Starting a business is no easy feat. It involves careful preparation, making key financial decisions, and a whole lot of brainstorming. If you’re looking to start advertising your business using paid social media campaigns, it’s going to take some of that same strategic planning.
First off, what is “Paid Social?” Paid social media advertising is when you directly pay a social media network – Facebook, for example – to display ads on their platform. This is different from “Organic Social” – that’s when you create posts (for free) on your own social media account for your followers to see.
Paid Social is a great marketing tool to have in your omnichannel toolbelt. It’s great for pinpointing specific target audiences thanks to all the personal data social media collects. Plus you get an extremely large reach, you can generate more brand awareness, you get extensive insights – it’s hard to argue against it!
But to be successful, you’ll need a carefully thought-out strategy. Too many companies take a set-it-and-forget-it approach to their paid social campaigns. They don’t do their due diligence by performing market research, strategizing tactics, or understanding how their target audience uses each platform. A good paid social strategy should ensure your product or service stays at the forefront of potential customers’ minds.
Here’s How to Plan for a Successful Paid Social Strategy.
Perform Market Research On and Off Social.
Before you even consider designing your ads, you need to perform in-depth market research. One of the biggest mistakes brands make with paid social is that they assume they know their target audience and skip straight to the fun part: ad design. Big mistake.
It’s critical to first gather as much information as possible about your customers, such as their behavior, preferences, and pain points. You can use tools like surveys, focus groups, and/or social listening to gather insights. Also, review your sales data to identify which products or services are most popular among your target audience. What are the features and benefits of these products that resonate with them? Competitor research can also help you understand what strategies they’re implementing and how you can differentiate yourself.
Once you have a clear understanding of your target audience, you can develop personas that represent your ideal customers and tailor your messaging and content to their needs. It’s important to gather as much information as possible through various research methods to ensure your personas are accurate and representative of your target audience.
Draft the Audience You Want to Target.
Personas are fictional representations of your ideal customers based on the market research you completed. They help you better understand your audience, tailor your messaging, and brainstorm content to their needs. Based on the insights gathered from your research and data analysis, develop fictional representations of your ideal customers. Give each persona a name, demographic information, interests, behaviors, pain points, and other relevant characteristics.
Once you have developed your personas, you can use them to draft the audience you want to target. This means identifying specific demographics, interests, behaviors, and other characteristics that align with your personas. For example, if your persona is a 35-year-old working mother who enjoys fitness, you may want to target women on social media between the ages of 30-40 who are interested in fitness and have children. (Seems reasonable, right?)
But don’t overcomplicate it. Overcomplicated target audiences don’t make sense. Too many variables will limit your reach, too few will prevent you from focusing. It’s a fine balance to strike.
Most social media ad managers have an audience insights section. For example, in Facebook’s Ad Manager under Audiences, you can experiment with targeting to better understand an audience’s size and estimated daily reach.
As you gather more data and insights, continue to refine your personas to ensure they accurately represent your target audience. This can help you to better tailor your paid social campaigns and improve their effectiveness over time.
Pick Your Platform.
Once you’ve established your target audience, you need to pick which social media platform will best compliment them best. For example, if your company consists of a small direct-to-consumer ecommerce business that produces hand-crafted jewelry, a B2B platform like LinkedIn probably wouldn’t be a good fit.
Here’s a brief overview of some popular social media platforms and their key features:
With over 2.8 billion monthly active users, Facebook is the largest social media platform. It offers a range of ad formats, including video, image, carousel, and sponsored posts. It also allows you to target your ads based on demographics, interests, behaviors, and location.
Facebook is a great way to advertise small to medium-sized businesses with a more mature audience. Lately, both Millennials and Gen-Z’ers have been using the platform less and less. If you have a younger target audience, it might be best to skip Facebook.
Instagram has over one billion monthly active users, and it’s popular among Millennials. It’s known for its visual content and offers a range of ad formats, including image, video, carousel, and stories ads.
The social media platform is great for small to large ecommerce businesses. Instagram is all about aesthetic visuals, so if you choose it as your platform of choice, make sure you have the right creative content to feature. This platform has great tools from video to ecommerce to reach that younger audience.
TikTok has over a billion monthly active users, and it’s known for its short-form video content. It’s especially popular among younger audiences, but has a healthy mixture of Gen-Z, Millennials, and Gen-X. Furthermore, it offers a range of ad formats, including in-feed ads, branded effects, and hashtag challenges.
Somewhat similar to Instagram, its users expect a specific form of ad content. However, TikTok expectations are a lot stronger. Users expect their ad content to seamlessly blend within their feed, so commercialized content doesn’t work. Additionally, since a lot of content is cross-distributed from TikTok to Instagram, many Instagram users are beginning to expect to see the same thing. Therefore, to produce effective content, you’ll most likely need to catch up with the latest TikTok video trends and produce something that mirrors that type of user generated content. Also, be prepared to have a lot of content at the ready. Unlike other platforms where frequency plays a factor, you’ll know almost instantaneously if your TikTok creative is engaging.
