Social media can seem foreign to many business owners, and the idea of spending valuable ad dollars on any social platform can be daunting. Each social channel offers advantages to advertising with them, but in the rapidly evolving social media landscape, it’s easy to get overwhelmed with your options.
For many businesses, organic posting on social media is no longer sufficient on its own. With such a high volume of posts -- from individual users and businesses -- on a multitude of channels, the likelihood of your post being seen by a mass audience is unlikely. Just like traditional media outlets like television and radio, the best way to ensure your message is being seen is through paid campaigns.
However, unlike traditional media, paid social posts are increasingly inexpensive and incredibly effective when taking advantage of the advanced targeting options.
The most challenging aspect of social media advertising isn’t setting up the campaign or even tracking your conversions. It’s choosing which platform(s) work best for your specific business needs. Each social channel caters to a very different demographic and optimizes their campaigns in very different ways.
In Part 1 of this two-part blog series, I'll share my advice (and evidence!) on which social networks are worth your ad dollars -- and which are not. Keep reading to get straight to the facts, and you'll be on the fast track to increased revenue in no time.
Facebook advertising is a no-brainer for any business, regardless of your particular customer profile. Not only is Facebook the largest social channel with 1.4 billion users across the globe, but 90 million are daily active users. If you’ve heard that Facebook is no longer popular among Millennials, or that it’s shrinking in user growth, don’t believe it. In fact, Facebook continues to grow by roughly 16% each year and 71% of all adults in the U.S. who have access to the internet are active on Facebook.
The size of Facebook’s reach aside, the ability to deliberately target extremely granular audiences is unrivaled by any other social platform.
Looking to target someone aged 18-35 who lives in Nashville, Tenn. who got engaged in the past 6 months and has a net worth of $500,000? Facebook has you covered. How about someone who is recently retired, reads the Wall Street Journal and loves cheeseburgers? Facebook can target that individual, too. The ability to target people based off of location, interests, behavior trends, financial information, and a multitude of other categories make this platform worthy of your ad spend.
Facebook also boasts the ability to retarget potential customers. Typically, only 2% of those who visit your website will make a purchase on their first visit. Using Facebook’s retargeting ability, you’re able to serve ads to the 98% who didn’t convert and reintroduce your brand and products. By utilizing the Facebook pixel, you’re able to track people who have visited your website and serve them an ad specific to what page they visited.
You’re also able to import client information into Facebook to create a custom audience of people who have interacted with your business previously. Have you ever been served an ad from Amazon featuring a particular product just minutes after you viewed that product natively on Amazon.com? That’s Amazon retargeting you with an ad tailored to your browsing history. With Facebook ads, you’re able to utilize the same retargeting method.
Facebook’s analytic dashboard provides an incredible amount of insight into the way your ad is performing in real time. The data is straightforward and easy to consume. Factors like your ad’s frequency, reach, results, user feedback, and cost per result are transparently displayed for your review. That transparency allows you to determine the success of your ad, and make changes if necessary to optimize it’s performance.
Finally, ad spend totals on Facebook are extremely inexpensive. Running campaigns that have a $5 a day ad spend can result in just pennies being spent to reach each individual you want to target. There are also a number of different campaign types that will influence how much you will spend per result. The average cost to reach 100 people on Facebook is 25 cents. When compared to reaching 100 people with Google AdWords (average of $2.75) or with cable television (average of $7), Facebook ads are cost-effective and deliver results.
Verdict: Yes, you need to be advertising on Facebook. Regardless of industry or ad budget, you’ll see results. Just make sure you have an offer that makes sense for your audience and truly do your research into your desired user persona to take full advantage of Facebook’s targeting capabilities.
Last year, I called Pinterest “Social Media’s Best Kept Secret,” and that still rings true today. The majority of advertisers think of Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram as the only platforms that are under the social media umbrella. Although Pinterest doesn’t come close to the amount of daily active users Facebook boasts, the 150 million daily active users it does have are extremely loyal.
Compared to Facebook’s user base, Pinterest is not used by members of every gender, age group, and income level. Instead, 80% of Pinterest’s daily users are female, specifically married housekeeper females with children under the age of 18. These users are very influential when it comes to household purchases. In fact, 40% of Pinterest’s users live in a household with an average income of over $100,000.
Plus, now that Pinterest allows users to shop in-app, the average purchase on the platform is $50 -- the highest conversion dollar amount of any of its competitors, including Facebook and Twitter.
