There’s no doubt that social media channels have become fertile ground for cultivating an active, engaged following for your brand. Across both mobile and desktop, when people are online, they spend 20% of their time on social media. Whether we’re talking about Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Tumblr, or Snapchat, brands are investing in their social media strategies to target this large population of consumers. The social media landscape is simply getting more competitive, and companies that aren’t spending time on social media run the risk of falling behind.
A study by Content Marketing Institute, “B2C Content Marketing 2016: Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends – North America,” shows that 74% of marketers use social media ads as part of their marketing strategy. On top of that, consumers are using social media as a way to search for and purchase new products. Twenty percent of consumers say that a Facebook ad led them to buy a new product, according to a study by Kantar and Facebook. With more companies increasing their spending on social ads and with more consumers using social platforms as a vehicle to evaluate new products, the social media ad landscape is heating up.
But where do you begin when creating your paid social media strategy? Here are three important things to consider:
1. How does your paid social media strategy complement your organic social content?
The fact is, your paid social media strategy must take into account what you’re already distributing organically. Without paid and organic working in tandem, your social media efforts will start to become inconsistent — or even completely disconnected from one another. If you’re considering allocating more of your budget to social ads, think about the purpose of organic versus paid first. Organic content, generally speaking, works well for top-of-the-funnel awareness and post-purchase retention and advocacy. On the other hand, social media ads might play a larger role during evaluation and purchase.
Imagine a company decides to run a product campaign for a new style of boots that is hitting the market. To increase awareness and recognition on social platforms, executives first begin with a stream of organic content. They tease the boots before they go on sale with photos and videos, assign a hashtag to the boots (for example, #GottaHaveBoots), and start a contest to win a free pair of boots using the #GottaHaveBoots hashtag. This strategy increases organic awareness and engagement across social channels.
Once they’ve used organic content to prime interested consumers, executives begin supplementing that content with native ads on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. These paid ads will help extend reach on social media to larger target audiences. (Take a look at how NextGen targeted customers on Facebook with Advertising Studio.)
While this is only a brief example of what’s possible, the main idea is that your paid social media strategy will be more effective if it complements what you already post organically.
2. Have you considered video?
According to Social Media Examiner’s “2016 Social Media Marketing Industry Report,” 60% of marketers use video in their marketing strategies, and 73% plan to increase their use of video. This is a bandwagon worth hopping on. With Facebook continuing to focus on ad breaks (in-stream video ads) and more marketers getting involved with Snapchat, you can bet that the buzz around video is more than just a short-lived fad. On top of this, consumers love video content. They spend an average of 16 minutes every month viewing video ads (not to be confused with organic video content).
To reach these consumers with video as part of your paid social media strategy, one quick win is to find which content you already have that’s performing well in another format and think how that content can be repurposed for video. This can be as simple as translating a “best practices” blog into a short whiteboard video explaining those best practices in detail.
3. Where should you place your ads?
Should you place ads on Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, or somewhere else? Right now, 86% of marketers place ads on Facebook while only 18% use Twitter for the same purpose. However, that doesn’t mean that you should go sprinting to one social platform over another just because other marketers are. You still want to consider where your target audiences engage with content similar to yours on different social channels. For example, if you’re targeting Baby Boomers searching for financial advisors, you probably don’t want to include Snapchat in your paid social media strategy, with the majority of users between ages 18 and 34.
But social media ad placement doesn’t just stop once you choose a platform. You also need to take into account where to place your ads within each platform. Here’s a quick rundown (at the time of this article’s publication):
Facebook – five options:
Twitter – three options:
LinkedIn – five options:
Snapchat – three options:
Instagram ads always appear directly in users’ feeds, but you can choose between a photo, video, or carousel ad.
Pinterest ads all show up as promoted pins within a user’s feed, but these pins have varying functions (for example, one-tap pins, video pins, and app pins).
As these social media platforms compete for more users — and more ad dollars — it’s a safe bet that they’ll be rolling out more innovative ad options in 2017 and beyond.
If you’re just starting out with a paid social media strategy, you’ll be learning a lot along the way, so letting your KPIs inform future strategic decisions is a must.