With only two weeks left in 2015, it’s safe to say that this has been a huge year for social media. Facebook announced earlier this year that it hit one billion users in a single day, over 2.2 billion people are now active on social media platforms and marketers are estimated to have spent $23.5 billion on paid social media advertising. With the growing reach and capabilities of social media, any marketer who does not explore social as part of a larger digital strategy is severely limiting the success of future campaigns. If 2015 was the year of growth for paid social media, 2016 will be the year of growth for us as marketers in understanding and mastering this channel. These five resolutions are a good start for anyone just getting acquainted with social media or wanting to ramp up and improve existing efforts moving into the New Year.
- Use captivating images. There is a common misunderstanding that display banners can simply be recycled into social media, but I strongly urge marketers to stop taking this easy way out. Images on social media should not be overly text-heavy or dependent on an enlarged company logo. The image you choose for your sponsored ad is undoubtedly the first aspect that will stand out to a user as they scroll through their Newsfeed. Think about it this way, your post is not only competing with other sponsored ads but also against organic content, Time Hop memories, vacation photo albums, page long status updates, recommended posts, etc. So your image should be striking if you want to grab user attention amongst the competition and clutter.
- Spark interest and intrigue with ad copy. This seems like a no brainer but far too often marketers use dry ad copy within sponsored posts. Social media has inspired a new wave of creative communication and interaction that marketers can benefit from. Before letting the creative juices flow free, remember that as a part of a paid campaign, there are certain objectives to keep in mind with every ad being served. Be sure to give a preview of what you are offering and a solid value proposition so that a user understands the benefit of clicking through and engaging with your ad. Write ad copy that complements the image used, clearly builds your brand and directly speaks to your target audience.
- A/B test the hell out of your sponsored ads. As marketers we think we have a good idea of what kind of ad copy and images will resonate well within certain target audiences. But we can’t be 100% sure until we actually put it to the test. If you are not conducting any sort of A/B testing in a paid social campaign, you are hindering it from reaching its full potential. Unlike organic social media, you are not catering to users who have already expressed interest in your brand and product or service offerings. So we cannot say with total conviction that Target Audience X engages more when a question is posed in a headline versus a statement unless we put it to the test. Social media platforms offer great insight into paid campaign performance, so within days of setting up an A/B test, marketers can dive into spreadsheets full of data to determine which headlines are resonating best. Of course your expertise in the field of marketing will allow you to draw conclusions about why you saw this outcome and make the appropriate optimizations moving forward.
- Take advantage of targeting options (and don’t be afraid to test new ones!). One of the great things about the growth of paid social media advertising is that it has driven companies like Facebook and Twitter to compete against each other for your advertising dollars. In the heat of competition, they are forced to continuously push the limits of their platform offerings. A large benefit we reap are improved targeting features that allow us to operate a campaign more efficiently. If you continue to implement broad, overused targeting options, you will end up competing against thousands of advertisers, paying a higher price and seeing poor results. Get granular with targeting and test new audiences. Don’t be afraid to try new targeting options such as Twitter event targeting and Facebook seasonal targeting if the parameters align with your campaign strategy. If a new audience does not perform after a set amount of time, you can always turn it off and reallocate the remaining budget elsewhere.
- Never lose sight of your campaign objectives. THIS IS THE BIG ONE! There is a tendency to overlook paid social in the media planning process or to downplay its reach and underestimate the effect it can have on overall objectives. Paid social media has proven to be effective for digital campaigns, so it’s time to stop underestimating it. Brand awareness is crucial for any company, but the use of social media does not need to end there. Whether your objective is brand awareness, driving website traffic or lead generation, make sure you set up every aspect of the campaign with this objective in mind. That begins with choosing a platform that can allow you to reach this objective with the targeting options and ad formats available. Most importantly, take full advantage of the data available through social platforms to track performance and optimize regularly throughout its duration.
Of course, this is just the tip of the social iceberg. New Year’s Resolutions are always harder to attain than expected, but I challenge marketers to strive for these five in 2016. Social media is not slowing down anytime soon so why not get onboard and benefit from all that these platforms have to offer?
Just Media, Inc.