Social media marketing is increasingly becoming more “pay to play” to connect with and grow an audience you hope to convert to paid customers.
I would go so far as to venture and say that you should incorporate a budget into your organic content strategy from the onset to get more runway and visibility into the assets that you have invested time and resources to produce.
As organic reach continues to plummet, paid social enables brands to breakthrough algorithms and connect with audiences unlikely to discover them otherwise.[i]
It is more expensive to keep producing new content without expanding your reach to new ideal prospects to consume your content. If a small segment of your followers will see, is it worth investing all of the efforts consistently?
Following some conversations in #MarketingTwitter, I know this thinking makes some marketers defensive. They are some believers out there that content alone can generate enough visibility if you know how to work the ever-changing algorithms. Politely I disagree. A slight boost can amplify your reach 2-4X. We are no talking big money either; $5-10 dollars invested in boosting a post can go a long way. Time is a resource you cannot get back, and organic content is not definitely free either.
And the hard truth is, we do not get the same reach we used to. In 2018, Facebook publicly announced that they are focusing on prioritizing family and friends content on news feeds. Amplifying content you produce makes perfect sense if you are already putting in the hard work of putting together your ideas to share with the world. Attract your ideal tribe by getting in front of them.
What is the point in even bothering to post if your ideal future customers will not even see it?
Then there are your existing followers that want to see what you post as well. Would you like to reach and connect with more of them consistently too? Of course, you do. Before you start investing in paid social, there are a few key considerations: adopting a test and learning approach and knowing your goals before you begin. Ask yourself:
- Are you looking to increase awareness?
- Grow a list with a lead magnet?
- Promote an event?
- Grow page likes and followers?
- Connect with my existing audience of customers and prospects?
Below are some key considerations as you embark on setting up an advertising strategy to attract new customers and amplify your social media outreach.
1. Consider Your Ideal Customer, Who Are They?
Depending on the advertising platform you use, you can get pretty precise about showing up where your ideal customers are. You can target based on behaviour, demographics, interests and more.
Whether you are lucky enough to have obvious keywords due to your niche and search terms or have an idea of an audience profile you can build out in Facebook Business Manager, having a baseline of where to start, sets you up for success before you invest your hard-earned dollars in paid ads.
2. Decide on Your Channels and Platforms
Facebook is still a highly desirable channel to advertise on, and for a good reason. It is still one of the most effective platforms to grow a business. Facebook uses machine learning and a vast amount of targeting in the Business Manager so you can test different variables to see the best way to reach your ideal customers. Instagram and Facebook both run in Facebook Business Manager, and you cannot ignore them.
Google Ads requires a bit more knowledge and a learning curve to get set up and running, but the platform allows you to position yourself with specific search terms. Display campaigns enable you to reach people who visited your website or demonstrate specific search behaviour and intent on Google.
LinkedIn is excellent for B2B prospecting but is often more expensive than the other platforms mentioned. Though it may contain the profiles of those you are looking to connect with.
Snapchat is great for reaching younger audiences but requires extra configuration to track properly inside Google Analytics.
Know who you are trying to connect with and where you are most likely to find them and get to work testing your ad creative and messaging to reach your ideal buyers.
3. Set up a Test and Learn Budget
Expect to lose money in the beginning. If you are lucky and convert a lot of people right away, that is amazing. That said, usually, we learn more by having to test out different messages and campaign configurations to figure out what works best.
No magic happens overnight, but it does brew with consistency and execution over time. It definitely gets easier to monitor the data and your results over time so you can respond accordingly to your bidding and campaign configuration settings. You need data to make informed decisions and to gauge what works and what doesn’t. That requires setting up different ads to test and run to see what works best and where. See what different user action and conversions cost on different platforms and measure against your goals you laid out before you invested.
4. Observe, Optimize and then DOUBLE DOWN
Once you have some data to analyze in the advertising platforms and your website’s performance (if your site is where you are sending people) to consume your offers, it’s time to refine based on performance. Double down and amplify what’s working and optimize to get conversions for the best price. Shut off what costs more and start scaling what works.
Lead generation campaigns on Facebook and LinkedIn are great for fast conversions and help you to grow an email list fast based on forms you can quickly create native to the platform you are running ads on.
You must reply to the leads quickly that come in these campaigns to get a better response rate. Make sure your copy is clear what they are getting when they sign up and give their contact information to you. Lead generation campaigns can be both affordable and expensive to run depending on the competition and demand for your offer. My experience investing in ads is that these campaigns can perform very well and drive fast conversions. If they do not convert right away you can continue to nurture these paid prospects in your email marketing.
You can achieve the same outcomes of a lead generation campaign by sending traffic to a landing page to download a lead magnet or register on a form for an offer so they go into your CRM directly. Though your website may not have a form autofill option and have more friction when signing up on mobile so optimize accordingly. It all depends on your offer and goals, which is the best way forward, but testing and then optimizing different campaign configurations sets you up for success. Learn from the data you invested in.
If you are looking to grow brand awareness and build a new relationship early in the customer journey, boosting social content can be a great way to attract a new audience or re-engage with someone who has already visited your website. Once you find your perfect formula, it is time to set it and let it run. If you have more budget, you can start to scale your campaigns based on your learnings. But once you find a formula that works, leave it on and stay out of the way. If the results start a downward trajectory, it may be time to refresh your creative and targeting.
5. It isn’t entirely set it and forget it
One of the nice things about being in a clearly defined niche is that your keywords will often stay very similar, so in the case of Google Ads, you don’t have to make as many adjustments over time once you have good campaign configurations that consistently produce. On the other hand, creative on Facebook may start to get stale, and you may notice performance suffering. This is usually the queue to stop the ad fatigue. Revamp and refresh, but only after you have exhausted the performance of different creative a/b testing you did at the onset of a new campaign.
A new offer and unique message for your creative can get momentum back up. With enough consistency and optimization, the algorithm gods will give you a break, and you will find the blessed sweet spot where conversions flow in, and you control and tweak the dials. Set end dates for campaigns with fixed budgets, so you don’t overspend and can relax knowing it won’t go past your spending threshold.
6. Don’t expect year over year growth doing (and spending) the same things though it can happen
I seriously do not even know how some accounts can continue to grow their traffic and conversions year over year, spending the same amount. It does happen but don’t expect it to. If there is demand for your product or service and you’re your SEO is improving these factors also impact your overall results (and may not totally be in your control). If you want more growth, plan to invest in it.
Sometimes you get lucky and get cheaper traffic based on active campaigns that have been running for a while. But if you notice the same budget is not giving you the spike you want to see, pour a little gasoline on your efforts to boost your outcomes. Publishing content regularly is a safeguard to complement your paid and social efforts to increase your website’s reach by attracting users searching for your offer.
7. Attract on rented land but convert users to your email list, an asset that goes where you do
Social media and advertising alike are both spokes in the wheel of your overall digital marketing strategy. You want users to engage with your brand, but the best ongoing connections to build are on your owned website and email marketing list. Invest in building assets you own that are not platform-dependent. Never depend on borrowed land or one channel for your business, as a few swift changes in algorithm configurations or consumer behaviour can wipe you out.
A diversified approach is best for the long term. There is no question though social media and paid ads are critical in amplifying your message and positioning faster.
Once you have leads, you have to do ongoing work to convert them. Build relationships by offering educational and exciting content that is engaging. Email marketing is one of the best ways to build a trusted relationship with users that will get to know you, trust you and ultimately buy from you.