Hello and welcome to our handy guide to advertising on social media. If you’re at the point of setting up your company’s social platforms, or branching into paid social, it can seem a bit baffling to get things up and running. But, fear not; you’ve come to the right place. We’re going to cover the fundamental know-how necessities, but with a specific focus on four of the key social platforms: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.
But before we can do any of this, we must take a step back to assess the situation at hand. And that starts with looking at your audience. There’s little point in charging full steam ahead into a social strategy that’s not guided by the very people you want to see it. So, let’s start there.
Don’t jump straight in
I know the temptation is to hit the ground running as soon as you’ve set up your business account or social profile. But just hold your horses. Thundering in without a game plan is akin to running a race with no clear direction or view of the finish line.
So, let’s hold fire on that particular starting gun, and plan first. Before you can begin to outline your social strategy, you have to figure out who your target audience are. What are their media habits? What content do they engage with? And, by far the most important question in this case, what social platforms are they on?
The answers to these questions will all depend on who you are as a brand and who your customers are. To find that out, you need to do some research.
Ask questions, and search for answers
There are various tools you can use to get started with audience research, and they’re great in helping you to identify competitors and what questions potential customers are searching for. But the key areas you really want to define are: who your audience are, where they spend their online time, and what social content they are likely to engage with.
You can do this by finding out the questions they are asking online. Put yourself in their shoes by replicating these searches, analysing the search intent, and then identifying and filling the gaps not answered by what’s currently out there. In this way, you create a niche for yourself, and become a hub of relevant information for your audience. That’s what we do at Curated.
When we undertake a social audit, we always aim to establish a tone of voice, the various content types we should be using in our social posts, — organic and paid — the frequency of posts, and who we’re targeting. All of this can help define your paid social strategy and outline your ad campaign.
Aiming for the back of the net
Once you’ve established who your audience are and where to find and engage them, you must identify your goals. No social media campaign is of any use if you don’t have clear and achievable goals set out in advance. In short, what do you want to achieve through your advertising? Social or not, digital or not, you must always be able to clearly define the goals of your advertising campaigns.
Are you looking for increased engagement, brand awareness, leads, sales, to reach new audiences? Whatever it is you’re after, make sure you’re clear on what it is and how you are planning to achieve it. And then set about doing it.
So now you’re at the stage of hitting the big red button. You know your audience. You know your goals. You know how you are going to get there. So let’s set up and nurture your social space. Many of the social platforms have the same basic process in setting up ad campaigns, but there are a few idiosyncrasies for each platform.
To advertise on Facebook, best practice is to set up a Business Account in order to access Adverts Manager. From here, you can manage your page and advert account in one place. This is a pretty simple process and one that is outlined in Facebook’s own user guidelines, so we won’t delve into the specifics of that here. But, once you have that in place, the basic process of setting up your campaign is as follows.
First, choose your campaign goal; are you looking to increase website traffic, boost engagement, or promote video views, for example? Whatever it is, that’s the first thing to clarify. You can then build your audience, using the insights you have garnered through your research. This will include location, age, gender, and then much more specific details that fall under Facebook’s demographics, behaviours, and interests categories.
Once you are happy with your audience, you can outline your budgets and dates. Facebook will automatically distribute your total budget across your campaign’s lifetime, and boost the best performing ads in favour of less successful ones. From there, you can design the ads themselves; imagery, copy, links. You are then ready to set it live.
Remember, once you’re comfortable with one platform’s set up, the others will come naturally as they all have the basics in common. Where they tend to differ is in the types of ads available, the rules and best practice guidelines, and the ways you can target your audience.
Twitter has three kinds of ads to choose from: Promoted Accounts, Promoted Trends, and Promoted Tweets. The most common of these, and likely the one you’ll get started with, are Promoted Tweets. These will appear alongside regular tweets in the timelines of those that you target.
Like the Facebook process, once you’ve chosen your ad type, you’ll then choose your goal, audience targeting, and creative, before setting it live.
As an umbrella company under the Facebook conglomerate, Instagram ads are set up in much the same way as Facebook ads. Similarly to Facebook, you will need access to Adverts Manager to set up your campaign. Whilst Instagram targets users in the same way and under the same categories as Facebook, the user demographics on Instagram differ quite significantly from those of Facebook.
Instagram users tend to be younger, and women make up a fair majority of the platform’s user base. Therefore, in using the platform, make sure it is relevant to your audience, otherwise you are simply spending money that could be better spent elsewhere. If, however, your target audience are young women, or young people more generally, you should certainly make the most of Instagram ads.
LinkedIn is kind of the unicorn of social advertising in that it is quite unique in its demographic, targeting, and budgets. Firstly, as you’d expect, LinkedIn appeals to a more professional audience, there looking for business insights and news. Therefore the tone of voice on this platform is more business-like, less colloquial, and tied much more directly with industry-related content.
In this respect, if you’re looking to target this kind of audience, LinkedIn is designed specifically to allow you to do this. Audiences can be defined by job roles, industry areas, seniority, and professional groups, among other factors. However, you do pay for this premium through the Cost Per Click prices, which tend to be much higher than other platform costs.
LinkedIn offers you various ad types, such as Sponsored InMail, Sponsored Content, and Text ads that appear in the right-hand column, as opposed to the news feed. Once you know what ad style you want, the set-up is much the same as other platforms, with next steps including targeting, budgets, and ad creation.
A top line view
When it comes to the different platforms you can advertise on, they each have their own little rules and eccentricities. You will likely come to know these like the back of your hand the more you dabble with them and become a master in social advertising. However, for those just getting started, it can seem like a bit of a minefield of red tape and regulations.
That’s why we’ve collated some of the key rules and best practice tips for each of the main platforms that you might like to advertise on. We’ve even gone to the extra effort of presenting them all to you in a fun infographic, which you’ll find below — or, let’s face it, you’ve already seen by skipping ahead!
So, without further ado, we present to you…
The unwritten golden rules of social ads
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