Forget Organic Social Media in 2018 – You Need to Pay to Play to Reap the Benefits.
Do you remember when MySpace and Friendster surfaced? People were so skeptical of social media before they even knew what it was, and then almost overnight Facebook emerged as something that connected the world.
Social media happened virtually overnight, and it is here to stay. It has completely transformed how we all live these days, and it has definitely changed how companies market and advertise. It has created a new breed of celebrity, making people famous for being famous, as crazy as that sounds.
Influencer marketing is now a thing thanks to social media, allowing companies to use everyday people to promote their products or services, while giving effective influencers the opportunity to make six to seven figures a year by being highly active on social media.
Let’s just quickly dive into the sheer number of users that are active on social media network:
- Facebook: As of the third quarter of 2017, Facebook had 2.07 billion monthly active users. In the third quarter of 2012, the number of active Facebook users had surpassed 1 billion, making it the first social network ever to do so. Active users are those which have logged in to Facebook during the last 30 days.
- Instagram: Instagram now has 800 million users engaging with the service on at least a monthly basis, and it has 500 million using the service on a daily basis
- Twitter: As of the third quarter of 2017, the microblogging service averaged at 330 million monthly active users. At the beginning of 2016, Twitter had reached 310 MAU per quarter.
- Snapchat: 158 million people are using Snapchat every day, and on average, open the app 18 times a day, according to Snap Inc.’s initial public offering prospectus.
- Pinterest: They now have 200 million monthly active users, up from 150 million just under a year ago.
Every user is an opportunity to market your product or service, and thanks to the self-serve advertising platforms social media offers, you can create ads with precise targeting. There is a cost, yes, but it can be extremely measurable when done right. When you know that you get $A for every $X of spend, you can easily scale and grow your business through social media ads.
Organic social media exposure is becoming a thing of the past…
The Death of Organic Exposure
Back in the day, it was possible to build up a large Facebook business page and then constantly market to it, which didn’t cost money. If you posted an update to your business page it would be seen by those that follow you, and you would then see them click-through to your website offers and convert into sales.
It was a beautiful thing and many businesses made a lot of money if they were early adaptors on Facebook. That all came to a crashing stop when Facebook started to drastically reduce the organic exposure for business pages. This was when Facebook ads were gaining in popularity and they knew their users would pour money into paid ads if their pages weren’t being seen organically.
While this royally pissed off some people, most businesses just accepted the fact and started to promote posts as well as run ad campaigns. Facebook knew that they had what every business wanted – customers. Their ad targeting options were and still are the most advanced available, and as long as they have the massive user base they do, advertisers will spend a pretty penny every month with them.
When Facebook acquired Instagram the running joke was that they would soon make it hard for content to show up in the feed, and that has been the case after several algorithm changes. They have an ad platform that is identical to Facebook and shares the same targeting options. To make it even easier, you can create ads and target both Facebook and Instagram users. There is no doubt that Instagram organic exposure is almost out the door as well, so be prepared.
It Can be Affordable When Done Right
I hear a lot of people complaining, saying they are screwed because they don’t have $10,000 a month to throw at Facebook ads. This is the wrong kind of mentality to have. You can start with as little as just $5 a day, and then scale as you find success. That is only $150 per month, which is an amount any business should be able to scrape together.
You don’t want to start with a large amount anyway, without testing and understanding what works best for your business. This is one of the main reasons some businesses become discouraged with Facebook ads. They load up a campaign and spend $10,000 and see $0 returned because their ads were not targeted correctly or weren’t optimized properly.
Facebook ads are always changing, which is one reason to consider hiring an expert to handle your ads. Someone that works in the trenches daily is keen on the updates and trends. They will also usually outperform someone with little to no experience. This will also create a much shorter learning curve and less wasted ad spend.
For low budgets, consider crafting a Facebook post on your business page that then directs the person to a page on your website, and then simply boost that post with $5 to put it in front of your target audience. This is a good way to help ramp sales and generate some revenue that you can then pump back into Facebook ads.
I would suggest testing with small amounts on any social network you test out. There are learning curves, and anyone thinking they will convert sales with little work is in for a very rude awakening.
You Need to Use the Proper Social Media Network
Just because everyone and their brother is talking about how amazing Facebook ads are, that doesn’t automatically mean they are going to work for your business. There are plenty of other options available, including Snapchat, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest, to name a few of the more popular ones.
Let’s take a wedding dress manufacturer for example. Sure, you can run Facebook ads that are targeting women that have their relationship status set to “engaged” and hope that they haven’t purchased a dress yet, or you could shift your focus to the social network that brides to be are on non-stop: Pinterest.
