Why Targeted Social Ads Are a Good Thing (Just Hear Me Out)

This article originally appeared on CoreyPadveen.com.

Recently, Adblock Plus announced that it would start serving ads, which is of course, the most predictably ironic thing to happen online in some time. But my question is this: are targeted social ads really that bad?

No; they’re not.

Admittedly, in answering this question, I’m a little bias. After all, if it wasn’t for things like social ads and the industry in which they find themselves, I’d probably be out of a job. This one, anyway. But my professional reliance on advertising notwithstanding, I still think that targeted social ads are, in fact, a good thing. The problem is with the lack of knowledge marketers have about their capabilities, resulting in the removal of the word ‘targeted’ from the equation.

Sick of advertising

An Explosion in Advertising

Call it what you want – direct advertising, social media advertising, content marketing, influencer outreach – paid media is paid media in all its forms. And, considering we have seen the amount of branded content we are exposed to on a daily basis increase by tenfold in the last three decades (about 5,000 pieces of branded content per day, by the way) I can understand why consumers are so sick of it. In this generation of free, the last thing we want is to have our highly tailored experience online ruined with ad content we didn’t ask for, right? And yet, there we are, at every turn, facing a brand new ad.

Advertising is nothing new. Broadcasting messages to a wide audience dates back about 6,000 years (in the form of flash banner ads, obviously) and modern advertising (arguably) dates back to 1836, when ‘La Presse’ in France sold space in its newspaper so that it could lower its price to consumers. We’ve grown accustomed to seeing these ads, we might just have hit a tipping point in terms of how much irrelevant content we are willing to take in. And right there is why targeted social ads can be a good thing.

Getting to Know You

Social presents an incredible opportunity to advertisers that so few are properly identifying. Blanketing your ads to the general public will lead to a higher cost-per-click, a lower click-through rate and an overall underperforming campaign. That’s unfortunate when social provides the tools necessary to generate the exact opposite.

By properly identifying your audience and drilling down into the specifics that make up a persona, you can serve ads that fit right into their online experience. That means that instead of angrily resisting your content, they will be much more likely to explore it. This, of course, won’t always be the case, but by implementing these kinds of strategies, marketers can begin to join in on the experience of social as opposed to taking away from it. This leads users to seek out the ad blocking software that has grown so rapidly in the last few years.

Alas, this is largely not the case. The simplicity with which marketers can use these ad platforms and the cost effectiveness of running large-scale campaigns with generic messages has rendered the social audience exhausted. Targeted social ads can mean a greater connection to your audience, and the first steps in the development of a deeper connection, but so few brands are properly utilizing that strategy. Until they do, social ads are going to be more of an experience detractor rather than something that can benefit both sides of the transaction.

How To: Boost a Facebook Post to a Targeted Audience

As Facebook transitions into a purely pay-to-play platform, marketers need to be familiar with the ins and outs of boosting posts on the network.

It might seem like a simple task, but in order to succeed with Facebook marketing (paid Facebook marketing, in particular) marketers need to know how to boost a Facebook post.

Tips for boosting Facebook posts for marketers

The following steps outline not only how to go about implementing the boost (there isn’t much to pressing a button and inputing credit card information) but how to target a boost to the correct audience segment in order to ensure that your dollars are going to the right place.

1. Determine Your Target Audience

First and foremost, you need to know what type of audience segment will be most responsive to the content. Not everyone will react to a piece of content in the same way. What value does a ‘Like’ have? Certainly less than a click-through or conversion. You want to focus on an audience segment that will produce the latter.

Take some time and go through your post-level engagement data on Facebook. Determine, based on the history of your content, what audience segment will be most responsive to the content you are planning to boost. If you’re looking to boost an image, for example, will your audience be different than that which engages most with links or videos? Do your research, and determine the answer to that question first.

2. Get Granular with Your Targets

A bigger audience will not necessarily mean greater results.

Choose a granular audience to boost your post on Facebook

If you’ve done your research in order to determine where you want to spend your money, start your boost by picking the very targeted audience that you plan on targeting with the new content. While you might have built an archetype for the boost, you’ll want to get very specific.

