5 Tips for Advertising on Social Networks
Social networks like LinkedIn and Facebook are great places for marketers to connect with prospective customers through highly targeted pay-per-click advertising. But don't make the mistake of simply applying all of the same advertising rules that you've used successfully in your search marketing campaigns to your social media campaigns.
Here are some tips to make the most of your campaigns on social networks:
1. Select the right target audience. You're one of hundreds of companies, all trying to persuade potential customers to click on your ad and learn more about your company. By targeting people based on their job functions and interests, you can craft messages that resonate with each particular audience. Social networks make it easier than ever to target your audience, because people spend hours personalizing their profiles. Showing ads only to a particular audience based on profile information leads to higher quality clicks and leads.
On LinkedIn's advertising platform, called LinkedIn DirectAds, you can target customers by job function, industry and seniority level. If an accounting software company is interested in generating sales leads from accounting managers, DirectAds can be directed to only show ads to vice presidents of accounting departments. Similar rules apply on Facebook Ads, where the same accounting software firm could target people who have listed accounting as one of their "Likes and Interests."
2. Be visual. A picture says a thousand words and gives marketers an opportunity to communicate product offerings in a way text ads cannot. Most social networking sites allow the inclusion of a small image as part of an ad, which attracts the eye and makes that ad more effective than traditional text ads at drawing attention. Consider using recognizable logos in your ads. Or if you are a new company, choose images that are relevant to your product offering. An established university might include its logo when advertising continuing education programs to career changers, while a brand new catering company could use the image of a chef in a bright red apron.
3. Choose words that resonate. Online marketers are familiar with the basic rules for creating text-based ads: use clear language, pick keywords and phrases that are relevant to what you're offering, and include strong calls to action. These rules still apply on social networks, but you have the unique opportunity to choose words and phrases that may resonate with a specific target audience.
One marketer offering project management software to IT managers saw a higher click-through rate when using the descriptive headline "Project Management Tools," compared to the ambiguous headline "Beat the chaos!"
4. Experiment with your ads. You'll never know whether an ad resonates with your target audience until it's launched to the public. During the first week of your campaign, it's important to test multiple versions of ad text and images. Develop three different ads with varying images, ad text and descriptors for your product offering with different calls to action. Social network ad platforms should display all of your ads equally to start. Based on performance numbers, they then should automatically increase display of the ads that perform the best. In addition, you can remove ads from rotation that aren't performing.
5. Track and optimize your campaigns. It is important to monitor the success of your ads and alter them as necessary to make them more effective. Measure an ad's success rate using downstream metrics, like number of purchases. Use Web analytics packages, like Google Analytics, to help you determine which ads and which targeting options bring in the greatest number of qualified leads. Then go back and improve your campaigns. For example, if your initial campaign hopes to attract both finance and accounting professionals, but the leads you're getting are overwhelmingly finance professionals, consider creating a separate campaign with customized ads targeting just accounting professionals.
Andrew Chang is the marketing manager for Mountain View, Calif.-based LinkedIn. Chang, the marketing lead for the social networking site's advertising offering called LinkedIn DirectAds, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.