LinkedIn is a professional social media platform with over 850 million members. It caters to business professionals, giving people a medium to build their professional network, learn about industry trends, and stay up to date on business news. This means that if your business targets other businesses or professionals, LinkedIn is an ideal platform to reach them.
Additionally, LinkedIn is popular among B2B entities since it offers powerful targeting options that reach niche audiences. You can target based on job title, company name, industry, seniority level, education, and more. This targeting can help you get your message in front of the decision-makers who are most likely to be interested in your product or service.
Another popular use for LinkedIn is lead generation. You can offer premium content in exchange for your target’s details. LinkedIn makes it pretty easy for that consumer to just click and get the content, so we call them semi warm leads since you’ll still need to nurture them to become a full lead.
Twitter has over 330 million monthly active users and is known for its real-time updates and news content. It has a large and active user base, with millions of people using the platform every day. This provides a significant opportunity to reach a vast audience and connect with potential customers. It offers ad formats such as promoted tweets, promoted accounts, and promoted trends. It’s not uncommon to see both B2C as well as B2B advertisers on this platform. Given the thought leadership and business mindset of many of their users, it’s a great platform for both sectors.
However, in recent months, many advertisers have suggested holding off on campaigns due to the media mayhem surrounding the platform. If your business is not related to journalism or public figures, better advertising platforms exist to help you reach your target audience.
Ultimately, the best social media platform for your company’s advertising campaign will depend on your specific goals and target audience. It’s essential to research each platform’s features and demographics to determine which platform(s) will be the most effective for you.
Select Relevant KPIs to Measure Your Goals.
Your Goal is set, now what? Selecting relevant key performance indicators (KPIs) is critical to measuring the success of your social media advertising campaign. A KPI is a measurable value that helps organizations track and evaluate their progress towards achieving specific goals or objectives.
KPIs are used to measure performance over time and to assess the effectiveness of strategies and initiatives. They can be quantitative or qualitative, and they should be SMART: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound.
Types of KPI to Consider.
There are several KPIs that are commonly used in digital advertising to measure the effectiveness of campaigns. Here are some examples:
Click-Through Rate (CTR): The percentage of people who click on an ad after seeing it. This is calculated by dividing the number of clicks by the number of impressions.
Cost per Click (CPC): The amount of money spent on advertising divided by the number of clicks received. This measures the efficiency of the ad spend.
Cost per Acquisition (CPA): The amount of money spent on advertising divided by the number of conversions. This measures the cost-effectiveness of the advertising campaign in generating desired actions, such as form submissions or purchases.
Return on Ad Spend (ROAS): The revenue generated from advertising divided by the cost of advertising. This measures the profitability of the advertising campaign.
Conversion Rate (CVR): The percentage of people who complete a desired action, such as filling out a form or making a purchase, after clicking on an ad.
Impressions: The number of times an ad is displayed to a user. This measures the reach of the advertising campaign.
Engagement Rate: The percentage of users who engage with an ad by liking, sharing, commenting, or clicking on it.
These KPIs can help advertisers evaluate the effectiveness of their campaigns, optimize their strategies, and make data-driven decisions to improve their ROI.
Select Your KPIs.
Your KPIs should be directly tied to the goals you’ve established for your campaign. For example, if your goal is to generate leads, your KPI might be the number of leads generated, cost per qualified lead, etc.
You should ensure your KPIs are specific and measurable so you can track your progress over time. For instance, another possible KPI might be to increase website traffic by 20% over the course of your campaign.
While your KPIs should be measurable, they should also be realistic and achievable given the budget, resources, and timeframe you have available. Setting unrealistic goals can lead to disappointment and frustration.
Lastly, ensure your KPIs are time-bound. They should be tied to a specific timeframe, so you can measure your progress and adjust your strategy if necessary. For example, your KPI might be to generate 50 leads within the first month of your campaign.
Overall, selecting relevant KPIs is critical to measuring the success of your social media advertising campaign. You can better understand the effectiveness of your campaign and make informed decisions about how to optimize your paid social strategy.
Establish a Budget.
Establishing a budget for your social media advertising campaign requires careful consideration of your audience size, the social media platforms you’re using, and your goals. Here are some steps you can take to establish a budget:
Consider your audience size. The larger your audience, the more you’ll need to spend to reach them. Consider how many people you want to target with your campaign and how frequently you want to reach them.
Look at the average cost per click (CPC) or cost per thousand (CPM) for the platforms you’re using. Each social media platform has its own pricing structure, so it’s important to research the average CPC or CPM for each platform you’re planning to use. This will help you to estimate the cost of running your campaign.
