In Review: Breaking into Social Media Advertising

May 13, 2016 Amanda Pollard

Social media has become a way of life. Regardless of industry, audiences for B2B marketers are on social media, checking their feeds multiple times per day. That being said, steep competition in brand impressions and content reach has resulted in a “pay-to-play” model across many social networks. Social advertising should be a fundamental tactic for marketers across all industries, but many B2B and professional services organizations struggle to optimize their use of this increasingly popular platform.

The Proliferation of Content Marketing
It is almost exhausting how many times content marketing is mentioned as a key practice for marketers in today’s world. It is no question that people are using this as a tactic, but how does their budget for content marketing compare to their budget for print or other traditional (offline) promotions? Content Marketing Institute reports that 57% of B2B marketers are still using tactics such as print or other traditional (offline) promotions, even though only 31% find those tactics to be effective.

B2B Content Marketing Tactic Usage

The takeaway? We aren’t putting our money where our content is.

Setting the Stage for Integration
So clearly, the competition is stiff. The key to breaking through? A well-formulated plan that gets the right content on the right channels.

Step 1: Define Goals & Objectives
The most important and fundamental step, defining your goals and objectives sets the foundation for your entire campaign. Whether focusing on lead generation or brand awareness, identifying your main objectives will allow you to select which social network’s features provide the best targeting. For example, Facebook offers retargeting options to reach users who have already visited your website or landing page. Depending on what you establish in this initial phase, you will be able to identify which platform works best for you.

Step 2: Identify Key Metrics & Reporting Tools
When looking at which metrics are most important to you and your campaign, it is important to recognize the difference between vanity metrics and actionable metrics. Vanity metrics are stats that show surface-level engagement (e.g. followers, impressions). Actionable metrics can be more clearly tied back to the goals of your campaign; these include form submissions, PDF downloads or visits to a specific landing page. Another really helpful reporting tool available to all marketers are UTM parameters. We’ll be posting more on this topic in a few weeks, but, in the meantime, check out Google’s URL builder that creates custom tags to each URL you’d like to track in Google Analytics.

Step 3: Research Audiences
Take the time to research who you want to target and what channel would be the most appropriate. Different social channels have different contexts, so keep this in mind when choosing where to promote your campaign and what language is most appropriate. For example, LinkedIn is best for more professional updates, while Facebook can be a little more casual.
Each channel also offers its own targeting tools. Take a second to review how each platform does its targeting, and figure out what will be the most appropriate for your campaign.

Step 4: Allocate Budget
Your target audience directly impacts how much it will cost to advertise to that audience. Keep this in mind, and make sure each dollar counts by staying nimble! Testing will allow you to better understand what is working and what isn’t, and adjust accordingly.

Step 5: Secure Assets for Launch
Pay attention to what images you need for each channel and what the restrictions are in terms of size, words vs. visual content ratio…etc. It’s important to note that these parameters and restrictions are constantly changing as platforms are updated and redesigned or refreshed. This Social Media Image Size Cheat Sheet by Constant Contact provides the latest guidelines to follow by channel.

Step 6: Execute
Let it rip!

Step 7: Monitor & Optimize
“Set it and forget it” does not apply in social media marketing. Make sure to incorporate some form of A/B testing with varied languages on each platform. This will also help prevent ad fatigue. Keep in mind third-party helpers like Sprout Social and Hootsuite. These platforms can make monitoring and testing social media campaigns extremely fluid.

Step 8: Report & Improve
Having a highly structured and organized report can make all the difference when reporting to your manager or stakeholders. We suggest starting with a high-level summary, highlighting a few takeaways. Next, focus on the goals of your campaign. How did the campaign perform against the goals you set? Lastly, identify opportunities to continuously improve.

How to Get Started
Embarking on a fully optimized and strategic social media campaign can seem daunting; however, here are a few tips to help you get started:

  1. Propose a pilot test on your strongest, most engaged channel.
  2. Follow the steps outlined here – we’ve covered the big hitters in every social media campaign, so it is definitely a great place to start.
  3. Be successful! You won’t know what will and won’t work until you test. Give it a shot and find out!

Missed the webinar? Watch the recording or download the slides.

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Amanda Pollard Director, Content & Social Strategy - Tell Your Story

Amanda Pollard is a Director, Content & Social Strategy experienced in the development and execution of strategic, award-winning Public Relations and Social Media programs. She takes a metrics-driven approach to Social Media and PR and is passionate about integrating social and digital media with traditional public relations.

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