7 Steps to social media advertising success

Are you interested in conducting some advertising on social media to boost your marketing efforts but not where to start? 

Social media advertising, to some, is an oxymoron. A lot of small businesses still want to hang on to believing social media is free, plugging away trying to build audience numbers and awareness, harrumphing at any notion they should invest in advertising. Unfortunately however, there is only so much you can do organically (for free) to grow your reach and engagement on social media, and at some point or another as a business you are going to have to pay to play, and invest in social media advertising.

Unlike ‘traditional’ advertising such as TV, radio & print, the ease with which anyone with a social media business account can run an advertising campaign, is equal parts awesome and frightening and in the wrong hands, can lead to wasted money and an unchanged opinion that social media advertising is a waste of time. To be successful with your advertising, it should be led by a solid strategy, market insights and a fabulous creative team – all or some of which can be missing from the many businesses hanging out on social media.

Don’t fear, however – if you follow these 7 steps to ensure you run a successful social media advertising campaign.

1. Have a social media strategy

Before you even think about putting your hand in your pocket to pay for social media advertising, make sure you have a social media strategy from which you can develop objectives and goals for your advertising campaign. All advertising should be fed from a marketing strategy and it is no different in social media land. If you don’t have a strategy in place, stop right now and start thinking – or read here for inspiration.

2. Be insights led when creating ads 

Whatever you promote via Social Media, be it a blog, apps, photos, video or sales offers – some of your content will resonate with your audience more than others. Use your platform insights to assess what content is garnering the most engagement and Google Analytics to identify what is driving traffic to your website. Use what is already getting the most engagement and turn it into an ad, don’t throw money at average content in the hope that it will make people want to engage with it – it won’t.

3. Select your audience & segment where possible

Some social media platforms such as Twitter, LinkedIn, but particularly Facebook have really good audience targeting options to make sure you advertise to the most receptive audience. Spend time understanding who you want to target and why then use these tools to fine tune and segment who sees your advertising. Think outside your existing fan base and invest in increasing market awareness. Spending time on this will minimise waste and increase your conversion rates.

4. Split test ads – where possible

Split testing is not new. In traditional media, split testing is done a lot, across different geographical and target markets. Because of the flexibility and instantaneous data received via digital and social media advertising, split testing ads is cheap and easy to do. Simply create multiple version of each ad, with different images, calls to action or copy and test them on your segmented audience and locations, if relevant.  Run the ads for a couple of days and asses which one resonates with which segment the most. Once you have some robust data you can get rid of the under performing ads and invest more in the stronger ads – and all you have lost is a few dollars and some time.

5. Set a realistic budget

If you have followed the preceding steps you should be in great shape to set a realistic and manageable budget. By fine tuning the target market, having a strategy complete with goals and objectives and crafting the best, most relevant ad creative, you should be able to gauge what your cost per acquisition should be. Set a budget around this and then monitor it. If you see your budget dwindling and ROI not eventuating, go back to the start and reassess what you are trying to achieve. As hard as it is to admit – it is never the fault of the advertising creative, it is the fault of the strategy, a misaligned target market and the person who came up with the creative.

6. Understand what you are buying

Again, as is the case with traditional media, social media platforms sell their advertising based on different rates and deliverables – from charging for full video views, engagement or impressions served, understanding how the platform you want to advertise on charges will help you develop the right creative, set goals and stick to your budget.

7. Monitor & switch out creative

In any form of media, advertising creative can get stale. Where social media trumps traditional media is the ability and speed in which you can address old or non-performing creative and replace it with new images, message or calls to action. Refreshing creative or removing creative that is not resonating with your audience will keep your advertising activity fresh and reduce the likelihood of your audience ignoring your ads (and increase the chance of click through).

If you only have a small budget for social media advertising, spend it wisely. Choose activities that will generate revenue for your business and invest the time up front to make sure you are running the best possible campaign to reach your revenue targets.


About Zena Churchill

Zena Churchill is a Director at Max & Buddy Consulting. She has worked in senior level business roles across national and multinational corporations, as well as being a small business owner. Zena is a strategic thinker and brings a practical, straight-forward approach to marketing and social media. She has a passion for training & development running practical business workshops for small business. Zena is a Certified Practising Marketer (AMI), sometimes tutors in Marketing at the University of Wollongong and is a Senior Consultant with Trinity P3.

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