Joel Davis
Joel Davis 11 August 2017
Categories Advertising, B2B, B2C, Content

Social advertising; cool new thing or powerful game-changer?

Talk to any marketer these days and they will agree that social media now plays a vital role in their ever expanding strategic toolkit. In fact, a recent survey of advertising professionals worldwide showed that 61% expected an increase in social ad spending for Facebook whilst 40% expected an increase for LinkedIn and Instagram.

The issue however is that compared with more established marketing channels, social advertising is still in its infancy, which explains why many marketers still feel challenged when it comes to proving the value of a social media advertising campaign.

In fact there is a damaging tendency in marketing circles to believe that social advertising may be ‘the cool new thing’ but it won’t cover costs. Setting this kind of low expectation only serves to dilute social advertising’s true potential and it is high time to address this common mis-conception and ramp up expectations.

There is no reason why social advertising shouldn't be generating profit and, if properly managed, a handsome one at that.

The sticking point occurs when trying to accurately measure the impact of a social advertising campaign. Some marketers have got hooked on calculating clicks and engagements and this reliance tends to skew the results.

Of course, proving value for traditional performance marketing is much easier to achieve as good results and high returns are evident in the key metrics associated with each objective. 

In the case of a social media advertising campaign however, it can be more difficult to prove as cost per conversion becomes the most important metric, and presents more of a challenge to attribute value.

Likewise, reaching an effective cost per conversion rate includes many different channels from  tv and outdoor to digital. Attributing a value to each channel for a conversion is complex and marketers need to familiarise themselves with their brand’s unique conversion paths in order to effectively measure social conversions.

The good news is that there are tools to do so. Certainly, with the advancing speed of social technology, marketers can now implement native and third party tracking to accurately define the entire consumer journey. This can start with tracking awareness all the way to key business metrics such as sales and ROI. 

This kind of sophisticated exploration is a huge step beyond traditional social media metrics and will deliver much more accurate and granular insights giving marketers unprecedented control in tailoring their campaigns.

So lets take a look at the three key elements to successful social advertising;

Really know what success looks like

Marketers need to ensure they have clear measurements for the outcomes they expect. These need to be well defined as they will be the benchmark by which the entire campaign is driven.

Understanding which are the most important ad formats and key metrics is vital to analysing what success looks like.

One of the many benefits of online advertising is that it delivers accurate ROI, something that is more guesswork in traditional advertising. 

However with new products, platforms and capabilities constantly emerging, it can be difficult for marketers to remain focused on their core social media strategy. Keeping main business objectives at front of mind will help them avoid distractions that new platforms might cause.

Challenge the channel selection strategy

The likes of Google AdWords and Facebook re-targeting will enable marketers to get in front of those who are actively in the buying cycle, however, it is vital to understand the difference between the two.

When set up and managed properly, AdWords is one of the best sources for new customers who are already searching for a defined product or service, as it targets users actively looking for specific information. A good example of this would be a potential customer searching for red velvet ballet pumps.

Social advertising on the other hand targets new customers who don’t yet know what they specifically want but who display the right kind of purchase intent. In this case a good example would be a potential customer who is interested in dance in general and ballet in particular.

From this starting point marketers can start exploring other suitable channels. Obviously refining their choice will depend on the particular brand product or service. 

Maximise the gravitational pull of hyper-targeting

When it comes to the target audience, less is more. A hyper-targeted audience will enable marketers to gauge exactly who their most lucrative audience segments are.

Whilst it may seem obvious to suggest getting the audience right is key, there are varying degrees of deep diving into audience segmentation and it is definitely worth defining the most relevant audience before deploying a social campaign. Ranking highest relevant audience segments will go a long way towards avoiding wastage or worse, diluting or damaging the brand.

This data can be further filtered to reveal optimal formats and delivery times  to optimise when the ad is most likely to be seen and acted upon.

Likewise deciding whether to entertain or focus instead on impact that is more likely to lead to an action is another key consideration.

The next thing to establish is whether a brand is well known and how much the audience likes the advertised products. Generally speaking well established brands produce more cost effective results due to an already existing high level of brand awareness. However, that doesn’t mean that smaller brands can’t achieve impressive results; rather, building awareness needs to be worked into the campaign.

Social advertising certainly offers organisations of all sizes great returns on investment. However, without the expertise to navigate, what still appears like a relatively new advertising landscape to those outside the sector, it is easy for companies’ to rapidly become frustrated as the returns are scarce and their budgets get sucked dry.

And, one final word of advice, it is key to remember that the focus should be less on brand awareness and more on getting your target audience to experience your brand. Only positive brand interaction will have a transformational effect on your bottom line.

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