Trends & Features

Top tips for advertising on social media

By Dave Howell

Social media networks offer a wealth of advertising opportunities.

Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Pinterest lead the way with networks that can reach millions of potential customers in seconds. However, unlike traditional advertising, the level of engagement that’s possible via this medium is unlike any promotional activity businesses have ever used. The propensity to share on these networks makes them even more useful to disseminate marketing messages to a wide audience.

Take a targeted approach
A business’ ability to place an advert on multiple social media networks that’s subsequently viewed on a number of devices is a powerful tool. However, the extensive user bases of the leading social media networks may offer millions of potential customers, but this doesn’t mean an advert will instantly reach its intended audience.

Social media advertising requires more sophisticated targeting and a clear understanding of its intended audience. Do you know which of the many social media networks is most favoured by your customers? You can’t simply assume it’s Facebook.

Millennials – people born between 1980 and the mid-2000s – are often the focus of social media marketing. Research from content marketing software specialist NewsCred concluded the spending power of this group would total $1.4 trillion by 2020.

Reaching this group of discerning consumers is a complex task. Stefany Zaroban, a researcher at website Internet Retailer, says: “Merchants are having to spend more on adverts to have their content seen by consumers. That’s because Facebook shows fewer of a brand or retailer’s posts to its fans now than it did a few years ago, a strategy that effectively forces marketers to spend more on advertising to reach Facebook users.”

Don’t be afraid to experiment
When considering advertising on social media, one size doesn’t fit all. One of the great advantages of this medium is that your business can experiment. The same advert can be trialled quickly on many social media networks, with A/B testing straightforward to use. This research will identify which social media networks resonate with your customers.

An issue faced by companies advertising on social media is how to cut through the noise. As more businesses have begun to use these spaces, they have become crowded, something that can reduce an advert’s effectiveness. Businesses need to work harder to ensure their adverts engage with their target audiences. This can be achieved by creating content that successfully engages the network’s users, meaning understanding your customers is as important as it has ever been.

Choosing the platform
Which social media platform should you advertise on?

This site is ideal if you want to build a community of followers that then becomes an audience for your marketing messages. However, don’t take this group for granted, as there’s a fine line between a welcome message and annoying spam. Promoted posts and direct adverts can be highly effective when used together in a campaign.

Campaigns that are time sensitive are ideal for platforms such as Twitter. As promoted tweets appear in the timeline of followers in real time, they have an immediacy and urgency other forms of social media advertising can’t match. When linked to in-store promotions, this type of advertising can be highly engaging if there’s a strong call to action.

This is the place for promotional activity that’s designed to build brand awareness, as it combines traditional broadcast media with the power of sharing that social media networks excel at. Video has become the most shared type of content across all social media networks. When used sensibly as part of a wider campaign, it can be highly effective.

Pinterest and Instagram
These networks have a significant number of users, which has meant brands are increasingly seeing an opportunity to use their visual aspects for advertising purposes. Placing high quality images on Pinterest that can be clicked or tapped to make a purchase is an effective way to boost sales.

So where should you spend your advertising budget? It’s a difficult question to answer. What’s certain is that social media advertising is becoming increasingly popular.

According to global information and measurement company Nielsen, social media is no longer being viewed as its own discrete medium, but instead used alongside other tactics to achieve an overall, usually branding related, objective.

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