Anyone who takes a keen interest in social media trends will have heard people talking about how ‘paid is the new normal’ when it comes to engaging with your audience.
Indeed, this was one of the many issues we touched on as part of our marketing predictions for 2016 at the beginning of this year.
Obviously, a lot depends on your sector and target audience but, essentially, what we mean here is that it’s no longer realistic to expect your business’ social media following to grow at the rate you want it to if you’re only focusing on organic posts.
In other words, if you want a significant increase in social media engagement you can’t simply rely on enough people to stumble across your content, competitions and offers without paying for that content to be seen by more people.
The difference between paid for and organic updates
So, how is social media advertising different to posting something on my company’s page for free? I hear you say. Well, the only people your post will reach is the people who already like your page – that’s great if you already have hundreds of active followers and only want to showcase what you’ve got on offer to them, providing, of course, they’re on Facebook at the right time.
But the chances are you’ll want to reach new people and grow your audience and social media advertising allows you to do just that. All social media platforms hold a lot of data about people and advertising puts this in your hands. It is also straightforward to do and is a relatively inexpensive way to make an impact.
One of the easiest ways to reach people through your Facebook page is by ‘boosting’ a post. You might have seen the ‘boost this post’ button after you’ve posted on your page and the process in setting up an advert is easy to follow.
When boosting your post you are able to set criteria for who you want to target. So think about who you want to reach. Are you trying to encourage visitors from a new town? Or are you promoting a product that would be great for mums. Know who your audience is and use that criteria to reach them. You can target through, gender, age, location, likes and hobbies.
Here is an example we used to push a shopping centre’s Mother’s Day competition to win a £100 bracelet.
The competition was already being pushed on Facebook but without any paid-for backing it was only attracting the attention of the page’s fans. The shopping centre wanted to reach as many new and existing shoppers as possible, raise its profile in other geographical areas and capture data through the competition.
Using the targeted advertising we targeted both male and female Facebook users between the ages of 16 and 40 living in more than 20 locations. These are the ages of shoppers they wanted to reach, the ones likely to be on social media and who would also enter a competition to win something for their mum. The locations enabled us to raise awareness of the shopping centre in other areas.
- The campaign ran for two weeks and through the targeted advertising appeared in the feeds of thousands of people.
- The post reached 78,818 Facebook users with the advertising. In total it reached 80,666 people – Without the advertising the post would have only reached 1,848.
- The campaign also resulted in 179 new page likes in that two week period because the people who entered the competition wanted to make sure they could find out the winner, so they became a fan of the page.
- The post was liked 475 times, was commented on by more than 60 people and was shared 49 times.
Of course, having a prize that people wanted to win helped, but this just shows the difference using Facebook advertising can make and for a relatively small investment.
More than 1,600 people entered the competition (which was hosted on a separate platform) which has provided new data for future campaigns, but it has also increased the brand awareness of the shopping centre and increased the number of fans on the page.
As well as promoting page posts Facebook advertising can be used to:
- Grow your page likes to grow your audience
- Direct people to visit your website
- Increase attendance at an event
- Create offers for people to redeem
- Encourage people to install and use your app
It’s not just Facebook where you can target people to make sure they see your posts. You can do it on Twitter too.
Promoted tweets are the best way to encourage engagement. It’s a way of promoting your best content to the best people at the best time. To ensure your Twitter content reaches the target audience you can promote tweets based on your audience’s interests, similar followers, keywords and location.
There are three other main types of Twitter advert options which have different functions – which one you use depends on your goal.
- Drive web clicks and conversions – A ‘card’ (advert) which is placed within your target audience’s timeline and lets them know what to expect from your website/product.
- Grow followers – Promotes your Twitter account to your target audience in their timeline and the ‘Who to follow’ section.
- App install/re-engagement campaign – 80 per cent of Twitter users use it on a mobile, making them the most likely social media audience to install an app.
Tweets that will drive results are likely to include images and compelling copy. For example showcase your product using high quality images – but avoid stock photography. Or use a photo or video to explain what you do.
Use the right language to ensure people are engaged:
- Use words like ‘now’ and ‘time is running out’ to convey a sense of urgency
- Share reviews and ratings
- Ask questions to make users feel part of the conversation
- Keep it short – promoted Tweets using an image with 40-60 characters receive the best engagement.
- Avoid unnecessary hashtags or @mentions – clickable elements should be the ones you actually want people to click.