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Make Sense of Paid Social Media and Grow Your Audience

Written on
Dec 7, 2011 
Author
LuRae Lumpkin  |

ADOTAS – Just when you think you’ve figured it out, someone changes the rules. You could probably say this for just about every online marketing tactic and medium out there. Social media, and in particular paid social media, definitely gets complicated in this way. Facebook and Twitter offer more ways to promote brands, products and services through their platforms than ever before. However, you need to have a solid strategy to work from in order to maximize your return and get the results you want. Following are some best practices and tips to do it well and do it right.

1. Decide what you want to promote or communicate. To be effective and successful with paid social advertising, you need to think carefully about what you are tweeting or posting to your brand or company wall. You need to have a strategy relating to what pieces of content you want to promote with paid social. For example, using a promoted tweet for a new product launch or an event is a good use of promoted tweets. Likewise, using promoted posts on Facebook is smart for product launches and events as well. These paid posts will significantly extend your organic reach to a broad audience that you define.

At my company, Covario, our most successful promoted tweet so far has included a shortened URL for an infographic for a large semiconductor client. This particular tweet was retweeted three times more than the second-most retweeted content for this client. We added paid promotion as soon as the organic tweet posted to the handle.

Some best practices include promoting content as soon as possible (ideally within 48 hours of a post), using hashtags on Twitter or @ symbol call-outs on Facebook, and featuring a direct call to action or asking a question.

2. Make the content short and engaging. Consumers are deluged with information. For your paid social media efforts to succeed and have a better chance of going viral, write short, engaging content with a clear call to action. Ask your fans or followers a question, or invite them to do something. Get creative, and keep in mind that only 90 characters of content will display on Facebook promoted page posts, so grabbing their attention early in the post is very important. In a recent paid social campaign for a client in the high-tech space, Facebook page posts that were under 90 characters and included a visual element, such as a video or image, generated 60 percent higher CTRs on average than posts that were text only.

3. Mix up your posts using a variety of promoted content. In addition to text, with Facebook you can use videos, pictures, and questions or polls, and link posts for paid promotion. Using posts that have a video, photo or link will make your paid page post larger in size and also incorporate a visual element that, as research shows, garners greater visual attention from consumers.

With Facebook ads you can promote an external website, Facebook app, page or event. You can also promote sponsored stories and page posts. Sponsored stories are similar to Twitter promoted tweets. The major difference is that the user defines the content seen on Facebook, not the advertiser. Four types of user actions can be turned into promoted stories: likes, check-ins, actions within apps and page posts.

4. Grow your audience with advanced targeting. Make sure you are testing a variety of targeting and interests to determine what specific audience responds most enthusiastically to your content. Testing a variety of broad category targets or making your own precise interest groups will help you understand what niche groups are most receptive to your brand messaging. As you pinpoint these pockets of receptive profiles, you can isolate them in specific campaigns just as you would isolate high-performing keywords in SEM (search engine marketing).

For a recent client campaign in APAC, we discovered that users interested in the sport of cricket were a 45 percent lower cost-per-connection group than the average interest target. We then isolated this interest group with a dedicated campaign to maximize budget allocation and lower overall cost per connection for this initiative by 75 percent.

5. Promote social engagement on your website. Fully leverage the power of social engagement by putting the Facebook “like” button and Twitter “follow us” icon on strategic areas of your website. This allows consumers to easily promote your brand’s page and products to their friends. This allows you to reach prospective consumers you might not reach otherwise. It also gives a brand instant credibility, due to the endorsement of an actual person rather than traditional brand advertising spreading the word.

6. Determine your evaluation metrics to determine your level of success. Just like with any marketing initiative, ensure that you are working toward a measurable goal. This may sound obvious, but in social media this step is often overlooked. The goal might be all front-end-engagement-focused metrics, such as driving connections on Facebook or retweets and replies on Twitter. Regardless of the campaign’s focus, ensure that you are using the right ad types and have the right goals at the outset, with a realistic estimate for campaign performance.

With one campaign for a Covario data storage client, a tracking strategy was implemented for all promoted tweets leading back to the company’s website. Tweets were coded with analytic tracking codes with the intent of measuring Twitter visitor engagement versus other media channels. The results showed that visitors from Twitter to the company’s .com were twice as engaged as paid search visitors. With this information, more allocation was given to promoted tweets to effectively meet campaign goals.

7. Integrate your paid and organic social with your paid and organic search efforts. Paid search, paid social, organic social and organic search are all interrelated. You cannot look at these strategies and tactics in a vacuum. Numerous research studies have been conducted that clearly show the interplay between all four media types. Ensure integration of thought and action between them,and leverage each channel’s unique strength. For example, consumers research for product options and price comparisons more heavily via search engines, while using social media as a temperature gauge for brand decisions using the word-of-mouth endorsement of others. Leverage the strengths of search and social to get the greatest bang for your buck.

8. Test, launch and test again. Once you have set your campaign goals and executed your plan, launch and keep a close eye on your paid social campaign — especially within the first six hours. This is critical with promoted Twitter campaigns, where the vast majority of opportunity comes within the first two days of launching. On Facebook, ad fatigue can also set in quickly. When monitoring your campaigns, watch for plummeting click-through rates as an indication of creative fatigue. Pause ads as soon as you see reduced campaign performance, and replace them immediately with new ads waiting in the wings to fill the void. As data accumulates, build best practices specific to your business to implement, refine and repeat.





LuRae Lumpkin is a dynamic interactive marketing professional with more than 12 years of digital marketing experience working with Fortune 500 brands across multiple verticals. She recently joined Covario as vice president for global paid media. Previous to that, she was a senior partner and head of search operations for MediaCom, a WPP company.

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