Taking the Guesswork Out of Social Media Marketing
When leveraging social networks to drive clicks to a website, fans and “Likes” can seem like an uncharted world for media buyers. Besides being unknown territory, it’s notorious for being difficult to measure. What's more, navigating the rules and restrictions across social media networks can be overwhelming. Despite the challenges, in order to stay competitive in today’s market it’s essential for media buyers to not only leverage social media but also learn how to do so effectively and efficiently.
Whether you're new to social media advertising or looking to hone your skills, you must begin your journey by plotting out a course designed to reach your final goals. In this case, reaching the right audience in the right context — and hopefully for the right price. Doing some homework and leveraging insight from search and social listening tools can help media buyers determine the audience and context pieces of the puzzle, ultimately driving significantly higher return on investment from the social channel.
As uncharted as social media may seem, the basic rules of media buying still apply. You must first identify your audience and find out where they are. Once you put those pieces into place, you gain an understanding of what message is going to be the most relevant in that environment. Finally, you can focus on a bidding strategy to achieve the highest return. These are the building blocks of media buying success and, fortunately, it's channel agnostic and can easily be applied to social.
Here’s a little cheat sheet to help you map out a successful journey:
Who are you trying to reach? Audience is defined by gender, age and location on a basic level. But the deeper you go, the better your chances of finding your ideal customer. Be aware of the quality of your demographic data as well. Is it derived from assumptions? Can you say with confidence that it's verified by a trusted source? Are you going beyond the basic reports provided by a social network? The more you know, the more relevant your communications will be and the better your chances of success.
There are three primary sources for determining context:
- Logical assumptions about your product. You know your product better than anyone, but go beyond the obvious “level one” context. What about the interests and affinities of your customers? What do they like? Knowing what your customers are fans of and the content they're searching for can provide data that can be targeted in combination with demographic data. This is where audience data starts to connect with context.
- Organic and paid search insight. Search keywords can provide bottom-of-the-funnel, stream-of-conscience insights that can be translated into social affinity and interest targeting strategies. PulsePoint found that campaigns with keyword targeting produce, on average, a 46 percent lift in clickthrough rate versus campaigns without keyword targeting.
- Social listening tools. Social listening tools provide access to social conversations happening in real time. Identifying the affinities and context of your brand can provide valuable targeting insight. Additionally, looking at your website traffic log can tell you when the best time to market your offer is — e.g., day of week or time of day.
The most common social media pricing options are cost per click (CPC) and cost per thousand (CPM). With CPC, you can limit your ROI risk exposure by capping your spend. Unfortunately, the cost of this tactic is program scale and momentum. For CPM campaigns, the scale of the program can be extensive, but there's no guarantee of program ROI. Knowing your exact audience demographics, the context you want to target them within and the timing is critical to stacking the CPM pricing model in your favor.
The current industry buzzword is “programmatic” buying of media. Some social media sites are becoming the best providers of data (e.g., gender, age, etc.) with which to execute this direct response-inspired media buying tactic. Many marketers know exactly what they're willing to pay per click when it comes to keyword strategy. You can test social media with the same approach, enabling you to know exactly what CPC or CPM price you're willing to pay for any given impression.
Once you’ve figured out all of the above, you can then focus on your creative strategy. Serving up the wrong or limited creative can be disastrous. It’s important to work with someone who understands creative beyond banners and search terms. Social is a different animal and its users are there with a different attitude. It’s vital to understand their frame of mind in this social environment and where your creative will fit in the conversion funnel. Because social tends to be more middle- and top-of-funnel activity, you must seduce them down the funnel with information and value that makes it worth their while.
Taking the guesswork out of social media marketing can go a long way in eliminating risks. Doing the necessary homework in advance can make your small step into social a giant leap in ROI.