Think more in terms of criteria such as interests and behaviors over top-level demographics, such as age and location.

3. Allocate a Budget and a Timeframe

So you’ve figured out the audience to which you would like to promote a given piece of content. Now it’s time to establish how much you’re willing to spend on the boost.

Budgets and times for your boosted posts on Facebook

Remember, a boost is not the same as an ad that you build and for which you create goals (like website clicks). When you boost a post, your budget is spent in every which way, from CPM to CPC to CPSA (cost-per-social-action, such as a ‘Like’ or share) so you want to make sure that the audience you target and the budget you allocate will result in business-relevant actions.

With regards to time, try to avoid having too much content boosted in any given period. If News Feeds are flooded with your boosted posts, you’re essentially yelling into your own noise. Boost strategically so that your content appears in front of your target demographics, but doesn’t clutter their space.

4. Monitor and React

Keep a close eye on your boosted post and determine if it is performing up to your standards. Just because you’ve set a budget and a time period, it does not mean you have to let a flop live out its days. If your campaign is draining funds, stop it and reevaluate your selected audience, then consider restarting it elsewhere.

Following these steps will help improve the overall performance of your mini campaign next time you decide to boost a particular piece of content on Facebook!

3 Things Many Marketers Forget in a Digital Marketing Strategy

This article originally appeared on CoreyPadveen.com.

There are some things that even the most knowledgeable of marketers might be forgetting to include in their digital marketing strategy.

A digital marketing strategy is a pretty robust thing. With that in mind, it shouldn’t come as any surprise that most marketers and business owners often forget about a few important components that need to be included in a digital marketing strategy in order for it to be successful.

Like I said, there is a ton that needs to be considered in order to build a working strategy, and just because these three components are included, it does not mean that it’s a finished product. But they are important and they are going to help your brand grow online. That said, here are three elements that need to be a part of every digital marketing strategy in order for it to find success.

Social Media Advertising

Gone are the days when paid advertising was a luxury afforded to the largest and wealthiest of brands. Even in more recent years, digital advertising, which consisted primarily of Google AdWords and banner ads, was too grand a cost for most brands to bare. Now, with social media advertising becoming more commonplace (and about as simple a practice as any) all brands can and should be taking advantage of it.

A few months ago, I conducted a little internal case study/experiment in order to showcase the cost effectiveness of social media advertising when compared to ‘traditional’ digital advertising, Google AdWords. I decided to look at a relevant and pretty competitive keyword: ‘social media’. What I found was that on a CPC and CPM basis, social media advertising could be nearly ten times more cost effective when targeting the right demographics on social media (another value added).

Include social media advertising in your digital marketing strategy

So the question becomes, why are brands not jumping on the opportunity to build their digital presence by including a section devoted to social media advertising in their digital marketing strategies? The proof is in the numbers, and the more you work with social ads, the simpler and more successful they become to achieving business-specific goals.

Data-Backed Strategy

I’ve grown to accept that data is not for everyone; I guess my attraction to numbers makes me an anomaly. But if you don’t like data, at least do the longevity of your business a favor and find someone who can help you analyze data and incorporate it into your strategy. Hypothetical marketing plans are a thing of the past. We have a world of insights at our fingertips – literally!

Build your digital marketing strategies using your data

Delving into your owned media (i.e. any digital media that you are in total control of, such as your website or branded social media channels) and industry media (using a listening or data aggregating technology) can produce some incredibly valuable information. This information can help you create things like content strategies, help you identify new demographics and opportunities and begin building ResponsiveBrandingTM campaigns.

Don’t let a distaste for numbers deprive you of a huge amount of potential. Let the data be the driving force behind your digital marketing strategy, and let it reinvent your strategy as it changes.

Influence Marketing

We often hear a lot about influence and influencers, but what exactly are we talking about when we say ‘influence marketing’? Leveraging the power of influencers can launch your brand into a new realm and expand your reach and your own influence in the marketplace. Why is that? It all comes down to trust.

According to the results of the 2014 Edelman Trust Barometer – an annual, global trust and credibility survey – 67% of people trust experts in a particular field, and 62% of people trust their peers (or, as the study puts it, ‘a person like yourself’). The beauty of influencers is that they can be – and often are – both of those things: industry experts that people consider their peers (in large part thanks to social media and its ability to connect people).

