Written by Caroline Cox on Jan 21 , 2020

Do you feel like no one gets you the way your targeted Instagram ads do? You’re not alone.

Here, you’ll find:

  • The benefits of leveraging paid social
  • How to determine which platform is right for your brand
  • Missteps to avoid when creating paid social campaigns
  • Ways to make your paid social content stand out

When it comes to digital marketing, few areas are as adaptable and ever-changing as paid social. Particularly for younger audiences, this avenue can bring brands big success by seamlessly fitting into the feeds people are already scrolling day in and day out. 

Whether your audience prefers the professionalism of LinkedIn or the colorful features on Instagram, you can take your paid social campaigns to the next level in 2020 with these tactical tips and tricks. 

HawkSEM: 7 Tips for Successful Paid Social in 2020

Make sure you’ve got your tracking pixels properly set up and firing, and the right codes embedded in the right places. (Image via Unsplash)

1. Ensure you’re tracking everything properly

Setting up proper tracking is one of the most important steps you can take when creating paid social campaigns (or any marketing campaigns, really). Having proper tracking in place from the beginning ensures that you’ll have all the metrics at your disposal to analyze, report on, and use to improve your current strategies.

For starters, you want to make sure you’ve got your tracking pixels properly set up and firing, and the right codes embedded in the right places. From there, make sure to test your tracking so you know all is operating as it should. 

When you’re setting up tracking, you also want to determine the most valuable metrics for each campaign. Decide which data will be most valuable for your goals, whether that’s lead gen, brand awareness, conversions, or something else.

2. Have a plan for consistent testing

Sure, you know testing is a key part of creating the most effective campaigns. But having a plan in place for how often you’ll perform testing can keep this task from falling to the bottom of that ever-growing to-do list.

You never want to be satisfied with your current results — they could always be better! You may be able to find new copy, new imagery, or even a slightly different price point that could improve your campaign performance and get you a higher ROI.

Add a recurring note in your calendar or project management app to revisit your paid social metrics and see where you can make tweaks or improvements.

Pro tip: It can be tempting to simply eliminate a failed paid social idea. But before you start over from scratch, see if there’s a way to tweak the campaign or ad first, like swapping out the image or call to action (CTA). A small fix may be the key to turning a mediocre campaign into a successful one.

3. Don’t let personal bias get in your way

I know what you’re thinking: biased? Me? Never! But hear me out. It’s easy to fall into the trap of being so familiar with your product or service that you don’t take into account that those seeing your paid social campaign might not be. When you use too much jargon or assume users have a certain level of knowledge, you risk alienating them.

Alternatively, your target audience can surprise you. You may think a certain offering or product will appeal most to them, but that may not actually be the case. While you’re testing and iterating, keep an open mind. Let data drive your decision-making, not your personal opinion.

HawkSEM: 7 Tips for Successful Paid Social in 2020

For the best results, you want to use the platform where the majority of your customers are. (Image via Unsplash)

4. Consider your target audience when choosing platforms

Ads can appear on multiple platforms, from Twitter, Reddit, and Facebook to Instagram, LinkedIn, Snapchat, and even TikTok. (Feel old yet?) When you’re determining which platform would work best for your paid social ad, consider your audience.

Some people default to opting for the platform they’re most familiar with. For the best results, however, you want to go to where the majority of your customers are. You can find this info through your own research, discussions with customers, and market surveys. And if you find the platform you chose isn’t working? Test out a new one and see how it stacks up.

5. Set a high bar for your content

Millions of pieces of content are posted online every day. WordPress users alone produce more than 70 million new blog posts each month. With so much out there, what you publish needs to be interesting, engaging, and eye-catching to compete.

With younger generations sporting short attention spans for ads, it’s more important than ever to create paid social posts that:

  • are targeted
  • quickly grab the viewer’s attention
  • provide entertainment value
  • are memorable in some way

Pay attention to the ads that catch your eye on social — what messages do they include? What’s the CTA? What visual elements do they have? This insight can help inform how you approach your own paid social.

6. Prioritize CTAs

Back to testing — one area that can make or break a paid social campaign is your CTA. Many businesses will focus too much on the ad and not enough on what action they want the viewer to take next. When you’re creating paid social campaigns, spend time making sure your CTA is strong and drives the viewer to make the decision you want. 

Speaking of your viewers, don’t be afraid to mix up who you’re targeting. You may think the ideal audience for a new cookbook is middle-aged women, but you could be missing out on a whole segment of young college students who want to learn to cook as well. It’s all about being open-minded and testing to see what works best.

HawkSEM: 7 Tips for Successful Paid Social in 2020

While it may seem like a pain to hop on board the latest buzzy ad platform or new format, it can end up giving you an edge over your competition. (Image via Unsplash)

7. Embrace new layouts and features

The nature of social media is that these platforms usually don’t stay stagnant for too long. With growing competition and a handful of big platforms vying for the most eyeballs, there’s a near-constant stream of updates and changes.

But while it may seem like a pain to hop on board the latest buzzy ad platform or new format, it can end up giving you an edge over your competition. 

Often, when beta versions of these social platforms are released, a site-wide change isn’t far behind. By trying out a new feature or interface when it’s first available to test, you can set yourself up to be a pro at the new way of doing things — potentially before other brands who are competing against you.

Better yet, these new tools could give you an extra boost, like refining your target audience or improving your return on ad spend (ROAS). 

The takeaway

Paid social campaigns certainly have a place in your digital marketing program in 2020. Not only do social platforms have sophisticated audience segmentation options, but they allow you to meet your prospects where they are in a way that’s targeted, yet feels organic.

By following steps like consistently testing, tracking properly, and creating engaging content, you can be sure your paid social plans are set up for success this year and beyond.

Want more ways to amp up your paid social in 2020? Let’s talk. 

Caroline Cox

Caroline Cox

Caroline is HawkSEM's content marketing manager. She uses her more than 10 years of professional writing and editing experience to create SEO-friendly articles, educational thought leadership pieces, and savvy social media content to help market leaders create successful digital marketing strategies. She's a fan of seltzer water, print magazines, and huskies.

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