1. Know what business objective you’re trying to achieve
It’s no accident that we’ve started each section of this guide by reviewing the business objectives each type of social media advertising can help you achieve. As in all marketing strategies, it’s awfully hard to achieve your goals if you don’t know what your goals are in the first place.
Understanding what business objective you’re trying to achieve with your ads is critical for ensuring you choose the right social network to advertise on, and the right advertising solution within that platform. It will also guide your creative strategy.
2. Know your target audience
We’ve listed some audience considerations for each of the social networks, but keep in mind that they all offer quite specific ad targeting. Knowing exactly who you’re trying to reach allows you to take maximum advantage of these targeting options and ensure you get the best bang for your advertising buck.
After all, there’s no point in advertising to soccer moms in Florida if your audience is young male video gamer in New Jersey. This ability to micro-target your ad campaigns is one of the key benefits of social media advertising. Developing audience personas can help you understand exactly which audience segments you should focus on.
3. Let your organic posts inform your ads
You’re likely already posting content on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram every day—and maybe LinkedIn and Snap Chat, too.
Some of these posts will resonate with followers; others won’t. Track which ones are being clicked, liked, shared, and commented on. These high-performing messages make the best candidates for social ads.
If you’re branching out into a new network with your social media advertising, start small. Use what you’ve learned from your organic posts as a starting point, but know that those lessons will not necessarily translate across social networks.
4. Pay for what matters: Impressions or engagement
Keeping your social media advertising budget under control means thinking about whether you’re designing an ad campaign based on impressions or engagements.
If you’re paying every time someone sees your ad (impressions), your message can cast a wide net. But if you’re paying for engagement, you only want people who are really interested in doing business with you to engage. Since you don’t want to pay for engagements that are not relevant to your business goals, the wording of your ad should help people identify whether it’s for them or not.
Both engagement and impressions campaigns can be valuable for your business—you just need to choose the right one to align with your business goals so that you only pay for real business results. Here’s some more information about which metrics to track to make the most of your social ad campaign.
5. Design your ads with mobile in mind
Ninety percent of active monthly social media users access social networks through a mobile device.
That means most social media ads are being viewed on mobile devices as well. Your mobile ads should be specifically designed for the small screen, incorporating images that are easy to view on a pocket-sized device.
You can also take advantage of “geofencing” to target mobile users when they are in a specific zip code, so they only see your ads when they afre close enough to walk in your front door.
6. Test your ads to optimize performance
One of the great virtues of social ads is instant feedback. You can gauge the effectiveness of a sponsored post in minutes and follow up with advanced analytics reports. The best practice is to test several ads with small audiences to determine what works best, then use the winning ad in the primary campaign.
Testing one ad against another to determine what works best and refine your strategy is known as A/B testing. It’s a critical part of your social media advertising efforts, and we’ve got a full guide on how to do it right here: Social media A/B testing.
7. Measure results
Just as it’s important to know your goals before running an ad campaign, it’s important to measure results. This will let you know whether you’ve hit your targets, and show you what worked and what didn’t so that you can improve going forward.
Measuring your results and having concrete data about the value your ads bring to the company (purchases, leads, and so on) is a key part of proving ROI. And if you can prove that your ads are paying off, that will ensure you get the budget you need to continue your work.
The major social networks offer analytics to help you measure the results of ads. And we’ve created in-depth guides on how to use them for Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Snapchat, and Pinterest.
You can also use tools like Google Analytics and Hootsuite Impact to measure results across networks from a single dashboard.