Again, Pinterest isn’t for every business, but in this example, a wedding dress manufacturer will do very well there, even better than they would on Facebook. It all comes down to the users. Pinterest is a female dominated social media network, with niches like wedding planning and home décor dominating most of the attention.
So, it’s important to truly understand your target customer in order to know where he or she is active on when it comes to social media.
If you are targeting teens, then Snapchat can be a goldmine, whereas Facebook now has a much older audience, and the 55+ age demographic can be easily targeted there, as it’s really the only social media network that they have adapted to and fully understand.
I am also seeing some of that older market slowly migrate to Instagram, but more so just to look at family pictures. I would still focus all of my ad spend on Facebook if I had a business that sold product to the older crowd.
Audience Size is Irrelevant – Proper Targeting is Key
Where a lot of people go wrong on social media ads, and Facebook specifically, is when it comes to audience targeting. Many people will assume that the bigger the audience, the more sales they will generate.
The complete opposite is true. If you target solely on audience size, it will be so broad that you will be displaying your ad to people that have zero interest in your offer. This will either lead to wasted spend through impressions to irrelevant people or wasted money on clicks from people that are just curios and have no interest to convert.
A small targeted audience is always preferred, and it’s much easier to measure results this way. You never want to just create a few ads and let the dice roll. You want to create several ad groups and then test multiple versions of each ad, from image to copy and call-to-action.
The start of a campaign should have an overwhelming number of ads, and as you move forward you pause the under-performers and continue to optimize the winning ads. Even if an ad is performing great, you want to test multiple variations with just slight changes. I have seen the smallest copy edit changes completely turn around a campaign before.
Focus on targeting and constantly make adjustments. You can run the same ads in different sets, each targeting different interests related to your niche. Never group so many interests together that it’s impossible to identify the best targeting options in terms of conversions.
You Need Finely Defined Conversion Goals
Back in the day when social media posts would draw in organic traffic, businesses were less focused on specific conversion goals and funnels, and more focused on just cranking out posts to attempt to drive traffic to their website.
This is back when tools like Hootsuite were utilized to tweet every 30 minutes and post on Facebook every 20 minutes. There was little strategy, and simply a numbers game. The more social traffic posted, the more referral traffic would hit the website.
When organic reach all but died, this strategy became useless. Pages just have dozens of posts a day with zero engagement. Now, since you have to pay for every view or click, the conversion funnel must be well planned, from start to finish. You need a captivating ad to pull the attention, copy that triggers a click and then a funnel in place to turn the person into a lead that can be nurtured until purchasing.
Since social media promotion now requires spending money, you should also take into consideration what each lead or customer is worth to your business. You need to assign a dollar value to every conversion step, in order to fully analyze your campaigns and determine if the spending is worth it. In the end, if you are merely breaking even you would want to consider moving that money to other avenues that turn a profit.
Retargeting is How Most Conversions Will Happen
If you are not retargeting then you are essentially taking your social media ad budget and lighting it on fire. You are wasting money and missing out on sales. Most buyers need to see an offer several times before they buy. Also, people that have visited your website before or looked at a specific product or service on your website need to be served different ads than someone who has never heard of your business before.
Retargeting has become an art form, and anyone that has truly mastered it will say it’s their number one source of conversions. If someone landed on your home page before, you can present them with an ad that is a little more aggressive, hoping they return. If someone was looking at a certain product, or better yet, in your shopping cart, then you can serve them ads designed to get them back on to finish their purchase.
It takes a bit to understand how it works and you will need a little technical background to install all the pixel tracking codes, but once you have a grasp, you can really start to see the power of paid social media.
There are two things that I can promise you. Number one, social media is going to only get more popular and there will always be new networks popping up, while one or two long-term players continue to dominate. As of right now, Facebook and Instagram are the front runners and I don’t see anyone coming close to them anytime soon.
Let’s not forget that Google (one of the largest internet companies in the world) tried to launch a social network and failed miserably. Remember Google+? It was a complete disaster. So, all the money and all the users in the world doesn’t automatically spell success when it comes to social media, leading me to believe Facebook and Instagram will be on the top for the foreseeable future.
The action is there for those willing to pay to attract it. The days or relying on organic traffic to convert are long past us. First, identify the best social networks for your ideal customer and then learn how to run effective ads. There will be a lot of trial and error, but in the end the businesses that master this will win.
If you have any questions related to paid social media promotion, please leave them below. Also, if you have any success stories related to paid social media campaigns, I would love to see those posted in the comments section as well.
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