Establish benchmarks. Determine what success looks like for your campaign and establish benchmarks to measure your progress. For example, you might set a goal of generating a certain number of leads or sales within a certain timeframe.
Know your average lifetime order value (ALOV) if you are an ecommerce business. Your ALOV is the amount of revenue you can expect to generate from a single customer over their lifetime of purchasing from your business. This can help you determine how much you can afford to spend on customer acquisition.
Set a budget. Based on your audience size, the platforms you’re using, and your goals, set a budget for your campaign. This should be an amount that you can afford to spend without jeopardizing your profitability.
Always test. Each of these platforms allow for you to set up daily budgets that you can increase or decrease based on how the campaign is performing against your KPIs.
Ok, we made it to the fun part! Now you have a firm grasp of your target audience and their pain points. You have a budget in mind and a platform selected. Now you can now start brainstorming your content! Your creative work should clearly feature solutions to your audience’s pain points and target what motivates them to convert. Moreover, your content should provide value and be tailored to their needs.
Ideally, your content should mirror your different types of personas. For example, if one persona has two to three pain points, you should test two to three creative concepts in that single audience. Likewise, if your audience had two to three different personas, it’s possible that your campaign may feature six to nine creative concepts in total.
Furthermore, it’s in your best interest to develop a mix of product/ service-focused ads and lifestyle-focused ads that showcase how your company can benefit consumers. Test different types of creatives – such as images, videos, and graphics – to see what performs best.
Determine the specific details of your campaign, including the social media platforms you’ll use, the ad formats you’ll use, and the timing of your campaign. Develop a content calendar that outlines the messaging and creatives for each ad variation.
Overall, having a creative brainstorm involves gathering insights about your target audience, identifying their pain points and preferences, and developing messaging and creatives that resonate with them. It’s important to test different variations to see what performs best then refine your campaign based on the results.
Launch Your Campaign and Begin Testing.
Once your campaign is ready, launch it on the chosen platforms and begin testing. Make sure your objectives are clear and your messaging is optimized. It’s important to track your campaign’s performance and adjust as necessary to ensure success. Let this be your motto: TEST, TEST, TEST.
But what do you test? Here are some suggestions:
Test different creatives. Continue to try out different images, videos, and ad formats to see what resonates best with your target audience. Don’t settle for something that’s just working okay. Swap things out and see how they go.
Test different audiences. Experiment with targeting different segments of your audience to see which ones respond best to your messaging.
Test different messaging. Try out different headlines, ad copy, and calls-to-action to see what drives the most conversions.
Test different landing pages. Direct your audience to different landing pages to see which ones lead to the most conversions.
Test different times and days. Experiment with different times and days to see when your audience is most active and engaged.
Optimization is a continuous process that requires ongoing monitoring and adjustments to enhance campaign performance. You need to have a clear plan in place and make changes based on data-driven insights, rather than making changes impulsively without a clear understanding of how they’ll impact your results.
Additionally, it’s important to give your campaign enough time to generate meaningful results before making major changes, as some strategies may require longer to take effect than others. This is why KPIs are so important.
Remember to track your results and make data-driven decisions. Don’t be afraid to make adjustments as needed to ensure your campaign is successful.
Create a Reporting Dashboard.
Your reporting dashboard should provide you with a clear view of your campaign performance and allow you to make data-driven decisions. It’s important to monitor your results regularly and make adjustments as needed. Most dashboards can be set up to be live so you can see data almost instantly.
Some popular reporting platforms for social media advertising campaigns include Looker Studio, Google Analytics, Hubspot, and more. These platforms can provide you with detailed insights on various metrics, such as conversions, click through conversions, sales qualified leads, ROAS and ROI.
When setting up your reporting dashboard, make sure to select relevant KPIs and set up tracking codes and pixels to measure your goals accurately. Additionally, regularly analyze your data and use it to inform your future campaigns and optimizations.
Rinse, Recycle, and Repeat.
Marketing is an iterative process, and you should always be testing and refining your campaigns to improve their effectiveness. Don’t be afraid to try new things and experiment with different tactics or creative imagery or video to see what works best for your business.
Testing and retesting is crucial to finding the right approach for your audience and your business. It’s important to keep an open mind and be willing to experiment with different strategies and tactics until you find what works best. And even when you do find something that works, keep testing and refining to stay ahead of the curve so your campaigns will stay fresh and effective. Remember, success is often built on a foundation of trial and error.
Make Your Paid Social Strategy Shine.
Paid social campaigns require a lot of work. They also require seamless omnichannel integration, meaning advertisers must bridge platform objectives to reach one common goal.
At Cordelia Labs, our team combines advanced methodologies, industry expertise, and best practices to ensure your paid social strategy is aligned with your business goals.
If you’re tired of overspending and underperforming, contact us to schedule a discovery call. We’re excited to show you what we can do.