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For small- and mid-sized businesses, social media advertising has emerged as a no-brainer marketing solution. Not only is it far more cost-effective than traditional advertising, it also enables businesses to reach specific demographics and specific buyer personas. To top it all off, social media really works. More than half (58%) of marketers now say that social media advertising boosts sales and a clear majority (70%) says that social media has a huge impact on lead generation. So if you are thinking about getting started with social media advertising, here’s a quick three-step playbook.
Step #1: Decide on your primary advertising goals
Thanks to the proliferation of new social media platforms and new ad formats, you have plenty of opportunities to use social media advertising to achieve a number of primary advertising goals. For example, some businesses choose social media primarily for brand awareness – they simply want to get their message out to a much wider audience of potential buyers. But you could also choose social media advertising as a way to increase sales leads, boost overall sales, or bolster your overall brand messaging. So choose the ad format and platform that is the best match.
Step #2: Choose the right social media platform to reach your goals
Every social media platform is different when it comes to advertising, so you really need to give some serious thought to which platform is best for your business. It might be tempting to advertise on many platforms at once, but experience has shown that you can get the best bang for your buck if you limit yourself at first to 1-2 social media platforms. If reaching the biggest possible audience is your main goal, then Facebook definitely needs to be in the mix. Facebook, after all, has 2.38 billion monthly active users. But if your goal is to make your brand popular with young influencers, then you might be better off with a platform like Instagram.
Step #3: Come up with the right creative and copy to capture attention
In many ways, social media advertising is very similar to traditional advertising in that you need some compelling copy and creative to cut through the clutter and reach audiences. And, since many social media ads are designed to be inserted right into social media news feeds, it’s important to make your ads look as much as possible like other posts on the platform.
Take, for example, the brilliant approach that sports retail store Dick’s Sporting Goods took with its ads for Adidas sneakers. They posted a photo of an athlete posing with the shoes and no other traditional ad copy. It looked just like an Instagram post. Then, at the bottom of the post, they featured a brief message about the Adidas sneakers. And, in other cases, advertisers are embracing emojis or hashtags, so that they are able to make an impact with users. The key, however, is making your ad relevant to your buyer personas, and not something that feels like an “interruption.”
The key to social media advertising success is constant testing and experimentation. If photo ads are not working for you, for example, then try out video ad formats. As long as you keep a careful eye on your budget (such as with the Facebook Ad Campaign Tool), it’s surprisingly easy to change ads on the fly and pivot to new directions within a matter of days. Add it all up, and social media advertising is effective, affordable, and yes, fun. For boosting sales, increasing brand awareness or solidifying your brand reputation, there are plenty of effective ways of advertising on social media.