By Jordan Shea
The low cost and high trackability of social media ad spend entices new businesses daily. Despite stories of novices having viral-like success, social media ads require a lot of planning to execute properly. The power of social algorithms can do more harm than good without thoughtful strategy and understanding of your audience.
1. Do you have an existing social presence?
Social media ads work best when you have an established digital brand and audience.
Sometimes when businesses think it’s time to invest in digital advertising, it’s actually time to invest in digital collateral.
Digital collateral could look different depending on your type of business, but it could be social media posts in the form of professional photos, videos, infographics, and/or blogs.
Establishing a social presence is necessary prior to pumping money into any algorithms because it teaches the platforms the types of people who engage with you and are interested in your business. In turn, it makes the algorithm smarter when searching for more of those individuals.
There’s also an additional trust factor. If you have raving fans and six months to a year of content posted, a new prospect is more likely to convert (become a client) knowing they can trust your organization. There’s a lot of perceived transparency with digital marketing! It simply can’t be ignored anymore.
2. How will you define success?
If you have a product for purchase online, you should absolutely invest in social advertising. With the rise of platforms like Shopify, it’s simple to track website visitors, conversions, and remarket to shoppers. If you have a product for purchase online, take some of your best sellers and top-performing content and get started running ads asap.
For companies that don’t have a product to sell directly online, running ads can still produce great results, but the strategy behind it isn’t so cut and dry.
Conversions are much harder to track when a sale requires numerous touches and often a substantial personal relationship to convert. If this sounds like your industry, focus on brand awareness, value-adding content, and website visit campaigns over conversions. Consider creative ways to get in front of a regular audience of engagers—including your current clients.
The copy, graphics, and videos involved in these ads are crucial. Digital ads require you to not only “stop the scroll” but also have the consumer understand your business and brand. A consistent content strategy made of the collateral mentioned above can help, but reporting and assessment of ad performance is just as important. This will help you to understand who is responding to your ad and allow you to make quick adjustments.
3. Do you have the time and budget?
If you answered yes to number one, then you know just how time-consuming social media can be! Ads are no different. Consider the amount of time to plan a strategy. Ads are not a one and done piece of content. Just like your long term content strategy, ads should run for extended periods of time and build on each other through retargeting and new client acquisition.
In addition to the prep leading up to running a campaign, developing the media you need to launch a campaign can be an extensive process. For many prospects, your ad is their first exposure to your business. You’ll want professional photography or video, along with smart copy, a matching call-to-action (CTA), and a landing page, if needed.
For ads to convert, orchestrating and executing the creative is key. The wrong CTA or a bad landing page can kill a campaign.
Lastly, reviewing a campaign and adjusting it on the fly are crucial. Watching your numbers regularly to adjust audience targeting is the smart move, but requires constant attention to catch high frequencies (someone seeing your ad over and over again) or determine that creative isn’t enticing audiences to click. Sometimes your first results will tell you you’re going after the completely wrong people. You’ve got to be prepared to adjust things during the course of campaigning. Not being able to do this may be a deal-breaker unless you consider outsourcing with a trusted partner.
4. Are you enabled for conversion tracking?
Installation of tracking codes, along with ownership of the reporting accounts (think Facebook Ads Manager or Google Analytics), is a very technical aspect of running ads and possibly the most important. Digitals ads rely on codes on the backside of your website to track conversions. Without the ability to track this, you won’t have verifiable data to show where you’re getting the conversions.
For businesses not selling a product online, conversions can look less tangible. As opposed to tracking “sales made” through an ad campaign you can use metrics such as website traffic or lead form completion. Beware that these metrics don’t result in easily defined return on ad spend (ROAS), but it’s important to keep in mind when analyzing your results.
Platforms like Facebook and Instagram have partnered with a variety of websites and apps that enable you to use pre-built platforms, but still track where conversions are coming from.
Be sure to consider how your website and business are structured and if you have enough control to truly track conversions.
If this sounds far above what you’re willing to learn, then it’s time to work with a professional!
Having started her digital marketing career in the financial industry, Jordan understands the importance of numbers and reports. She’s taken her affinity for audience research and data to numerous businesses from large entertainment companies to small coworking spaces, helping clients with both paid and organic social media strategy and implementation.