Social Media Ads: Why, Where, and How Much?

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social media ads

Social Media Ads: Why, Where, and How Much?

March 10, 2015
Ted Faigle
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Why think about social media ads? Isn’t social media marketing free and easy? Most of the business people I speak with still think so. After all, it doesn’t require any special training to use Facebook or Instagram. All you do is throw up some posts to engage your target audience with company products, photos, and updates. You just need a young person to assist you. (I hear that a lot, too, from mature business owners.) They are still living in the good old days of social media marketing.

It used to be that social media marketing was just about posting interesting content for your target audience to read and engage.  But as social media matures, social media marketing also has to evolve.  As we’ve blogged before, your company’s Facebook posts may now only reach 2-6% of your followers organically.  The same thing is happening on Twitter and other social media platforms where user feeds are becoming cluttered and crowded.  Social media companies are 1) trying to cut through the clutter to show their users the most valuable content and 2) ramping up advertising platforms so they can monetize their huge user bases.

Google Adwords (and other search engine ads) are useful, but no longer sufficient.  They are not necessarily the best way to reach your target audience as they go through the purchase decision process.  Search engine keywords tend to target early in the decision process for general awareness. Search engine long tail keywords target more specifically and possibly later in the decision process. Social media networks have different ways to target your audience and at different points in the purchase decision:

  • Facebook: demographics, interests, and behaviors
  • LinkedIn: industries, job titles, and organizational levels
  • Pinterest: demographics and interests
  • Twitter: interests, followers, and keywords
  • Instagram: age, gender, country – they will also be sharing data with Facebook interests and behaviors

Not only does each search engine or a social media network have unique ways of targeting ads, they each have different audience profiles themselves:

  • Facebook and Twitter are both very large and cut across age groups, geographies, genders, and interests
  • Pinterest has a larger segment of younger women – 85% of its users are women
  • Instagram has a large segment of usage among young people – this is the place millennials go to interact away from older family members
  • LinkedIn has users who are business people

Wishpond has a good summary of user profiles for each social network that can help determine where you should focus for your target market.

Social media advertising means looking at which social media networks:

  • Have users in your target audience
  • Give you effective ways to select and specifically target them
  • Are cost effective for achieving your marketing objectives

Otherwise you are doing “spray and pray” advertising and wasting your money.

Internet ads now make up 25% of the entire ad market in 2015 (source: Social Fresh). One million small and medium sized businesses advertise on Facebook.  And there are 2.5 million Facebook promoted posts.  Twitter has not ruled out changes to its news feed algorithm to prioritize posts the way Facebook does. Instagram (owned by Facebook) is expanding its advertising platform to both deal with cluttered feeds and to monetize the user base.

Ad costs on different social media platforms do vary.  A Facebook ad will likely be more expensive than a Google Adword, but less expensive than a LinkedIn ad.  The ad costs reflect the specificity and effectiveness of targeting for your audience. Match your marketing to the right social media networks for your business. Then look at how social media ads can get your message consistently in front of your followers and your prospects. It’s not like the old days of just posting some interesting content for free.

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