Social media is simultaneously one of the most exciting and frustrating innovations to hit marketing in recent years. It gives us a direct way to interact with our audience, which is good. But it’s noisy. We’re competing with friends, family, celebrities, traditional media and lots of other brands, which is not so good.
Having a social media presence isn’t worth much for your brand if you can’t figure out how to cut through the clutter and reach the people in your target audience.
The best way to do that is no secret, but it’s not something brands often like to hear: You need to spend some money. But using targeted ads will help you spend wisely.
You know the people you want to reach are spending time each day on social media—most people do. Yet you’re finding it difficult to get traction on the platforms you’ve tried. Spending the money to create targeted ads, though, can help kick-start your social media presence. Here’s why:
Usually, the only people who will see you and the things you post are those who have already connected with you on social media. That means you’ll only be reaching people already familiar with your brand.
If you want to go beyond the audience of customers who already know you, you have to be willing to pay.
The people you want to reach on social media already have lots of connections and a steady stream of content in front of them. They have no reason to go out of their way to seek you out. You have to go to them.
Paid ads can finally get your content in front of the many people who aren’t seeing you now. Some of them may scroll right past, but some—those in your target audience for whom the content you’re sharing is relevant—will slow their scrolling to click through. If they like what you’ve shared, they maybe even make the choice to follow you.
Social media sites have a lot of data on their users. When you sign up to advertise with them, you get to take advantage of what they know. You won’t just be spending money to broadcast your message to everyone, you can focus specifically on getting it in front of the people who match your personas. That makes the value for what you spend much higher.
Let’s take a look at how to target social media ads on four major platforms.
Twitter offers several sophisticated options for ad targeting. One of the first options you have when creating a campaign in Twitter is to “Select Your Audience.”
In this section, you can target for the most obvious demographic options like language, gender and location as well as Twitter’s more complicated targeting categories.
Facebook has created a social platform where many people are comfortable providing personal information. Because of that, advertisers can get very specific in their targeting. You can target married women with an upcoming anniversary, liberals who work in science or people in their 20s who like Game of Thrones.
One step in creating an ad in your Facebook Business Account is to “Choose Your Audience.”
On this page, you can specify who receives your ads based on a few main categories.
A Note on Instagram: Instagram offers all the same targeting options as Facebook. You actually need to go through your Facebook business account to set up targeted ads on Instagram. Choose the Instagram Accounts option in your Business Settings to access ad targeting for Instagram.
LinkedIn ads typically are more expensive than those on other social media channels, but they pack extra value because of LinkedIn’s powerful targeting options. For B2B companies in particular, LinkedIn ads are a powerful tool for helping you focus on just the person you want to reach.
LinkedIn has an especially long list of categories you can use in your targeting:
Combine all these options and you can control who you reach on LinkedIn, creating a high return on investment for your social spend, in spite of the higher cost.
Since Google owns YouTube, its ads are part of the larger Google AdWords platform. While its targeting options are a bit simpler than some of the other social media channels, it provides the benefit of having Google’s extensive data to bring into your targeting efforts.
When you create an ad in YouTube, you’ll reach a section called “Choose your target audience,” where you’ll have a few options for refining who will see your ad:
While it doesn’t have quite as many specific targeting options as the other social media sites, if you’re investing in video marketing, YouTube is a smart choice for social media advertising.
Social media advertising can be a powerful way to reach a specific audience. The amount you spend upfront can easily come back to you in new leads and customers. It’s just one option in the larger paid media landscape though.
Get the 2016 Inbound Marketer’s Guide to Paid Media to discover the best methods for getting your content in front of the right audience.
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