Smart Tips for Starting a Paid Social Media Campaign
Social media is great for passing the time. What did we do before we had smartphones and social media feeds to check on every 2.6 seconds? When we were waiting for something to start did we really just sit and wait? When we grabbed lunch by ourselves did we actually just sit there and look at everyone else? That must have been so weird. It feels like such a long time ago that we couldn't check in on friends and family from afar or see if that one acquaintance from high school really did become a professional poet (they didn't). In fact, it's pretty hard to imagine a world without social media.
If we consider it so essential for making time move a little quicker, keeping up with the Joneses, and helping us not look so weird when we sit by ourselves in public, shouldn't we also think of it as an essential component of any marketing strategy? You bet your Instagram we should.
But advertising on social media isn't quite as simple as staring at a screen and scrolling with one thumb for hours on end, especially if you're planning a paid social campaign. Starting a new campaign isn't easy, and that's doubly true when you're doing it for the first time. Fortunately, we have the hot tips you need to make sure your first go-round with paid social is a complete success. Or, at least, not as embarrassing as accidentally liking an old flame's photo at 3AM. It's OK. We're not here to judge.
Establish Guidelines to Keep Your Brand On Point
Brand misadventures are a common sight in the hills and valleys of today's social media realm. Oh, there's a burger company trying its hand at politics. Oh, here's a juice maker cracking jokes about outer space. Oh, here we have a detergent maker trying to get in on the big game action with a well-timed meme.
While some of these efforts may be well received, just as many receive feedback that amounts to "I'm cringing so hard right now." When a brand swerves out of its lane to try and scoop up likes, it can backfire. That's why it's important to have strong brand guidelines in place for your paid social media campaign.
Recognize the strengths and weaknesses of your brand. Understand what kind of image you are trying to portray. Every aspect of your advertising, from the formats you choose for your ads to the colors and fonts, should tie back to your overall marketing strategy. And if you do go out on a limb with a new audience or advertising approach, be sure not to saw it off while you're sitting on it by trying too hard. Be natural and stay true to your company's brand.
Strategize Like You're Playing Risk
If you've played the popular board game Risk, then you know exactly how important a long-term strategy really is. The last thing you want to do with your approach to paid social is wall yourself in on Australia as your competition gradually takes over the rest of the world.
In other words, think about where you want your company to be six months from now. While a paid social campaign should be designed to achieve specific goals, it should also take into account your overall marketing plan.
As an example, let's say you sell rubber chickens. Your ads focus on dissing rubber duckies—"Don't spend your hard-earned bucks on rubber ducks. Buy our chickens today—"but your R&D department is currently developing your own rubber ducky product for launch a year from now. Your ads undercutting the value of rubber duckies could, like certain aggressive duck species, come back to bite you in the end.
Plan ahead and think of your paid social campaign as part of a holistic strategy, rather than a one-off attempt. It's the best way to maximize your advertising spend and keep the Risk of becoming stranded on an advertising Australia to a minimum.
Stay On Target
In the old days, advertisement targeting was far more difficult and less effective than it is now. In fact, the earliest advertisements—cave paintings—were so ineffective at selling woolly mammoths and giant prehistoric deer that these animals went extinct. And their messages were so unclear that archaeologists today still have no idea what those early cave advertisers were talking about. Just watch any cave painting documentary and you'll see what I mean.
The good news is that you don't have to go the way of the cave people when targeting your paid social campaign. Rather than breaking your budgetary spear off in the side of the wrong saber-toothed tiger, you can target the exact advertising animal you want on your preferred platform.
Some factors to consider when targeting a specific audience are age, gender, income, location, and interests. While these factors may seem a little too specific or even strange at first glance, demographic targeting is helpful to advertisers and customers alike.
For example, is an 80 year old grandfather whose hobby is carving the ends of wooden canes to look like dogs the ideal target for Xtreme JetSkis that use real rocket fuel to blast off the surface of the ocean while blaring dubstep? Probably not.
