Facebook Ads and Paid Strategies: Ways to Grow Your Facebook Community
The greatest tip available is to accept that social media isn’t free.
Social media represents an exciting and important opportunity to not only reach your customers, but to actually connect and engage with them. Unlike other online content, social media is not static and does not age. It is the medium of “now” and consumers are increasingly placing their trust in the timeliness and relevancy that social media can offer that other forms of media cannot.
Because of this unique ability to connect with your audience, deliver information in near-to-actual real time and provide trusted messaging, it is important that your social community be as large as possible and grows continually. This will ensure that the time and effort that goes into a properly executed social strategy isn’t wasted or lost due to people not having the opportunity to see it. Consider your community as your soapbox and the greater that soapbox, the louder your message will be.
Common misconceptions about social media marketing are that it is “free” and works under a “if you build it they will come” philosophy. The fact is there are hundreds of thousands of businesses all vying for the attention of a limited audience with limited time and attention. Since potential customers have the attention span to only “Like” so many pages and can spend only so much time engaging with brands on a platform intended for them to engage with friends and family, it becomes critical to support your social efforts with a properly thought-out paid strategy.
Only through the investment of budget, time, resources and commitment can you can truly stand out from the crowd and develop the meaningful connections that will drive your social presence forward and create the value it has the potential to offer. This investment is real in the sense of allocating actual budgets to paid strategies and perceived in the sense that you must also invest time and energy toward the proper execution of social strategies, or pay someone who has the ability to dedicate resources toward it. In the end, true social impact comes from the combination of community size and activity which stems from the combination of organic and paid efforts, otherwise known as time and money.
This can be a disheartening realization to the business owner who was excited about a “free” advertising platform. However it is important to look at social media as an investment and an opportunity. Unlike traditional advertising mediums, it is not a short-term investment; it is an investment that will continue to pay off through an ongoing connection with the individual customer and access to their social network as well.
Social media requires a paid strategy to reach its full potential. What are the best paid outlets for delivering this value? The primary one is Facebook ads, a relatively simple platform designed to allow the average business owner to jump in and begin a campaign. However, there are intricacies and hidden knowledge behind this platform that are needed to develop and manage campaigns that will drive the best performance. Without this expertise it is easy to find yourself struggling to extract the most return on investment from these ads. Many factors go into the performance of Facebook ads, but the primary areas to consider are:
- Audience Targeting. You must be sure you are reaching the right people and not wasting your impressions on those who are unlikely to respond to your message.
- Creative. It is critical to make sure the message you are promoting resonates with your target audience. If it doesn’t you will spend a lot of money and get few results.
- Segmentation. It is impossible to understand what is working and what is not if you do not break up your campaign into different variables. That allows you to optimize, based on what performs and what does not. Facebook offers many ad elements that can be mixed and matched into testing combinations to deliver greater insight with which to optimize.
- Ad Types. Facebook is increasing the areas where advertising is allowed and each ad unit offers its own unique performance angle. It is important to factor the various uses for standard side-bar ads, sponsored stories, newsfeed ads, and any other ad unit Facebook is likely to roll out. These should not be overlooked. Each should have thought and strategy behind it.
Tips to drive the best possible performance from your Facebook ads
- Think long and hard about who your target customer is and what that customer typically likes. Unlike search ads, you are not targeting keywords that people are searching right then and there; you are targeting keywords that your audience has taken the time to place within their profiles over time. Think about the TV shows they watch, books they read, music they listen to and things they like. Target them based on their psychological profile instead of their actions.
- Experiment with your ad image and ad copy; try different message tones and image types. Try to stick with images that are bold and stand out. Look for images with people in them, as they tend to perform better within this social environment. Whenever possible use some type of humorous or conversational tone in your copy and include a call to action such as “Like Us” or “Click Now.”
- Rotate your creative content regularly to avoid letting it get stale and allowing your audience to suffer from “ad blindness.”
- Break your ads into demographic “buckets” such as gender (male vs. female) and age (18-24, 25-35, 45+, etc.). This will allow you to see which audiences are responding and make adjustments to your campaign accordingly.
- Retrieve your reports and analyze them, trying to find what is performing and make adjustments to cater your campaign to those areas. Much data is available; use it whenever possible.
- Consider finding a Facebook ads expert who is adept at utilizing all these different ad parameters and executing them. You will often find that whatever fee this requires will easily be recouped in the efficiencies that this expert can develop for you. Facebook ads are easy to use, but hard to master. The difference between a campaign properly developed and managed compared with the ads that a social media intern will create is vast.
The greatest tip available is to accept that social media isn’t free. Assign a budget that you are comfortable with, and begin to test different outlets and platforms to drive the connections that will help drive your business forward in the social arena. You will be shocked at the difference a truly well thought-out, executed and managed social campaign can have over a plan developed by a so-called “social expert” who lacks the proper experience or understanding of social media as it pertains to business.
Kelly Maquire is senior director, digital strategy for Aviatech, a full-service strategic marketing agency specializing in digital activities. Find him at fransocial.franchise.org via the directory.