Social media advertising for newbies

Amanda Nielsen
By Amanda Nielsen on November 03, 2020

So you want to advertise on social media. Amazing!

You’re going to be thrilled with the ROI that social media advertising provides and even more in love with the flexibility. But where do you start?

It’s just a matter of ‘boosting’ the posts that feel like the right ones, isn’t it? Not exactly.

We’re here to tell you that social media advertising doesn’t need to be scary. By the end of this blog post/crash course, you’ll be well-equipped to jump right in and start attracting new business.

 

The benefits of social media advertising

 

It’s no secret that social media for businesses is pay-to-play. The almighty algorithms favor posts from close friends and family with high engagement rates. This means that the organic posts on your business page might never see the very top of the newsfeed.

This is where social media advertising comes in handy. While it takes some cash getting this strategy off the ground, the benefits will greatly outweigh the spend...if you’re doing it right.

  1. Social media advertising yields significant ROI and a lot less time than other marketing channels. 

  2. You name your price. If you don’t have a six-figure budget to invest in social media advertising, you’ll still get results. There’s a lot of flexibility when setting up social ads and you can decide a maximum daily budget prior to pushing an ad live. 

  3. Consistency is key. Social media advertising allows you to keep the leads coming to your website without having to invest a ton in Google Ads, SEO or content syndication. 

  4. You get to be picky! Social media networks have endless amounts of user data available for businesses to use when creating audience profiles. This means you can get really granular with who you want to target.

 

Getting started with social media advertising

 

It can seem daunting to jump right in, so we’ve outlined a few necessary steps you should take when launching paid social ads.

Step 1: know your audience.

A major part of getting social media advertising right is targeting. You could have the best content and most clickable link, but if an irrelevant crowd is looking at it, you’re throwing dollars down the drain. You have the ability to cast any size net when you’re investing in social media advertising due to the amount of data each social network collects from its users. Just make sure you’re throwing that net over the right fish.

A lot of social media networks – particularly Facebook – will build a target audience profile for you based on your existing followers’ features. However, artificial intelligence is only as good as the data it has available, so always be sure to check that logic with what you know to be true about your ideal customer.

Step 2: plan your campaign goals.

Are you looking to gain more followers? Promote a new product? Engage your audience? Drive more website traffic? Encourage people to sign up for a webinar or event? Whatever it is that you’re trying to accomplish, make sure it’s clearly outlined. This will be very important when you’re setting up the ads later on.

Step 3: choose your social media networks.

Based on the goals you’ve outlined, choose the network that is best-aligned. General rule-of-thumb states that you’ll have the best luck on the networks where you have a healthy organic presence. But don’t let that stop you from testing ads on other networks if your target audience hangs out there.

Step 4: create (and test) your ad content.

Now the fun part – creating the ads. Just like organic social, video and powerful imagery reign supreme. If you’re going to invest your hard-earned dollars in paid social, make sure you have the creative chops to make a powerful ad. There’s no sense spending money on an uninspiring post that your audience won’t think twice about scrolling by. 

It’s also in your best interest to test heavily. Create a few variations of the same ad. Have one with standard, informative messaging and another that packs a little more punch. Play around with your visuals too; image carousels vs. static images vs. gifs vs. video. When you launch your ads, monitor which one performs best during the first few days. Once you’ve figured out your winner, put all your budget towards the winning ad. 

Step 5: go live.

Your audience is defined, your goals are set and your content is created. Now it’s time to set up your ads and let the magic happen. Depending on the network you’ve chosen, setting up the ads will look slightly different on each. 

Facebook Ads

For Facebook, you’ll need to set up an Ads Manager account – an all-in-one tool for creating, managing and measuring your Facebook ads. It might be a little intimidating when you first log in, but you’ll end up being best friends. 

Once you’re in, it’s time to go through the process of setting up the ads. You’ll create a new campaign and select your marketing objectives. Remember when you were planning your campaign goals? Now is the time to plug them in.

While not exactly alike, you’ll observe a similar process when setting up paid ads on other social media networks, especially LinkedIn. Regardless of the network you’re running ads on, you’ll have the opportunity to set your daily budget. That budget will directly correlate with the ad’s expected reach. The lower the budget, the lower the reach. Don’t be discouraged though. As long as you’ve properly segmented your audience, you’ll still see results even if your budget is small.

Step 6: measure the results.

Once your social advertising campaign has run its course, it’s time to measure the impact. The key metrics you’ll observe that are different than organic social media metrics are: 

  • Cost-per-click (CPC) – Divide the total ad spend by the amount of clicks the ad generated.

  • Return on Investment – Calculate how much you’ve gained from running paid ads. Then, subtract how much you spent. Grab the total and divide again by the total cost, then multiply by 100 to turn that number into a percentage. If your percentage is positive, congrats!

  • Conversions – If you’re including links in your paid ads that drive traffic back to your website, the links should include UTM parameters. As long as you have UTM parameters on the links used in your ads, you’ll be able to view how much traffic resulted from those links using Google Analytics.

  • Click-through-rate (CTR) – You won’t have to try too hard to find your CTR. In fact, this is typically generated in the dashboard of any social network’s ad manager.

When you’re running social media ads on an ad-hoc basis, you or your small team is more than capable of supporting that strategy. You know your audience, you create awesome, attractive content and you know what good results look like. 

However, the most successful social media marketing strategies include an always-on paid social element. This is where it can get a bit tricky to manage because let’s face it, you only have so many hands. 

If you’re starting to feel like you’re drowning between organic and paid social media marketing, it’s okay to throw up the white flag. Should that time come and you want to level-up your game, we’re here to help.


 

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