Or, as another example, is a 20 year old woman who likes Pokémon cards the ideal target for hairpieces? Maybe, but she'd probably rather see a pop-up for a plush Pikachu.
Using demographic targeting is smart because it refines your advertising spotlight to shine primarily on those who are likely to have an interest in your product or service, without confusing or annoying those who aren't.
A Picture's Worth a Thousand Words — And Videos Are Made of Those
Images and videos are at the core of any modern paid social campaign. But simply picking your preferred pictures and capturing a fun video aren't quite enough these days; you need to know the guidelines for each platform you plan to advertise on.
For example, on Facebook, the recommended dimensions for a directly shared image are 1200×630. Guidelines across various platforms are ever changing, so do your homework before initiating a paid campaign. You are spending your hard-earned money to advertise your product or service, so it only makes sense to make sure you have all of your specifications right before you get started.
Another factor to consider is whether to include text with your image or video. In general, less is more when it comes to image and video text. These are visual formats you're working with, so the focus should be on the image or the video itself. Keep pictures uncluttered and make sure that your video text doesn't overwhelm the frame. If you do include a substantial amount of text in your video, ensure that your video is timed so that any viewer will be able to read it before it passes by. It's easy to get used to the timing of your own video and think that anyone can easily read its fast-moving text, so be sure to ask around for several opinions.
If pictures are worth a thousand words, and videos are made of pictures, then videos must be worth millions. In fact, video has quickly become one of the most popular and effective means of online marketing.
To maximize the effectiveness of your video strategy, keep your videos quick and to the point. Think about TV advertisements. Do you like watching those forever? While keeping video ads under two minutes is a good guideline, keeping them shorter than one minute is even better. Attention spans are dwindling, and, as this indie author named William Shakespeare once said, "brevity is the soul of wit."
To Carousel or Not to Carousel...
...that is the question. Carousel ads are a popular tool for many companies. They are easier to create than videos, while serving as a visually engaging alternative to static, single images. Whether you should use carousel ads depends a lot on your content menu. If your video strategy is in high gear and you have plenty of video ads available, you might not need to use carousel ads.
However, if you find that your advertisements are mostly static images, carousel ads could be a great way to add a little variety to your advertising approach. Getting your customers to stop and look at your ad for more than a few seconds is a huge accomplishment in the speedy world of social, and carousel ads have proven more effective than static images at drawing the eye.
Pick Your Platform
OK, so you have the fundamentals of a paid social media strategy in place. Now where do you deploy it? First, you need to ask yourself where your main audience is situated. There's no sense advertising heavily on Instagram, for example, if your customer base is primarily engaged on Facebook. Likewise, you shouldn't load up Facebook ads if your customers are ditching Facebook en masse for the 'gram.
The other factor to consider is which platform your audience uses to engage with you most often today. If your Twitter is a ghost town and your Facebook page is bustling like Grand Central Station, then chances are your ad dollars are best spent where the traffic is. That's not to say that you should give up on your weaker platforms entirely, but rather that your paid social campaign should be primarily focused on your flagship social account.
Make It Yours
Following these tips will give you a good foundation for a successful paid social media strategy, but they're no replacement for the most important element of your advertising plan: you.
You know what makes your company special. You understand your selling proposition and why your product or service is an awesome choice. Never let the heart of your advertising message get lost in the transition to a paid social campaign. Stay focused on the unique qualities of your brand and make sure your ads tell your company's story the way you want it to be told.
A paid social strategy comes with its costs, but establishing a lasting relationship with your customers with truly tailored advertising is priceless. Ensure the factors that make your company great shine through in your ads and you'll feel good knowing that your paid social campaign is sending the right message. After all, social media is an amazing option for passing the time, but it's also the perfect tool for making and maintaining lasting connections. When it comes to advertising, that's a goal worth paying for.
May 22, 2020