Additionally, Pinterest users plan ahead. The typical Pinner will begin planning and purchasing for holidays at least 60 days before the holiday. That’s 20% earlier than the typical American. By creating a planning calendar (or simply using this one here), you can optimize your sales cycle by getting your seasonal products and services in front of an eager audience on Pinterest.
A recent feature update also solidifies Pinterest as the “visual platform” on social media. Pinterest Lens allows marketers to capture conversions from users who may be at different points on the purchase timeline. The new update allows someone to open his or her camera, take a photo of an object, and Pinterest’s software links to a number of suggested similar products.
This is incredibly powerful in targeting individuals who are impulse buyers. By reducing the amount of friction between the beginning of the buying cycle and the end conversion, marketers can quickly introduce a product to an interested user and accelerate purchases.
Pinterest also has a rather robust targeting platform. While certainly not in the same league as Facebook’s targeting ability, Pinterest can segment its users by location, interest, gender, and device. Cost per ad varies depending on the campaign type and can cost anywhere from 27 cents for an engagement campaign to $1.52 with an ad optimized for website clicks.
Verdict: Pinterest may still be developing its advertising capabilities, but it’s a platform that’s worth your attention. If your target audience contains wealthy females with specific interests in cooking, gardening, and seasonal products and holidays, Pinterest is a must. But if your desired demographic doesn’t match the Pinterest user base, don’t invest any ad dollars right now.
Twitter was met with a mildly optimistic welcome when it came onto the scene in 2007. Millennials, in particular, took to the new platform as a way to avoid their parents who were now beginning to join Facebook en masse. As celebrities, news outlets, and social media influencers began touting Twitter as a different type of social experience, Twitter quickly ballooned to roughly 300 million daily active users in 2015.
Unfortunately, Twitter has adopted a negative reputation among its social competitors. After 2015, daily active users stagnated for over a year despite Twitter’s attempts to increase its visual content. Twitter’s stock price plummeted and rumors of a buyout made the company look like it was on life support.
But then, a bright spot for potential advertisers: Twitter’s daily active users numbers have begun to grow again, reaching a new height of 328 million -- a 6% growth from Q4 of 2016.
That said, to warrant small business ad spend, Twitter needs to corner a much larger portion of the mobile market. Analysts project roughly $58 billion will be spent in 2017 on mobile advertising alone. Twitter is projected to secure only $1.15 billion of that mobile spend, a number that is actually down from last year.
Targeting specific users on Twitter via advertising doesn’t come close to the abilities of Facebook. Of course, you’re able to use interests, gender, and geography as identifiers as is standard across the majority of social advertising channels. You’re also able to upload email lists and create a custom audience.
However, Twitter does offer one edge over Facebook in terms of targeting: going after followers of your competition directly. Small- and medium-sized businesses benefit from this feature by going after Twitter users based on whom they follow. This advantage is made even better by the relatively low number of existing advertisers on the Twitter. If you decide to advertise on Twitter, it’s extremely likely that your ad will be seen by your target audience.
Twitter offers a line of code similar to the Facebook Tracking Pixel in order to help qualify conversions. Once installed onto a landing and thank you page, the conversion code will relay data in order to determine the success of a Twitter ad. Interestingly, despite Twitter’s smaller user base and fewer targeting options on the whole, Twitter ads best Facebook ads in terms of overall clickthrough rates.
It also comes close to matching Facebook ads engagement rate. This can be attributed in part to the way that Twitter users utilize the platform. 49% of monthly Twitter users follow brands and companies. That is gargantuan when compared to the 16% of monthly social media users that follow brands and companies on all social platforms.
Twitter ad spend varies upon which campaign type you select, as well as the bidding system you choose. Advertisers have the option of choosing a lifetime spend or a daily spend amount. The average cost per engagement on Twitter is roughly $1.35 with the average Tweet promotion costing $2.50 to $4.00.
Verdict: Twitter’s primary focus for both organic and paid tweets continues to be conversational. Twitter can be extremely helpful in terms of branding and company introduction. Overall, Twitter’s base of users are engaged with brands and companies in a way that is unique to the social landscape. In its current condition, if you’re going to advertise on Twitter, make sure it’s a small slice of your overall social spend. Rather than paid campaigns on Twitter, consider establishing an active organic account.