Insights / advertising

Paid Social Do’s, Don’ts, and Key Considerations

So, you’re ready to give paid social media a spot on your budget, and you’ve reviewed your options across the major platforms. Now comes the next step: planning your paid social strategy and campaigns.

Which Social Media Sites Will You Use?

In our overview of paid social options, we laid out the major players in the social space and what they each have to offer advertisers. There are many similarities across the board, in particular the ability to promote individual posts (e.g. status updates, links, images, and videos, to name a few) to the desired audience for each. The differences on the back end lie chiefly in the breadth and depth of targeting available to you, and the analytics each supplier provides.

There’s another important difference to consider when choosing which networks to prioritize: their audiences. Not only will you find different populations on each site (albeit with plenty of overlap), the user experience and user behaviors will vary, as well.

  • According to the Pew Research Center’s 2014 figures, about 56% of internet users ages 65 and older now use Facebook, up from 45% who did so in late 2013 and 35% who did so in late 2012. Women are also particularly likely to use Facebook compared with men.
  • By the same report, Twitter is particularly popular among those under 50 and the college-educated, and has seen increases in several areas over the last couple years: men, whites, those ages 65 and older, those with an annual household income of $50,000 or more, college graduates, and urbanites.
  • paid social iconsFacebook remains the most used social media site among American teens ages 13 to 17, with 71% of all teens using the site. Half of teens use Instagram and 40% use Snapchat.
  • According to Business Insider, YouTube (which integrates with Google+) reaches more adults aged 18 to 34 than any single cable TV network.
  • LinkedIn is optimized for lead generation and prospecting, particularly for B2B companies. About half of its users are between 30 and 64 years old, in the prime growth time of their careers, and the ability to target ads to particular titles and levels of seniority helps you reach the decision-makers with highly targeted messaging.
  • On the other side of the spectrum, Tumblr’s users skew young, with over half of them in the 13-34 age range, about evenly split between males and females, according to Quantcast.

With your target audiences identified, you can find the network or networks that best match. Consider, too, whether your audience is more likely to find you on desktop or mobile (or both), and which services best cater to those behaviors.

What Form(s) Will Your Ads Take?

Social media and content go hand in hand. Paid promotions can take the form of images (which might include a coupon or discount code, for example), videos, text with links, and traditional display ads, among others.

How you design your promotions will depend on what action you want people to take when they see it. Are you still in the early stages of building your follower base, or launching an initiative under new accounts? You can promote the account itself to make more people aware of it, enabling you to later target these followers with more revenue-generating messaging later. Do you have a landing page, a special offer, or an event you’re trying to point people to?  Design your promotions around that call-to-action.

That’s the big takeaway we want you to get from this section: Invest your social dollars wisely by tying each promotion to a specific action. Not everything warrants a paid effort behind it. If you’re just posting a photo of an event that you want your followers to see and Like/Favorite/Share, that’s probably not the best use of your dollars. Without a CTA, those engagements are essentially empty calories that just took a chunk out of your budget.

Some other key do’s and don’ts:

  • Do remember that you’re operating in a social environment. If you’re too “advertise-y,” either with your messaging or the aggressiveness of your placement frequency, you might find users hiding, blocking, or unfollowing your profiles, or even reporting you to the site administration for bombarding them with sponsored content.
  • Do take advantage of each platform’s targeting and analytics. If you’re disappointed by your organic reach, it may be tempting to use paid social to cast a wider net and get more impressions at any cost. But who and where those impressions come from is what will matter most to your bottom line. Another big advantage of paid social is the ability to review your campaign’s performance in real time and make adjustments as you go – this is not something you can “set and forget.”
  • Don’t think of paid social in traditional media terms. It’s an opportunity to provoke an interaction. You can be creative, interesting, and/or funny, depending on the tone of your brand. Don’t think about it as one-and-done; do think about extending your brand differently.
  • Don’t put paid social in its own silo, separate from your overall marketing strategy. In other words, don’t invest in paid social just for the heck of it, or because it’s the “thing to do” these days. Feel free to experiment and test, but put a little more thought into than just throwing something out there and seeing what sticks.

And finally, don’t miss the other parts of our series on Paid Social:

If you have other questions about paid social and what your business could expect to see from it, leave a comment, Tweet us @Mason_Inc, or call us at 203.393.1101.