Social Media advertising is easy to get right–and it’s easy to get wrong. Success in social media advertising is a result of both a solid strategy and flexibility on the ground. In our experience, the challenges businesses face center around:
- Expectations: understand what Social can and can’t do for you
- Focus: establish business objectives and don’t get distracted
- Investment: match resources and media spend to your goals
In this 3 part series, we’ll give you some food for thought that can help you establish a strong foundation for your social media advertising campaign. Answering the question “What do I want to get out of my social media effort?” will set you up for success.
Part One: Expectations
Social media advertising is its own hype machine. Facebook reports 1.3B monthly active users, globally. Twitter breaks news stories faster than most dedicated news outlets. Pinterest is, well, Pinterest, and the obsession of every e-commerce advertiser out there. There is no shortage of hype, but we’re going to try to cut through it.
Undoubtedly, your consumers are using social media. Finding and engaging those consumers is not straightforward, nor is managing the conversation and moving those consumers towards conversion. Keep this in mind as you build your strategy.
Don’t buy likes
Social advertising presents a unique opportunity to engage a consumer in a long term conversation. Early on, the practice of buying Likes/Followers/Pins, etc was the conventional axiom of social advertising. It’s an obvious, feel-good metric to track–and it delivers exactly nothing.
Sophisticated marketers recognize there is value to a Like only insofar as a Like can be converted into purchase intent. Engagement delivers two things: a proxy metric on the quality of content, and the right to continue the conversation with the consumer. Paid Like campaigns generally result in big numbers, but a high proportion of low intent, or even fraudulent followers–and a lot of money wasted.
You do need to pay to expand your reach. Instead of paying for Likes, design your campaigns to put strong, high quality content in front of consumers. The payoff is authentic engagement and a much higher quality fan base.
Be ready for two way interactions
Implicit in the many-to-many nature of social media is potential for your consumers to talk back in your own social media channel. Indeed, there are many comical or depressing examples of the general public subverting an Advertiser’s well intentioned social media program.
For advertisers who are unprepared for this, it presents a huge risk to brand integrity both from the out of control discourse itself, and secondarily from the advertiser’s own protectionist reflexes. Prevent this by expecting the unexpected.
Defending against these public relations disasters starts well before the social media campaign. A social media campaign provides a catalyst for the public to share their opinions of your brand, even if it’s negative. You can use social media as a component of your brand improvement plan, but fix the root issues first.
Successful brands on social media are prepared and excited to converse with their consumers. Expect to get feedback–positive, negative, weird–and embrace it for what it is: an opportunity to get closer to your consumers.
You can’t escape the funnel
A robust social media dialogue with your consumers does not absolve the need for a traditional marketing funnel. You’ve engaged your consumers in a positive, two-way conversation. Now, you need to bring them through the door, virtual or physical, and move them towards a product purchase.
Oftentimes, we find that companies who have had disappointing experiences with Social advertising have missed this point. A Like or Follow, represents a positive but tenuous relationship with that consumer. Consumers have explicitly indicated they may be in the market for your product or service in the future. You still need to apply the hard work to convert those consumers by creating marketing funnels that capture those consumers who are actively searching.
When we engage with our client partners, one of the first things we review is the client’s direct response marketing funnel. The best structured Social advertising campaigns are doomed to mediocrity without a strong marketing funnel to close the deal.
Next: Call the Ball, Maverick… (Focus)
Disappointment can be described as reality not matching expectations. We hope this post has put some perspective around what can and cannot be achieved through Social advertising. With astounding reach and opportunities to dialogue with consumers en masse in a way that has never previously existed, Social advertising can be a truly exceptional channel.
In part 2, we’ll look at the next component of a solid Social advertising program: Focus. Social is real-time, chaotic, and creative. Your ability to resist being overwhelmed marks the second key to social advertising success.