How to Create the Most Effective Social Media Ads on the Right Platform

For a long time, social media was a free place for businesses to connect with their audiences. Sadly, that’s just really not the case anymore—the free ride is over. The good news is that social media ads are totally unique in that they:

  • Allow you to interact with your audience. Other types of traditional advertising just put the message out there and hope for the best; social media ads are a two-way street where you can communicate directly with the people who take action on your ads, and you can get immediate feedback on these ads.
  • Give you super-specific targeting options. The information people provide to these websites is really quite amazing when you think about it. They’ll tell you where they live, how old they are, what they do for a living, what they like, what their family life is like, and on and on. This info is marketing gold!
  • Are very affordable. You can reach a huge audience on a very small budget.

You need a solid foundation to get the most benefit from social media advertising, so make sure you’re posting and engaging regularly. Check out this social media marketing cheat sheet for a quick and dirty run-down of what to post, and where to post it. Once you’ve got things going organically, it’s time to start thinking about ads!

Where to Start

Before you start pouring money into ads, determine your strategy. Think about what your goals are for these ads: which site will help you accomplish them? Which profiles are updated and active? Where do you have the biggest audience? Where are the people who are engaged and really fit your “perfect client or customer” profile?

Once you’ve decided which platform you want to use, try beta testing with free posts and see how they perform. If they do well, craft an ad and run samples to A/B split test. You can tweak your ads whenever you want to perform better, and having more than one sample will help you understand what works and what doesn’t. Get creative with your ads, and give people something they’ll want to share. Back it up with the content you’re posting, articles in your newsletter, your PPC campaigns, and so on. Your promoted posts should complement, connect, and amplify as part of your larger marketing strategy.

There are pros and cons to each platform, and it’s important to take that into consideration so you get the best possible return on your investment.

Facebook

Pros

Cons

The biggest of the social networks, and the one with the most options for targeting.

    Advertising is becoming more     expensive.

 

 

Facebook is the best option to reach your potential clients, not only because it has the largest audience, but also because it has the most targeting options so you “narrowcast” your message with precision. The fact that it’s getting more expensive should not scare you off—you can still run a SUPER successful campaign for next to nothing.

The targeting options with Facebook ads are incredible and frankly, a little intrusive and scary; of course you have the geolocation, gender, age, industry, likes, and so forth, but even if someone doesn’t supply that information you can STILL send him very targeted ads. Facebook will deliver ads based on your friends’ demographics because they assume you share a number of those traits.

Facebook knows when someone has a new job, just got engaged, had a work anniversary, or had a friend or relative pass away. They know who is a new teen driver, and they can even tell you what people are purchasing on other websites! Facebook Connect is the little “Like” button you see on the social share bar of websites. If you visit that page, Facebook knows. It tracks as much as it possibly can in order to provide the best targeting.

Tips to Make the Most of Your Facebook Ads: Use lookalike audiences to target people who share similar demographic information to people who have liked your page. You can even upload a list of contacts, and Facebook will create a lookalike audience based on your lists’ demographics.

Facebook gives you a relevance score after the ad has been running for a few hours so you know if your ad is being served to the RIGHT people. If not, you need to update or retarget the advertising.

Twitter

Pros

Cons

High touch and high engagement with multiple targeting options.

Users do not need to use real names or reveal much about themselves.

 

 

Twitter is great for getting a lot of exposure and engagement, and you have some great targeting options. Twitter targets people who are tweeting about a specific set of keywords or searching using those keywords. What’s really cool about that is how timely these ads can be. If someone JUST tweets “wrecked my carL,” your “Car Accident Injury Attorney” ad can be delivered to her right away. You can put yourself in front of your audience before anyone else even gets the chance—there’s no need to wait for the user to search for an attorney.

The username option will target people similar to the username you select, so if you handle motorcycle accidents and happen to follow a few motorcyclists, you can enter their usernames to try and find other motorcyclists. Obviously that can be hit or miss, but it’s really helpful if you’re looking to reach a general demographic group.

Website visitors remarket to people who have been to your website. Twitter will add a tracking cookie to the persons’ browser and then put your tweets in front of them on Twitter. Contact lists allow you to upload your list and target those people directly, but they have to use the same email address for Twitter that they gave you.

Tips to Make the Most of Your Twitter Ads: With Twitter, you can promote yourself in different ways: promoted tweets, which put your tweet in front of the audience you choose; promoted accounts, which encourage people to follow you; and promoted trends, which appear in the trending topics list as hashtags or keywords. Small businesses can see more benefit in promoted tweets when running a specific campaign, or promoted accounts to generate more traffic to their sites.

YouTube

Pros

Cons

Users can often spend hours watching videos.

The pre-roll ads are often skipped, and you cannot request a specific slot.

 

 

YouTube actually converts more users than any other social platform. Unfortunately, conversion happens only if people are watching your video, which can be tricky because many people will skip the ad if given the choice. However, the biggest advantage to advertising on YouTube is that you only pay for “engaged views,” and if users skip your ad you don’t pay for it. An engaged view is someone who watched your ad for more than 30 seconds. Imagine how much more cost effective it would be if you didn’t have to pay for your TV commercial when people muted it or changed the channel.

Another great benefit of advertising on YouTube is that it is the second largest search engine and third most visited website in the world. It also reaches more U.S. adults ages 18 to 34 than any cable network, so you can reach more people for a fraction of the price of a television ad. YouTube advertising can be very selectively targeted. Like Facebook, you’re going to target specific demographics, but you can also choose to show your ad before specific videos. Just as with Twitter and Facebook, YouTube provides really powerful reporting for your ads, so you can analyze how effective they really are for your business.

Tips to Make the Most of Your YouTube Ads: Take advantage of targeting specific videos with your ads. YouTube has videos relevant to your business that get thousands and sometimes millions of views. If your ad is relevant to the topic, it can be a great advantage to specifically target that video with your video ad.  Using closed captioning will help make your video relevant for more search phrases; 80 percent of people who prefer to watch video with closed-captions enabled don’t have hearing impairments. Finally, don’t just use video ads on YouTube, but take advantage of their overlay text ads and display ads.

Social media advertising can be extremely beneficial to your business if done well, but you can’t just can’t set it and forget it. You or your marketing company should monitor these ads constantly, to make sure that they are performing well over time and to make appropriate adjustments to improve performance. If you want to learn more about social media marketing and advertising, follow us on Facebook, and Twitter for more information.

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