2014 Edelman Trust Barometer for your digital marketing strategy

By identifying your industry’s influencers and reaching out to them, you can forge relationships that can turn into brand advocacy. This can be an invaluable asset when looking to build your business not only in the short term, but in the long run as well.

Conclusion

There is a lot that will go into your digital marketing strategy. These three assets will only be a small part of the overall product, but they can play an important role in the overall success of your business, and so few people are properly taking advantage of them. Next time you review your business strategies, consider including these three elements in your digital marketing plan.

Useful Social Media Advertising Tips for Beginners

When it comes to social media, there are few areas that can be more powerful than social media advertising, and these social media advertising tips will help you get the most out of a campaign.

It is no secret that the social media space is increasingly favoring the pay-to-play model for brands and businesses. That being the case, we are starting to see a move by many users towards social media advertising. Whether you are building your social presence, launching a new product, or driving conversions from untapped audiences, social media advertising can be a powerful tool. But it is important that you are using it properly.

Social media advertising tips to help you get the most out of it!

These social media advertising tips are really presented as thought points that should be considered when deciding to venture into the space. Though social ads are cost-effective, you still want to make certain that you are not wasting any money by simply throwing it at a network and hoping it works.

Know Thy Target Audience

Target audiences are extremely important on social media, and that is particularly true for social ads. With so much noise online, we need to ensure that we know exactly who we are talking to. When developing your social advertising campaigns, have a particular audience in mind for the message as opposed to a generic one – it will lead to significantly greater conversions.

Use Relevant Content

Once you know your audience, you’ll want to make sure that the content you plan on promoting is relevant to their tastes and preferences. One of the greatest benefits of involving one’s brand on social media is the amount of information that is available about your audience. Determine what type and tone of messaging will work and create that ad.

Don’t Boost Your Account

It might seem enticing, but one of the most futile ad types are the promoted account ads. While these ad formats might generate positive results in terms of audience growth, we have moved away from the days where a larger audience means a more valuable social presence. With a targeted message and a clearly defined audience type in mind, you will find that your ads not only garner engagement, but acquire new fans and followers as well.

Take Advantage of Additional Features

Simply boosting a post to your friends and fans can be somewhat useful, but to really get the value out of social advertising, take full advantage of its capabilities! In Facebook’s Power Editor or in the advertising backend of Twitter, you will find several additional capabilities, like Custom Audiences and Twitter Cards. Learn all you can about these features and then incorporate them into your campaigns.

And on that note…

Study the Social Advertising Landscapes

Social advertising is much more than “boosting” your content. If you have decided to begin taking advantage of the social advertising landscape, you should be taking the time to learn everything there is to know about the platforms. As noted above, there are a lot of valuable features that can be exploited in the backends of these programs. Figure out what they are!

Pay Attention to Your Ads

Throwing a budget behind some content will yield average results, but you want your results to be above average! Keep a close eye on the activity of your social ads and make adjustments where you see opportunities. Real-time ad optimization is a great practice, and one that will keep your operation profitable.

Avoid Optimized CPC

Bid for yourself. Optimized cost-per-click does not yield the best results. It is significantly more convenient, and the results are not bad. But again, you don’t want your campaigns to simply be average! Once you understand how these ad platforms work, start bidding for yourself in order to extrapolate all the potential that you can out of every penny you invest.

Keep some of these tips in mind when you decide to begin your journey into the world of social media advertising!

What other practices have you found valuable? Tell us in the comments below or on Twitter!

How to Stop Bleeding Money with Digital Ad Spends

Digital and social advertising are exciting platforms, but there is a lack of understanding that is leading to overspending and underperforming.

Advertising on social media and other digital platforms has always been exciting. Between the measurability, the reach and (in most cases) the affordability, marketers and advertisers have had a field day with these platforms. But as the market has grown and become more complex, a lot of advertisers have decided to forego the very necessary training that helps avoid losing digital ad spends to carelessness.

Optimizing your campaigns in order to ensure that your digital ad spends are not being wasted is an important area that is often overlooked. These are a few tips that can help marketers when it comes to ensuring that every dollar is going towards achieving your goals.

