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There is a lot of money being spent on social media advertising.  The latest estimates say it will account for a third of all digital marketing spend this year.  This king is, of course, facebook.  Their Q2 report from 2016 shows a staggering $6.2bn in advertising revenue.  This is powered by smart moves like limiting the visibility of company page updates, launching video last year and opening up advertising on Instagram.  The other networks pale in comparison, LinkedIn is currently showing the slowest growth in ad spend and twitter is projected to only capture 7.9% of worldwide spend this year. Having been the 151,844th person to join LinkedIn, it makes me pretty sad they have been left well behind from their platform capabilities for targeting to ad formats to tracking with conversion tracking only recently announced.

Without further ado, let’s talk about the steps to run a successful social media advertising campaign.

1) Define your Campaign Objectives & Success Metrics

The first step, as with any marketing, is to define your campaign objectives.  What do you want your audience to do?  Obvious examples are visit your site, make a purchase, watch a video or give you some of their data.  You also need to know what success is and how much to pay for it.  Some businesses have no idea about their CPA (cost per acquisition) or CPO (cost per order) but you do need a ball park figure. Through the process of delivering your marketing you can start to see which channels are delivering at what price.  Take this in aggregate and you get your ‘Blended CPA’.

2) Set up your Tracking and Reporting

There is no point paying for social media advertising if you don’t track it to a campaign level.  Google analytics can tell you twitter may have driven a sale but you won’t know which ad worked for you.  This can be done through pixel tracking; a piece of code generated by the advertising platform which you embed on your site. Crucially, it enables you to retarget your site visitors on the social channel too. Get your reports set up too before you start so you can monitor on the fly.

3) Be Clever with your Audiences & Targeting

The beauty of using social media advertising is the ability to target very specific audiences which your business may have interacted with already.  Either on the social channel, on your site, by email or if you’ve gathered mobile numbers.  Think about lookalike audiences where you expand your existing audiences too. Layer all the demographic targeting, location, interests, education, etc on top you can really start to get pretty tight with who you’re targeting.  I can’t stress enough how important it is to think about mobile because the vast bulk of facebook’s traffic is mobile.  One client I worked with recently had developed his site entirely for desktop (53 scrolls on the homepage to find the click through to the order page!) yet most of his audience was on facebook. One way round this was to exclude the mobile audience so it’s only served on desktop but this massively reduces your potential audience.

4) Make your Creative Stand Out

Getting the creative right is the most important part of your campaign.  We apparently have an 8 second attention span, 1 second less than goldfish, so you need to use stand out images and even better use video or a combination of the two.  If you do use video, make sure you overlay with appropriate copy in case the sound is off.  There are some great ad formats available on Facebook including Carousel and Canvas and they are constantly evolving with new features. If you do use these, think about the overall story you’re telling.  Make your call to action clear in the text or within the imagery to drive your objectives and results.

5) Campaign Set Up, Testing & Optimisation

You’ve defined your audience, creative and calls to action, now it’s time to finalize your campaigns and do end-to-end testing.  Go through the user flow (on a mobile if that’s what you’re targeting) from clicking on the advert in the social channel, landing at the destination and taking the desired steps.  Check on the social network the tracking is working and the data on your side.  Then the fun begins, deciding the timing for launch, pressing go on your test campaigns, monitoring, tweaking, upping spend on better performing campaigns and reducing spend to find your sweet spot.

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