3 Tips for Creating Engaging Paid Social Media Campaigns

3 Tips for Creating Engaging Paid Social Media Campaigns

By Casey NewmanApr 11 /2016

You’re a master content creator. Blood, sweat and tears have gone into your latest creation, and you’re positive the leads will be rolling in. You sit back in your chair, prop your feet up on your desk and wait. And wait. And wait.

Where are those leads?

Sometimes, no matter how much work you put into a piece, the leads don’t come in as quickly as you’d like. That’s not to say your work wasn’t great (it probably was, you’re a master at your craft, after all), it might just need a little boost in the form of paid media.

But be careful. Just because you’re paying to promote a piece doesn’t mean you can throw caution to the wind and abandon all the inbound techniques you know and love. Consider these tips for creating engaging paid campaigns.

Choose Your Social Channels Wisely

Algorithm changes to Facebook’s timeline (and soon, Twitter) have some marketers breaking out in a cold sweat. Instead of reaching people for free with witty, creative posts, now we have to scrape together the budget to promote our content on these social networks.

Before you dive in and start looking between the couch cushions for money for your paid social budget, take a cue from the audience you want to reach. Instead of throwing money at every social channel, consider this: On what social networks does your audience spend their time? You could discover this information through the Buyer Insight Process, or you could look at your data and see where your content gets the most traffic organically.

Take this example from one of Kuno’s clients:

When creating campaigns for a not-for-profit organization that provides services for older adults, we found, through our use of data from HubSpot, that the majority of our content was viewed and shared on Facebook, which helped us refine our social targeting. Without this data in hand, we would have missed this valuable opportunity by assuming our audience wasn’t active on this channel.


“Assuming you know which social networks your prospects prefer is a reliable way to misallocate your advertising budget. As part of a social media marketing plan, you need to spend time researching which networks your potential buyers frequent for community interaction and information. This step will save you money and improve performance later,” said marketing expert Joe Chernov.

Consider the Kind of Content You Want to Promote

Remember that data you gleaned from the Buyer Insight Process or from your marketing software to see what social channels your audience prefers? Get more mileage out of that data by using it to help determine what types of content resonate most with your audience.

Whether you’re targeting your audience with whitepapers, checklists, infographics or videos, it’s important to keep in mind the value of what you’re producing.

Is this content valuable enough that someone would give their email address to access it? If not, head back to the drawing board and consider ways to improve the value of what you’re offering. Could you add a few more statistics or a sidebar with additional information or instructions? Could you produce a short companion video to go along with the piece? Is there an additional area not covered you could shed some light on?

For our not-for-profit client, we knew from our Buyer Insight research and data that our audience was active on Facebook and that a perpetual issue for older adults is avoiding entering a nursing home as they age. Our research also revealed there was little information available on how to avoid a nursing home.

We created an e-book filled with actionable ways an older adult and his or her family or friends can avoid a nursing home. We promoted it on Facebook to the specific geographic area our client served.


The piece generated impressive stats over a six-month period—especially considering the niche market and the limited audience we were targeting.

Resist the Urge to be Overly Promotional

Creating an engaging campaign on social sites follows the same rules you’d use to create the piece you’re going to promote: It needs to be relevant, educational and, most importantly, not overly promotional.

We can hear you now: "But these are ads, aren't they supposed to be promotional?"

Not necessarily. If your audience is on sites like Facebook or Twitter, they’re likely engaging in conversations and might be put off when they see something overly promotional pop up in their newsfeeds. Remember, if you’re doing sponsored content, it is designed to look like it belongs in a newsfeed. And as you would when promoting content organically, make sure your ad copy explains why or how your content can help someone.

Here’s an example from Microsoft. The software giant aired three commercials during primetime TV and promoted them with two pieces of creative on social media—one piece of creative was designed to tug at emotions, while the other was purely promotional. With the help of ratings and analytics company Nielsen, Microsoft analyzed which ads performed better.

“Overall, the emotional ads drove significantly more Microsoft discussion from exposed TV authors compared to the rational ads,” explained Nielsen.

Bonus Tip: Beware the Lure of Holidays

Whether it’s Christmas or a national day of remembrance, you’re likely to see a brand or two (or more) participating in hashtags or sponsored updates around it. Avoid the urge to jump on the hashtag bandwagon. Unless your product or service has to do with said holiday or event, it’s better to stay quiet, as shown by this Tweet:


Savage is far from alone in his dislike of brands chiming in on holidays, as Adweek points out. This seemingly regular occurrence has spawned “brand critics”—social media users who wait for, and pounce on, a brand for taking advantage of a holiday or event on social media.


Promoting content on social channels can be tricky: You’ve got to find the right channel, the right audience and make sure what you’re promoting (and the promotional post itself) is the right mix of shareable, enjoyable and educational. Without these elements, your brand will likely find itself at best ignored by consumers and at worst on the receiving end of harsh words from brand critics.

But making use of your buyer insights and data can help your brand get the most bang for its paid social media buck while delighting prospective customers.

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Casey Newman
The Author

Casey Newman

A former journalist, Casey tells brands’ stories and helps to create engaging content strategies for companies. Before joining Kuno, she was in charge of public relations for marketing tech company Knotice. She earned a gold Hermes Creative Award for Knotice’s blog content and spearheaded several content initiatives that helped lead to the company's acquisition.