ads for specific (and short) windows of time allows you to analyze performance over a specific length of time. Perhaps your overall conversions were low, you can than try another variation of the ad with different creative, copy, or call-to-action to A/B test overall performance.
Test, Test, Test
There’s no one size fits all formula to effective social media marketing. And often what brands think will work with their audience ends up being wildly different from what actually resonates. The only way you can create the most effective ads possibly is to constantly experiment with new concepts and formats. Committing to constant split testing also gives you more insight into what targeted audiences want out of ads. Perhaps performance spiked after switching visual styles, or maybe adding witty copy was the key to engaging users - each subtle change you make on your test provides actionable insights for you to apply and enhance your next campaign.
Similarly to your organic social content, what will ultimately resonate with users is authenticity. Social media users don’t want to see carbon copy ads of what your competitors have done - this won’t entice them to click through - rather, they want to see a unique voice, point of view, or overall product offering that distinguishes your brand from the rest.