Social media advertising

Dear Doctor Digital, I’m considering pulling back my classified advertising in the local rag and moving my advertising budget to my social media channels – what do you think, is that a good move?

Doctor Digital Says

Yes, that is a great move.  Newspapers make great daily reading but don’t allow you to target your audience with any accuracy, track spend against results or tweak your strategy on the go.  Social media advertising allows you to grab your existing fans, attract new ones and give them a direct call to action in real time. 

If you want to get the word out about your business or product, then online advertising can be a very powerful tool in your digital toolkit. By running paid ads on social media, you can engage new audiences and increase your visibility and the reach of your brand in a highly targeted way with small incremental budget spends.  

Online advertising can be particularly useful when you’re working on establishing a new online presence such as setting up a new social media account, or launching a new website. Strategic advertising spend can help you to build your initial audience, who have the potential to follow along with your brand for a long time after their first visit.

There are a number of rules of thumb that are worth keeping in mind when you’re starting to experiment with new forms of online advertising.

Know your customers habits

With so many effective channels to choose from, and finite time and budgets, before you embark on any social campaign spending, you need to know where you are most likely to find your customers. This isn’t limited to advertising, you need to have already done the heavy lifting on this in your marketing strategy.

Be as specific as possible

Your main goal when developing an ad for social media is to ensure that everyone who sees the ad is likely to be interested in your business or product. Ensure this by focusing your advertisement on a narrow group, which is tailored using age, location, gender and interests. This is able to be done in all social media channels with direct demographic selecting tools.

Run multiple campaigns simultaneously

It’s generally better to run multiple smaller campaigns simultaneously or in quick succession than it is to run the same ad for months and months. Over the course of a long campaign, people will tend to see your ad repeatedly and will start to become fatigued and tune it out. By regularly cycling your ads, targeting smaller groups of users and tailoring your ads to your target demographics more effectively, you’ll tend to have a much better success rate.

Wrap your head around ad pricing

You have a number of options when you are setting your budget for a social media ad campaign.

Generally, you’ll need to decide whether you want to set a budget per day, or a lifetime budget for your campaign as a whole. When you’re first getting started, it’s usually a good idea to use the lifetime budget option, as that gives you a bit more control and also encourages you to experiment with multiple campaigns, rather than just running one long one.

You will also be able to set the schedule for your campaign. You can specify a start and end date for the campaign. If you have set a budget per day for your campaign, then your daily budget will be spent each day for the duration of the campaign. If you’ve set a lifetime budget for the campaign, then your budget will be spread equally across the campaign duration.

You can generally choose to pay per click or pay per impression. Paying per impression means that you are charged for each time your advertisement is shown to someone, whether they click the advertisement or not. Paying per click means that you are only charged when someone actually clicks on your ad (but clicks are generally more expensive than impressions). Depending on how much you are willing to pay, the social network you’re advertising on may show your ad more or less frequently. If other people are targeting similar groups to your campaign, but are willing to pay more than you are, then the network will tend to prioritise those advertisements over your own.

Measure your impact

Finally, make sure you use the powerful analytics available to you on every platform to their best effect – they are there to help you to measure your ROI and tailor your efforts accordingly. Understanding your customers buying habits and what triggers them into a purchase over time is the best way to nuance your understanding of their behaviour and capture their hearts and wallets forever.

For specific advice on each of the social media channels, check out the factsheets for Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter and Linkedin.

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