Incremental Bidding

Bidding best practices is often something that gets the best of marketers and advertisers. It’s great for Google and Facebook – not great for the value of your dollar. We often rely on selecting the much simpler “Optimize Bid for Clicks” option instead of setting the bid ourselves. The danger there is that if you’ve allotted yourself a handsome daily or lifetime budget, that means that a click will come at any cost.

Though incremental bidding takes some time and understanding of target audience, it is hugely beneficial when it comes to squeezing every last drop out of your digital ad spends. Starting with a sensationally low cost per click bid won’t result in much success. That’s a guarantee. But there is some opportunity that can be derived from this practice. See what can be squeezed out of your bare minimum, then start working your way up. In this way, at every level, you’ll be able to pull the results that exist for that bid.

Hypertarget Your Audience

If you’re not familiar with the concept of hypertargeting on social media, read up on it here. Essentially, when it comes to targeting your content and, more importantly, your ad dollars, there is a virtually limitless set of criteria that can be used as a filter when determining whom you would like to have see your content.

Hypertargeting your social ads leads to better social ad spends.

Image Credit: Shutterstock

Of course there are the obvious choices, like age, gender and location. But really dig deeper and start targeting by interest, job title, even employer. If you know that your ad has been designed with a specific audience in mind, don’t run even the slightest risk of not getting that ad in front of those eyes. Take the time to build very specific audiences on any network where you plan on advertising.

Use Custom Audiences

Building off of this idea of hypertargeting your ads, why not get your ads in front of people that have already been in contact with you for some reason or another? That’s the idea when it comes to custom audiences on networks like Facebook. What are custom audiences? Essentially, a network like Facebook, for example, allows you to upload data – either in the form of data sheets, email lists, websites or apps – into Facebook, and it matches emails from your lists with users online. From there, you can select this as a target audience for your ads.

This is a group of people that is already familiar with your brand. If they see you pop up, they’re more than likely to take notice. This is also a great way to maintain your brand as top of mind. Maybe you reached out to some people who weren’t yet ready to make that purchase. Targeting your ads to a prospects list can work wonders when they find themselves at that stage in the funnel when they need to make a decision.

Go the CPC Route

There’s a reason why a network like LinkedIn doesn’t offer a CPM option for advertising, and it’s pretty simple (and good for the advertiser, believe it or not): CPM is worthless. At this point, considering the vast amounts of ever changing information available to us on the Internet, an impression is meaningless. Unless you are running a remarketing campaign on Google’s Display Network, eyes aren’t worth money.

Make sure you are optimizing your digital ad spends.

Image Credit: Shutterstock

What does that mean exactly? Well, you can get your content out into the socialsphere and all over the web for people to see, the goal is to get them to take action. If Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter all plan on showing your ads to thousands of people in order to charge you for a handful of clicks, why not let them? It is, by definition, the best of both worlds. Of course, the CPC model is slightly more expensive, but by following the other tips outlined here, it is well worth it.

Never Ignore Your Analytics (Not Even for a Second)

From the moment you launch a digital ad campaign your analytics are providing you with valuable insights that can help you optimize your digital ad spends. Look at the performance of each ad in your set, of each keyword and, of course, of each of the selected criteria for targeting. What’s working? What is leading to the lowest cost per click? Which image is generating the most engagement? What activities are people taking on your website once they have clicked through? All of these are important criteria.

Insights are delivered in real time for the first time in the history of marketing and advertising. Previously, we had to launch a campaign and simply hope that it resonated with the audience with which we had intended it to resonate. Now, not only can we launch a campaign targeted to a very specific audience, but we can also launch multiple campaigns at once and select the one that is performing best, removing the wasted cost from the others.

Conclusion

Slowly but surely, the notion that “social media is free” has begun to die off. People are now realizing that, as with anything related to the world of growth, an investment is needed in order to succeed. The value of digital and social media advertising can be huge, but in order to ensure that every dollar can be recouped in return, it is important that you engage in these best practices.

Which network do you think is most useful/valuable when it comes to social advertising? Tell us in the comments below or on Twitter!