Paid social: which platform is right for your business goals?


Paid social can be a confusing and complex place. It brings forth numerous questions and if you’ve Googled them, you’ll have realised they aren’t often addressed in the most helpful ways. So, which platform are you actually supposed to choose and how should you be using it?
How much time and money do you need to spend to see noticeable results? Like almost every aspect of digital, it all comes down to your end goal —what do you actually want to happen? In this article, we look at how paid social plays an important part in your digital strategy and give you some top tips on how to make the most of it for your business goals.

Get more granular

First things first, we’re going to ask you to take a leaf out of Facebook’s book. To really get it right with paid social you’ve got to start with your end goal. When setting up ads, Facebook asks what the goal of your campaign is based on different stages of the consumer lifecycle: awareness, consideration and conversions. Whilst wider goals are helpful in the overall assessment of success they do not provide a solid trackable element. So, you need to identify what the last stage you want users to complete is; basically the direct return you want from your paid social campaign. Perhaps you want email sign ups, people to lead through to a specific landing page, or buy a product from a specific range. Identifying this end goal is key.

This leads on nicely to another point: you should never see your paid social campaign in isolation. Choosing your platform should not only be based on your end goal but also the surrounding digital activity that is accompanying your campaign. Say for example you are also running an Instagram focused influencer campaign in addition to paid social, it might be worth considering running some form of paid social on Instagram to support this. In the same sentiment, you should not feel that you have to choose just one platform or tactic. With paid social, you have the ability to test and adapt accordingly so use this to your advantage. As long as you have set ways to track your success you can consistently optimise your campaigns to find the perfect combination for your business goals.

We get it, not everyone has time to read a whole article. So to make it easier for you, we’ve focused on four main macro goals. Maybe you just want sales, have just started out so are looking for awareness, or to target a new audience? We’ve got some answers.

Sales

This one is pretty simple: you want to sell your product or service. When it comes to direct sales Facebook is the platform to go for. Why? Well, the platform is constantly adding new features that lend themselves to sales. Effectively it’s now become an E commerce hub in its own right. Our Facebook feed has now become a place where we are not only advertised to but somewhere we can now buy from without even leaving our feed.

But, before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s start things off with a simple sales ad. First off, when using Facebook make sure you choose conversions as your initial goal. Now you’ve got to think about who would buy into your brand. This is where Facebook targeting comes in, as you can define set groups of people that you’d like to see your ad — from age to gender, location, occupation, and even their likes and dislikes. Once you’ve established this you’ve got to think about what they’d best respond to. When it comes to sales, it’s not surprising that the main focus should be on visual content. With traditional sales (in store) we all know that branded items are often placed right in the estimated eye line of those who are most likely to buy the product. Within seconds we make the decision based almost solely on what we have in front of our eyes. And the same applies for sales on social, you have to put your product or service in front of an audience but you only have a few seconds to grab them. Luckily Facebook has a whole array of different image based ad formats that can be used in different ways: a carousel of related products for women, a flat lay of your best-selling items, or photos of someone enjoying your service. Copy should complement your imagery but also be sharp and short, with a clear call to action leading to your online shop.

Perhaps you’re looking to push out a new offer to drive sales? Facebook has an offer claims format which makes this super simple. This can work both online and offline, as you can choose for the end destination of your offer claim. This could be to lead either straight through to your website or to be emailed to your customer to use in a physical store.

When creating an ad for sales, the most important thing to think about is the user journey — how easy is it to actually buy your product or service? In line with this Facebook have made it even simpler. We can now buy without even leaving our Facebook feeds. Facebook Store allows you to easily upload and create a product feed which reflects your e-shop, effectively giving your customers yet another outlet that they can buy from online. The options are endless.

Brand awareness

Here we’ll look at two main types of brand awareness: entering the market and reaching new audiences. Let’s start with the former. If you’re a new brand, of course, you want to get your name out there. Our social team have found that Twitter is a great platform for this. Whilst you can use paid Twitter ads to build your following, we prefer an organic growth approach. Twitter is a great platform to start engaging with the sorts of people that might be interested in your brand or product. Start following and engaging with key players in your industry, and make yourself part of their conversations. This organic engagement is a great way to build your name in the space which you can then build on with paid campaigns in the future.

Now on to where the real money is: new audiences. When it comes to brand awareness as we’ve said before, Twitter is a great way to get yourself out there organically, but if you’re looking to access new audiences paid is the way to go. On Facebook (or Instagram for that matter, as they are all controlled by the same platform) it’s important to start with a broad audience. A larger range of ages, all genders and just a few set variables are all you need to get going. You can then start to see which specific ages and genders are responding to your ads. At this point, you can refine your audience and content in parallel with their needs. Brand awareness means not only an awareness of an audience but also an awareness of who you should be targeting and what sort of content and offers they like to see — it really does work both ways. For example, perhaps you’re looking to dial in on a new demographic for your boutique gym. After launching ads for 20-50-year-olds you might find that females in the 25-30 bracket are engaging with your free session offer more than any other. From here you can continue to push similar ads to that specific audience.

Engagement

This is the next step in the funnel when it comes to social. Here you’re looking to get those who are now aware of your brand to interact with you. Fortunately, there are a whole number of ways you can drive engagement with paid social.

One great way to gain engagement is with a boosted competition, where you ask your followers a question and ask them to tag others in the post. This works particularly well on Instagram or Facebook. Say, for instance, you’re newcomers to the food industry and are looking for some feedback on your new menu choices. Here, you could post an Instagram worthy shot of a couple of choices and ask followers to pick and tag a friend to be in with a chance of winning a meal at your brand new bijoux restaurant. You can sponsor this post on Instagram or Facebook, using its boosting tool to place it in front of users based on location or interest.

When it comes to engagement, video truly is the format to trump them all. Video views may not be great for traffic, but gaining views on a carefully crafted video is not only an easy way to track engagement. It also allows you to reach your audience in a whole new format. Facebook has a video specific goal which can track engagement with videos, including the amount of time watched and the number of people who have watched all the way through.

Finally, copy. Engagement in itself implies an interaction, an exchange. So you have to create this with the copy you accompany your ad with. In a similar sentiment to running a competition, you have to give your audience something to answer to or comment on as it is these reactions which will form quality engagement. Whether it be comments, shares, or viewing content, posing a question to your audience is a powerful way to lead them into performing that action.

Traffic driving

This is a key goal that paid social can really help out with. So why have we put it last? Well, this is the main goal that we always seek to hit with paid social. What’s more, as well as being a powerful tool in itself, it can also benefit from a preceding engagement campaign. A successful traffic driving campaign gives you a great foundation for retargeting them with a subsequent offer or more content. You already know that this set of people are interested in your brand through engagement, so leading them through with paid social is a natural way to complete their customer journey.

Here at Curated we mostly use Facebook for traffic driving campaigns. Copy is absolutely key here. Facebook penalises any unexpected, click bait or irrelevant copy. By now you should know your audience well and should, therefore, be able to create relevant and catchy ads that are specifically targeted or emulate the sort of content they like to see. You only have a few seconds to grab the attention of your audience and convince them to disturb their browsing on Facebook. So be clever with your words. Just make sure that it is finished with a strong call to action that goes through to a page of value and a page that you’re tracking traffic for.
Right, so we’ve covered a vast range of different goals and tactics, now it’s just for you to use them. We hope you’ve found some insight that you can apply to your paid strategy, but if you’re still a tad confused or want some more info, get in touch.

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