During the past four years, I have managed advertising spends on Google, Facebook, and Twitter for clients both large and small. All told, I estimate that I helped plan and execute on more than $125,000 in social advertising.
When it comes to social advertising, this quote from John Wanamaker sadly rings true far too often: “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.”
Don’t get me wrong: You give me $10,000 and a month, and I can add about 30,000 “qualified” fans to your page. I say “qualified” because it is basic targeting on interests at an average cost of $0.33 per new fan. I can raise the costs if you want more qualified fans by using third-party tracking and targeting. Let’s say those run $0.80 a like. That would still leave you with 12,500 qualified fans.
What does all of this mean? It means it is not hard to spend advertising dollars. In fact, it is quite easy. I can even get into Twitter and Google and spend more money. You want fans? Sure! A few more followers Great! Clicks? You got it!
But through all these campaigns, a few things have stood out as lessons and takeaways for anyone thinking of using the power of the social web’s marketing wings.
1) Plan the “Why” Before the “How”
Social advertising is not the shiny new thing anymore. To get the most value, anything you do with digital advertising has to be thought out and tied back to a larger strategy. If you want your fans to do something, you must think through the process a fan might go through to take that action. Then, and only then, can you begin thinking about how paid advertising might help simplify and amplify that desired action.
If you just need to connect with those thousands of people who already love your product, then by all means, buy some "likes". But that can't be the only tactic or goal.
3) Money Is Not Everything
Recently, Roderick Russell was profiled in Adweek on the super-targeted ads his roommate had purchased to play a prank. While brands aren’t likely to take this granular approach to advertising, the case to be made is that his roommate was able to purchase multiple ads for a total cost of $1.70. More money does not equal more results.
3) Use Your Web Properties to Your Advantage
No longer is it just advertising based on what people like, who they follow, or their zip codes. We know when a shopper visits our website, if he submitted a question, or if he left a shopping cart full. We can then deliver targeted ads to this person to aid in the purchase funnel. When combined with your larger content strategy, social advertising can really take off.
The challenge is that companies are reluctant to implement this approach. Usually, the excuse is that they don’t have access to their website.
We are talking about sales. There should be no roadblocks to the end goal.
"Social media allows your digital sales teams to stalk your customers with an accuracy that we've never seen before," said Peter Tompson, digital brand strategist, in an interview with Adweek.
We aren’t there yet. Brands need to begin to push the boundaries of advertising. What good does it do if 1 million people see your ad, but no one does anything about what they saw? Advertising can and should drive engagement — not just a "like".