Paid Social Media: A Guide To Social Advertising Success

Getting started with a paid social media strategy can be daunting and time consuming.

As a leading social media advertising agency company (let’s say that three times fast), we often receive clients asking if we can overhaul their existing campaigns to improve their return on investment.

the problem?

They did not take a step back to focus on a comprehensive strategy.

They have jumped into social advertising with their audience thought He was right, their platform thought He was right, ingenious thought It fits both this audience and perhaps the platform.

Collecting data before creating ads is just as important as preparing and perfecting ads.

There are two primary sets of data that I recommend collecting to create a comprehensive strategy:

  • Understand the nature of advertising on social media.
  • Understand your audience and how they relate to each social platform.

Once you understand the social media landscape and define your ideal audience, you can create a social advertising strategy with realistic goals that complement your SEO and other digital marketing efforts.

First: Understanding the social advertising landscape

Your target audience will not necessarily align perfectly with the total number of social network users. However, some social networks have a higher number of active users, which may help influence you to include them in your strategy.

For example, if you know your target audience is on TikTok, start there.

Then, when it’s time to scale and test, you might want to consider Facebook because of its sheer number of users (and you’ll probably learn something about the “new” target audience, after all).

Below is an insightful chart from Search Engine Journal that lists the top 10 social advertising platforms and their monthly active users worldwide:

Image from Search Engine Magazine, August 2022

Here is another useful chart Accion Opportunities Fund It breaks down some of the basics of the best social networks we see today.

Next: How to start crafting a social ad campaign

As discussed above, when getting ready to start social advertising, you don’t necessarily want to choose Facebook, for example, because it has the largest number of users.

On the same note, you don’t want to just assume your audience isn’t on Facebook because you think your target audience is younger.

The good news for advertisers is that each platform provides detailed audience insights that you can use to match your ideal audience without spending a lot of money testing blindly. (More on this later.)

There are three main points, each with subsections, that are important when it comes to a paid strategy.

Audience personas: Determine your audience demographics, interests, and behaviors

Audience personas give you an understanding of your ideal audience, including demographics, interests, and behaviors.

This step is always the first step for us, and there are several different ways we collect this data:

Dig into the analytics

Google Analytics, to be exact.

The Audience section of Google Analytics is a great starting point because it contains valuable insights that can guide your social advertising strategy.

It will show you who is currently interacting with your website, but more importantly, who is contributing to conversions/transactions.

This data includes age, gender, location, and more.

For example, if you see that the 18-24 demographic converts at a higher rate than the 45-54 demographic, you may want to optimize your campaign for the younger demographic.

Go where you think your audience is, and engage

Believe it or not, some of our clients come to us with an idea for a social ad campaign, but they don’t actively engage with their audience on that social network!

For example, with the advent of TikTok, it may take some time to build a presence.

So we always recommend creating a social media account first and checking out what people are talking about – you might be surprised at what you learn.

Research your competitors

Note where your competitors are active on social media and how they market their products or services.

This is an easy way to make sure you don’t miss out on any opportunities and is usually a good starting point when beginning to formulate a social advertising strategy.

You can learn more about how to research your competitors here.

Audience segments: understanding where they are in the customer journey (awareness, consideration, conversion, etc.)

Then, it’s essential to realize that while you may have one audience in terms of demographics, that audience can (and should) be segmented further based on where they are on the trip.

We usually divide the audience three times:

  • Those who have not heard of it before your brand.
  • Those who are engaged with your brand .In the pastbut only with blog posts or educational resources (which means they are still learning).
  • Those who are willing to buywhich is often shown by having items in your cart or speaking to someone in your organization on the phone and showing interest in purchasing.

While these three segments are general, you can think about your business specifically to come up with more specific segments you might want to target, often called “audience personas.”

This is a big topic, so you can learn more about creating audience personas here.

Audience segmentation usually coincides with prospecting, retargeting, and remarketing campaigns (more resources on different types of campaigns later).

Audience Personalization: Develop content and messages for your audience at the right time in their journey

In short, there should be different content and messaging for someone who hasn’t heard of the company versus someone who has done business with it.

Once you’ve defined your slides, it’s time to start customizing the content. The type of content you write depends on the platform.

These include the following steps:

  • Match your audience to two or three platforms, and then expect to produce different ad creations based on your audience personalities. By this point in your journey, you should have already analyzed the social media options landscape and researched where your audience is!
  • Advertise on each of these platforms to see what works. You may only want to focus on one social platform, but we recommend at least two, as they can complement each other well. Also, since each platform has unique ad formats, we suggest creating ads specific to each channel while maintaining the same look and feel for consistency.
  • Refine your ads. Again, this is a big topic. Editing your audience segments, your content, the time you post that content, etc. is an optimization skill of its own. Keep in mind that you don’t want to make a lot of big changes without collecting enough data.
  • Expand your strategy. Don’t be afraid to experiment with other networks as your ads grow and improve. You’ll start to see what works and what doesn’t – and while this won’t be identical on every social network, you’ll start to get a baseline of where to start your tests. This will help you save money and time in the long run while expanding.

Finally: setting up advertising campaigns

While this article focuses on social advertising strategy, the ability to successfully set up your ads is not always what it should be because there are so many different types of campaigns.

Professional advice: When setting up campaigns, I recommend starting with three campaigns (lead research, remarketing, and retargeting) to ensure that you engage with your audience at the right time throughout their journey.

Here is an example to help you get started:

exploration (awareness)

  • audience segmentThose who have not heard of your brand before.
  • Campaign objectiveAccess and awareness.
  • Correspondence: focus on the user. What problems are you seeking to solve?
  • Content typesEducational articles, industry news and research stories.

Retargeting (consideration)

  • audience segmentThose who have interacted with your brand in the past, but only through your website, social media, or educational resources.
  • Campaign objective: interaction, clicks.
  • CorrespondenceFocus on the benefits of using a product or service to solve a problem.
  • Content types: e-books, technical papers, company events.

Remarketing (Resolution)

  • audience segment: Those who are willing to buy, which is often shown by having items in your cart or talking to someone in your organization.
  • Campaign objectiveTransfers and purchases.
  • CorrespondenceFocus on why they chose your solution to solve their problem versus your competition.
  • Content typesTestimonials, reviews, case studies.

For step-by-step instructions for each individual social network, see the resources below:

  • How to set up TikTok ad campaigns.
  • How to set up advertising campaigns on YouTube.
  • How to set up Twitter advertising campaigns.
  • How to set up ad campaigns on LinkedIn.
  • How to set up advertising campaigns on Facebook.
  • How to set up Pinterest ad campaigns.
  • How to set up snapchat ad campaigns.

Final thoughts

Ultimately, creating an effective paid social media strategy will take time, and you will constantly iterate, revise, and improve.

As with anything, successful work is about testing, but research before jumping into paid media—and then using paid media as another part of testing—is crucial to a successful overall strategy that complements your SEO and other digital marketing efforts.

Always set your goals, think about the engagement you want and expect, and then use the above steps to make it happen!

More resources:

  • Tips for writing social media engagement posts that get noticed
  • Succeeding in the Age of Pay-Per-Click Automation: The Paid Search Marketing Roadmap
  • Social Media Marketing: A Complete Strategy Guide

Featured image: Dean Drobot/Shutterstock

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